D.C. United opened up their preseason account with a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC in strangely foggy conditions tonight in Bradenton, Florida.
United was missing more than a few regulars and head coach Ben Olsen put out two separate units to begin each half. Predictably the more experienced side which started the match gave United their best chances on the night. After a pair of impressive saves by Andrew Dykstra in the opening 15 minutes of the match, Nick DeLeon had a pair of opportunities to put United ahead. In the 17th minute, Davy Arnaud’s cross from the right flank flicked off of a TFC defender right onto the chest of Luis Silva. Silva quickly touched the ball over his shoulder to DeLeon who beat TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendick but the admittedly weak shot was cleared off the goal line with ease.
DeLeon followed up a few minutes later with a sharp-angled shot that was well saved by Bendik. DeLeon appeared to have take the heavy criticism laid on his fitness levels from last season to heart as he appeared slim and trim and was active throughout his 45-minute stint on the field.
After the break, Olsen trotted out the remaining available players to finish out the match. United did have a number of chances to take the lead once again but narrowly missed out. In the 52nd minute rookie Christiano Francois, playing on the right flank, received a ball after a clearance from a United free kick. Francois’ delicate chip met the head of fellow rookie Steve Birnbaum but his glancing header just went wide of the post. In the 60th minute another United rookie in left back Travis Golden weaved through the TFC defense and his left-footed rocket sailed just over the bar.
United’s best chance of the second half (before the stream died in the 65th minute) came when Colin Martin dribbled through the heart of the Toronto defense only to see his shot smothered by TFC substitute goalkeeper Chris Konopko.
It was all for naught however when reportedly TFC striker Bright Dike got the game-winner in the 85th minute.
United will now regroup and look forward to their match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at 7pm. Let’s hope MLS get’s the stream issued straightened out before then..