D.C. United has turned their 2018 season around, with Wayne Rooney’s arrival and a home-heavy slate of games allowing the Black-and-Red to find some of their best form in the entire Ben Olsen era. Still, carrying that further may well require breaking a seven-game winless streak away from Buzzard Point, and it will probably require beating some of MLS’s top teams. That’s the job today against their hated rival, the New York Red Bulls, who probably have to win to maintain a serious challenge for the Supporters Shield.
United is looking to disrupt some unpleasant recent history at Red Bull Arena, a venue they haven’t won at since 2012’s famous playoff victory. Since then, United has just 3 draws to show for their last 10 visits to north Jersey. Breaking that streak today would be a huge statement for D.C. to the rest of the East that this recent form isn’t just about being at home all the time.
Key player: Wayne Rooney
Who else? Rooney didn’t draw a lot of attention for his substitute’s role the last time these teams met, but he created 3 good scoring chances that went missed, and if not for an atrocious missed call, he’d have won a DOGSO red card as well. That was less than a month after he had signed with the team, and since then his understanding with his teammates has grown immensely.
United’s main trouble at Red Bull Arena over the years has been an inability to create chances. They’ve scored just 6 goals in their last 10 visits, 3 of which came in last year’s 3-3 draw. Rooney dropping off the front line to find others has become a feature of the Black-and-Red attack, but he’s probably also going to need to get in behind and be a goal threat himself if United is going to end their hex in Harrison.
Location: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Oniel Fisher, Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse; Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad; Wayne Rooney
Bench: Travis Worra, Frederic Brillant, Vytas, Chris Durkin, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber, Darren Mattocks
Given United’s recent success, I see only one change being made to the 18 that Ben Olsen chose in last week’s 2-0 win over New England. David Ousted has undergone elbow surgery, so Worra will replace him on the bench. The 4231 seems to be the way forward for the time being, so there’s no reason to expect a move back to 4141 right now.
Projected Red Bulls starting 11: (4231) - Luis Robles; Michael Murillo, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence; Tyler Adams, Sean Davis; Alex Muyl, Kaku, Daniel Royer; Bradley Wright-Phillips
The Red Bulls played Wednesday, but it seems doubtful that they’ll rotate heavily. Murillo returns from suspension at right back, and look for Muyl to come in for Marc Rzatkowski on the right wing.
Referee: Dave Gantar
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes
Available streaming: Fox Soccer Match Pass, Fox Sports Go
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: We’ll have a bit of an unconventional preview for you in a little bit, followed by a lineup prediction post.
What are you drinking?: I’m leaning towards adding some mezcal to some jalapeño limeade.
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