Our long national nightmare is over. Tonight, we watch D.C. United play soccer - albeit in a meaningless preseason friendly against a half-strength Toronto FC side that will be without basically all of their big name offseason acquisitions. But it's a soccer match all the same. United will be without Eddie Johnson, who is still on leave following his January adventure with Jurgen Klinsmann's USA squad, and TFC will be without Jermain Defoe, Gilberto and Jackson, as the first remains with Tottenham Hotspur until closer to the start of the MLS season and the latter two are dealing with paperwork issues.
But there will be some new - and old, but new again - faces on the field for each team. Dwayne De Rosario will almost certainly make his second debut for the Reds, and Michael Bradley should see at least a few minutes. Meanwhile, Bobby Boswell will likely start for the Black-and-Red, joining other new faces like Davy Arnaud, Fabian Espindola, draft picks Steve Birnbaum and Victor Munoz, as well as the Professor and Mary Anne.
Let's get to it.
Time: 7pm EST
Venue: IMG Academy Field, Bradenton, Fla.
Live Streaming: It'll be on YouTube, so we've embedded it here (yay, YouTube!) - and it should be archived in the same player shortly after fulltime, meaning you should be able to watch it again afterward. It's also showing at dcunited.com/live and mlssoccer.com/live.
Previews: We didn't really set this game up here, but our friends over at Waking the Red teed it up from the TFC perspective, and dcunited.com has this video preview. Steve Goff also has some pregame notes from Florida.
Projected DCU Lineup: This is a very silly exercise - because preseason - but let's try it anyway. Look for a classic Ben Olsen 4-2-3-1 backstopped by
Bill Hamid Joe Willis for one half and Andrew Dykstra for the other. In defense, look for newcomers Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell and Jeff Parke to join Chris Korb (out with a bone bruise). I expect Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud to pair in central midfield behind the more attacking trio of Nick DeLeon, Luis Silva and Chris Pontius (recovering from hamstring surgery) Kyle Porter. Up top it'll be Fabian Espindola (sprained ankle) either Conor Doyle or Michael Seaton. I wouldn't expect to see anybody on the field for more than an hour, and the majority will likely play a half or less, as this is just the first of several preseason games United will play over the next few weeks.
Prediction: You will hear the phrases "build fitnesss" and "team chemistry" so many times you'll want to tear your ears off and feed them to your dog. The scoreline won't matter.
What Are You Drinking?: I'll be having something whiskey based. Exactly what, I haven't decided as I write this. If you're desperate to find out, be sure to check the comments.
This is the place for pre-game, in-game and post-game conversation, so have at it.