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Ajax Defeats DC United 2-1 in First Euro Friendly of 2011

The summer friendly season kicked off today when DC United hosted Eredivisie champs Ajax at RFK stadium. Ajax, a week after their impressive 3-1 win over FC Twente, trotted out five starters from last week’s match and played a total of ten starters from a week ago.  DC was without the services of Charlies Davies and Josh Wolff, but still trotted out a first team lineup that included defender Perry Kitchen in the midfield and one-time midfielder Brandon Barklage as a center back.

The match began rather unsurprisingly with Ajax dominating possession. The 4-3-3 was causing the DC midfield trouble and the Ajax forwards were constantly finding space in the DC end. In the 10th minute they finally broke through with Miralem Sulejmani on the break receiving a pass from Nicolas Lodeiro, giving de Godenzonen a 1-0 lead.. It epitomized the first ten minutes – DC looking to string together some passes, Ajax playing keep away and probing, until finding space and creating opportunities. To their credit, DC responded well with the midfield doing a good job holding possession and slowly advancing up the field.  Barklage launched a shot from 40 feet out that tailed towards the net but was knocked wide by starting keeper Kenneth Vermeer.

The second half started similar to the first, with Ajax again dominating possession and creating some early opportunities.  The difference for DC was the lineup, with head coach Ben Olsen making five changes at the half to get his bench players some playing time.  The subs with the biggest impact were third-string striker Blake Brettschneider and Fred.  In the 58th minute, Joseph Ngwenya found Brettschneider with a cross into the box that the rookie could convert to tie the score at 1.  The rest of the contest saw both sides trading chances with both having the opportunity to go ahead.  But it was a mistake by Fred in the 87th minute, who to that point had played pretty well, that gave DC its first loss in a friendly in over a year.  Fred was stripped by Vurnon Anita in midfield, with Anita taking the ball and sliding it past keeper Steve Cronin for the deciding goal.

And thus begins a summer that will see numerous European and Latin American teams visit the U.S. and play these friendlies against MLS teams and each other.  The question is always asked if they are worth it for fans and the league; for DCU only 10,000 plus showed up for the match and a sizable minority were rooting for Ajax.  For the players, it is a chance for them to ply their trade against the world’s best and matchup up with world class players.  Ben Olsen himself jokingly admitted after the match he loved friendlies as a player because it allowed him to dream of signing an international contract.  The debate will not be resolved from one match, but just like last season’s victory over AC Milan, DC United is again beginning a new season of big-named friendlies.

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  1. SSReporters

    May 23, 2011 at 11:07 am

    These freaking stupid friendlies in the middle of the season………….

    It’s a money-maker. Nothing more.

  2. Charles

    May 23, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I get friendlies in that the Sounders are charging $75+ for tickets and will probably sell out the stadium for Man U. $$$$ for the rich owners of Man U and Seattle.

    I don’t get friendlies beyond $$$ for the team. I passed on that part of my season ticket package. $75 for the Sounders to put out second string guys I care about ? $75 for Man U to put out reserves I don’t care about.

    No thanks. I was lucky enough to see Barcelona. Now I want to see games that matter. Seattle plays two HUGE games this week, Salt Lake and Dallas. Now there is something I would pay $75 to see. Sounders only charge $22 !!!!

  3. Alan

    May 23, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Of course, DC didn’t use or have all of their starters. We are not going to talk about that though. So the top team in the Netherlands beat the sixth top team in the Eastern Conference in a friendly without either team’s starting 11. Big deal. I don’t think anyone should look at this as anything than an opportunity to see some foreign clubs play their local domestic clubs in a friendly. The discussion should be over whether these friendlies are good or not. I think they can be, but should maybe take place during one week just to get it over with. I also think that clubs other than European clubs should come in and play like I said above.

    As far as the international calendar goes, I think that there shouldn’t be any MLS play during the weeks of international friendlies for the US National Team. But, I would NEVER in a million years switch to a September to March calendar schedule. That is the worst idea I have ever heard of for a country like the United States. Nobody is going to go to see Columbus, Toronto, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Kansas City, or Salt Lake during these times. It would seriously be the worst thing to ever happen to the league. IF they ever did it, they should take a December-February break, and if they are going to do that, then they should just keep the normal season the way it is, maybe have it start earlier and finish later, and take the necessary weeks off for international friendlies. Maybe even throw in one or two mid-week matches during the season to compensate for these breaks. Maybe even use the mid-week matches for the occasional friendly.

