As we discussed in the wake of the injury to Dwayne De Rosario, when you lose players you cannot blindly stick to a system and hope your other players can fill their roles. Ben Olsen took a look at his team as a whole and tweaked his style to best fit the players he had available. But we still assumed that Olsen would continue to play with a target forward and a withdrawn forward, and in a way he did.
Both Maicon Santos and Lionard Pajoy can play the target forward role, but both have good enough ball skills that they can impersonate a more withdrawn forward as well. Pajoy has been steady, if unspectacular, since his arrival in the District, and Santos showed some of the fire that made him a terror throughout the league earlier this season. They might not be the pairing that we expected to see, but they are the pairing that has Ben Olsen's confidence right now. The Hamdi Salihi question is the new Branko Boskovic question, and it has and will be continued to be asked. But for who I actually think will start on Thursday? See below.
Not surprisingly, the team that I picked to face the Philadelphia Union is the exact same one that Ben Olsen ran out against the New England Revolution. I like the fact that Branko Boskovic was angry that he was taken out of this past game in the 55th minute; Ben Olsen has shown that he is more than willing to anger his players, within reason, in order to motivate them. (Although, late breaking twitter quotes have Boskovic saying "Maybe I look like this, that I'm tired, I'm not ready, but that's how I play, that's how I run. I can't change myself.) If this makes Boskovic want to show Olsen how wrong he was, D.C. United can only benefit. And his service from free kicks is already improving, closer to what he was providing in May.