And just like that, the season is here. On Tuesday evening, D.C. United takes on Queretaro in the first league of their Concacaf Champions League knockout round tilt. Ben Olsen has had a month of preseason to figure out both who will make the final roster for the team, as well as who will be his starters for this key game.
While tonight's game might feature a final wrinkle, I think that Ben Olsen is going to go with the starting XI that he featured in the midweek game against the Philadelphia Union. That means a very familiar back line of Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp, all playing in front of Andrew Dykstra (who had a full preseason this year and isn't recovering from any ankle injuries).
The midfield is almost completely brand-new versus last year, with Nick DeLeon the only consistent starter from last year's team. He is joined by Marcelo Sarvas and Markus Halsti in central midfield, Patrick Nyarko on the other flank, and Luciano Acosta in the free role underneath the striker. Of course, Fabian Espindola roves the front line.
There are two possible wrinkles I see to this lineup. Chris Rolfe could start on the left, with DeLeon moving to the right, but I think that his recovery from tendinitis will leave him as the first sub off the bench. The second is that Nick DeLeon could start in the center, in place of either Sarvas or Halsti; D.C. United's attack against the Union picked up when he was moved there in the second half. This would require either Chris Rolfe to be able to start or Miguel Aguilar or Rob Vincent be ready to take on that role.
For the bench, Olsen will take Travis Worra, Miguel Aguilar, Julian Buescher, Kofi Opare, Chris Rolfe, Alvaro Saborio, and Rob Vincent. Obviously all of this could change based on this afternoon's match, but Wednesday's match is a better indicator.
What do you want to see Ben Olsen do on Tuesday night?