The 2017 season hasn’t gone that well for D.C. United, but the team’s MLS struggles don’t have any direct impact on making a US Open Cup run. A 4-1 win over Christos FC, the amateur darlings of the tournament so far, was trickier than the scoreline indicates, and the reward was today’s trip north to face the New England Revolution. The pair of MLS originals square off today at Harvard University’s Jordan Field, with the winner getting to host a quarterfinal against either the New York Red Bulls or the Philadelphia Union.
United could use some good news, and the Revs might be able to provide some. Most importantly, New England will be missing three players due to international duty, and have a further six players who are either out or questionable due to injury. Recent history points to the Black-and-Red having a distinct edge over New England as well. In the last seven meetings between the sides, United has gone 4W-3D-0L, scoring twelve times while only conceding five.
Key player: Patrick Nyarko
As was made abundantly clear a week ago, this team goes up to another level with an energetic Nyarko tormenting opposing right backs. Whether it’s using his speed, his dribbling ability, or crashing the back post, Nyarko adds width, creativity, and a goal threat that United doesn’t seem built to succeed without.
With New England having to field either a dinged-up Andrew Farrell or a backup like London Woodberry at right back, deploying Nyarko from the start and focusing on giving him the best platform to take control of this game is huge for United. DCU has struggled to grind teams down on the road - remember, the last meeting between these two teams finished 2-2, and both teams could have ended up with 3 or 4 goals - so it hardly seems likely that today’s the day they’re going to suffocate someone and win via a scrappy goal.
United might not get a full 90 out of Nyarko, as Saturday’s game against the Impact is a huge playoff bellwether, so making the most of his time in the game is critical.
Location: Jordan Field (Boston, MA)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Travis Worra; Chris Korb, Steve Birnbaum, Jalen Robinson, Taylor Kemp; Chris Durkin, Marcelo Sarvas; Sebastien Le Toux, Julian Buescher, Patrick Nyarko; Jose Ortiz
Bench: Eric Klenofsky, Kofi Opare, Sean Franklin, Rob Vincent, Luciano Acosta, Lamar Neagle, and either Ian Harkes or Jared Jeffrey
Deshorn Brown is cup tied due to an appearance for the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and Lloyd Sam was posting on social media from a dinner in DC while the team was setting up in Boston, so the attacking options are not exactly numerous. Franklin did make the trip, though, and I suspect we’ll see him play 30-45 minutes (likely subbing in for Kemp, with the weekend’s trip to Montreal in mind).
Projected New England starting 11: (4231) - Brad Knighton; London Woodberry, Joshua Smith, Benjamin Angoua, Chris Tierney; Zachary Herivaux, Je-Vaughn Watson; Teal Bunbury, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez; Kei Kamara
This is pretty much all of the healthy New England players. They may seriously need to carry two goalkeepers just to make a full gameday 18. Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe have been called up by the USMNT, and Gershon Koffie is with Ghana. Numerous starters (including Antonio Delamea, Scott Caldwell, and Xavier Kouassi) are hurt. Andrew Farrell might slide in at right back or as a defensive midfielder, but he was limping for the final 5 minutes on the weekend.
Available TV: None
What do we have to say about it?: We discussed the Revs and their crushing injury situation on Filibuster, and Opposition 11 will go even more in depth when it comes out in a couple of hours.
What are you drinking?: I’m keeping it local tonight. 3 Stars Brewing Company’s Peppercorn Saison. Great summer beer that I’ve probably mentioned here a few times by now.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos cup run!