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  • Writer's picturewilson tarpeh jr.

Estrada Scores Twice as D.C. United Beats Charlotte FC

The Black-and-Red opened their season with a 3-0 victory last night over visiting Charlotte FC. It was the inaugural match for the new franchise, they had a good showing from their supporters in the stands. Former D.C. United players Joseph Mora and Yordy Reyna made their return to Audi Field as well. Michael Estrada scored two goals in his debut for the Black-and-Red, while Ola Kamara added the third score of the night. Bill Hamid did what he does, keeping a clean sheet and answering the bell when his number was called with five saves.

Opening minutes of this match went as expected, two teams trying to find their respective flow and dictate the terms of play. There were several quality displays of solid defense by the Black-and-Red as Hines-Ike shielded a defender from a nice ball that was played over the top. He drew the whistle, in the 18th minute there was a bit of action.

A giveaway in their own third by D.C. United led to an Alan Franco cross into the center of the box, the ball got over the head of Steven Birnbaum and Titi Ortiz headed the ball past Bill Hamid as he and Birnbaum collided. The Charlotte supporters went nuts as they thought they had witnessed the first goal of their new teams history. Following a review, the official ruled that Ortiz was offside and the goal would not count.

Things got interesting in the 34th minute when Julian Gressel and Joseph Mora battled for a ball on the wing, it rolled out to Griffin Yow. The youngster took a few touches, beat a man to get into the box. He then took a shot that was deflected by a defender, the ball fell to the center of the box where Christian Makoun of Charlotte attempted to clear the ball, but his follow through led to him walking Michael Estrada in the shins.

Michael Estrada stepped up to the spot, took his time and calmly beat the keeper to give the home team a 1-0 lead. He would score again before the half came to a close, this time it was through the run of play.

Moses Nyeman got the ball in the center of the park and tried to play a ball over the top to Yow on the right corner of the box, Mora played it well and headed it down. The ball found it’s way to Estrada’s feet, he took a touch before firing a shot towards the goal. The shot was deflected by Christian Fuchs past Kristijan Kahlina. That gave D.C. United a two goal lead headed into the half.

The Black-and-Red would get their third goal in the 65th minute. Yow would find Birnbaum at the top of the box who played it out wide to Gressel. Julian put a dangerous ball into the front of the goal. The keeper came off his line to punch it out, but the ball bounced off the chest of Ola Kamara into the goal.

Despite that, Charlotte created several opportunities in the second half. The best coming three minutes after Kamara’s goal. Brad Smith got dispossessed, Ortiz played the ball up to Rios who found Yordy Reyna out wide. This was one of the few times that Yordy beat Andy, Hamid came off his line to close down on the shot. Reyna tried to sneak it inside the far post but the woodwork got in the way and the ball bounced back into the hands of Hamid.

Bill had a big second half as he had to make several saves, the visitors were able to move the ball and build up attacks once they got past the D.C. United press. They were able to take 11 shots on the night, the same as the home side. Hamid would deny Adam Armour in the 89th minute on a point blank shot in the box.

While D.C. United didn’t dominate this match, they certainly did more than enough to open their season with a 3-0 victory. Clearly there’s some things they have to improve on, but it’s the fist game of a very long season. Sometimes it is as simple as winning the games you’re supposed to win, this was one of those.

Up next, the Black-and-Red hits the road to play FC Cincinnati.


Thoughts/Takeaways

Estrada - He seemed to be trying to figure out what he can and can’t do in this league, from selling calls to being overly physical at times. He showed his skill and that he still needs to improve his fitness to play in Losada’s scheme. All in all a solid debut, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see how he grows in his role and comfort with his teammates.

Najar - There’s so much attention to what he can do with the ball at his feet. I was impressed by his defense in this one, he was matched up out wide with Yordy Reyna most of the night and they went after it.

Middle of the Park - There was going to be a transition in this area simply because the pairing of Canouse and Moreno is no longer an option for D.C. United. It will be Canouse and Nyeman it seems. However, last night it was Skundrich and Nyeman. They got the job done, but Canouse’s absence was clearly missed. We also got to see a bit from Sofiane Djeffal as well as he came on for Nyeman in the 64th minute. I’m looking forward to seeing the Canouse-Neyman pairing and how it grows.

Room for Improvement - This wasn’t a very sharp performance from D.C. United, however it’s also just the first game of the season. They do seem to be in much better shape than last year. There were a couple of areas in which they need to improve heading into next week, Losada mentioned a couple following the match. One of them being that his team should and can do better once they have the ball at their feet. That they can be more decisive in when to pass, where they are passing, and on the final pass. The press was able to sustain itself for close to all 94 minutes. Again, it’s just the first game so nothing more than pointing a few things out. No team is exactly where they want to be or who they are going to be in the first week of the season.


PHOTO CREDIT: D.C. United(@dcunited)

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