A beleaguered D.C. United desperately needs to get things right tonight against the New York Red Bulls. A six-game winless run has seen United sink towards the bottom of the standings, and they’re coming off of a dire performance on the weekend. On top of that, they’re facing a Red Bulls team that they haven’t beaten in 10 meetings, the longest such run for the Black-and-Red in the history of the Atlantic Cup.
Tonight, the pressure is on. This team needs to win, full stop.
Key player: Yamil Asad
I said this on Filibuster: in the last 2 games, Asad has 0 key passes and 0 attempted dribbles despite playing as an attacking midfielder. Asad’s not necessarily a big-time chance generator or someone who constantly dribbles at opponents, and he hasn’t been outright bad, but the underlying data says “low risk.”
Asad got some rest by subbing off at halftime against the Union, so he should have relatively fresh legs here, and United needs him to be a bigger factor on the ball. We know he can press well and be disruptive, and that’s huge in a game against a team that wants to make things chaotic, but D.C. needs more danger out of anyone playing in this spot.
Location: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (3421) - Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant, Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum; Julian Gressel, Junior Moreno, Mohamed Abu, Joseph Mora; Griffin Yow, Yamil Asad; Ola Kamara
Bench: Chris Seitz, Earl Edwards Jr., Axel Sjöberg, Oniel Fisher, Ulises Segura, Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes, Federico Higuain, Erik Sorga
This is a best-case scenario sort of lineup, with a bit of rotation factored in and a shift to 3421 to match the NYRB midfield overload. Ben Olsen told local media yesterday that Brillant and Birnbaum were having fitness tests later in the day, and that they’re both completely in the air. Sjöberg is the first option to step in, and Mora may end up on the back three again if they’re both out. From the sounds of it, Birnbaum is the bigger doubt.
Chris Odoi-Atsem is still a significant doubt, but the team posted a photo of Fisher boarding the plane, so he’ll probably be in uniform. New signing Gelmin Rivas doesn’t have his ITC or work visa yet, and is still in quarantine anyway, so he joins Paul Arriola, Russel Canouse, and Edison Flores as definitely out. As I was finishing this post up, news emerged that Felipe Martins tore his ACL in training yesterday, adding yet another long-term absentee to the list. 2020 is not our friend.
Finally, while Hamid did train yesterday, Olsen did not say one way or another whether he’ll be in the squad tonight. We expect him to be in, but if he’s out, obviously someone else will be in goal.
Projected NYRB starting 11: (4222) - Ryan Meara; Kyle Duncan, Aaron Long, Amro Tarek, Jason Pendant; Cristian Casseres Jr., Sean Davis; Marc Rzatkowski, Kaku; Brian White, Daniel Royer
Chris Armas has been rotating aggressively lately, so it’s hard to guess exactly what he’s going to do here. What we do know is that Tim Parker is suspended, and they appear to be otherwise healthy. Some starters (the back four, Royer, Davis) didn’t start in their game on the weekend, so they’re the best bets to be in the lineup.
The rotation policy has even extended to players like Kaku, and the Argentine went 90 in that same game, so he might be replaced by Omir Fernandez, Jared Stroud, or another option.
It’s worth mentioning that the Red Bulls played something closer to 4231 than their normal 4222 in a 1-0 win over NYCFC back on August 20. NYCFC’s choice to play a 532 in that game was potentially a big influence in that choice, and United may well see that shift tonight.
Referee: Ted Unkel
Available TV: WJLA 24/7 News (D.C. region only)
Available streaming: If you live inside this blackout zone that United provided for us, you can stream the game on the team site. For everyone else, ESPN+ or FuboTV (subscribe via those links, & your friends at B&RU get some cash!).
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: The latest episode of Filibuster gets into what makes the Red Bulls tick.
What are you drinking?: I’m thinking a little Patron silver would not be out of order.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos ending interminable losing runs!
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