This has been the season in which D.C. United has broken through all of the things they hadn't done in years. Win two games in a row for the first time in three years? Check. Make the playoffs for the first time since 2007 despite playing the last month without the reigning league MVP? Check. Win a playoff series for the first time since 2006, against the hated rivals, despite storms, snow, red cards, and encroachment? Check plus. Do all of this despite all of the pundits saying that United is mediocre and are underdogs against the Columbus Crew, the New York Red Bulls, and now the Houston Dynamo? You bet.
Bill Hamid screaming "They can't hold us back!" is a perfect summation of all of that. Despite everything, this is a team that does nothing but grinds out ugly wins. Can they go down into Houston, a place where they have 8 losses and 1 tie all-time, and get a result in BBVA Compass Stadium? Well, the team never has before, but they can't hold us back.
So far, Ben Olsen has had three opportunities to show us what formation he wants to start with for the playoffs; both times, however, he has been unable to show us what his preferred substitution patterns would be. With all that in mind, I am going to go with the same starting 11 for this game that we saw against New York. Houston often seems to run all over United, but they have not seem our 4-5-1 yet.
With Bill Hamid suspended for this match and Andy Najar suspended for an additional two matches for throwing the ball at Jair Maruffo, Joe Willis and Robbie Russell will step into their places. And for two players who haven't played in months, they both stepped right in and were immediately impressive. The only change for the last match against the MetroStars is that I am projecting/hoping that Chris Korb will be healthy enough to start at left back; while Robbie Russell did a solid job defensively and was excellent on the assist, Korb can get up and down the field more and be more consistent in providing service. If Korb can't go? I would think we would see LEWIS NEAL again, but with every day that passes there is a larger chance that Daniel Woolard could get back on the field.
As for the subs? Andrew Dykstra, Hamdi Salihi, Maicon Santos, Daniel Woolard, Emiliano Dudar, LEWIS NEAL, and Dwayne De Rosario. Since we haven't had a chance to see it yet, here is your homework for this post: what substitution pattern would you like to see from Ben Olsen, provided no red cards?