It means that the most important player on the field for D.C. United could very well be Perry Kitchen. If he is able to protect the back line, disrupt play, and allow Dejan Jakovic and Emiliano Dudar to keep play in front of them, United will be a long way towards a good result. But if Kitchen is not able to influence the game and if the Sounders' midfield is not harried on the ball, we could be in for a long night.
To see who will be starting with Kitchen, Jakovic, and Dudar, follow me down the rabbit hole.
Obviously, the main change is Jakovic in for McDonald. However, I do wish that Ethan White were healthy enough to challenge Jakovic for the starting spot. White for McDonald is a like for like change, while Jakovic for McDonald gives us less bite in the back, but also gives us less long balls out of the back.
The other question out there is if Andy Najar will come back in and start in the place of Danny Cruz. As we saw at the beginning of last season, Ben Olsen has no problem leaving Najar on the bench if he is not yet up to speed. With Najar coming back to training today after having been gone for two and a half weeks, I would be surprised if he started. If he somehow does, you will know that it is because Najar has beaten Cruz in practice and is rounding back into top form. And after a good performance in Olympic qualifying, who knows?
After Maicon Santos' game against FC Dallas, he will obviously be back in the starting lineup. Although, if all of us criticizing him endlessly made him explode like that, perhaps he will never make the projected starting lineup every again. Hamdi Salihi starts next to him, and the goals are coming for him. There are few things that would endear you to the fans more than scoring a dagger against the Sounders, Hamdi. Just saying.
The bench will likely be Andrew Dykstra, Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, Stephen King, Chris Korb, Josh Wolff, and Branko Boskovic. What do you all see?