GUEST POST BY JOE GOULD
American Joe Gould has kindly written this piece for 1970 PSG on his firsthand experience of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and PSG during the club’s hard fought draw with DC United on Saturday. Joe was in attendance at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and recounts his night as Zlatan made his debut.
Unfortunately in my relatively young life I have not had the experience of seeing a football game in Europe. Fortunately, many of the top teams tour the United States each summer. Such is the case with Paris Saint-Germain this year. When the news first broke that they would be coming to America I was like a kid in a candy shop – filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing a few of my favourite players such as Mamadou Sakho, Nene, Javier Pastore and Christophe Jallet in my own back yard.
Here in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., we too have a club team that is near and dear to our hearts. They are called DC United, and they will challenge for the title in Major League Soccer (MLS) this season. DC United was originally scheduled to play Juventus of Italy. As it happens, Juventus cancelled their tour of North America which allowed PSG to slide right in. I work for DC United and knew I would get to attend the game and I was overjoyed. This was also before PSG signed Thiago Silva and one of my all time favourites – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I could not contain my excitement.
I remember watching Zlatan juggle bubblegum and I remember first watching him when he played for FC Barcelona. I remember his amazing goal during the Euros earlier this summer. PSG got a solid player in him and he did not disappoint in his first game. PSG came out strong in the beginning and it took less than 3 minutes for Ibra to score. He received the ball near the top right of the 18-yard-box, held off his marker, did some fancy footwork and slotted home a powerful shot. Everyone thought DC United was toast but I was in heaven. All I wanted was to see the great Zlatan score and I got my wish.
Oddly however, that seemed to be all PSG would offer. Yes, they had several other chances, with the best one coming right before the final whistle (a miraculous save by the DC United keeper Joe Willis was all that stopped it), but they seemed out of it past the first 20 minutes. Maybe that’s because Zlatan was subbed out at that point or maybe it was because they were surprised by the excellent play of DC United. Either way, PSG will have to find better ways to stay in the game, especially during the Champions League. You could tell that Ancelotti was toying with the line-ups, which could have also played a major part in the score line since the entire bench of both teams saw playing time.
The final score ended up being 1-1. Dwayne De Rosario of DC United converted a penalty (hand ball) to tie it up. Minus the almost hour long rain delay, it was a great game. While DC United played very well, it was easily observable that the Parisien’s have superior talent – they just did not always use it. DC United enjoyed the lion’s share of possession almost the entire game and as much as I hate to say it, PSG looked content to let them have it.
Here are a few of my notes from the game:
-Zlatan was great for the small time that he played. If Carlo had kept him on PSG would have won. He was probably subbed off because of injury risk and lack of match fitness.
-While Zlatan was great, the best player throughout the game was Jallet. He was excellent in the air and read the game extremely well. He stopped countless goals and was very dangerous going forward. Unlike Lavezzi, who did not look dangerous to me at all and lost the ball more than he probably wanted to. The defense of DC United did a great job shutting him down and he still looks like he’s finding his feet.
-Washington D.C. is a very diverse area. There were only a few PSG jersey’s in the crowd. There were however, a lot of AC Milan jerseys with Silva and Ibrahimovic on the back. I even saw a few Napoli jerseys with Lavezzi on them.
-Marco Verratti looked excellent if not slightly overwhelmed in the midfield. What I mean by that is his technical skills were off the charts (meaning very well), but DC swarmed the middle of the pitch. This overwhelmed Verratti and the 4-3-3 PSG were playing.
-Pastore and Nene both look ready for the Ligue 1 season. While they did not score, they were excellent at linking play and getting into dangerous positions.
-Don’t be shocked that PSG was held to a draw. The MLS is growing stronger at a rapid rate. It is no longer a bad thing to draw or even lose in America. Teams here are getting better every year.
Thank-you once again to Joe for his effort. You can follow him on Twitter.