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D.C. United vs. Malmo FF: A Firsthand Game Report from Florida

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As one of less than one dozen fans at the DC United Malmo game in Florida, DBU gives his firsthand impressions of new players and performance not apparent in the video stream.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

I am in Florida and went to the DC United-Malmo game. I was one of only perhaps a dozen D.C. United fans at the game. I will concentrate this post on what I saw off the ball since Chest Rockwell has done an excellent game summary.

But first, as is usual with me, a stadium report. The game was not locally publicized. It was not even listed on the IMG website. As we headed to the game just before noon, we approached the main gate for the IMG Academy fields. We saw two cars in front of us in a confused and heated discussion with the guard. We pulled up to the guardhouse, and asked the guard the location of the United game. She obviously was not having a good morning and surprised us by shouting, "Stop. You cannot enter." Someone from the other stopped car yelled back, "See, they're here for the game too." After some back and forth, my wife (who was driving) became irked. She put pedal to the metal and stormed past the gate. We left the guard in the dust as she was yelling, "Ma'am, ma'am. No!" I am happy to report we were not arrested by IMG academy police.

We drove up to the main stadium, and no one was on the field except for a few track guys. Off to the side there were training fields with perhaps 60 young players going through drills. This did not look promising. At that point we thought the game was cancelled. I spied someone riding a stationary bike at the side of the field dressed in what looked like a DC United uniform. I walked over and to my surprise, it was Luis Silva. I asked, "Excuse me. Do you know where the DC United game is going to be played?" He said in a very friendly way, "It will be played right here," and motioned his hand towards the field with all the young players training. After thanking him, we headed to the modest stands on the far side of the field. I thought, "Nice, this DC United game is free."

The game was pretty intense for a preseason game. We were sitting not 10 yards from Chris Rolfe who was playing on the wing nearest us. Rolfe was very impressive playing with light and short very deceptive touches to keep possession or to make subtle passes. After the game Rolfe said in a DC United interview, "We had a little bit more in the way of combinations and two-three man plays... With Pontius, we're still getting adjusted to him." In fact Pontius got behind the defense a couple of times which was nice, but could do nothing with the ball. Other than that, on this day Pontius was looking like a pretty average forward, but he will get better.

Espindola is just a bull of a player. Very intense. We heard him swear at the referee (who ignored it), so some things never change. He won't get such kindness in MLS. Halsti's positioning was superb. He was always in the right position to take a pass or prevent a counter attack. He was playing as a true defensive midfielder, and Arnaud was playing box to box. For such a short time with the team, Halsti looked impressive and hopefully this continues. Opare looked tentative both on and off the ball. He had some mistouches that led to some near misses for Malmo. DeLeon was pretty invisible during the game. No doubt he is coming back from injury.

The trial goalkeeper Travis Worra played the whole game. He was very loud and we could hear his every authoritative word 60 yards away. He talked a good game, and played fine. It was hard to tell if he helped or hurt his chances to make the team.

In the second half, Miguel Aguilar was on our side of the field. He had some nice touches, and technically looked quite good. He also had a couple of excellent crosses. However, he looked lost in terms of positioning. He didn't seem to know when to press hard and when to just sit back and maintain pressure. But it looks like he has a high upside. Dan Metzger did not get many touches, but when he did he maintained possession and made some nice passes. He looked good. Jeffrey was active and always around the ball. But he also seemed like a turnover machine. Arrieta and Estrada looked like very similar players--lots of running to little effect. Estrada was in on the goalkeeper and took a terrible shot. We got a good look at No. 37 (Guest player, aka Florida Man) as he was on our side. He actually was quite athletic.

One goal in three games! United really needed a quality finisher. Will EJ be back? When will Silva be healthy? Will Pontius improve?

At the end of the game we drove through the main gate and waved goodbye the guard, as if to say "Nothing personal." She still looked unhappy.