Whether by opening a new stadium, setting a club record for longest road trip, or pursuing world-famous players, D.C. United is making some history this year. Tonight they’ll make a little bit more as they face Los Angeles FC for the first time ever. LAFC has hit the ground running in their expansion season, and Bob Bradley’s team has had success with a freewheeling, wide open style of play. For United to go two-for-two in California, they’re going to have to take last week’s solid showing and then step it up a notch.
Key player: Steve Birnbaum
It’s tempting to focus on central midfield again, as LAFC will likely give United some opportunities in that area, but realistically the Black-and-Red need a great defensive showing to get something out of this one. LAFC is scoring over 2 goals per game on the season, and between Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi have been giving defenses fits with movement off the ball and a knack for turning minor chances into goals.
We’re going with Birnbaum today because he’ll most likely see the most of Vela, who likes to cut in from the right to set up left-footed shots. Dealing with Vela isn’t as much a physical challenge as it is a mental one, and even the smallest slip-up can end up being a goal for LAFC. The Mexico international is looking to make his last game before the World Cup a good one, and it’s on Birnbaum and the D.C. defense to make that as difficult as possible.
Location: Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles, CA)
Kickoff time: 10:00pm Eastern
Here are tonight’s lineups:
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4141) - David Ousted; Oniel Fisher, Frederic Brillant, Steve Birnbaum, Nick DeLeon; Chris Durkin; Zoltan Stieber, Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad; Darren Mattocks
Bench: Steve Clark, Kofi Opare, Joseph Mora, Junior Moreno, Ian Harkes, Bruno Miranda, Patrick Mullins
I doubt we see any changes to the starting lineup that beat San Jose last weekend. Mora is back from suspension, so look for him to make the 18 ahead of Jalen Robinson. Moreno being listed as probable likely means he has a spot on the bench too, with Dane Kelly making way.
Projected LAFC starting 11: (433) - Tyler Miller; Steven Beitashour, Dejan Jakovic, Laurent Ciman, Jordan Harvey; Benny Feilhaber, Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye; Latif Blessing, Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi
Marco Ureña and Omar Gaber have joined Costa Rica and Egypt, respectively, for World Cup duty, while Walker Zimmerman is with the USMNT ahead of their friendly against Bolivia. That means starts for former United man Jakovic at center back, Harvey at left back, and Atuesta. There is a chance Norway national team striker Adama Diomande (who only just joined the team) starts, but it seems more likely that he comes into this game as a substitute. If that’s the case, we could see a 4231 without Atuesta in the midfield, or it could be Blessing making way with Vela going out to the right.
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Available TV: NewsChannel 8 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 are you drinking?: I’ve got a feeling this game is going to require a margarita. So for me, it’ll be Sueño blanco, Grand Marnier, and lime juice.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos continued avoidance of calamitous errors!