There's a time and a place for these sorts of events. In the middle of a crowded schedule for a team that's fighting for its playoff and/or CCL lives while coping with injuries is a terrible time for an international friendly.
But what about on a lonely weekend without another game scheduled within seven days before or after? What about for a team that has no extracurricular trophy aspirations outside of MLS at the moment? What about for a young team that's still working on developing its chemistry and still trying to find its absolute best starting lineup? That describes the perfect time and place for an international friendly, and that's exactly what's going on with DC United right now.
Sunday's match against Dutch champion Ajax is a chance to try new things, or to keep working on improving old things. Its also a chance for United to gain some momentum heading into a west coast road trip that follows.
So who would we like to see playing for United on Sunday? I'd like to see a combination of old and new. The same back line that held its opponents scoreless from the run of play in its recent three game home stand should be together again. That means Perry Kitchen, Dejan Jakovic, Ethan White, and Daniel Woolard should all start in defense, and Bill Hamid should start in goal.
In the midfield and up top I'd like to try something a little bit different. It should come with very little surprise to my loyal readers that I'm hoping to see Dax McCarty and Stephen King together in central midfield, but I think its unlikely and Clyde Simms will start instead of King. On the outside, United should use Andy Najar and Santino Quaranta, to allow Chris Pontius to move up top, joining Blake Brettschneider.
Of course we should keep in mind that there are unlimited substitutions in these friendly matches, so we can probably expect to see every single healthy member of United's team, meaning there will be lots of opportunities to try some different combinations.
Who or what would you like to see for D.C. on Sunday?
(Note: Some tickets for D.C. United vs. Ajax are currently available for less than $30)