With so many away games in the first half of 2018, the Black-and-Red won’t have the luxury to accept poor road results and still have a successful season. But with a new home stadium and an ultimately disappointing 2017, this team is surely feeling the pressure to succeed.
So, do things get off on the right foot in Orlando?
Donald Wine II
The dawn of a new season is upon us, and the expectation is that we’re going to turn it around and take the league by storm, winning all the trophies and going undefeated. Well, I think we should start by beating Orlando City. I think it’s gonna be a rocky start, with Orlando scoring the first goal. Then, United settles down and we see two goals off the counter attack. Arriola is the playmaker, setting up goals for Yamil Asad and Ulises Segura, and the good guys start off with a 2-1 victory and three points in the bank.
So Orlando is missing Sacha Kljestan, Dom Dwyer, Josue Colman, and Uri Rosell, all of whom would presumably be starters in their lineup, and center back Lamine Sane miiight be skipping the opener too? Given Orlando’s secrecy combined with familiarity bias with who I’ve seen on D.C., I’ll co-sign Donald’s result, with D.C. getting their first win at Orlando’s new home, with Asad and Zoltan Stieber scoring for the good guys.
It is very easy to be optimistic for the first match of the season. It’s even easier when Orlando is going to be missing nearly half of their presumed starting lineup. D.C. United will be without Luciano Acosta, but there have been upgrades in many other positions from last season’s final match lineup, including goalkeeper (as long as Ousted starts). With Dom Dwyer out, and Cyle Larin contentiously and, ironically, acrimoniously gone to Turkey, Orlando will be missing their first choice strikers. I’ve got a 2-0 win for D.C., with goals by Patrick Mullins and Paul Arriola. Why not?
The good news about United’s commitment to direct, counterpunching attack is that it should come together more quickly than intricate, possession-based units. Like the one Jason Kreis is (probably—we haven’t seen tape) putting together in Orlando. I think the opener is defined by mistakes with the ball, and punishment thereof. Yamil Asad forces a turnover in the OCSC half and puts Mattocks in behind for the opener late in the first half. A possession miscue in United’s end gifts Justin Meram his first goal in purple shortly after the break. From there, both sides go close but no winners are forthcoming. Everybody leaves with plenty to be encouraged by, and to work on, from a 1-1 draw.
This is the perfect time to be playing Orlando, who have rebuilt their team just as much as United did this offseason. Both teams will be lacking familiarity with their teammates, and on top of that the Lions are missing even more of their potential starting 11 than the Black-and-Red. No Dwyer, no Kljestan, no Rosell, no Colman...that’s a lot missing.
Still, I can’t bring myself to fully embrace the possibility of getting one of the (needed) early-season road wins just yet. I expect United to get off to a good start, with Darren Mattocks notching DCU’s first goal of 2018 from (who else?) Zoltan Stieber. However, some slack defending in the second half will eventually cost United some points, with longtime United killer Justin Meram scoring a traditional Justin Meram goal. 1-1.
And no, I didn’t just copy Adam’s prediction.
I want to be 1000% elephants in on DCU starting the season with three points, done and done, but I just can’t quite see it. It’s true that Orlando isn’t at full strength, sure, but I think the Black-and-Red still need time to gel, and expecting a win right out of the gate might be too much. I have to believe we’ll see goals, though—so I’m also going the 1-1 route, with Stieber scoring for the visitors.
What are you predicting for DCU’s first game of 2018? Let us know in the comments! And you know there’s a silly poll for you, too.
It’s Oscars weekend! Choose an award winner.
This poll is closed
Zoltan Stieber for Leading Actor
David Ousted for Supporting Actor
Paul Arriola for Makeup and Hairstyling
Luciano Acosta for Visual Effects
Yamil Asad for Short Film (Live Action)