    • The original Tom

      May 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      The weather is a good enough reason not to play a winter schedule but I’ll give you another. It is better for the MLS and us as soccer fans that the season doesn’t line up with Europe because they are in different cycles. I like that as the European season wanes- the MLS begins. And vice versa. Plus, we never have an off season.

      They can’t do all the friendlies in one weekend, clubs are “touring”. It is what it is, you spend your money on what you to spend it on. I’d rather see a regular season game, but that is easy for me to say as not many clubs come to Colorado.

      • Alan

        May 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm

        Fair enough. It would be nice, but yeah, probably not possible. I still think that trying for mid-week friendlies is best, but I guess it is all in the scheduling.

  4. Alan

    May 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Oh, and I will do the MLS hater trolls job for them.

    MLS sucks. They will never beat a team as good as Ajax. These friendlies just embarrasses the teams. It was just their D reserve squad anyway. They could never beat Ajax in a real, meaningful competition. Promotion, relegation, single-table, free markets, take the shackles off, completely random, fourth-tier league. Yadda yadda yadda.

    OK trolls, job done. You can save your time now and stay away. Thanks.

    • Alex

      May 22, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      I’m not surprised that a b squad Ajax dominated dc united. I actually didnt know united was going to play Ajax anyways. It’s a shame though that we don’t play aligned to the rest of the world that we have to sacrifice our regular season play to accommodate cheesy friendlies all for the sake of money and trying to convert fans. You know that’s all done in vain a majority of times fans come to see the other team play not mls.

      As much as a eurosnob as people make me out to be I’m actually rooting for our domestic clubs mls and beyond. If they win then great that’s added experience to club and players and a good show for the fans and if they lose and get embarrassed then fine that’s not suprising and it’s even expected. What I don’t want to see is over hyping of these cheesy friendlies and a mls club narrowly beating a foreign club then garber, the mls propaganda machine and mls fanboys over exalt the win claiming that it proves that mls is on par with the best clubs in the world. No it doesn’t. You barely beat a b squad with you a squad. (ahem kc vs Man u)

      Promotion relegation, single table, independent clubs, free agency, take the shackles off etc etc……..

      • Abram

        May 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

        Agreed, except with pro/rel, lets get the US’s top division stable. Then work on getting NASL and USL stable before we talk about pro/rel.

      • Charles

        May 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

        I don’t think your a Eurosnob…That is a bizzare term. What would YOU have to be snobbish about with European teams playing soccer.

        You are a TROLL. Call yourself what you are.

        You post about KC-Man U, knowing full well that very good players started for Man U and knowing full well it is completely irrelevant.

        The questions is why ?
        I have my theories. None of them flattering to you, of course.

        But what do I know, I am just an “ignorant American” according to the TROLL anyway.

        Please go away.

        • Alex

          May 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm

          Oh I’m so intimidated by you Charles clearly you know best and MLS is the best league in the world and Don garber is god

          Give me a break Charles did Rooney Valencia Park Fletcher fabio Rafael Hernandez or Ferdinand or van details sar play? No. YOU know very well that kc put out their MLS cup final squad and man u put out their b squad. So don’t even bother.I’m arguing with a dude who prides on distancing himself from Europe yet Seattle Sounders prides themselves on modeling Barcelona a euro club. I guess you gotta find a new club to support that isn’t to euro for you.

          And you call me a troll? Give me a break the difference between me and a troll is that I know reality and when I argue I come with facts instead of sheer pride and emotion and if I’m wrong I acknowledge it. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing MLS while supporting it. Would a troll do that? What I said at the end even though I advocate them is supposed to be a joke on what Allen said. You know what you are you are a troll. Yes I said it a troll. All you do is troll around looking for eurosnobs to harass and claim you know more soccer than anyone. I have 6 years playing club soccer not to mention all my years in high school soccer and I watch MLS EPL la liga. Copa libertadores Ecuadorian and Brazilian leagues. What do you have 2 years watching your son play YMCA soccer?
          So stop trolling around for other trolls and get over yourself soccer will never be Americanized. And no I wont go away.

          • SSReporters

            May 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm

            Kansas City put their MLS Cup squad out there?

