WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Joseph Ngwenya #11 of D.C. United controls the ball against Andre Ooijer #13 of Ajax at RFK Stadium on May 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

D.C. United Vs. Ajax: Anita's Late Goal Stuns United

D.C. United give a good effort, but fall 2-1 to the 30-time Eredivise winners

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D.C. United Vs. Ajax: Olsen Hails United's "Good Day" Despite Friendly Loss

Despite losing 2-1 on an 87th minute goal by Ajax defender Vurnon Anita, a noticeably chipper Ben Olsen praised his team for having "a good day" in Sunday afternoon's friendly against the Dutch champions. 

"We had a lot of guys who hadn't seen minutes [this season] who came on and gave us a good effort, particularly in the second half," Olsen said. In all, D.C. United dressed 20 players for the match, and with the exception of midfielder Clyde Simms and third goalkeeper Joe Willis, all saw some playing time Sunday afternoon.

"After the first 15 minutes [a period dominated by Ajax possession that saw the visitors score the afternoon's first goal], we started to figure it out," Olsen said, "and we were able to create some chances where, if we were a little sharper and a little savvier, we'd be winning that game. But we didn't."

Friendly matches between MLS and European sides, such as this afternoon's, are an oddity in American sports, as they require a league team playing multiple exhibition matches right in the middle of their season (United also host Premier League side Everton in another international friendly on July 23 at RFK). When asked if he considered games like Sunday's a nuisance, either as a player or coach, Olsen was emphatic.

"I always loved games like these," he said. "I think I had illusions of grandeur, that [the European opposition] would pick me. Here at D.C. United, we've always had the pleasure of playing some real good [opponents] like AC Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea. These are unbelievable experiences, and hopefully we went out there and earned a little respect today."

D.C. United return to MLS action with a road game at the expansion Portland Timbers next Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Olsen would not commit himself one way or the other regarding the health of forwards Charlie Davies (hamstring) and Josh Wolff (groin), saying only that both men were "listed as doubtful right now, but you never know if they could come back."


D.C. United Vs. Ajax: Anita's Late Goal Gives Ajax 2-1 Win

Vurnon Anita's 87th minute goal gave Dutch champions AFC Ajax a 2-1 win in this afternoon's friendly match against D.C. United in front of 10,728 at RFK Stadium. 

With United appearing to be headed for a very deserved draw, Anita stole the ball off the foot of Fred near the halfway line, strolled unchallenged into United's penalty area, and slid the ball under Steve Cronin to give Ajax the victory.

Ben Olsen made four changes to the D.C. United team after halftime, inserting Cronin for Bill Hamid in goal, Chris Korb in defense for Dejan Jakovic, Fred in midfield for Dax McCarty, and Brettschneider up front for Santino Quaranta. The moves nearly paid earlier dividends then they actually did, but Fred shot wide of Kenneth Vermeer's left post from about 10 yards out in the 51st minute.  In the 55th minute, Brettscheider was presented with a chance from point-blank range, but Vermeer was able to get low to the ground to deny the young striker. Moments later, Andy Najar showed some of his skill with a daring run all the way from the right touchline to the left side of the Ajax six-yard box.  However, Najar's final ball was overhit and flew harmlessly over the head of Joseph Ngwenya.

Like Ajax's goal in the first half, United's equalizer came off of a giveaway. This time, it was Ngwenya who pickpocketed Vurnon Anita after the defender dawdled on the ball for too long near his own goal. Ngwenya slid the ball over to Brettschenider, who popped the ball into the net from point-blank range.

Ajax had a golden opportunity to go back ahead in the 76th minute when substitute Lorenzo Ebecilio was put through on goal, but Cronin came off his line bravely and brilliantly to deny the striker. Brettschneider had a chance of his own to win the match in the 83rd minute, but he sent a header well over the crossbar.

Moments after Anita's goal, Brettschneider had a chance to rescue a draw for the home side after a free kick in the box was not properly dealt with, but his volleyed attempt sailed high and harmless over the bar.


D.C. United Vs. Ajax: United Trail 1-0 At Halftime

Miralem Sulejmani's 10th minute goal has AFC Ajax holding a 1-0 lead over D.C. United in their friendly match this afternoon at RFK Stadium. Despite trailing on the scoreboard, the MLS side has been quite evenly matched with the Dutch titans, who only secured their 30th Eredivise crown last Sunday with a 3-1 win over Twente Enschede.

Sulejmani's goal was helped along by a bad United giveaway in midfield, which sparked a 3-on-2 break by Ajax into United's penalty area. With options to his left and right, Nicholas Lodeiro chose wisely in rolling the ball to his left, where Sulejmani ran onto the pass and finished cooly past Bill Hamid

The goal was also the last good chance the Dutch champions had in the first half, as D.C. United nearly equalized immediately. Brandon Barklage, given a start at right back by Ben Olsen, ventured forward to launch a stinging shot that forced a lunging save from Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer. For the last half of the first 45 minutes, United enjoyed the better of the possession, with the visitors occasionally breaking across the halfway line. But few gilt-edged chances presented themselves as the half came to a close.

Ajax coach Frank de Boer handed starts to seven players who also saw action in last week's title-clinching win over Twente, while Olsen moved Santino Quaranta into a center-forward role alongside Joseph Ngwenya in the absence of both Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff. Perry Kitchen, normally a defender, was moved up to midfield in place of regular Clyde Simms, a move that paved the way for Barklage to come in at right back.

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