Will Salihi start this weekend against Toronto FC?
As I have said before, the good thing about midweek games is that they allow you to move quickly past them. In this case, D.C. United have a game against a desperate Toronto FC, who still sit on 0 points after seven league matches. Outside of the league, they have done fairly well, including a draw on Saturday against the Montreal Impact in a Voyageurs Cup match. A win is expected here, but Toronto is not a team that can be taken lightly; if United treat it like the LA Galaxy treated their match against the Seattle Sounders (or how United treated the match against the Montreal Impact), we may be in for a rough night.
That being said, I do expect changes. There are arguments to be made for a switch in each of the four lines of the team, from goalkeeper to forward. But I see this game as one where players with legitimate claims to starting roles will be given chances, not just new starters necessary to rest members of United's best 11. Which three new starters do I see playing tomorrow night? Follow me down the rabbit hole to find out.
Let us start with the back line. Robbie Russell will start the game in the middle, like he ended the last match, with Chris Korb returning to right back. It has been said many times in the wake of the last game, but it bears repeating: Perry Kitchen is no longer the answer at any position besides defensive midfield. If we need more depth across the back line, and we do, that is fine; but Kitchen should not be moved there.
Because of that back line, it is hard to give Joe Willis the blame for most of the goals. But as Martin has pointed out, there have been more goals than saves in each of Willis' past two matches. I think that the door has been opened wide enough that Bill Hamid will return to the starting lineup against Toronto. I also predict that Andy Najar will get the start at right midfield. It seems like the competition for spots has been good for him as well, and he came in and immediately contributed a beautiful cross onto the diving head of Daniel Woolard. Also, let us pause for a moment and reflect on the insanity that is Daniel Woolard: Offensive Powerhouse.
Some people are calling for Dwayne De Rosario or Chris Pontius or Maicon Santos or Nick DeLeon to get a rest, but I would caution against all of these. Start the game on the front foot, get ahead in the first half, and then you can give Santos and De Rosario a rest in the second. Hamdi Salihi deserves an extended look after his performance on Wednesday, and may even get a start, but I think a half would also be appropriate.
With this starting lineup, the subs would be Joe Willis, Danny Cruz, Lewis Neal, Marcelo Saragosa, Stephen King, Branko Boskovic, and Hamdi Salihi. What do you all want to see this weekend against Toronto?