Fulham’s French forward Moussa Dembele scored a hat trick as the Whites finished their American tour with a 3-0 win over DC United at EverBank Field.
The friendly was the start of a night of celebrations, including a concert by Carrie Underwood, to unveil the stadium’s new state of the art scoreboards, which will soon be seen by fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL side also owned by Fulham chairman Shahid Khan.
“I’m very happy, not only with the result but with my team,” Fulham manager Felix Magath said. “They played very well. I asked them to play it forward and he [Dembele] played very well.”
Magath has carried out major surgery on the squad that was relegated from the Premier League last season and two of the club’s young talents ran the game from central midfield. An American audience would already be aware of Emerson Hyndman, who must be in line for a first-team debut when the Championship kicks off next month, whilst Chris David delivered a composed performance in the engine room.
“I was impressed with our control,” Magath said. “For a lot of the game we had control of the midfield. They mixed very well, stayed in their positions, and from that position played good passes forward.”
David, the young Dutch playmaker who scored a sensational late equaliser on the final day of last season against Crystal Palace nearly broke the deadlock, after nine minutes with a brilliant, bending free-kick that rattled the woodwork. But the Londoners went in front just after the twenty minute mark when he produced a peach of pass to put Dembele in behind the DC United back line and the young forward confidently chipped the advancing Andrew Dykstra. The highly-rated French striker doubled Fulham’s advantage just before half-time when Bobby Boswell couldn’t clear Kostas Stafylidis’s cross, allowing Dembele a simple finish from five yards. He completed his hat trick with seventeen minutes left, pouncing on a poor DC pass to fire home from the edge of the area.
He put away the match in the 72nd minute, sliding home a low shot from the top of the box after a United giveaway.
“It was a good trip,” Dembele said. “It’s tough at the beginning of the year, but we played well and got the win.”
The victory was the perfect birthday present for Magath, who was handed a special shirt before kick off by Shahid Khan and city Mayor Alvin Brown. The German told the press afterwards he’d like to bring Fulham back again next year.
DC UNITED (4-4-2): Dykstra (Hamid 52); Kemp, Shanosky, Boswell (Birnbaum 52); Porter, Jeffrey, Martin, Neal, Caskey; Seaton, Doyle. Subs (not used): Franklin, Silva, DeLeon, Francois, Korb, Kitchen
FULHAM (4-4-2): Joronen; Voser, Stafylidis, Burgess, Hutchinson; Hoogland, David (Eisfeld 76), Hyndman, R. Williams (Roberts 45); Dembele (G. Williams 84), Rodallega. Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Amorebieta
GOALS: Dembele (21, 43, 72).