All right, so last week’s game didn’t go quite as planned (at least not as I planned). This team is still working itself out, it seems, but you know what? Tomorrow is the perfect opportunity for the Black-and-Red to earn their first win of the new season.
Of course, it may not be a win. The Houston Dynamo are in town and they’re not likely to be a pushover team, and for D.C. United’s part, it’s a “home” game without the (often-mythical) home field advantage. But dropping more points would be a big disappointment this early in the season with so many more away games still to get through before United’s first real home game.
So, let’s take a look at how we think this match will go down.
Donald Wine II
I really hope Joseph Mora is available to play this weekend, because his presence on the back line is going to be crucial for our success. Houston beat Atlanta the same way that Atlanta beat us: finding the hole and exploiting it. Mora can help plug that hole. Will it be enough? I think it’s enough for a draw. An Acosta goal offsets a Houston opener and the Black-and-Red muster a 1-1 draw, leaving more points on the table.
Despite their reputation as one of the best counterattacking teams in MLS, Houston was actually horrid on the road last year, going 1W-7D-9L (which is one fewer point than United managed away from home in 2017). The Dynamo struggled to force teams to play on their terms whenever they had to travel, and they also looked deeply uncomfortable with Vancouver’s style of play, which can be accurately described as “what people actually mean when they pretend #Bennyball is a meaningful term.” They’ve got injuries to contend with at center back and defensive midfield, while Wilmer Cabrera yanked Mauro Manotas in the 55th minute in a move that seemed panicked more than anything else.
As such, I think United has a more winnable game than it would appear at first glance, particularly with Luciano Acosta back in the fold. D.C. should take the lead via Darren Mattocks, who taps in a cross from Yamil Asad. We’ll start to see some of the improved soccer we had hoped for out of this team, but an avoidable free kick will give the Dynamo a set piece equalizer against the run of play (let’s go with Leonardo as the goalscorer). United will dust themselves off and get back to work, and eventually take a second half lead as Acosta sets up Ian Harkes. However, the Black-and-Red can’t quite get out of their own way, and let Alberth Elis score by hesitating on a solo run almost immediately after taking the lead. A frustrating, but perhaps promising, 2-2 draw.
I don’t see this game starting well for United. Alberth Elis takes advantage of the question mark at left back to set up Andrew Wenger (of all people) for an early tally. D.C. responds well though and mostly controls play from there better than we’ve seen this season. It pays off late in he half when Paul Arriola tees up Lucho’s equalizer from just inside the box. The hosts (“hosts”) come out flying after the break but can’t break through. That is, until subs Zoltan Stieber and Patrick Mullins hook up for what should be the game-winner late. It won’t stand, though, because the refs gift the Dynamo a PK in stoppage time. It’s a game hat will feel deflating at the final whistle but we’ll look back on as a good performance. 2-2.
After having been boring old Dom Kinnear or Owen Coyle soccer for years, the Houston Dynamo are low-key exciting. Their midfield will give D.C. United problems, and hopefully Joseph Mora will start and help stave off some of their potent attackers. However, the SoccerPlex is a magical place, and I think that D.C. United does enough to get a win, starting to figure things out on the attacking end. 2-1 for United.
For many of the same reasons that Jason outlined, I have to go with 2-1 D.C. Houston had a bunch of chances that they couldn’t convert on a Vancouver side that was much more content to bunker, D.C. (gasp!) may have the edge centrally with speed to negate what damage Elis or Manotas could do, at a backline that could be even more patchwork than what it was when Philippe Senderos left at halftime last week to injury. Viva Mattocks living up to xG for a change and Yamil Asad getting the other.
I am with Ben about the SoccerPlex as a magical place, and I’m hopeful that we do see a bit of magic in this one. I feel like we’re going to see goals—and you know what? DCU are going to have more of them. Yeah, Houston will score too, whatever, it’s fine. But in the end, it’s the Black-and-Red who get the 3-1 win, thanks to Mattocks, Asad, and Mullins. Gimme that win.
Agree? Disagree? Tell us your prediction in the comments, and here’s your silly poll for the week.
This week I had to continuously do battle with an incessantly beeping smoke detector. What should I have done instead of putting up with it for days until maintenance finally figured out and fixed the problem?
This poll is closed
Stayed in a hotel and deducted the cost out of my next rent check
Emailed my building’s maintenance every hour with a video of that scene from Friends when Phoebe’s smoke detector won’t stop beeping
Forcibly removed the smoke detector from the ceiling and put it in the freezer
Tracked down a maintenance guy and followed him around with a loud beeping noise in his wake
Called the fire department and asked them to fix it instead