D.C. United comes into the final bend of the season needing points, and lots of them, to try and get into the playoffs. Since this feature last ran, the team and settled into a new lineup, moving away from the 4-4-2 and into a 4-1-4-1 with Patrick Mullins leading the line. The result has been a better run of form than at any other time this year, going six unbeaten before the game against NYCFC. It will be in this formation that they will finish out the year, but injuries and performances mean that a couple spots are up for grabs.
In central midfield, the trio will remain the same: Luciano Acosta, Marcelo Sarvas, and Rob Vincent, from front to back. Jared Jeffrey still seems to be a week or two away from fully recovering from his concussion, and having Rob Vincent in the deepest role instead of Sarvas frees up Marcelo to be more influential. Patrick Nyarko, despite his performance last week, still has enough of a cache of playing well that he gets the start, and I think Lloyd Sam does as well. Sam plays in a better ball from free kicks than any of the other starters, and better than Lamar Neagle, so I think he keeps his spot on the field for that reason. Julian Buescher has been the free kick taker with Sam off, and he and Neagle have worked well together.
The back line will stay mostly the same, with Taylor Kemp, Bobby Boswell, and Steve Birnbaum all in their regular spots. However, after two weeks in a row with key mistakes, I think Ben Olsen will have to replace Luke Mishu at right back. Nick DeLeon is definitely an option at home, as he gives a good attacking option, but my preference would to be to see Jalen Robinson. He is definitely a center back, and not a full-time right back, at this point, but he is a full-time defender, and his ability in the air could have prevented the first Chicago goal last week. He is also strong and defense-first, which will be necessary against Kaka or Kevin Molino. Of course, Bill Hamid will be on the goal line, and Patrick Mullins will lead the attack.
With this lineup, the subs would be Travis Worra, Luke Mishu, Julian Buescher, Lamar Neagle, Nick DeLeon, Kennedy Igboananike, and Alvaro Saborio. What do you want to see Ben Olsen do this weekend?