D.C. United is looking to head into the lengthy Gold Cup break on the right foot tonight, as they take on the San Jose Earthquakes. United thought they’d broken a three-game winless streak with a stirring comeback mid-week, but a last-gasp goal left fans and players alike frustrated. Now, they face an unconventional San Jose side that has just one loss in their last seven games, knowing that anything less than a win will be a disappointment.
Key player: Luciano Acosta
Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with the Chicago Fire may have left us frustrated and down, but it had a positive: Lucho Acosta was really sharp. He scored United’s third goal, of course, but he also won the turnover and used a backheel to spark the attack that became the first goal, and was also involved on the Lucas Rodriguez goal that VAR took back. He was mobile, hungry, and made things happen. That’s the Lucho this team needs.
Acosta’s play against Chicago also exemplifies how to beat the man-marking system San Jose uses all over the field. Everyone has to stay on the move, picking out good spots to be in, getting their first, and moving the ball along really quickly. If United’s off-the-ball movement combines intelligence with urgency, the Quakes are going to be pulled apart while chasing their respective assignment. That’s what Acosta did against Chicago, who kept being surprised at where he was popping up.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Marquinhos Pedroso; Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno; Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez; Wayne Rooney
Bench: Chris Seitz, Jalen Robinson, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Chris McCann, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber, Quincy Amarikwa
We’re not expecting much in the way of rotation, but Arriola will surely return to the lineup. Given that Odoi-Atsem admitted that he ran out of gas after halftime, it seems unlikely that he’ll start again with such a quick turnaround. That may cost Griffin Yow his spot in the 18, though Ben Olsen could make a major statement by including him over Stieber.
While it’s not a sure thing by any means, Olsen may also consider the 3421 again as a response to Matias Almeyda’s man-marking scheme. In that case, expect Segura to start again, this time as a wingback, with Arriola and Acosta underneath Rooney. Pedroso would make way in this scenario, with Jara having to play on the right side of the back three.
Projected San Jose starting 11: (4231) - Daniel Vega; Paul Marie, Harold Cummings, Florian Jungwirth, Nick Lima; Anibal Godoy, Jackson Yueill; Vako, Magnus Eriksson, Shea Salinas; Chris Wondolowski
Almeyda is missing Cristian Espinoza (and his team-leading 6 assists) as well as right back Tommy Thompson due to suspension. San Jose will probably go with Vako and Marie, respectively, though they could move Lima over to right back and start Marcos Lopez on the left instead.
The other major question: Eriksson is questionable with a concussion, and if he can’t go, there are a few different possibilities. We could see Vako in the middle, which would require Salinas to move over, or possibly a start for VCU product Siad Haji. It could also mean a start for Danny Hoesen, who has only recently lost his starting job to the surging Wondolowski (6 goals in 2 games).
Referee: Tim Ford
Available TV: None in the DMV.
Available streaming: FloSports for those inside the geofence (are you in there? Find out here!). For everyone else, ESPN+ (subscribe via that link, & your friends at B&RU get some cash!).
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: We have a profile on Yow, who could play a role today, and will have Opposition 11 later this morning.
What are you drinking?: I wish I had a more interesting answer for you, but it’ll be the traditional cold brew on my way in, and bottled water in the press box.
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