D.C. United takes on the Columbus Crew this weekend and will have to do so without their full complement of players. Junior Moreno picked up a knock in the game against the Houston Dynamo, Ulises Segura is with the Costa Rican national team, Oniel Fisher and Dane Kelly are with Jamaica, and Zoltan Stieber is with the Hungarian national team. With three starters out, Ben Olsen will have some decisions to make.
The first choice Olsen will make is putting Paul Arriola back in the starting lineup for the departed Stieber. I am not sure if starting Stieber over him was tactical or fitness related, but Arriola’s entrance helped shape the game; he looked lively, quick, and impactful, and Stieber has yet to find a consistent groove these first few games.
Almost as easy a swap is bringing on Chris Durkin for the injured Junior Moreno. Durkin played well in the last 20 minutes of the game, and has impressed in his substitute appearances as well. Moreno has not locked down the defensive midfield starter role, and with Russell Canouse still out Durkin has a chance to lay his claim. If he can continue to show the passing we have seen glimpses of, he may beat out all other contenders.
The final change comes in central midfield and Ian Harkes is the leading candidate to replace Ulises Segura for this game. Given the signing of Joseph Mora, I think that there was a small chance that would Olsen move Nick DeLeon from right back to central midfield, where he played a couple of years ago. However, with Oniel Fisher on international duty for Jamaica, DeLeon is far too valuable at right back to move.
Arriola would be the oldest player in this midfield, with he, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad, and Harkes all born within a year of each other or so. The would be supporting Darren Mattocks up top, whose play has been solid enough to keep starting. The defense would also remain the same as the last game, with Mora and DeLeon flanking Frederic Brillant and Steve Birnbaum.
With this lineup, the bench would consist of Steve Clark, Kofi Opare, Jalen Robinson, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Jared Jeffrey, Junior Moreno, Patrick Mullins. What do you want to see Ben Olsen do this weekend?