For D.C. United, tonight's objective is very simple: Avoid defeat against Arabe Unido, and seal a place in the CONCACAF Champions League's quarterfinals. It's the second straight year United has found themselves in a group where their reserve team is still comfortably the strongest lineup of the three, and they've once again relied on being extremely difficult to score on. Arabe and Montego Bay United were both left frustrated by United, who have gone 6 straight group stage games without conceding from open play.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: We've seen plenty of indications that the lineup will see Andrew Dykstra in goal behind a back four of Jalen Robinson, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, and Luke Mishu. Jared Jeffrey will play at the base of a 4132, with Miguel Aguilar, Michael Farfan, and Chris Pontius ahead of him. Up top, look for Facundo Coria and Jairo Arrieta to pair up.
Off the bench, I strongly expect Conor Doyle to get into this one (and actually feel kind of odd not listing him in the starting eleven). Beyond that, it'll depend on how the game is going. If United is trailing, we might see someone like Fabian Espindola or Chris Rolfe. If the game is going according to plan, I hope to see Collin Martin get some minutes.
Match previews: From earlier this afternoon, we talked about Opare in our preview, which links to all of our other previews. Over at MLSsoccer.com Pablo Maurer says Pontius and Birnbaum need to deliver tonight, while Steve Goff's piece for the Washington Post compared United's CCL efforts with their indifferent MLS form.
What are you drinking?: I'll probably stop for an espresso at Peregrine Espresso before heading to RFK, but that's before the game. At RFK? Probably a Tecate, maybe something from the beers of the world stand.
Prediction: I don't expect a very enjoyable first half, but once Arabe decides to open up and chase the win I think things set up well for United. Give me a Pontius header from a set piece to open the scoring before United seals the deal with Aguilar continuing his Golden Boot pursuit by finishing off a counter-attack. 2-0 good guys.
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