Saturday, January 28

Bayern Munich outclasses D.C. United, but the hosts relish the opportunity


Almost two weeks after the Philadelphia Union laid bare the gulf in class between D.C. United and the MLS elite, Bayern Munich arrived at sold-out Audi Field to expose the ocean separating the bottom-dweller from the sharks of European soccer.

As the German powerhouse rolled to a 6-2 victory in Wednesday’s exhibition, with pricey offseason signings Sadio Mané and Matthijs de Ligt each scoring moments into his debut, D.C. was outclassed again. But unlike in the MLS record-tying 7-0 shellacking United took from host Philadelphia on July 8, D.C. acquitted itself well as the score got out of hand, with second-division affiliate Loudoun United’s Skage Simonsen and academy product Ted Ku-DiPietro scoring against the 10-time defending Bundesliga champions.

“It’s just a fun night,” United interim coach Chad Ashton said. “I think it’s a fun night for the team, it’s a fun night for the fans, it’s a great night for the city. It’s a world-class team, and to score a couple of goals and keep it tight for periods of time I think is really, really encouraging.”

Carrying the worst record in MLS at 5-11-3, United played with an eye toward its MLS match Saturday against visiting CF Montreal. So Ashton, who again manned the sideline as incoming coach Wayne Rooney awaits a work visa, used a reserve-heavy lineup. After halftime, he turned to several players on loan from Loudoun.

Bayern Coach Julian Nagelsmann deployed a mixture of blue-chip prospects and decorated stars. Among the accomplished players in his lineup: Germany veterans Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané; rising Canada star Alphonso Davies; and Senegal attacker Mané, who joined the club on a $43 million transfer from Liverpool this summer.

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“In games in the preseason, it’s important to win,” Nagelsmann said. “To get this kind of winning mood, it’s always important.”

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Mané needed just five minutes to score his first Bayern goal. United defender Donovan Pines knocked over Lucas Copado for a penalty kick, and Mané powered a shot that goalkeeper Jon Kempin could only push into the roof of the net.

Bayern made it 2-0 seven minutes later, when Kempin got wrong-footed on Marcel Sabitzer’s down-the-middle bid, and Gnabry found the net on a deflected shot to make it 3-0 just before halftime.

De Ligt, a Dutch defender who arrived in D.C. on Tuesday night hours after completing a $69 million move from Italy’s Juventus, came on at halftime and opened his Bayern account even faster than Mané did. Joshua Kimmich served a corner kick, fellow substitute Thomas Müller flicked a header to the back post, and De Ligt volleyed home.

Joshua Zirkzee tapped in a Kingsley Coman feed to make it 5-0 in the 51st minute. Three minutes later, the largely pro-Bayern crowd erupted in the home team’s favor: Ku-DiPietro launched a shot that deflected off two Bayern players before ringing the post, with Simonsen on the doorstep to prod the ball in.

Ku-DiPietro got on the board in the 83rd — forcing a save from Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich and slamming home the rebound — before Müller added Bayern’s sixth on a stoppage-time breakaway.

“I wish we didn’t concede the last one because we would have technically tied the second half,” Ku-DiPietro said. “We’re just looking for little wins here and there. But I’m really proud of the guys. To come away with even a 3-2 second half is still very good against one of the best teams in the world.”

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Here’s what else to know about United’s loss:

Davies, a 21-year-old who played for the Vancouver Whitecaps from 2016 to 2018, logged 45 minutes in his return to Audi Field. He scored a stunner late in the stadium’s inaugural match, a 3-1 loss to United in July 2018 — two weeks before he secured his move to Bayern.

“It feels good coming back to North America, playing in front of these fans,” Davies said before Tuesday’s training session. “… Definitely when I look at the pitch it brings back memories.”

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The friendly gave a number of United reserves — and one newcomer — the chance to start. Sidelined since March because of a thigh injury, midfielder Moses Nyeman played 45 minutes. Gaoussou Samake, who has logged just 48 minutes in MLS play, got the nod at left back. And Miguel Berry, a 24-year-old acquired in a trade this week with the Columbus Crew, started up front.

Ashton said that Chilean winger Martín Rodríguez, a summer signing who has been unavailable to play while awaiting a visa, will be eligible to make his debut Saturday.

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