After a few weeks off from league play, D.C. United will take their conference best 27 points to Philadelphia to face the Union. This break has given players time to get healthy and get back into some game time, with Emiliano Dudar and Ethan White making return appearances in Richmond. Danny Cruz has also started practicing again and Chris Pontius made an appearance in the most recent Reserve League match, and so the team is inching back to full fitness, with all of the lineup management issues that it brings.
United is facing a team to which it recently lost, even if it was in the Open Cup. The Philadelphia Union went on to lose their next
Open Cup game to the Harrisburg City Islanders (update: in a friendly), which makes United's loss just a little more painful. (Although, to be fair, Harrisburg has beaten the other three I-95 teams, so good for them!) United's difference maker, Dwayne De Rosario, will be back for this game and Ben Olsen will not accept a similar performance. This team will be ready, and this team will be looking for revenge.
After two games with the Canadian Men's National Team, Dwayne De Rosario will only be back with the team for a day or two before Saturday's match. That said, there is no question that DeRo starts, but only a question of where. I would consider putting DeRo back up top so that he does not have to do as much defensive dirty work as he does when he is in the midfield. Just let him be creative up top and hopefully bring him out for Hamdi Salihi in the 60th minute.
The only other questions are on the back line. Presumptive starters Emiliano Dudar and Robbie Russell did not look good in the Open Cup match against Philadelphia and Dejan Jakovic has been sitting on the bench for Canada. I still believe that both Dudar and Russell will get the start, but I am curious as to how close Chris Korb is behind Robbie Russell right now. He did well when Russell was injured and has made marked improvements over the course of the year.
As for the subs, I see Joe Willis, Chris Pontius, Hamdi Salihi, Chris Korb, Stephen King, Lewis Neal, and Dejan Jakovic. What do you all see? I know I am excited to get back to MLS play!