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.