D.C. United enters tonight's match coming off a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union, but the bigger story is probably the fact that United fielded the youngest starting eleven in club history on the night. With injuries holding several starters and oft-used subs out, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a similarly youthful lineup tonight. The Montreal Impact are struggling for form at the moment, though, and United's 3-1 win over the Voyageurs Cup champions was probably the single best league performance we've seen from the Black-and-Red in 2013. Can the kids repeat the trick against the far more experienced Impact?
Time: 7pm World's most powerful city time
Venue: Stade Saputo, Montreal, Canada
TV/Streaming: CSN Washington in the DMV, MLS Live elsewhere
Match previews: United's site has a preview, a video with keys to the match featuring GK coach/awesomely-named Maryland native Preston Burpo, and player connections if you're into that. MLSsoccer.com's preview includes a note that tonight's referee is Ismail Elfath, who has given 7 penalty kicks and 5 red cards in 18 career matches, while Nick Cammarota's piece on United talks injuries. Steve Goff of the Washington Post points out that the Impact are 7W-3D-1L at home. Here on B&RU, some jerk scouted the Impact.
North of the border, TSN is focused on Dennis Iapichino, who a few days ago would have lined up for the Impact instead of United. Our friends at Mount Royal Soccer are wondering about whether the Impact will prioritize CCL play over tonight's game, while noting that recent signing Adrian Lopez Rodriguez won't play and calling for the fullbacks to help the attack.
D.C. United Lineup Projection: Injuries will dictate Ben Olsen's selection, but in the back it seems safe to expect Chris Korb, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard, and James Riley - it's probably a week too soon for Iapichino - as the back four. Who will be behind them? Bill Hamid seems the more likely choice, but by playing Joe Willis against the Impact a couple weeks ago, Olsen opened up the possibility of a real battle for time between the sticks. The smart money is still on our #1...who wears #28, but whatever.
In the midfield, we'll see Nick DeLeon and Kyle Porter on the wings (especially now that Chris Pontius and Sainey Nyassi have been confirmed as Out for today's game). In the middle, Perry Kitchen is a definite, while either John Thorrington or Jared Jeffrey will start alongside him. Given Jeffrey's success against the Impact at RFK, it wouldn't be a shock to see the young Texan get the nod. Luis Silva is questionable, but given that he practiced at 100% this week, I think we'll see him at attacking midfield and Dwayne De Rosario captaining the side up front. If Silva can't go, it'll be De Ro underneath and Conor Doyle leading the line. Ben's piece from earlier this week looks into the issue further.
Match Prediction: I'm probably overthinking this, but there is some reason for optimism. The Impact have not responded well to the growing pressure their playoff spot is under, while United arrives in Quebec with no pressure and no expectations. DCU's style and personnel match up well with the Impact, but our ability to generate actual chances largely rides on whether Silva is fit to play. I want to get nuts and predict a high-scoring draw, but ultimately injuries will probably leave United lacking in the kind of experience it takes to pick up a result on the road. 2-1 Impact.
What Are You Drinking?: I'm just finishing a dark roast coffee from Panera Bread at the moment, but at kickoff I'll be enjoying a Dogfish Head Chicory Stout.