Outside of one electric eight minutes in Colorado, D.C. United’s April was not what you’d call a ton of fun. The Black-and-Red were shut out three times last month, and other than their 3-2 win over the Rapids, they got just one goal. That’s the bad news. The good news is that said goal was a Wayne Rooney free kick to give United a 1-0 win over tonight’s opponent, the Columbus Crew. The Crew are mired in an even worse stretch in terms of goalscoring, with just one goal in their last four games (all of which were losses).
Tonight in the District, both sides are going to be looking to get back on track.
Key player: Paul Arriola
Arriola has dodged some of the blame as United fans and neutral observers wonder what has happened to a once-potent attack. It makes sense, since he’s been asked to play right back, left back, right wingback, left wingback, and probably 5 other positions. However, especially if he’s a wingback, United does need to find a way to get Arriola more involved in the attack. The Crew aren’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard right now (1 goal in 4 games), so the option is there to take some risks if he’s in that role.
Thinking a little more simply, whenever Arriola is doing well, United seems to be doing well. If they get their do-everything USMNT winger going, the result is probably going to be a win, and a more convincing performance to boot.
Location: Audi Field
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (3421) - Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant, Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum; Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Ulises Segura; Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez; Wayne Rooney
Bench: Chris Seitz, Jalen Robinson, Leonardo Jara, Chris Durkin, Chris McCann, Zoltan Stieber, Quincy Amarikwa
Unless United wants to dress Loudoun loanees Akeem Ward and Earl Edwards Jr. the night after they played a USL Championship game, this is the 18. The question is whether they can play Jara and/or McCann from the start. If Jara (groin) is cleared, look for Arriola to play on the left and Segura to start on the bench. However, it’s more likely that Ben Olsen opts for a long-term view on Jara’s injury, so expect him to play only as a sub (if at all).
McCann’s fitness is more interesting. He was in consideration until the day of United’s game in Minnesota, and his return could allow a return to the 4231 that suits the group. If he’s back, Pines or Brillant would make way, with Arriola probably having to play right back for the day.
Elsewhere, while Hamid missed a day of training with an illness, all signs point to him being good to go tonight.
Projected Columbus starting 11: (4231) - Zack Steffen; Hector Jimenez, Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro, Waylon Francis; Wil Trapp, Artur; Pedro Santos, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram; Gyasi Zardes
Caleb Porter could opt to bring Robinho in for Meram, but after rotating last weekend in Houston, he got very little from his supporting cast to give him a reason to think of changing his A-team up. Reports have the Crew acquiring David Guzman from Portland, but with that deal not done as of last night, the chances of him dressing in this one are virtually nil.
Referee: Ted Unkel
Available TV: None in the DMV.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: Filibuster is ready for your listening pleasure, while Opposition 11 and our predictions should be up later this morning.
(Update: this week’s Opposition 11 is canceled on account of me being sick to my stomach. Sorry folks! It’ll be back for KC next week)
What are you drinking?: Let’s hear it for press box water provided by sponsors who don’t pay me!
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos returning to form!
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