D.C. United returns to national television today against the Philadelphia Union. It also happens to be the first of five matches in just 14 days for United, otherwise known as the most critical portion of the entire season's schedule.
Game time: 5:00 PM
TV: NBC Sports Network
Projected starting lineup: Sometimes, Ben Olsen makes a lineup choice that catches me by surprise. Sometimes he'll insert a player in the starting lineup that I didn't expect. But this first time in a while that I have no idea what type of lineup Ben Olsen will use.
The only thing I know for sure is that I don't trust United listing Dwayne De Rosario as Doubtful with shoulder soreness. If DeRo doesn't play today, it won't be because his shoulder is sore. It will be because Olsen is saving him for the mid-week match. I suspect DeRo will start though as Olsen tries to build his chemistry with newly-acquired Lionard Pajoy. If not Pajoy, we could see the return of the now-healthy Hamdi Salihi, or see DeRo pair with leading scorer Chris Pontius.
In the midfield, it will be difficult to choose between three players who are all playing well. With the suddenly congested schedule, Olsen may elect to spread out the minutes between Pontius, Andy Najar, and Nick DeLeon. Any of the two of them could start, with Branko Boskovic and Perry Kitchen in the middle. The rest of the lineup will remain unchanged, with Mike Chabala, Emiliano Dudar, Brandon McDonald, and Chris Korb along the back line, and Bill Hamid in goal.
Prediction: Considering that the Union have been outscored 5-1 by Eastern Conference opponents in their last two matches, this looks like the game for D.C. to get some momentum back at the start of our most important stretch. I'm predicting a 2-1 United win.
What are you drinking? I'm remaining sober given that I may need to drive my 8.5 month pregnant wife to the hospital at any given moment, but I did drink some Evolution Primal Pale Ale at an outing last week. Refreshing, if unmemorable.
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