There’s not really a decision coming on Decision Day for D.C. United or FC Cincinnati, who face off today at Audi Field. United is set for the MLS playoffs, and their guests will head off for their offseason vacation in the next few days. Despite a bumpy ride to this point, United is in position to seal a home playoff game for the second straight year. The bar they need to clear? A win over a Cincinnati side that guaranteed themselves a spot at the bottom of the standings weeks ago.
However, a recent uptick in both performance and results under new coach Ron Jans has seen FCC play spoiler down the stretch, as they beat Montreal away before holding both Chicago and Orlando to draws. That effectively ended the playoff hopes of each of those teams, and Cincinnati would love to end their year by avenging a 4-1 rout at Nippert Stadium that marked the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Key player: Felipe
United’s recent lineups mostly lean on Wayne Rooney as a playmaking center forward, but he’s suspended, and unless Luciano Acosta gets the nod up top (which feels unlikely), that leaves United a bit short in terms of being able to open the game up with their passing. There’s plenty of good movement in the attacking midfield trio, but against an opponent that will likely sit deep and look to compress space between the lines, off-the-ball movement is only part of the equation.
That’s where Felipe comes in. Since his arrival, the Brazilian has been the first look for defenders playing out of the back, and he’s been looking to open games up with early balls into space. His control allows him to get his head up early, while also tempting players to step to him, which opens up space to pass into further upfield.
If United is going to open up a team that has only given up three goals in their last four games, Felipe will need to set a good tempo while also picking out the runs of his more advanced teammates on a regular basis.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 4:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Russell Canouse, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Felipe, Junior Moreno; Ulises Segura, Paul Arriola, Lucas Rodriguez; Quincy Amarikwa
Bench: Chris Seitz, Donovan Pines, Marquinhos Pedroso, Leonardo Jara, Emmanuel Boateng, Luciano Acosta, Ola Kamara
With Rooney suspended due to yellow card accumulation, the gameday 18 most likely only has one change: Ola Kamara will probably play around 30 minutes, returning after missing three straight with a hamstring issue.
Rooney’s spot in the starting lineup could go to Acosta (who, like the English star, would drop off the front line and into the midfield frequently), but as we already discussed it seems more likely that it’ll be given to Amarikwa instead.
Projected Cincinnati starting 11: (4141) - Przemyslaw Tyton; Mathieu Deplagne, Maikel van der Werff, Kendall Waston, Greg Garza; Leonardo Bertone; Roland Lamah, Allan Cruz, Frankie Amaya, Joe Gyau; Emmanuel Ledesma
Ron Jans has settled into mostly a low-block formation, and despite their place in the standings, Cincy has just one loss in their last four games. The one selection dilemma FCC has is Amaya, who is listed as questionable with a groin strain. If the 1st overall pick in this past year’s SuperDraft can’t go, Jans could go more with more defensive-minded options like Caleb Stanko or Fatai Alashe, or he could drop Ledesma back into the midfield and start rookie target man Rashawn Dally.
Referee: Dave Gantar
Available TV: None in the DMV.
Available streaming: DCUnited.com will be showing the game free of charge for viewers near DC, using what sounds like roughly the same the geofence (are you in there? Find out here!) we were used to under the crushing FloFC regime.
The live stream for our match on Sunday against FC Cincinnati on https://t.co/watWyv6fc8 will be available to fans within our local broadcast territory (D.C. Metro, MD, DE and 100 miles into VA and WV). Those outside of the area will be able to watch the match on ESPN+.— D.C. United (@dcunited) October 4, 2019
For everyone else, ESPN+ (subscribe via that link, & your friends at B&RU get some cash!).
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: Home games mean cold brew coffee for the drive in followed by bottled water from the press box cooler.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos home playoff game!
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