D.C. United won a friendly 1-0 for the third time in a week, this time beating traditional Salvadoran power Alianza FC. Despite going down a man early in the second half due to a second yellow card for Loudoun United call-up Landry Nanan Houssou, it was another Loudoun player — Massimo Ferrin — who put United on the board with a rocket in the 71st minute.
With an MLS match in just three days, United fielded a lineup heavy on Loudoun United call-ups. Five starters were from the club’s USL Championship affiliate, with three more (Jovanny Bolívar, Jacob Greene, and Kimarni Smith) DCU players who have largely spent their season on loan with Ryan Martin’s side.
The early exchanges mostly consisted of dangerous free kicks. Rodolfo Zelaya sent an early effort from 25 yards into the stands, while Yordy Reyna’s 21-yarder curled just inches over Yimmy Cuéllar’s goal in the 17th minute. Reyna sent another free kick — like the previous one, won by Smith — from slightly further out over the bar in the 34th minute as United largely controlled the game, but struggled to create true chances from open play.
Though Smith had a late shot smack off the crossbar, both teams got to halftime without having forced the opposing goalkeeper to make a save.
United’s cause was complicated just two minutes into the second half, as Landry Nanan Houssou — who was booked late in the first half — picked up a second yellow card for dragging back an Alianza player to stop a counter.
The Black-and-Red actually had two quick chances just after that, with Smith’s shot glancing off of a defender for a corner that Bolívar ended up nodding over from a good spot, but Alianza were emboldened to leave the defensive stance they’d started the game in. Junior Burgos, once upon a time a Toronto FC player, shot just barely wide from around 25 yards in the 52nd minute.
That left openings, though, and Bolívar held off Iván Mancía pursuing a ball over the top in the 55th minute. Bolívar rounded Cuéllar but couldn’t get into shooting position, and his attempt to tee Smith up on the doorstep saw the strikers get their wires crossed, and the chance dissolved into nothing.
Ferrin, who had replaced Reyna in the 59th minute, quickly made his mark on the game. He nearly scored from a 70th minute free kick, curling a bid just wide of Cuéllar’s goal, but made sure he’d get on the scoresheet sixty seconds later. Jacob Greene and another sub, Kairou Amoustapha, forced a turnover out on the right wing, and United flooded forward. Amoustapha’s cross found Darluis Paz, but the Loudoun attacker’s one-time shot cracked off the post. The rebound cannoned out to the top of the box, where Ferrin unleashed a rocket to beat Cuéllar from 21 yards and give United the lead.
Showing more confidence with the lead, Amoustapha slashed in across the defense only for his promising 17-yard shot to glance off of a defender and go a foot over the bar in the 76th minute. However, from there United opted for game management, and other than a brief scare from Alianza substitute Ezequiel Rivas going on a mazy run inside the box only for a crowd of United defenders to eventually block his shot, Chris Seitz had little to do.
In fact, the game’s final chance went to the Black-and-Red: Amoustapha nearly made it 2-0 in the 89th minute, beating two defenders but having his angled shot blocked just wide by Cuéllar and then cleared away by the defense.
United returns to MLS play this Saturday, July 17, when they head up 95 to play the Philadelphia Union at 7:30pm.
D.C. United 1 (Ferrin 71)
Alianza FC 0
DCU (343): Chris Seitz (C); Hassan Pinto, Allexon Saravia, Matt Di Rosa; Chris Odoi-Atsem (Kairou Amoustapha 46, Giovanni Montesdeoca 90), Nicky Downs, Landry Nanan Houssou, Jacob Greene; Kimarni Smith (Tyler Gabarra 69), Jovanny Bolívar (Darluis Paz 61), Yordy Reyna (Massimo Ferrin 56)
Alianza (442): Yimmy Cuéllar; Rubén Marroquín (Israel Landaverde 88), Armando Nieves, Iván Mancía, Jonathan Jiménez; Victor Arboleda (Elvin Alvarado 81), Henry Romero, Efraín Burgos (Ezequiel Rivas 67), Michell Mercado; Rodolfo Zelaya (C), Duvier Riascos
DCU - Odoi-Atsem 8, Houssou 39, Saravia 42, Houssou 47 (sent off)
Alianza - Jiménez 26, Mercado 45, Mancía 57