D.C. United will go for their first preseason win of 2020 today as they face USL Championship side Louisville City FC. While United’s previous games during this stint in Florida have ended in 3-1 and 3-0 losses, the Black-and-Red have only had something resembling a reasonable starting lineup for their MLS opener on the field for one scoreless half against Montreal. Today figures to see a stronger team on the field, giving us more of an indication of what to expect against Colorado in 23 days.
Key player: Julian Gressel
With United’s international call-ups returning to camp, there are two angles from which Gressel is significant today. First, we’re going to want to see evidence that he’s forging a bond with the rest of the team. Given the fact that he formed a good understanding with the rest of Atlanta’s attack right away, we’ve got reason to hope that he starts creating frequent chances.
The other angle concerns his versatility. Given that United needs to find minutes for two right backs who are already on the team as well as a trialist right back in Carter Manley, we’re probably not going to see him deployed that way. However, with just about everyone back, there’s at least some opportunity for Gressel to play as a central midfielder (especially if Ben Olsen, who has mentioned the prospect of possibly bringing the 4141 back for the first time in a while). As we’ll get into below, Edison Flores is probably not going to play today, so there are openings in the middle.
Location: Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex (Clearwater, FL)
Kickoff time: 4:00pm. Don’t believe the team’s schedule page, which says 1:30. B&RU has confirmed with the team that it’s at 4.
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Oniel Fisher, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Russell Canouse, Felipe; Julian Gressel, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura; Ola Kamara
Bench: Chris Seitz, Earl Edwards Jr., Simon Lefebvre*, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Carter Manley*, Jacob Greene, Donovan Pines, Aaron Maund*, Jake Dengler, Duke Lacroix*, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Michael Gamble, Griffin Yow, Kevin Paredes, Emmanuel Boateng, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Erik Sorga, Josh Fawole*
After deploying a lineup missing nearly the entire regular starting midfield and attack, and then finishing with only three actual D.C. United players on the field against the Red Bulls over the weekend, Ben Olsen will probably want to see something approximating his best eleven for at least the early stages of today’s game. That could mean starts for guys like Hamid, Mora, and Arriola (who all, along with Segura, only just got to camp after national team duty) to develop familiarity with their new teammates.
If you’re wondering where Edison Flores is, based on his Instagram story, it looks like he’s still in Peru finalizing his U.S. work visa. However, while he and Yamil Asad (groin strain) will be out, we’re hopeful that we’ll see Moreno, Pines, and Paredes make their return from minor knocks.
Note: players listed in italics are under contract with Loudoun United, while those marked with an asterisk are on trial
Available TV: Still preseason, so still nothing on TV.
Available streaming: United has streamed from this venue before, but they’re not going to this time around. We’re stuck with Twitter updates.
What are you drinking?: The number one drink for mid-day Thursday is water, so I’m going with that.
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