We can’t even say this has been a tough week for D.C. United, because tonight’s game against the Houston Dynamo is their third match in less than one actual week. So far, so good though: United’s defense has posted two shutouts, and despite major rotation mid-week in Toronto, United has a chance to emerge from a farcical spell of games with three respectable results.
However, to pull that off, they’re going to have to find a way to shut down one of MLS’s top teams. On a points-per-game basis, Houston is comparable to LAFC or Seattle, and with players like Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas, this game will very likely be the most demanding United has faced this “week.”
Key player: Bill Hamid
Houston has been great at home, going 5W-2D-0L so far this year, and scoring 2+ goals in 5 of those 7 games. They’re not going to fall into the trap TFC did on Wednesday, and United is going to have an unfamiliar defensive midfield pairing on top of all that.
Throw in United’s dreary history in Houston, where they’ve given up three goals for every one they’ve scored in twelve trips, and it’s understandable to get the feeling that this one might come down to Hamid putting on a show. Yes, the Black-and-Red will need to put a goal or two on the board to get anything out of this one (no small thing against a respectable Dynamo defense), but ultimately this game has the feel of one where Hamid needs to put up 3 or 4 save of the week-caliber stops.
Location: BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, TX)
Kickoff time: 8:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Marquinhos Pedroso; Russell Canouse, Paul Arriola; Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez; Wayne Rooney
Bench: Chris Seitz, Jalen Robinson, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Akeem Ward, Chris McCann, Zoltan Stieber, Quincy Amarikwa
Pretty much a return to the full squad, but with Junior Moreno given leave to mourn the passing of his father and Chris Durkin away for the U.S. under-20 World Cup, there’s an issue alongside Canouse (who himself could probably use a rest after already playing 90 minutes twice this week). It could be Segura, it could be McCann, but my guess is that it’ll be Arriola moving into the middle.
Other than that, though, the starters are pretty clear. One other thing to watch for: Ben Olsen may opt to rest Brillant for Robinson who a) had a strong performance in Toronto, and b) is the faster of the two options, which matters quite a bit against the speedy Dynamo attack.
Lastly, after all he’s been through, it’s pretty cool to type Odoi-Atsem’s name in the 18.
Projected Houston starting 11: (4231) - Joe Willis; AJ DeLaGarza, Aljaz Struna, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Adam Lundqvist; Matias Vera, Oscar Boniek Garcia; Alberth Elis, Tomas Martinez, Romell Quioto; Mauro Manotas
Let’s start with what we know: normal starting center back Maynor Figueroa is not likely to play after learning just after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Portland that his father had passed away. Fuenmayor is the presumed alternate. Wilmer Cabrera is probably considering a bit of rotation, and this lineup contains guesses with that in mind at left back — where DaMarcus Beasley, just back from knee surgery, could start — and on the left wing, where Quioto has been second choice behind Memo Rodriguez.
There could be other moves, though. One or both of Vera and Garcia could be replaced by Juan David Cabezas or Darwin Ceren, and Kevin Garcia could give DeLaGarza a rest.
Referee: Rubiel Vazquez
Available TV: None in the DMV.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: Opposition 11 will be live on the site in an hour. Until then, enjoy the latest episode of Filibuster and our attempt to sort out the Black-and-Red’s lineup for tonight.
What are you drinking?: This game is going to kick off while I’m in the Maryland SoccerPlex press box watching the end of tonight’s Spirit game, so it’ll probably be whatever bottled water they supply.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos one more big effort before taking a rest!
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