United captures The Dillo with 1-0 win over FC Dallas

D.C. United captured the vaunted Dillo trophy with their 1-0 win this afternoon over FC Dallas in the final of the ATX Pro Challenge in Austin, Texas.

Chris Rolfe’s sensational goal in the 54th minute was the game-winner for the Black-and-Red as they have taken back-to-back preseason tournaments coupled with last years Charleston Challenge Cup in Charleston, South Carolina.

Ben Olsen put out a lineup that most likely will take the field in their first-leg match against Alejuelense in 11 days time in Costa Rica. Bill Hamid enjoyed another fine match with making a pair of nice saves on either side of halftime to help United’s cause. With Steve Birnbaum most likely not available to start in Costa Rica, Olsen pulled Markus Halsti into central defense with Bobby Boswell and the Finnish star played flawlessly against FC Dallas’ brutal combination of physical play and equally devastating team speed. Halsti’s positioning and composure on the ball were second-to-none in the match and so far has been as good as advertised since coming over on his transfer from FC Malmo in Sweden in January.

Coming out of the gate United may have regretted some missed opportunities as Nick DeLeon missed a seemingly easy chip over onrushing FC Dallas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy just two minutes into the match.  A few minutes later DeLeon muscled off a challenge from the FC Dallas defense and appeared to have Chris Pontius alone at the penalty spot but for some reason he hesitated and the move was lost.

Fabian Espindola was next up on the regret list in the 26th minute when he picked up a loose ball just inside FC Dallas’ half of the field. With FC Dallas scrambling to get back defensively due to their error, Espindola took off towards goal with Pontius on his left and DeLeon on his right. Both players were achingly wide open but Espindola unwisely decided to shoot with this off-right foot at the top of the penalty area and the promising move fizzled out.

After the break it was more of United controlling the tempo of the match. FC Dallas’ physical nature caught up to them in the 54th minute when a free kick was awarded to United along the right flank. After an initial soft clearance from FC Dallas, the ball found it’s way to the foot of Rolfe about 30 yards out from goal. Two severe cut back moves later, Rolfe was bending a wicked 23-yard upper 90 shot into the far side netting with Kennedy having no chance to save it.

United then decided to remove their starters, albeit Hamid, from the match around the 70th minute and FC Dallas finally started gaining some traction in the match. However, there were few and far between. Hamid made a sensational save with about six minutes to go in the match to keep United in front and then FC Dallas’ last chance was a questionable free kick given just outside the penalty area in stoppage time. The resulting free kick was blasted straight into the United wall and the match was easily seen out from there.

After the match, United will now fly to Dallas to train through the remainder of next week culminating in an already scheduled rematch with FC Dallas in Frisco, TX on Friday, February 20th. This will be United’s last match of preparation before heading down to Costa Rica to take on Alejuelense on Thursday, February 26th in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal knockout round. The return leg of this match will be back at RFK Stadium on Wednesday, March 4th, just three days ahead of the open of the MLS season on March 7th.

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