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D.C. United versus Sporting KC lineup: Back to the back four

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Got that opening day feeling

D.C. United starts a run of 7 games in between now and June 1 on Sunday against Sporting Kansas City. That comes out to 7 games in 20 days, with six of those being MLS matchups and the seventh is the friendly against Real Betis. The team will have to do more than half of this run without Chris Durkin, who is at the U-20 World Cup. So how will D.C. United kick off the three week spring between now and the Gold Cup break? Let’s take a look.

The absence of Donovan Pines both heralds a return to the 4-2-3-1 and gives us a very good idea of who the back line will be. Steven Birnbaum and Frederic Brillant will anchor the defense in the absence of Pines, who I think could have started over Brillant in a back four had he not gotten injured; that will just have to wait until after the Gold Cup break. Leo Jara will play his regular right back spot, and Marquinhos Pedroso will make his debut at left back. Hopefully he can provide the less noticeable but vitally important services that Joseph Mora gave the team before he got injured.

The move to a back four and the availability of Jara and Pedroso will allow D.C. United’s attack to all click back into place. Neither Paul Arriola nor Lucas Rodriguez will have to play wingback, and can instead flank Luciano Acosta in the attacking midfield behind Wayne Rooney. Russell Canouse and Junior Moreno will start behind them, bringing United close to back to their opening day roster.

The lineup will change as we get deeper into this stretch (Bill Hamid is the only lock to start all of the games), and we will likely see some homegrown players and recent draft picks get some time. But for Sunday, it looks like United will have their first XI out there.

What do you want to see Ben Olsen do this weekend?