D.C. United heads into tonight’s game at FC Dallas in an odd place. They’ve got just one win in their last seven games...but also just one loss. They’re in 2nd place in the East and have the second-best defensive record in MLS...but it’s generally agreed they’re just sort of drifting along rather than excelling. After starting the back half of the 2019 season off with a rather frustrating home draw against Toronto, the Black-and-Red really need to break out of a rut that goes back two months.
To do so, they don’t just have to worry about a talented young Dallas side. History points to this being a tough fixture: United may be the last team to spoil the traditional Dallas home game on July 4th, but that came back in 2006, and it has been 12 years since United beat FCD on the road. Throw in some typically muggy summer weather (the forecast for kickoff is mid-80s and very humid), and D.C. is going to have to dig deep to get back to winning ways.
Key player: Marquinhos Pedroso
Facing his former club, Pedroso is coming off of a solid half against TFC in a position that United really needs to not be a problem tonight. With Dallas deploying the lightning-quick, persistent, inventive Michael Barrios on the right wing, their attack is one of the most right-sided in all of MLS. Pedroso, who has just 45 minutes of play since May 25, has every reason to be rusty, but United has hit a point where explanations and excuses are getting stale across the board.
If Pedroso is solid and tough to beat tonight, United has a great platform to get a fourth road win on the year. If not, United’s mid-season malaise may carry on, and the “what do we do without Joseph Mora?” question will remain in place for a while yet.
Location: Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX)
Kickoff time: 9:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Marquinhos Pedroso; Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse; Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez; Wayne Rooney
Bench: Chris Seitz, Donovan Pines, Jalen Robinson, Chris Durkin, Zoltan Stieber, Griffin Yow, Quincy Amarikwa
It seems like a solid bet that Pedroso will get the nod against his former club, as the quick Dallas attack would be a problem for Chris McCann. Moreno may go right back into the lineup in defensive midfield, though it wouldn’t be shocking to see Durkin start based on Venezuela’s busy Copa America. Segura may have a baby on the way any time now, but until we hear otherwise let’s assume he’s starting. If he has to leave, it would be cool to see Ben Olsen turn to Yow to keep some element of quickness in the front four, but odds are we’d see Stieber instead.
Projected Dallas starting 11: (4231) - Jesse Gonzalez; Bressan, Matt Hedges, Reto Ziegler, Ryan Hollingshead; Edwin Cerrillo, Brandon Servania; Michael Barrios, Paxton Pomykal, Dominique Badji; Jesus Ferreira
Utility defender Bressan has been filling in for Reggie Cannon (USMNT) without missing much of a beat. This is mostly an established lineup, though Honduran national team midfielder Bryan Acosta could end up being put back into the lineup tonight over Servania or Cerrillo.
Still, Luchi Gonzalez has shown full faith in a team packed with youngsters, and in fact his attacking moves off the bench probably involve 16-year-old striker Ricardo Pepi and 18-year-old playmaker Thomas Roberts.
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Available TV: None in the DMV.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: Think it might be time to make another spicy Paloma. That’s lime juice and some Olmeca Altos blanco tequila that I infused with fresno chiles, over ice and topped with grapefruit soda (and maybe a splash of grapefruit juice if I remember to stop at the store on my way home).
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos surviving the heat!
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