D.C. United has just one more chance to face a real opponent at full speed before the 2012 MLS season begins next Saturday. Today is the final day of the Carolina Challenge Cup, and we'll get to see United and the Columbus Crew each use their starters for most of the match.
United has come very close to claiming the team's third straight title in the preseason tournament. United has won each of its games against the Chicago Fire and Charleston Battery by a three-goal differential. With the Fire beating the Crew on Wednesday 1-0, they are still technically eligible for first place. United needs only to win or tie, or to avoid getting beat by three goals more than the amount that the Fire beats the Battery.
Game time: 5:00 PM
Television: Streaming live on dcunited.com
Projected starting lineup: Tonight's starting 11 will be our best indication so far of which players Ben Olsen will be using against Sporting Kansas City on the 10th. With Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen returning from U.S. U-23 national team camp, this will also be the closest to full strength that we've seen this roster so far during the preseason. The only real question remains in the middle of the back line, where Dejan Jakovic, Brandon McDonald, and Emiliano Dudar are all vying for two starting spots. McDonald and Dudar are the favorites to emerge as starters, with Daniel Woolard on the left and Robbie Russell on the right. The midfield will feature Kitchen behind Chris Pontius, Branko Boskovic, and Andy Najar, with Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi up top.
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