Who will Encyclopedia Olsen choose for this weekend's game against Sporting Kansas City?
If there were a book written about D.C. United's forward corps this season, it would be titled "Encyclopedia Olsen and the Case of the Rotating Strikers." The team's strikers have each had their moment in the sun (although some have been longer than others), but then have faded as the next hot striker took their place. As long as Ben Olsen can continue to find the hot hand, I don't have a problem with it. First it was Maicon Santos, then it was Hamdi Salihi, and now it is (apparently) Long Tan.
But the forward line is not where the lineup problems are: some shuffling will be required due to the concussion suffered by left back Daniel Woolard. Our best wishes to him on a quick and complete recovery, both from a personal standpoint and from the standpoint that he is one of only three fullbacks on United's roster right now, two of whom are now injured. Who will replace Woolard in the starting lineup? The answers lie below.
The rest of the lineup contains the same starters as this past weekend, along with changes necessitated by the injury to Daniel Woolard. In what is to my mind the most likely scenario, Chris Korb will move to the left with Andy Najar slotting in a right back, as he did earlier this season. Najar is already back in full training and did not play in Honduras' match against Brazil, so he should be fit and ready to play. If for some reason he is not, I would prefer to see Ethan White as the right back, as he has been playing there for the Richmond Kickers this season. Lewis Neal as a left back or Dejan Jakovic in either of the fullback spots should only happen if neither Najar or White can play. After a solid showing against Columbus, Emiliano Dudar will get another start alongside Brandon McDonald.
The rest of the lineup falls into place fairly easily: Bill Hamid in goal, Branko Boskovic and Perry Kitchen in the center of midfield, Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon on the wings, and Dwyane DeRosario and Long Tan up top. With that lineup, the subs seem likely to be Joe Willis, Dejan Jakovic, Maicon Santos, Lewis Neal, Marcelo Saragosa, Ethan White, and Hamdi Salihi.
The real questions will come when either Daniel Woolard or Robbie Russell are healthy enough to start and the musical chairs of attackers swings back into full force. How would you manage the minutes and positions of Dwayne DeRosario, Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, Nick DeLeon, Long Tan, Maicon Santos, and Hamdi Salihi?