D.C. United heads west tonight, hoping to start a winning streak as they face the struggling Vancouver Whitecaps in British Columbia tonight. Getting the bare minimum of two consecutive wins to talk about a streak might not seem like much, but it’s been over three months since United did even that, and they have no winning run in 2019 that extends beyond two matches.
In other words, it’s time to get going. The Whitecaps, sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference and 23rd out of 24 teams in the overall table, are the kind of team any playoff team worth their salt can beat. Regardless of the long trip out to Vancouver or the unfamiliar turf surface that awaits, United must prove that last week’s win over the LA Galaxy meant something, and that means getting the job done tonight.
Key player: Paul Arriola
Vancouver tends to play a fairly low block even at home, which will probably result in United having to do solve them rather than taking advantage of openings in transition. That requires speed of thought and technical precision all over the field, but most importantly, it will require good runs off the ball.
We saw the value of Arriola’s movement last week against a team that hasn’t given up too many goals, and the Whitecaps should be more vulnerable. Vancouver may flood their end with numbers, but they’ve had trouble getting organized quickly all year long. The gaps are going to be there, but it only matters if the Black-and-Red are quick enough to do something about it. That’s a team-wide challenge, obviously, but Arriola has most often been the player whose runs without the ball have befuddled opposing defenses.
Location: BC Place (Vancouver, BC)
Kickoff time: 10:00pm Eastern
Update 9:50pm: Here are the actual lineups!
Rooney is back from illness, replacing Amarikwa. Moreno returns from suspension, with Jara moving to right back and Robinson to the bench. Acosta is still on the bench, which is probably going to become A Thing, and Kamara is in uniform for the first time since his arrival.
As you can read below, we thought Adnan would not get the start due to an injury, but he apparently proved his fitness. Other than that, no surprises for Vancouver.
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Junior Moreno, Felipe; Paul Arriola, Wayne Rooney, Lucas Rodriguez; Quincy Amarikwa
Bench: Chris Seitz, Donovan Pines, Jalen Robinson, Ulises Segura, Emmanuel Boateng, Luciano Acosta, Ola Kamara
Rooney is back, and should go right back into the lineup. The bigger question: Amarikwa, Acosta, or Kamara? The latter is likely not quite fit enough to start just yet, and we’re thinking that this being a road game points to Amarikwa (with Rooney as the no. 10) getting the nod. It seems safe to expect United debuts off the bench for both Kamara and Boateng.
Elsewhere, it looks like Robinson — despite putting in a great shift against the Galaxy — will make way for Moreno, who returns from suspension. That in turn means Jara can return to right back.
Projected Whitecaps starting 11: (4321) - Maxime Crépeau; Jakob Nerwinski, Erik Godoy, Derek Cornelius, Brett Levis; Andy Rose, Hwang In-Beom, Russell Teibert; Theo Bair, Fredy Montero; Yordy Reyna
The “Christmas tree” formation has preferred by Marc Dos Santos lately, so that part is a pretty solid bet. Most of the lineup seems set as well, even with the Whitecaps having one win in their last eleven games. The questions? Mostly, it’s about whether Iraqi international Ali Adnan is fit after having to come off early in their last game with an adductor problem. He trained to some extent during the week, and despite being a left back, he’s a big part of their attack. Given how their season is going, Levis probably gets the minutes unless Adnan is 100% fit.
Elsewhere, the front three could easily shuffle around, as Reyna, Montero, and Bair all have starts up top at some point this season. We could also see Joaquin Ardaiz play up front, though that would probably rob Bair (a 19-year-old Homegrown signing) of valuable minutes.
Referee: Tim Ford
Available TV: None in the DMV.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: It’s been a busy week away from the site for a few of us, but the cupboard isn’t bare. We’ve got Filibuster for you, and I answered some questions about United for Eighty Six Forever.
What are you drinking?: Uh... (casts mind to what’s in the fridge rather than walking down just one flight of stairs to check) I think I still have some Skipjack Bohemian pilsner by Union Craft Brewing? So, probably that.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos #DCUAfterDark weirdness ending in a win!
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