It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it nonetheless: D.C. United are not playing well. Normally, a three-game home stint would end in some sweet, sweet points to buoy a team into a couple road trips, but the Black-and-Red are instead coming off three losses in a row.
So, you know, times are not super fun. And while it is possible that DCU bounce back in a big way and somehow eek out some away wins in the next week, it doesn’t seem very likely. We’re not predicting great things for this weekend’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Donald Wine II
The Black-and-Red hit the road to Vancouver and hopefully it’s after a week of soul searching to figure out how to put goals on the scoreboard. We get Lucho Acosta back in the midfield, which has really had some struggles the past few weeks. Will his return mean some creativity can lead to more scoring chances? I hope so, but I’m not ready to call us cured just yet. I think we do much better on defense and Bill Hamid does Bill Hamid things, but still struggle on offense on the turf. The result: a scoreless draw.
Call it a hunch, but I think Lucho may fly, but not start with, a starting XI that will look depressingly a lot like last week's, which is a bummer because I'll be going to this thing and eschewing a Cascadia rivalry match in Seattle as an added consequence. Consequently, the Whitecaps rested their guys and they'll be ready to go at home, on that ghastly turf. 2-0 Caps as the malaise lingers and festers.
First, let me hand it to the schedule-makers. As if sending United on three separate cross-continent trips to the Pacific Northwest for the second time in three years wasn't enough, forcing a Vancouver-to-Orlando trip on short rest is its own special kind of nuts. Facing these idiotic travel requirements, I think Ben Olsen opts to rotate his squad this weekend—especially since the team's recent performances haven't exactly forced him to maintain continuity.
So, here's me being both optimistic and cynical at the same time: United will succeed in making this an ugly game. With the turf, the travel and the shorthanded roster, los Capitalinos try to gum up the works and keep the Whitecaps from pinning their ears back in transition. It won't look pretty, but with some newfound focus, the central midfield and center backs step up. Patrick Mullins finally breaks his 2017 duck on one of United's few scoring opportunities, but the 'Caps net a set piece goal late, and the Black-and-Red leave British Columbia having earned a battered point.
With Matias Laba suspended, there's a domino effect in the Vancouver midfield that benefits United. Andrew Jacobson has to move back into a defensive role that he isn't all that great at, and Christian Bolaños will have to slide in from the wing—where he's been very good lately—and into the middle. Carl Robinson has started getting results lately with a very defensive mindset in central midfield, and having no natural replacement for Laba will force the Whitecaps into a more open starting eleven.
United has usually done better than expected in Vancouver, and I even see them taking the lead in this one (let's go with a very scrappy, ugly goal for Patrick Mullins, who badly needs something to get into the back of the net). However, the Whitecaps are already in their more attacking alignment due to the Laba suspension, and they get themselves back ahead 2-1 before halftime on goals from Cristian Techera and Fredy Montero. United shows some life in the second half as Vancouver flirts with mismanaging their lead, but ultimately a somewhat weakened United lineup—remember, there's an Eastern Conference game on Wednesday in Orlando—can't take advantage. 2-1 Whitecaps.
D.C. United, on the road, across the country, does not sound like a recipe for success. Especially given the fact that their offense has been non-existent the last few weeks and Vancouver has some highlight reel goals this season. I am trying to talk myself into something better than expected, but I just don't see it. 2-1 win for the Whitecaps with United at least finally getting back on the scoreboard, but it isn't enough without a full-strength Luciano Acosta.
Vancouver hasn't lost at home in league play since March 18th, which is a streak that includes four games and ten goals scored. For perspective, D.C. United has scored just one more goal than that in all 11 of their matches. This does not bode well for a DCU team that didn't score a goal over their three-game home stand. Even assuming that Luciano Acosta's "moody ankle" is fine, it's a bleak outlook for United. Vancouver wins 2-0 with a brace from Fredy Montero.
I’m going full pessimist here. A road trip to Vancouver is already a tough match-up, and the subsequent trip all the way down to Orlando certainly won’t help. Unless the Black-and-Red rally like we have no reason to believe they will, this one has zero points written all over it to me. I don’t even think DCU get on the scoreboard. The Whitecaps, however, will net two, and it ends 2-0 with nothing positive to show for the visitors.
How do you think tomorrow’s game will go? Let us know in the comments, but not before you take this week’s silly poll:
Instead of returning to D.C. after another disappointing game, Ben Olsen is just going to stay in Vancouver and change careers. He’s now starring in a Vancouver-produced TV show—but which one?
This poll is closed