D.C. United’s strangest season comes to an end today, on the road against the Chicago Fire. After the longest set of consecutive road games the team had ever faced, the opening of a brand-new stadium, the signing of Wayne Rooney, and a seven-game home stand that has coincided with arguably their best form in half a decade, the Black-and-Red are looking to keep a five-match winning streak going in their regular season finale. A victory guarantees a home playoff game, which could see this remarkable run carry on for some time yet.
Key player: Yamil Asad
Last week, once we realized that Asad could clinch United’s first season with four players with 10 goals, we were always likely to have Asad as the key player. Then, Steven Streff spent some time digging, and...
So I checked every season for every team on the #MLS website. So there’s a bit of a caveat here, but if Yamil Asad scores next weekend, #DCU will be the first team in which 4 players reached double digit regular season goals in one year.— Steven Streff (@streffsoccer) October 22, 2018
So now we’re trying to make MLS history here. That’s pretty exciting, and a great tribute to how this team attacks these days.
United should certainly not completely go all-in on passing to Asad to such an extent that it hurts their chances, but there’s a good reason to focus on Asad that have nothing to do with records. The Fire’s right back situation appears unsettled, and their normal starting right-center back is suspended. These are the players that Asad torments on a normal basis, and that is by itself a good reason to feed him the ball as often as possible. Given the players that will be lining up against him, United’s chances of winning this game go up a little bit every time someone finds Asad.
Location: Toyota Park (Bridgeview, IL)
Kickoff time: 4:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Nick DeLeon, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse; Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad; Wayne Rooney
Bench: Travis Worra, Kevin Ellis, Jalen Robinson, Chris Durkin, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber, Darren Mattocks
With United most likely not rotating due to their pursuit of a home playoff game, the only questions are on the right side. Arriola is a sure bet to start, but will he be on the wing or playing right back again? If it’s the latter, Segura is the favorite to start in the open midfield spot. If not, DeLeon’s ability to play 90 and bounce back is the question. He still needs games to build that up, but if you play him from the start in this one, he might not be ready to go in a mid-week playoff game. And if you hold him out, is it Robinson or Ellis starting at right back instead?
Projected Chicago starting 11: (4231) - Patrick McLain; Diego Campos, Jonathan Campbell, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Brandon Vincent; Dax McCarty, Brandt Bronico; Aleksandar Katai, Djordje Mihailovic, Michael de Leeuw; Nemanja Nikolic
Veljko Paunovic could just throw a bunch of kids out there that haven’t gotten a look, but all signs point to more or less his recent starting group. Right back could go to Campos, Jorge Corrales, Nicolas Hasler, or possibly Matt Polster. Johan Kappelhof is suspended, and is likely to be replaced by Campbell. Raheem Edwards, who had Chicago’s goal in the previous meeting, could very well start over de Leeuw on the left.
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Available TV: WJLA 24/7 and regional affiliates (check the link for the over-the-air alternate channel in your area), including CW Richmond in RVA.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: Here’s your handy guide to United’s playoff scenarios. Beyond that, we’ve got a report from training on Wednesday, an episode of Filibuster looking ahead to the postseason, and a look at Chicago’s probable lineup.
What are you drinking?: I have forgotten what it’s like to watch United at home. If I get around to it tomorrow, I’ll go pick up some beer, but otherwise I’m probably going to make a bourbon cocktail of some sort.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos one more win!