            Who played in the MLS Cup Final last year?

          • Alex

            May 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm

            Rsl and fcd. I may have worded it wrong but I was trying to make a analogy by saying KC put their A squad up as if they were in the cup final. But wutever I’m not having this argument with you or this dumb bufoon who thinks so highly of himself by calling others trolls. Move on……

          • Alex

            May 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm

            Colorado and fcd. I may have worded it wrong but I was trying to make a analogy by saying KC put their A squad up as if they were in the cup final. But wutever I’m not having this argument with you or this dumb bufoon who thinks so highly of himself by calling others trolls. Move on……

          • Alex

            May 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm

            Major major fail when I said rsl was in the finals. I had my head in the clouds it was Colorado!!!!!!!

          • Alan

            May 23, 2011 at 6:59 pm

            Maybe it was RSL and KC? Oh well, its all random anyway….

            How does one show they are a troll or not? Well, if you haven’t posted a single positive thing about MLS or only criticize it, then you might be a troll. Just saying.

          • Charles

            May 24, 2011 at 10:33 pm

            You have NOTHING to be snobbish about. Nothing.

            6 years. 6 years !

            I have been invovled in soccer longer than you have been alive.

            You are a Troll point blank.

            Three comments down from this….the word RANDOM again.
            The MLS slap in the face.

            Ignorant Americans is what you call its fans. Troll

      • Charles

        May 24, 2011 at 11:12 pm

        Troll comment number one:
        It is shame we dont play aligned with the rest of the world
        Troll comment number two:
        Fans come to see the other team
        Troll comment number three:
        it is expected that MLS teams lose
        Troll comment number four:
        MLS propaganda machine
        Troll comment number five:
        MLS fanboys
        Troll comment number six:
        MLS opponents played their B side

        nice. What a troll please go away.

  5. Abram

    May 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I never know how to take these friendlies. On one hand, I want to say that it shows growth in MLS that they can hang with European squads. On the other hand, I know that most European squads send either their B or C squad or play their starters sparingly. I want to call them a complete waste of time, but I understand they are a way for (a) some MLS players to get their names out there and (b) MLS teams to get exposure and money from people who would otherwise not look at them.

    Oh well, one down, probably twenty or so of these things to go between now and the beginning of the next European soccer season.

    • Alan

      May 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      I agree. I never quite know how to take them either. Honestly, I think they should be kept to a minimum, but I am not opposed to them happening. I think the Mexico/South American crowd should be the focus. That might help attract some new fans of the league while bringing out the fans of Boca, River Plate, Internacional, Gremio etc. At least with these friendlies we might end up one day playing them in a meaningful competition like Copa Libertadores. Also, some of these fans that will go to these games might actually become fans. I doubt that a team just coming out because Ajax is playing is going to be won over as a fan. A few might, but not many.

      • Abram

        May 23, 2011 at 8:32 am

        I agree with that. I get that no teams pack in a crowd of casual fans like Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and to a lesser extent teams like Ajax, but I would much rather see friendlies against regional CONCACAF or CONMEBOL teams from the Caribbean, or Central and South America.

        • Alan

          May 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm

          I think it would be amazing. I know a lot of soccer fans and most of them like European soccer. Even when their favorite European teams come to America they think it is cool, but are not overly excited about it. They other fans that I know like/come from South America or Mexico and seeing them play would be a huge deal for them. I honestly think it would be a much bigger deal to see them come here and play for a lot of people. The big clubs in Europe, while I like some of them, are novelties/museum pieces that people don’t have a real deep attachment to like some of those I know that come from South America or Mexico. I might be generalizing, but this is what I have personally seen.

          • Abram

            May 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm

            Imagine if the majority of friendlies were Boca Juniors, Chivas de Guadalajara, Monterrey, Saprissa, Santos, América, Municipal, Olimpia. They may not sell out stadiums to casual fans, but as you stated fans of the clubs would come. It would also let us know how MLS teams regularaly stacked up against regional (I consider CONMEBOL to be part of our region even though they technically are not) competition.

          • Alan

            May 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm

            I think just as we are getting more competitive with Mexico, it will soon be in our interest to be more competitive with those teams. Not only that, it will get those teams south of us more exposure for more meaningful games in the future. If MLS played their cards right and promoted them right, they would be successful. I would go for sure.

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