The rapid-fire schedule continues tonight for D.C. United, who will face the Philadelphia Union tonight in US Open Cup play. This will be the first USOC visit to PPL Park for United, however, as the near-annual tradition of these teams facing each other in cup play has previously involved the Maryland Soccerplex. Both clubs are coming off of draws on Saturday, but since United has yet another game in three days while the Union are off, expect to see the home side field their best possible squad. To advance to the quarterfinals, United will have to get the job done while resting some big names.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: Expect major changes from the team that played in Toronto. I think we'll see Andrew Dykstra in goal behind a back four of Jalen Robinson, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, and Luke Mishu. Markus Halsti will play the deep midfield role in a 4141, with Miguel Aguilar, Facundo Coria, Luis Silva, and Conor Doyle ahead of him. Jairo Arrieta will be up top.
The subs that enter will entirely depend on how the game is going. United will not want to use the likes of Fabian Espindola or Chris Rolfe if they don't have to, but Ben Olsen will probably bring them in if the Union are leading or if there's a chance to turn a draw into a win in regulation. If United is leading, you can bank on seeing Perry Kitchen coming on. Maybe the only player I'm expecting to see is Nick DeLeon, though whether he plays on a wing or in the middle will depend on the scoreboard.
Match previews: We've made attempts to guess United's lineup as well as Philadelphia's, and we're predicting that United advances to the quarterfinals as well. We traded questions with The Brotherly Game, and our preview talks about the importance of matching the Union's hunger to win this game.
What are you drinking: It's hotter than I expected it to be today and the only solution is a Green Hat gin rickey.
Prediction: In heavy rain, I expect a sloppy, plodding affair. The Union will be pouring all their energy into this one, but they'll be undone by a lack of quality while United is probably looking at plenty of attacks breaking down as Arrieta goes offside. Things will improve after halftime, where both sides will score (I'm thinking Silva for United and CJ Sapong for Philly). There will be extra time because in 2015 United is always given more work to do, and while both teams will go close it will remain 1-1. United will go through on penalties after the Union misses the net entirely with two of their PK attempts.
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