D.C. United takes on the New York Red Bulls this Sunday in the nationally-televised finale to this year’s Atlantic Cup. The team has looked much better over the past three games, and so big changes to Ben Olsen’s lineup are not expected. Instead, look for Olsen to start calibrating the team for the playoffs as he tries to work in all of his players in their best roles.
The main question going into the playoffs is how Wayne Rooney and Ola Kamara will work together, if at all. I expect to see Kamara off the bench for this game; after missing two games with a hamstring injury, and the playoffs already locked up, Olsen is not going to push him any further than necessary. However, given the workrate and speed that Olsen demands out of his central attacking midfielder, as currently epitomized by Paul Arriola, I don’t see him dropping Wayne Rooney behind Kamara anymore. That will likely put Kamara in competition with Ulises Segura and Titi Rodriguez, but by that point Olsen may just want to continue starting the players that have performed in September.
The Russell Canouse at right back experiment is currently working well, and he seems to have solidly taken the job from Leonardo Jara for this season. Canouse in that position reminds me of when Perry Kitchen was asked to do the same job, but Canouse has taken it to the next level. Whereas Kitchen was solid defensively but did not provide much offense, Canouse can jump into the attack and play well. I would think that we will see Canouse back in the middle come next season, but he’ll see out the year on the right.
The rest of the lineup snaps into place, with Bill Hamid in goal and the rest of the back line consisting of Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant (who got some deserved praise in Steven Goff’s profile this week) and Joseph Mora. Junior Moreno and Felipe will support Paul Arriola, Lucas Rodriguez, and Ulises Segura, with Wayne Rooney up top. That leaves Ola Kamara and Luciano Acosta on the bench, but the team has been winning this way and I don’t see Olsen changing that.
What do you want to see on Sunday?