Thursday, July 13, 2006

United Slam Hoops

D.C. United kept on rolling, defeating Scotland's Celtic FC 4 - 0 in a friendly at rain-soaked RFK Stadium last night. The Black-and-Red were kick started by a goal from 17-year-old Freddy Adu in the 43rd minute, and added three more in the second half. The Hoops, with their trademark jerseys notably and unfortunately absent, looked lost for the entire duration.

It was awesome watching United play at top form with many of their key starters not on the pitch. For various reasons, Jaime Moreno, Brian Carroll, Bryan Namoff and Troy Perkins all did not play. They looked excellent and I can't wait to see them keep this torrid pace up for the second half of the Major League Soccer season. Other teams in MLS should take notice that even when the best players from the best team in MLS are on the bench, the reserves can still take it to a storied team like Celtic. The impressive form of D.C.'s second and third stringers was not lost on the Scottish media.

Mark Wilson of The Herald in Scotland writes of the elite team of MLS:

Even without [Jaime Morano] there was plenty to make the visitors wary. One defeat in 18 matches and a 17-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference are statistics that deserve respect, whatever doubts can still be cast against the overall quality of Stateside football.

He brings up a good question. Can doubts still be cast on American soccer? Or rather, how big are these doubts after another impressive United performance against a highly-respected foreign foe?

Obviously the MLS is light years behind the top leagues in Europe, but the league is definitely headed in the right direction. D.C. didn't just defeat Celtic, that wouldn't be big news considering the Bhoys are on the beginning of a pre-season tour and playing without key starters of their own. What is news is that the Black-and-Red whooped them up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. John Harkes said it best during the Post Game presentation, American clubs are no longer in awe of European clubs, including powerhouses like Celtic.

Anyway, Freddy Adu looked fantastic and surely raised some eyebrows. He'll definitely bolt for a top-tier EPL team in the near furture, if not next season. Luckily for D.C. United, the performance last night from reserves shows that they'll be able to keep pace without him.

D.C. is back on Saturday as they return to MLS action to take on the Columbus Crew at RFK.

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