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D.C. United opens preseason schedule with 1-1 draw with Greenville Triumph

Rookie Kimarni Smith scored the Black-and-Red’s first goal of 2021 in a game that was played in three 30-minute periods

Xavi Dussaq / Courtesy of D.C. United

D.C. United’s first preseason game under new coach Hernán Losada ended in a 1-1 draw with USL League One side Greenville Triumph SC. In a game played in three 30-minute periods, United fell behind just before the end of the first period, but equalized just two minutes later through rookie Kimarni Smith.

Playing on a training pitch next to Sahlen’s Stadium, United first took the time to make sure club legend John Harkes — now the head coach at Greenville — was gifted a new United shirt:

Moments later, Losada’s first starting eleven took the field.

And this is where the speculation begins: was United in a 3421 (with Yordy Reyna and Edison Flores supporting Ola Kamara) or a 3412 (with Reyna alone underneath Flores and Kamara)? At the moment, we can’t say for sure.

What we can say is that the lineup was a mix of prospective starters (Flores, Kamara, Reyna, Junior Moreno), promising youngsters (Griffin Yow and rookies Kimarni Smith and Michael DeShields, three trialists, and an academy player in goal. Losada’s choice to deploy Yow and Smith, both winger/forwards up to this point in their respective careers, as wingbacks likely underlines his attacking intent.

The trialists we know to be in camp are Andy Najar, Rodney Wallace, and 2nd round pick Logan Panchot. Sorting out who played where is trickier, as all three players could have theoretically partnered Moreno in central midfield. Most likely, we’re talking Panchot and Wallace as part of the back three, and Najar in the midfield, but this is very much a guess rather than solid information, because it’s a preseason game that wasn’t streamed.

The preseason tradition of happening upon one local who managed to wander over to the field and tweet about it was renewed for another year, giving us at least some small bits of information. United forced a goal-line clearance early, and then tested Greenville’s goalkeeper ten minutes later, but eventually conceded the opener via some kind of scramble inside the box:

However, the response was quick, with the Black-and-Red producing a scrappy goal of their own. Yow pushed up the right wing on the dribble, and given space to cross, he drove the ball into the area. Greenville made the first contact, but the deflection popped up and over Kamara and a defender, falling into Smith’s path. Smith, making an aggressive run from what appears to be a left wingback role, dove past his marker to guide home an equalizer from the doorstep:

Shortly thereafter, our heroic bystander noted that Yow picked up some kind of knock, though he was able to leave the field under his own power:

On the plus side, the team’s own recap indicates that Yow managed to play on for the final minutes before the full-team switch for the 46th minute.

Despite the three-period structure to the game, United still made the customary wave of substitutions after the teams had played 45 minutes. This time, Losada fielded a full eleven made up of players who are under contract:

This time around, the formation looked perhaps more like a 3412, or possibly 343 depending on the positioning of Yamil Asad. Meanwhile, Losada fielded what is on paper his strongest available defensive group (note that Bill Hamid and Steven Birnbaum are not yet available due to offseason surgeries).

Julian Gressel and Joseph Mora, the favorites to start as wingbacks at this point, also came in, with Russell Canouse and Moses Nyeman pairing up in central midfield. Asad was joined in whatever shape the attacking trio took by Erik Sorga and offseason acquisition Adrien Perez.

There are fewer updates to discuss for this second 45 minutes. The team account said that Perez bagged a goal after a cross from Gressel, but the offside flag came up. A few minutes later, United did the same thing again (unless these tweets are referencing the same goal, which the timestamps lead me to say...maybe? Preseason is a mystery, I’m just reading the runes here).

Currently, that’s all the information we have for you, with the final half hour apparently not involving anything of note. United will be back in action this Friday, March 26, when they and their USL Championship affiliate Loudoun United will face off at Audi Field. Streaming details have not been announced, but the team has told B&RU that they are “hopeful” they will have something in place.

Box Score

Preseason - Game 1 (played at WakeMed Soccer Park [Field 2] - Cary, NC)
Greenville Triumph SC 1 (someone 27)
D.C. United 1 (Smith 29)

Greenville (???): At least eleven soccer players, probably more

DCU (3412**): Academy GK (Chris Seitz 46); Michael DeShields (Donovan Pines 46), Trialist (Frederic Brillant 46), Trialist (Brendan Hines-Ike 46); Griffin Yow (Julian Gressel 46), Trialist (Russell Canouse 46), Junior Moreno (Moses Nyeman 46), Kimarni Smith (Joseph Mora 46); Yordy Reyna (Yamil Asad 46); Edison Flores (Adrien Perez 46), Ola Kamara (Erik Sorga 46)

**We guess! It could be something else!

Greenville - ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
DCU - ¯\_(ツ)_/¯