D.C. United went down early and were never able to catch back up to the Montreal Impact in their first preseason match of the Suncoast Invitational. Despite a goal from Steve Birnbaum and an own goal, the Black-and-Red fell 4-2 to the Impact, who punished defensive mistakes on each of their tallies.
D.C. United conceded in the sixth minute because they couldn’t get the ball out of the area. Travis Worra made a mess of it, as he tried to come out and get the ball off of Ignacio Piatti, but Nacho’s trickery prevented it. There was another chance to prevent the goal had someone from central midfield tracked Patrice Bernier, but they were standing near the top of the box.
Two starters had especially poor nights: Travis Worra and Jared Jeffrey. The former bungled the first goal and had a shaky night overall, while the latter passed the ball directly to Ignacio Pitatti ight after the first goal and tried to compensate the rest of the first half by over-running very hard, which ended up making him out of position more often than not.
D.C. United tied the game back up with a dominant header from Steve Birnbaum. Lloyd Sam’s initial cross was cleared away for a corner, which he took. Birnbaum lurked behind Patrick Mullins, and rose up above everyone and smashed a powerful header into the back of the net.
Right after his goal, Birnbaum was called on to make a spectacular defensive play. One on one with Ignacio Piatti, Birnbaum was able to poke the ball away, block Piatti from recovering, and cleanly pass the ball out of danger.
At the end of the first half, it was obvious that Lloyd Sam, Steve Birnbaum, and Patrick Mullins had had the best play of the first 45.
After the second half started, miscommunication led to the third goal: Klenofsky ran out to claim the ball, but Mullins headed it away; with the keeper out of position it was an easy header for Montreal’s Matteo Mancosu. Shortly thereafter United pulled one back from a Jared Jeffrey screamer that was deflected twice for an own goal.
In the 62nd minute, both teams made wholesale changes. United brought in Chris Durkin, Ian Harkes, Sebastien Le Toux, Lamar Neagle, Bobby Boswell, Jalen Robinson, and Kofi Opare; only Taylor Kemp remained from the starters. The teams played each other fairly equally after the starters were removed, ending the game the same as when they entered.
The last goal was a Chris Durkin own goal that wasn’t the youngster’s fault, after both (and especially) Boswell and Opare couldn’t close down the attack. Montreal worked the ball from the left to Anthony Jackson-Hamel, whose shot caromed off Durkin to wrong-foot Klenofsky.
D.C. United is next in action against Saint Louis FC on Wednesday.