Preseason preparations roll on as D.C. meet MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati on Thursday at the IMG Academy Soccer Complex in Florida. This is the second game for United in this part of their preseason camp, with another three games to come on their next visit, as part of the Suncoast Invitational.
The Black-and-Red are fresh off a 1-0 victory last weekend, having defeated USL side Bethlehem Steel FC thanks to third-round draft pick Shinya Kadono’s finish. Cincinnati are looking to extend their unbeaten run in preseason play, having fought to a 1-1 draw against Montreal before edging past the Colorado Rapids by a score of 1-0.
The first meeting between the two clubs will not be available to watch via stream. There is free entry for anyone who mentions the match at the complex gate.
A collection of Cinci players should be known commodities for D.C. fans, including Greg Garza, Fanendo Adi, and Darren Mattocks, who joined from United by way of the expansion draft. Mattocks, who spent just one year with United, set a career-best with 10 goals in 2018, before giving way with the arrival of Wayne Rooney. Generation Adidas product Frankie Amaya, the first overall pick of the 2019 Superdraft, saw his first action when he replaced fellow draft selection Rashawn Dally with 10 minutes to play.
Rooney exited Saturday’s game against Bethlehem in the 18th minute as a precaution due to a minor shin injury, but he is expected to be available on Thursday. Boca Juniors loanee Leonardo Jara slotted in on the back line and will hopefully receive more minutes as he looks to gel with his new teammates. Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, and Joseph Mora have all returned from international duty and could feature to some degree.
Head Coach Ben Olsen elected to give Luciano Acosta the day off against Bethlehem after his Paris Saint Germain deal fell through in the eleventh hour, one of the wilder storylines of the January transfer window. Thursday should provide Acosta with the opportunity to record minutes and begin inching toward game speed.
United will head back to D.C. for a few days before making a return trip to Florida for a second preseason camp spanning February 13 through the 24. While in Clearwater they will compete 2019 Suncoast Invitational. Matches against tournament hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Montreal Impact are slated for the 16 and 23, at Al Lang Stadium. In addition, United will face the Philadelphia Union on February 20 at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex.
Thursday’s kickoff is set for 7 PM ET.
Wesley Davidson is a graduate of the University of Alabama (BA) and the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (MA). He currently works in youth soccer in Austin, Texas, and can be found on Twitter.