D.C. United take on the New York Red Bulls tonight, and the shortness of the roster is now on full display. Players who are definitely out include Russell Canouse, Edison Flores, Paul Arriola, and the newly signed Gelmin Rivas, whose international transfer certificate is probably not in yet. Players who have knocks and could be out or could play include Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Felipe (according to instagram), Oniel Fisher, and Chris Odoi-Atsem. That leaves a bunch of holes on an already thing team, so what will Ben Olsen do to try and break this winless streak?
This formation has a lot of fluidity, but it is similar to the lineup from the last few games. In defense, it could look more like a 3-6-1, with Erik Sorga as the main outlet, and trying to shut down the Red Bulls midfield (listen to the most recent episode of Filibuster to hear Jason talk about why that’s important). In the attack, Federico Higuain will like burst forward, and Ulises Segura and Kevin Paredes will move up, making it look more like a classic 3-5-2.
The injuries do play a huge factor. It came out yesterday that a bunch of players were wishing Felipe well on Twitter and Instagram (UPDATE: Steve Goff reports that Felipe has torn his ACL, and will be out for a long time). I have Moses Nyeman starting in his place, but Mohammed Abu also played decently after coming on and has as good a chance of starting as well. An Abu-Nyeman central midfield is also a possibility, because Junior Moreno has not been at his best recently and could need a rest in the middle of a grueling stretch of games.
The back line is all about who is healthy enough to play. If Steven Birnbaum can go, I think you see him in the middle of the back three, allowing the speed of Donovan Pines and Joseph Mora to take some of the pressure off of Birnbaum. If he can’t, I think that Axel Sjoberg is a better option in the middle of a back three rather on the sides, so I would prefer him there. If Frederic Brillant is healthy, slot him into the middle over Sjoberg.
I like that this potential lineup gives the young players a chance to shine against the Red Bulls, and hopefully show what they can do. What do you want Ben Olsen to do tonight?