D.C. United takes on the New York Red Bulls tonight as a part of Rivalry Week. United got a couple days fully off to help rest and recharge, and so it looks like we will be seeing Ben Olsen’s full strength lineup. This is one of the team’s last road games of the year, and nicking any points off of the Red Bulls would be great (though obviously 3 points would be even better).
On the back line, Steven Birnbaum and Kofi Opare have forged an efficient partnership, and so they will again be together in front of their old friend Bill Hamid. Oniel Fisher has been transformed since the switch to the 4-2-3-1: he now helps keep possession circulating and puts in an occasional cross from very high up the field, while the defensive midfielders help protect the back line. Despite United trading for Vytas near the deadline, Joseph Mora has done enough to keep his starting spot for now.
The midfield change to a 4-2-3-1 has delivered dividends to D.C. United, and it all starts with the partnership of Junior Moreno and Russell Canouse. Together, they allow the attacking midfielders and the fullbacks to all bomb forward, and if the team is caught in transition there are usually at least three players back. Paul Arriola was efficient as a central midfielder, but pairing Canouse and Moreno allows him to shine in his natural position.
That does mean that one of United’s high priced attackers must sit, and so far it has been Zoltan Stieber. Paul Arriola and Yamil Asad have been playing so well that they deserve to start,cutting inside to play off of Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta, and each other. Stieber has been a potent weapon off the bench, and that seems to be his role in the short-term, though we will definitely see him start down the stretch.
What do you want to see Ben Olsen do tonight?