D.C. United made up for a weak performance Tuesday with a commanding effort Friday to edge the Union, 1-0 in reserve league action at United’s Training Facility in Washington, D.C.
United forward Stephen King notched the game winner in the eighth minute –a goal that would prove plenty in a tough, physical, but a D.C. possession dominated affair after 90-plus minutes.
With the win, United saved a bit of face following a 6-0 defeat at PPL Park earlier in the week, fueled by a four goal performance from Chandler Hoffman.
But in Friday’s match Hoffman, who was paired alongside midfielder Roger Torres up top, almost played as a lone striker, but found it difficult to get anything going.
“Just wasn’t getting those balls today,” Hoffman said after the match. “It was difficult to get anything going in the final third.”
The match truly was controlled by United, who played a much different squad from the one that suffered Tuesday’s defeat. Along with King, D.C. sported fellow first teamers Ethan White, Mike Chabala, Maicon Santos and Emiliano Dudar, who played dominant in a center back role. The Union managed to make it a tighter match in the second half in terms of the pace and pushing up numbers on attack.
However, the Union quickly found United up to the task each time.
“There was obviously a response from the other day,” reserve team boss Brendan Burke said of United’s renewed vigor. “And we knew they would do that…I thought the response was actually good after the 20-minute mark and I say we had the better of the second half, with a lot of set pieces and corners. We just didn’t have any bite today.”
One player that did show spark was academy invitee Billy McConnell. McConnell [who Burke noted could also play center back, but is a bit undersized for the role] impressed at right back, displaying solid defensive awareness and was demonstrative in the air. McConnell played 71 minutes before he was subbed out for fellow academy player Kenny Lassiter, who was effective in the same role.
“Billy will be a pro, I don’t think there is too much question about that,” Burke said. “For him, it’s just a matter of what level and how soon. Athletically and mentally he’s there and his distribution of the ball is pretty good for an 18-year-old kid.”
Another player got a chance to feel like a kid again in rookie Krystian Witkowski. Witkowski, who has been out the entire season with concussion issues, was cleared two weeks ago and made his reserve league debut coming on in replace of trialist Matt Kassel in the 87th. Witkowski played center back along with defender Porfirio Lopez.
And while it would be unfair to assess his play given his short minutes, the game time was something Witkowski said he’d relish.
“The minutes went by fast I’ll be honest, but I could tell some of the players were trying to get me the ball, even though it might not have been the most ideal pass, but to get those touches felt great,” said Witkowski. “It’s like I just received an award, too be honest, I’m a little speechless.
Toronto FC is the next and final team on the 2012 reserve league schedule. The Union will host Toronto on Tuesday (10 a.m.) at Chester Park.
Contact Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com Follow Kerith on Twitter @sprtswtr
D.C. United 1, Union 0
8’: D.C. United – King (Ekra**)
PHI – Pfeffer (caution) 86’
DC – Dykstra on for Willis; 46’
DC – Brandt on for Santos; 61’
PHL – Lassiter* on for McConnell*; 71’
DC – Rozeboom on for Augusto; 72’
PHL – Ramirez on for Hernandez; 77’
DC – D. Najar on for Ekra**; 83
PHL – Witkowski on for Kassel**, 87
D.C. United Starting XI:
Willis; C. Najar, White, Dudar, Chabala; Paeckart**, Shanosky, Ekra**, King, Augsto; Santos
Brandt*, Rozeboom, Dykstra, D. Najar*
Philadelphia Union Starting XI:
Harrison; McConnell*, Jordan, Lopez, Richards**; McCaughlin, Kassel**, Hernandez, Pfeffer, Torres; Hoffman
Konopka, Lassiter*, Witkowski, Ramirez*
* denotes academy player
** denotes trialist