After a game that we all wish that we could forgot, D.C. United is back in action on a rare Tuesday against the Montreal Impact. The Impact are also missing players, like United are missing Wayne Rooney: Ignacio Piatti remains injured and Maxi Urruti received a red card in their last game, making two starters out. I was calling for starters to be pulled as early as halftime of the LAFC game, but Ben Olsen threw some other wrinkles into the game. Joseph Mora’s absence is a bigger deal than any of us could have imagined, so who will Ben Olsen roll out against the Montreal Impact?
The difference between the first month of the season and the last game and a half has been the injury to Joseph Mora. Mora bring speed first of all, but also an attacking prowess from the back line as well as a defensive ability that has improved regularly since he got here. D.C. United does not have a ton of speed across the team, and losing Mora takes away that much more. Chris McCann is good at a number of things, but speed, bombing forward, and pinning defenses back is not his game.
The problem at left back was compounded with the fact that Carlos Vela was bombing down that side, and it was always going to be hard to defend one of the best attackers in MLS. Trying to shut him down was never going to be easy, and even less so with a player that doesn’t have the speed of Joseph Mora. Chris McCann is still a useful player in this league, but his skills do not necessarily match the system that D.C. United has set up so far this year. Ulises Segura was brought in for McCann after Wayne Rooney’s red card, and he gives it is all across the field. My first gut reaction was that maybe Olsen was trying out Segura, a player he likes, as a fullback to replace McCann until Mora is back, but we will learn more after this game.
This was compounded by the fact that Russell Canouse and Junior Moreno did not have the same excellent game that they had had throughout the beginning of this season. They had mental mistakes that led to giveaways and weren’t able to make up for them on the defensive end. I don’t think that Ben Olsen benches either of them for Chris Durkin, but Durkin is closer after this game than at any other point this season.
Finally, the fact that Donovan Pines didn’t play for Loudoun United this weekend and was on the bench for D.C. United makes me think that he has a shot to start on Tuesday. It could be that Olsen was ready to rotate on the defensive line anyways on this mid-week game, but there is also a chance that Pines is closer to reaching the D.C. United 18 than any of us may have previously thought.
This is still a fairly standard lineup, but this game after the LAFC will illuminate a lot about the depth and resilience of this D.C. United team. If it goes badly again, Ben Olsen may be forced to start thinking about tweaking some positions to best fit his needs.
What do you want to see Ben Olsen do tomorrow?