After visits by English Premier League clubs earlier this year, it’s time for the US-based Major League Soccer club DC United to have an exhibition match in Indonesia.
United will play two matches against Persib Bandung at Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung, West Java, on Friday, followed by a match against Arema Indonesia at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, on Sunday.
DC United, owned by Indonesian media magnate Erick Thohir, has inside knowledge of Indonesian football as forward Andik Vermansyah had a trial stint at the club while Syamsir Alam was on loan to United from Belgium second-division side CS Vise.
Head coach Ben Olsen said they were excited about the opportunity to play here.
“We are really excited to be in Indonesia and we will entertain Indonesian fans,”
Olsen said during Wednesday’s press conference in Jakarta.
“Football is now developing in the US, a country where basketball is more popular. Like here in Indonesia, I see how football is growing, and it is really exciting,” he said.
Asked about Andik and Syamsir, Olsen said both players were talented, but emphasized that talent was not enough as the MLS requires players who are strong physically.
“It doesn’t matter whether a player is tall or not, but most importantly, they need strength and physical ability to be able to compete in the MLS,” the coach said.
DC United is the second MLS club to visit Indonesia after Los Angeles Galaxy and David Beckham visited Jakarta two years ago. The promoters, Mahaka Media, said they invited the club to give something different for Indonesian fans.
“We have been too familiar with European football, while Major League Soccer may not be as popular as European top leagues such as La Liga or English Premiere League,” Mahaka Media chief executive Adrian Syarkawi said.
“Therefore, we want to offer a different thing, and we would like to thank to Erick Thohir as the owner of the club for giving us the access.”
He added that Persib and Arema were selected being among the best clubs in the country with large fan bases.
Club owner Erick said he expected DC United’s visit to help improve the quality of Indonesian football.
“LA Galaxy’s visit was more entertainment and business, especially since Beckham was still playing there at that time,” said Erick, who is also the new president of Italian club Inter Milan.
“But, we expect the visit by DC United to help improve the quality of Indonesian football in general. Moreover, we also hope we can bring our players to play for DC United in the future.”
Both matches will be broadcast on SCTV.