After what seems like months without games, D.C. United will now play 7 games in one month, including 5 games in two weeks. Seriously, from August 19 to September 1, United play Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday. But to start all of this off, D.C. United will play their most recently league opponent, the Columbus Crew, in the friendly confines of RFK Stadium. They will need to keep their home cooking alive and get three points to keep pace with the top of the Eastern Conference. I wouldn't call this game a must win, but another loss would move many fans, myself included, much closer to the edge.
Fans have been calling for it, bloggers have been calling for it, and we finally got to see it in the friendly against Paris Saint-Germain: the return of Emiliano Dudar to field. And while he may not have been doing enough in practice to get past Dejan Jakovic or Brandon McDonald, his performance on Saturday shows the quality that he can provide. For the style that D.C. United wants to play, his passing out of the back is key to breaking down defenses. While defense is always first, especially in center defense, it is time to give Dudar an extended chance. Who will join him on the field this Saturday? Find out below!
The rest of the lineup that I chose is fairly standard, except for the choice of Dudar's partner. Dudar is no shrinking violet; the second thing that Bill Hamid mentioned about him, after his passing, was his strength. And while I am somewhat of a Dejan Jakovic fanboy, I still think that Ben Olsen relies on Brandon McDonald for the dirty work necessary in MLS. This is the pairing that started in two of United's best defensive performances: against FC Dallas and the Metros, both 4-1 victories.
The other changes from the starting lineup against PSG are Danny Cruz for Nick DeLeon (which I could honestly see going either way) and Maicon Santos for Long Tan. Tan has impressed the coaching staff, earning the start against PSG and first team minutes in practice this week. He won't get the start this Saturday, but he will make the bench and will make an appearance in the 70th minute or so. Will he be the next United forward to pop up into the starting lineup and be the impact player for a few weeks? Stranger things have happened.