Three matches from which to choose. I went hyper-local and observed an entertaining friendly between Roma and Chelsea at RFK Stadium. The Blues won, 2-1, on Romelu Lukaku‘s late goal. My report is available here. (From what I understand, many ticket holders never made it to the stadium because of traffic and parking issues. Sigh. #BuzzardPointNow.)
At Maryland SoccerPlex, in its penultimate game of a rough NWSL inaugural season, the Washington Spirit assembled its first winning streak of the summer (two in a row) with a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Reign.
Meantime, up I-95 at PPL Park, Ben Olsen fielded a D.C. United lineup that averaged 22.6 years old. Pull James Riley, 30, from the starting group, and the average drops to 21.9. When Dwayne De Rosario entered at halftime for Kyle Porter, the figure soared to 23.7. Later, Michael Seaton, 17, replaced Collin Martin, 18. Their combined age equals DeRo’s.
DCU’s under-23 team is a weathered bunch compared to Saturday night’s group.
The lineup: Hamid (22); Korb (25), White (22), Shanosky (21), Riley (30); Porter (23), Jeffrey (23), Kitchen (21), Kemp (23); Martin (18), Doyle (21).
Why did Olsen toss so many youngsters onto the field?
First, the injuries: Pontius, Silva, Saragosa, Ruiz, Townsend, Neal and Pajoy.
Second, fatigue with a third game in eight days: Nick DeLeon remained at home, while Wednesday starters Daniel Woolard, Dejan Jakovic and John Thorrington were on the bench. DeRo entered at halftime. (Not sure why Sainey Nyassi was not on a game-day roster that was one short of the usual 18.)
Third: Well, let’s face it, the regular season expired weeks (months?) ago. The only match that matters is the U.S. Open Cup final on Oct. 1 at Real Salt Lake. So why not offer experience for a novice crew in an intense environment against a decent opponent?
Seaton became the first player born after MLS’s inaugural game in 1996 to enter a regular season match. Martin, 14 months removed from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, made his first start and had a sure-fire equalizer headed off the goal line in the second half.
By the way, United lost, 2-0, to fall to 3-16-4. Still 11 games to go. Next: at Montreal on Saturday.
DCU video package:
Diana Matheson‘s 83rd-minute goal for the Spirit:
Mark Schwarzer‘s howler at RFK:
Frank Lampard‘s equalizer:
Lukaku’s go-ahead goal: