D.C. United vs. Real Betis
Where: Audi Field.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Live stream: FloSports.
Outlook: In the first of three friendlies planned this year, United will face a Spanish club that finished La Liga’s campaign Sunday with a surprise victory at Real Madrid and finished 10th among 20 teams with a 14-16-8 record.
For the other friendlies, Olympique Marseille will visit Audi Field in July and a Latin American foe, probably from Mexico, will come in September.
Sevilla-based Betis — which will play at lower-tier Chattanooga FC on Saturday — was the first club since 2002-03 to win at Barcelona (4-3) and at Real Madrid (2-0) in the same season. That success, however, was not enough for Quique Setien to retain his coaching job; the sides have parted ways, leaving the fitness coach and assistant sporting director to oversee the U.S. tour.
By finishing sixth in La Liga last year, Betis qualified for this season’s Europa League. After finishing atop group play, the Spaniards were ousted in the round of 32 by French club Rennes. Betis fared better in domestic cup competition, Copa del Rey, advancing to the semifinals before falling to Valencia.
Key figures include Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso (17 goals in all competitions), Spanish midfielder Sergio Canales and Spanish defender Marc Bartra. Canales made his senior national team debut this spring. With the tour coming at the end of a nine-month season, however, the regulars will probably play limited minutes in these two friendlies.
Likewise, with Wednesday’s match wedged into the MLS calendar, United Coach Ben Olsen seems certain to rest most, if not all, of his regulars. United (7-4-3) is tied for first in the Eastern Conference and, starting Saturday at New England, will play three games in eight days.
If any starters are to play against Betis, Paul Arriola is the top candidate. He is ineligible this weekend after receiving a red card Saturday in Houston. Junior Moreno could also see time after missing two matches because of his father’s death.
The inconsequential match will afford opportunities for backups, such as forward Quincy Amarikwa, midfielder Zoltan Stieber, midfielder-defender Chris McCann, defender Jalen Robinson and goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Also in the mix are outside backs Akeem Ward and Chris Odoi-Atsem; 16-year-old Griffin Yow; and members of second-division Loudoun United and D.C.'s youth academy.