The first-ever meeting between D.C. United and Inter Miami CF is this afternoon, and both teams will be looking to pick up a win after stumbling in their MLS openers. United had some high hopes dashed by an uneven performance, falling 2-1 at home, while Miami’s MLS debut was a 1-0 loss at LAFC that was both better than expected, but also easily could have ended up being 3-0 or worse.
For the Black-and-Red, there’s already tension within the fanbase after a gut punch of a home loss. To follow it up with anything but a win against an expansion side would set some alarm bells off before we even hit the official beginning of spring.
Key player: Ola Kamara
This is a sneaky move on our part, because it’s not so much Kamara that’s the key here; it’s whether United can find Kamara with the service he thrives on. Last week, Kamara got three shots, but two were from 30 yards out, and United’s best looks from the spots that Kamara has thrived in came via set pieces and runs from deep by midfielders or wingers. That just won’t cut it.
United has acknowledged a desire to change their playing style in part to create the kinds of close-range chances that Kamara has always been good at getting to and converting, but last week they just didn’t get that job done for the most part. As a group, United needs to pull open Miami’s defense more often, to provide better service, and to be less reliant on hold-up play from their number 9. If he’s having to check back and play with his back to goal, it’s going to be a bit harder for him to also be in the box to finish.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 3:30pm Eastern...but really more like 3:50 per Steve Goff.
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (433) - Bill Hamid; Russell Canouse, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Julian Gressel, Junior Moreno, Felipe Martins; Edison Flores, Ola Kamara, Yamil Asad
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Oniel Fisher, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Mohammed Abu, Ulises Segura, Emmanuel Boateng, Erik Sorga
On top of Paul Arriola (ACL), Donovan Pines (ankle), and Federico Higuain (building up fitness), Chris Seitz is out with a quad strain, and Segura is questionable with a groin issue. Edwards will step in to back up Hamid, but the starting left wing job is a bit harder to call. Can Asad play 60+ minutes? Will Segura actually be able to play some part? If the answer to those questions is both “no,” it might be Boateng getting the start, and if Segura doesn’t dress, then look for Griffin Yow will step in. We know Moses Nyeman and Kevin Paredes will be with Loudoun later this evening.
One other question mark: is Abu, who was in the middle of the Norwegian preseason when he signed on loan earlier this week, fit enough to play just yet? Given that Fisher or Odoi-Atsem can move to right back, pushing Canouse into his natural midfield position, it might be best to have Yow in uniform either way.
Projected Miami starting 11: (4231) - Luis Robles; Alvas Powell, Roman Torres, Nico Figal, Ben Sweat; Wil Trapp, Victor Ulloa; Lewis Morgan, Rodolfo Pizarro, Matias Pellegrini; Robbie Robinson
This is the lineup Diego Alonso sent out last week, and with no new injuries, it’s hard to imagine many changes. Juan Agudelo could be in line to start over Robinson up front, but the most likely change would hinge on whether Alonso thinks his team can take the game to United or not. At LAFC last week, he didn’t have that belief, so Ulloa started over Lee Nguyen, but if you see Nguyen listed as a starter, expect Miami to attempt to control possession and be more aggressive.
Referee: Rubiel Vazquez
Available TV: Univision, TUDN
Available streaming: There will be an English-language stream on Twitter, plus Univision Now and TUDN En Vivo
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: It looks like we’re talking about drizzly and temperatures in the 40s at kickoff, so catch me at the press box Keurig both before kickoff and at halftime. Stay warm and dry, friends.
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