Welcome to D.C. United’s 2019 season! This year our beloved Black-and-Red don’t have to start off with an extended road trip—instead, we get to begin at Audi Field and play a much more normal, though probably equally stressful, schedule.
Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta are back as your favorite duo. Bill Hamid is here to remind you that his only setting is beast mode. USMNT stars (and they are STARS, okay) Paul Arriola and Russell Canouse are ready to soothe your soccer soul.
That doesn’t mean some things won’t change. DCU have new faces in the squad, too. They’ve got the pressure of having delivered a strong back half of 2018—and setting our expectations high for this year.
What better way to kick things off than by facing the reigning champs? Welcome to the District, Atlanta. Don’t get too comfortable.
Here’s how we see the opener going.
Donald Wine II
We back! It’s a new season and we get started against the defending champions at home on national TV. The defense lets us down early on, as Pity Martinez gets on the board first for Atlanta. Still, we have LuchoRoo, and the pair connect for a goal just before halftime. In the second half, somewhere around the 67th minute, it’s Lucho laying it off for Russell Canouse to pounce on a goal, and that is the game-winner. 2-1 DCU, and the Black-and-Red get off to a great start.
While I’m not super stoked about seeing Atlanta United dominate poor Herediano on Thursday (especially after getting worked in the first leg), I’m buoyed by their short turnaround coming into the game and the even quicker one afterward—they’ll play Monterrey in the Champions League on Wednesday. I expect Frank de Boer to rotate pretty heavily, sparing los Capitalinos from 90 minutes of the Martinezes Josef and Pity. Look for the Black-and-Red to punish the Interlopers United early with Lucho Acosta officially reigniting his connection with Señor Wayne and setting up the Englishman for a tap-in. Paul Arriola scores adds to the lead before halftime, and Lucho adds another after the break. Barco actually does something, pulling off a solid impression of Alphonso Davies’ goal last year at Audi Field to end the shutout. The theme score from last year carries through, 3-1 good guys.
Frank de Boer has said he plans to rotate throughout 2019, and as Adam mentions, they have another game in another country with very little time to recover. With ATL’s focus on the CCL, I think we’re going to see a lesser version of the Five (Seven? Nine? However many) Stripes, and no one in MLS comes to Buzzard Point and wins without being at their very, very best. United starts off strong, but dodges a major bullet at the back after about 15-20 minutes, which serves as a wake-up call. From there, the Black-and-Red get to work. Wayne Rooney strikes first, and Luciano Acosta makes it 2-0 just before halftime. Hector Villalba gives ATL some life with a solo goal around the hour mark, but United shuts down any hopes of a comeback by replying with a scrappy-as-hell goal from Ulises Segura in the 70th minute. 3-1 good guys.
What is this early March home game at Audi Field? Is this allowed? I think a cagey opening five minutes gives way to an early Josef Martinez goal, putting Atlanta up 1-0 and making it seem as though the defending MLS Cup champions will keep it rolling through 2019. Just before halftime, Wayne Rooney opens his account with an equalizer, and with about 15 minutes to go, Paul Arriola gets loose on a D.C. counter to put United up 2-1, and the Black-and-Red holds on for the three points.
D.C. United is starting the season today and Atlanta had to play competitive games this week, which hopefully means that Frank de Boer has to rotate some players. Regardless, the Five Stripes can score basically at will, so United will have to put up numbers to keep it. I am going to go with a 2-2 draw, in which we see a good start to the year but one in which we just have to respect what Atlanta can do when they’re on their game.
Yeah yeah yeah, so Atlanta are the MLS champions. That was last season, y’all. Do I think they’ll be a tough opponent? Absolutely. Will they score first and bum us out? Yes, probably sometime before the 25th minute. We’re gonna be standing there cold and wet and wondering why we’d ever want to start a year at home. But! Arriola ties things up before halftime, and Rooney—who else?—finishes things off in the second half. It ends 2-1 and we go home happy.
What do you think will happen in today’s game? Share your prediction in the comments, but first: you know you have to stop by the silly poll.
I recently returned from Disney World and sampled a drink in every Epcot country. Based on name alone, which of these would you try?
This poll is closed
Kung Fu Punch
Orange Mango Fire