D.C. United’s start to the MLS is Back Tournament featured very little possession, but ended with an unlikely 2-2 draw that has reduced some pressure on the Black-and-Red heading into tonight’s clash with the New England Revolution. The Revs, coming off of a 1-0 win over Montreal, could ensure a spot in the knockout rounds with a win, but United has been able to have the better of this pairing in recent years. In the last nine meetings in MLS play, United has just one loss, piling up a +7 goal difference over that timespan.
United’s last game had a fiery ending, and don’t be surprised if that continues today. Between the wild and wacky play happening all over this tournament and recent DCU-Revs history (each of the last three meetings have seen New England have a man sent off), there’s a lot pointing to more drama in central Florida.
Key player: Russell Canouse
United struggled mightily to defend in central midfield against Toronto. It wasn’t just an individual problem: all over the field, DCU was content to get into their shape and then just occupy that space, not adjusting fast enough to the demands of TFC’s possession soccer. That slowness of thought was best represented by Junior Moreno’s late tackles getting him sent off, but it was going on all over.
Moreno’s suspension has probably opened the door for Canouse to move back into his natural role in central midfield, where his ball-winning and quick acceleration so often make United hard to play against. That’s what was missing against TFC, and if United is easy to play through against New England, then another high-powered attack is going to have plenty of looks at goal.
Location: We’re not actually sure which field, but somewhere at the the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (Kissimmee, FL). The field designation is important, because Sporting KC-Colorado will be taking place at the exact same time.
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Oniel Fisher, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Felipe Martins, Russell Canouse; Julian Gressel, Edison Flores, Yamil Asad; Ola Kamara
Bench: Chris Seitz, Earl Edwards Jr., Donovan Pines, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Mohammed Abu, Moses Nyeman, Ulises Segura, Kevin Paredes, Federico Higuain, Griffin Yow, Emmanuel Boateng, Erik Sorga
Ben Olsen told media that he has everyone save for Junior Moreno (suspension) and Paul Arriola (ACL rehab) available for this one. That leaves him with 23 players to choose from, and 23 gameday roster spots to make use of. Nice and easy!
Olsen’s substitutions against TFC probably mean we won’t see major rotation in this game. Look for Canouse to move into Moreno’s vacated midfield spot, which opens up room at right back for either Fisher or Odoi-Atsem. There is also a chance that Olsen could keep Canouse on the back four and give Abu his United debut, but right now it feels like Fisher has the lead.
The other change? Asad coming in for Segura on the left wing, ensuring that United’s most potent available front four is out there for this one. It was a surprise that Olsen kept Asad on the bench to start the tournament, but against a vulnerable defense, it might be a golden opportunity for the well-rested Argentine.
Projected New England starting 11: (4231) - Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Antonio Delamea, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Wilfried Zahibo, Diego Fagundez; Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil, Teal Bunbury; Adam Buksa
The Revs have a lot of depth, and Bruce Arena has indicated that he does plan on rotating during MLS is Back. As such, we’re guessing at five changes from the team that beat Montreal 1-0: Kessler, Jones, Zahibo, Fagundez (who started as a no. 8 in their first two games of the year), and Bunbury would be replacing Michael Mancienne, Alexander Büttner, Scott Caldwell, Kelyn Rowe, and Cristian Penilla.
But that’s a lot of guesswork, and while we are sure of some things — the formation, and starting roles for Turner, Bou, and Gil — there are a lot of moving parts. Andrew Farrell was injured for their MLS is Back opener, but is available and could come in for Delamea or Bye. Any of the rotation choices could go the other way, and there are several versatile players involved here as well.
Referee: Joe Dickerson
Available TV: ESPN, TUDN USA
Available streaming: WatchESPN, ESPN3, TUDN app, or TUDN.com
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: Filibuster’s back half is about what United can expect from the Revs, which is to say a dangerous attack paired with a very dubious defense.
What are you drinking?: It’s gonna be the 300th hot and humid day in a row, so I think it’ll be time for Flying Dog’s Dead Rise gose. It’s not as heavy on the Old Bay as it used to be, but it’s still pretty good.
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