Following an opening game against the New York Red Bulls U23 team which they drew 1-1 but ultimately had to forfeit due to the use of an unregistered player, the D.C. United U-23 team still found themselves shorthanded against the Ocean City Nor'easters. Tonight though, the paperwork was in order and the performance impressive, defeating Ocean City 3-1 at the Evergreen Sportsplex.
United dressed 15 players for the second consecutive game while they await clearances for some of their foreign born players by the USL (many of those players played Thursday night in a friendly with the Fort Pitt Regiment which D.C. won 2-0). Tonight, coach Richie Burke might have thought about giving an eye to that bench early, as Ocean City forward John Manga managed to get by D.C. defender Carter Manley and fire a shot which goalkeeper Casey Beyers saved part of, but it still managed to find the back of the net for a 1-0 lead after just five minutes. D.C. managed to find themselves shortly after the goal and in the 24th minute, a shot by midfielder Jamie Lucchini was deflected and found its way to forward Tunji Osifeso, who buried the shot past goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky to even the score at 1.
Shortly before halftime, Lucchini found himself in a position to take a chance on net, and was rewarded handsomely. Lucchini dribbled to just outside the Ocean City box and fired a rocket from 25 yards out, arching over the reach of the 6 foot 6 Klenofsky and into the upper 90 for a 2-1 D.C. lead.
Into the second half, D.C. found themselves with a possible opportunity again, but an apparent back pass to Klenofsky was not deemed as such by the referee, who subsequently gave a yellow card to D.C. midfielder Ryan Harmouche for dissent. Harmouche tried to pad the lead later but his left footed shot went wide. In the 81st minute, a ball that deflected of D.C. defender Matt Ledder was headed for the net, but goalkeeper Cody Niedermayer (who came on for Beyers minutes before) had to scramble back towards the goal to keep the ball out of the net. As D.C. continued to fend Ocean City off, Juan Amaya (who came on for Harmouche) dribbled into the attacking half and blasted a shot past Klenofsky to seal the deal for D.C.
When asked about the game and the start, Burke said, "I have to take responsibility tactically for the first goal, because I told the midfielders to press on their midfield and...they didn't really need to press as much because if they'd have been a little more dynamic in midfield our midfielders would have had to match. And that was my responsibility because I told the midfielders to make sure you match up. But after that, they responded great, they kept great tempo of ball possession. They moved it well, they moved it quickly, they shared possession. We asked everyone to be selfless in their possession and they did. So I really didn't feel panicked, I always felt they'd come back and they did come back. And Lucchini's goal was a different class."
"It seemed like there was a lot of open room so I just took it, the goalie was a little off his line so I just hit it," Lucchini said about his goal. When asked if he felt his teammates would tease him about his golazo, he said, "I don't think anyone's going to joke if I score."
The DCU U-23's next game is on the road next Saturday at the Long Island Rough Riders.