After almost three full months, D.C. United is back in uniform to play soccer against another team! Today, they’ll take on the Montreal Impact, who are a bit further ahead in their preseason due to their participation in the Concacaf Champions League. For United, it’s the first time we’ll see Edison Flores and Julian Gressel playing together; for the Impact, it’s their first game of any kind under new coach Thierry Henry.
Key player: Russell Canouse
Let’s start with a situation that we should be keeping an eye on: the battle for minutes at defensive midfield. United has three established players who very much expect to start, and last year the solution ended up being to move Canouse out of position to shore up a troublesome right back spot. He did a respectable job of it, but United’s midfield lost its best ball-winner, and Canouse’s influence on games was not what it normally is as a result of being played out of position.
With United looking at a situation where Oniel Fisher and Chris Odoi-Atsem may not be at their absolute best come opening day — understandable given what they’ve been through in the last year or so — Canouse may end up starting the season playing a handful of games at right back again, just to make sure the natural options avoid long-term injury setbacks.
Still, at this early stage, it seems more likely that the right backs will be drawn from Fisher, Odoi-Atsem, and probably some academy call-ups. This is a good chance for United to look at how to get Canouse back into the midfield, where his tackling and quickness has often tilted games in the Black-and-Red’s favor.
Location: Corbett Soccer Stadium (Tampa, FL)
Kickoff time: 11:30am Eastern
Update: Well guess what, friends? We have started off with a mistake. Today’s game is actually at 3:00pm rather than the originally planned 11:30am kickoff.
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Chris Seitz; Oniel Fisher, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Chris Odoi-Atsem; Felipe, Russell Canouse; Julian Gressel, Edison Flores, Yamil Asad; Ola Kamara
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Simon Lefebvre*, Donovan Pines, Aaron Maund*, Duke Lacroix*, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes, Griffin Yow, Emmanuel Boateng, Josh Fawole*, and several academy players whose names we don’t have.
(* denotes trialists/players not under contract)
Bill Hamid, Paul Arriola, Joseph Mora, and Ulises Segura are all unavailable due to national team duty, and Erik Sorga isn’t in town yet. Beyond that, this is a guess. Ben Olsen has to juggle the limits some players are likely under in terms of minutes they can play at this point with the need to grow familiarity, particularly in the attack.
It’s also worth pointing out that Olsen may take a look at how his team looks in a 4141 at some point in this preseason, which could include today.
Available TV: Haha, nope.
Available streaming: We checked with the team, and they confirmed to us: no stream. Whether it’s venue limitations, the league not signing off (apparently this is a hoop teams have to jump through, for some reason), or something else, there’s currently no video planned from this one.
Will there be some enterprising fan throwing it up on Twitter or Instagram? Probably not, but you never know. Another factor here? The Impact are very unpredictable as an organization, and if they say “screw it, let’s put it on!,” we’ll update this post when we find out.
What do we have to say about it?: Nothing specifically, but here’s our piece on Gresselmania’s first round with the DCU press corps.
What are you drinking?:
11:30 on a Tuesday? Prime time for a delicious cup of water. I’m gonna need that post-lunch cup of coffee.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos 2020!