After three long months, D.C. United is back on the field for something other than training. As has become a preseason custom, they’ll take on Swedish power Malmö FF at Florida’s IMG Academy today. The Black-and-Red have never beaten Di Blåe, conceding a first half goal in each of their three previous meetings en route to a 0W-2D-1L record against the club that has won four of the last five Allsvenskan championships.
Today, it’s far more about the performance than getting a win...but after 2017, a win would sure be nice.
Key player: Patrick Mullins
With Ben Olsen talking up Darren Mattocks and fans frustrated over there being no big-time Designated Player signing up top, Mullins is under plenty of pressure to rebound from last year’s struggles. The word out of camp is that he’s fitter than he was at this time last year, which is a positive. Preseason goals don’t count for much, but when you’re coming off of a rough year they can help build the confidence that Mullins lacked throughout 2017.
What else, beyond goals, are we looking for out of him? It would be great to see his connection with Luciano Acosta looking closer to what we saw in 2016, and building his understanding with the rest of the attack would be a big positive too. Overall, we’re far enough out that a strong performance that shows real potential this season is a bigger deal than anything else.
Location: IMG Academy Soccer Stadium (Bradenton, FL)
Kickoff time: 2:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - David Ousted; Nick DeLeon, Frederic Brillant, Steve Birnbaum, John Requejo Jr.; Russell Canouse, Ulises Segura; Bruno Miranda, Luciano Acosta, Zoltan Stieber; Patrick Mullins
Bench: everyone else, though Yamil Asad (just arrived in camp today) and Taylor Kemp (caution over his recovery from hip surgery) may not end up taking part
I’m guessing that the reasonable choice to go slow with Kemp means a real chance for Requejo to prove he belongs, but realistically this is a wild guess. I suspect that, since Arriola had a head start at USMNT camp, they’ll take a look at Miranda on the right. I’d go with Segura there, but Untied has repeatedly emphasized an interest in seeing him as a #8 first.
Available TV: None
Available streaming: IMG Academy’s Youtube page
What do we have to say about it?: Stay tuned, because we have a couple of things about today’s game and the preseason in general coming up later this morning. In the meantime, Malmö has a preview which (per Google Translate) says that they’re planning on pushing some starters in terms of minutes, as they have a Swedish Cup game approaching in the near future.
What are you drinking?: Most likely just a glass of water. If I’m hitting a post-lunch lull, I might upgrade to coffee.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos watching soccer!