It is summer friendly season once gain, with D.C. United heading to Florida to take on recently relegated Fulham. The game will occur after the unveiling of the new and massive video screen installed at the Jacksonville Jaguar's stadium and right before a concert by Carrie Underwood. While I am well-known for being against summer friendlies, I tried to keep an open mind; however, I still came out against the idea of this game for three reason:
1. They disrupt the flow of the season: I get why European teams come to the United States to play preseason friendlies. It gives them some practice against teams who are in the middle of their season and is part of their preparation for their upcoming season. For MLS teams, however, it adds another competition to a summer that is already full of them. If you asked any D.C. United fan if they could abolish the Fulham friendly and move one of the team's August games to this weekend, I would assume most would take that offer in a heartbeat.
2. Players could be getting better experience elsewhere: In the olden days, young players would only get playing time in the US Open Cup and the occasional summer friendly; just look at the substitute patterns of three summer friendlies from 2010 and you will see what I mean. Nowadays, however, D.C. United has the Richmond Kickers with which to give young players real, meaningful game experience. To bring back these young players for the friendly makes sense, but Joe Willis was the only United player to take part in the Kickers' game against the Charleston Battery last night. Michael Seaton and Kyle Porter have been caught in limbo for the last month or so, in that neither have been making United's gameday 18 nor have they been sent to Richmond to get extra playing time. Keeping them in town just because of the friendly makes no sense.
3. It is a cash grab with less cash: Usually when a team goes for a cash-grab summer friendly, they get the money from the team that they are going to play as well as part of the ticket sales, parking, concessions, and merchandise because they play that game at their home stadium. Instead, D.C. United is like a William & Mary going to play UNC: they travel down, get their check, and then travel back home. And, had the game been in D.C., I can't imagine the draw being that great for a Championship team.
But what about you, dear D.C. United fans: What do you think of United's summer friendly against Fulham in Jacksonville?