TAMPA — Behind closed doors, D.C. United opened its preseason schedule Tuesday with a 3-1 defeat to the Montreal Impact at the University of South Florida.

In the first of six matches leading to the MLS opener Feb. 29, United played regulars in the scoreless first half and turned to several trialists, academy players and homegrown signings after intermission.

Forward Josh Fawole, a second-round draft pick from Loyola (Md.), scored in the 86th minute, strengthening his claim for a second-division contract with Loudoun United.

Ballou Tabla, back with Montreal after playing for Barcelona’s B squad, scored in the 63rd and 84th minutes. Romell Quioto, a Honduran attacker acquired from Houston in the offseason, added a goal in the 78th.

Earl Edwards Jr., the third-string goalkeeper, was the only D.C. player to log 90 minutes.

Oniel Fisher, making his way back from a 15-month injury absence, started at right back. Chris Odoi-Atsem, a natural right back, started on the left, filling the void left by Joseph Mora, who is on Costa Rican national team duty.

Steven Birnbaum and Frédéric Brillant, the top central partnership last season, anchored the back line. Russell Canouse and Felipe Martins paired in defensive midfield.

United officials did not divulge the attacking unit, but with only one veteran forward in camp, Ola Kamara presumably started.

Aside from Mora, midfielder Ulises Segura is with the Costa Rican squad. Midfielder Paul Arriola and top-choice keeper Bill Hamid are with the U.S. national team, which will face Costa Rica in a friendly Saturday in Carson, Calif.

Midfielder Júnior Moreno was held out as he continues regaining fitness following offseason hernia surgery, a development that was not revealed until Tuesday. He will also miss Saturday’s closed-door match against the New York Red Bulls in Bradenton, Fla.

Had Moreno been available, Canouse probably would have moved to right back — the position he inherited late last year.

Homegrown midfielder Kevin Paredes (foot injury) is also sidelined.

Coach Ben Olsen said Chris Seitz will start in goal Saturday.

• Earlier in the day, Olsen said United remains in the market for defensive help and is looking specifically to Europe for a player. He did not share any possible names. However, assistant coach Chad Ashton did go on a scouting mission in France this winter.

“Whether or not we can land somebody that makes sense for this group,” Olsen said, “I think we will know that in the next week or two.”

A new center back would probably end Aaron Maund’s hopes of landing a contract. The former Toronto, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver defender has been in camp since last week. Left back Duke Lacroix, who most recently played for second-division Reno, is also on trial.

United has only six natural defenders under contract: Birnbaum, Brillant, Odoi-Atsem, Fisher, Mora and second-year center back Donovan Pines. Others are capable of playing in the back, most notably Canouse, but the team recognizes the need for additional options.

• Gabriel Gomez, the son of former United star Christian Gomez, signed with Loudoun United. The 22-year-old midfielder arrives from Argentina’s Nueva Chicago, his father’s boyhood club and final team, spanning 28 years. Christian, 45, did not retire until last year.

Gabriel lived in the D.C. area as a child when his father was helping United win the 2004 MLS Cup and two Supporters’ Shields. He also earned the 2006 MLS MVP award.

“With his family ties to the club, he bleeds black and red and has loved this club his whole life,” Loudoun Coach Ryan Martin said. “I know he is excited to get started on his professional journey, and we are excited to have him here.”

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