D.C. United is back in action this weekend, after what seems like an eon off, taking on the Portland Timbers on national TV. After being a a prolonged slump, United busted out of it with a 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact, and look to continue that momentum towards the playoffs. Most everyone is healthy and available, so let’s dig into how Ben Olsen might set up his players on Sunday.
The biggest change in recent lineups has been the move of Paul Arriola to central midfield in the place of Luciano Acosta, who has filled the role of super-sub in the last third of a game. Arriola was needed their because of the suspension of Wayne Rooney, who had stepped into that role until he received a red card against the New York Red Bulls. With Rooney back, I expect him to step back into the attacking midfielder role underneath Ola Kamara, and that Paul Arriola will return to the wing. Lucas Rodriguez will flank Rooney on the left side.
The way this team is built right now, with some players signed with next year in mind and other players already on the way out after this season, doesn’t have a good place for Lucho. Ben Olsen could play with only one defensive midfielder, and pair Acosta and Rooney in the attack, but he has been loathe to do that very often this season (especially since Rooney was so often needed up front!).
The other question revolves around Russell Canouse: he is going to start, but Olsen threw us a curveball deploying him as a right back against the Impact. Canouse had played a handful of games there when he was in Germany, so it isn’t completely out of his wheelhouse, and he did a good job in the role. Will he continue in that role, leaving Leonardo Jara on the bench, or will he push Felipe to the sidelines in defensive midfield? Given the change in performance last time they played, I could see Olsen sticking with what worked for another week.
What do you want to see Ben Olsen do on Sunday?