D.C. United is in Tennessee for a competitive match for their first time ever, as they visit Nashville SC tonight. The expansion side currently sits just above the red line in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of United in a battle on the playoff bubble that appears set to go down to the wire. With both teams struggling to score on the year, this may end up being a defensive stalemate, though each side can call on a recent multi-goal performance as a sign that they might be turning the corner on that front.
Key player: Ola Kamara
Kamara got his first open play goal of 2020 on the weekend, and it was obvious how much doing so gave him a lift during the rest of the draw against TFC. It’s one thing to score from the penalty spot, but for a goalscorer like Kamara, a more ordinary goal may well carry more weight in terms of confidence.
If United is going to have any success against a stingy Nashville defense, Kamara’s finishing has to carry over for another game, and he’ll have to bring energetic, incisive off-the-ball movement throughout this one. Nashville is well-drilled, generally has defensively sound players all over the field, and they don’t give up easy chances. Kamara’s going to have to play his part in carving out the looks United gets, which for him means finding gaps and identifying where space will be earlier than the defense does.
Location: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, TN)
Kickoff time: 8:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4312) - Bill Hamid; Oniel Fisher, Frederic Brillant, Donovan Pines, Joseph Mora; Julian Gressel, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman; Kevin Paredes; Gelmin Rivas, Ola Kamara
Bench: Chris Seitz, Earl Edwards Jr., Axel Sjöberg, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Russell Canouse, Yamil Asad, Federico Higuain, Griffin Yow, Erik Sorga
United’s list of absentees is long enough that if Canouse or team captain Steven Birnbaum aren’t in the squad, there are only 20 available players. Our suspicion is that Canouse travelled while Birnbaum didn’t, but let’s emphasize that this is a suspicion rather than any specific knowledge.
Our guess for the lineup tonight? Moving back to the midfield diamond, and a bit of rotation to keep people fresh. Fisher coming in for Odoi-Atsem would be a move on that front, while Paredes for Asad is another. If Ben Olsen wants to play the diamond, Nyeman replacing Mohammed Abu is the obvious choice unless Canouse is fully back and ready to start.
Projected Nashville starting 11: (4231) - Joe Willis; Alistair Johnston, Walker Zimmerman, Dave Romney, Taylor Washington; Dax McCarty, Anibal Godoy; Dom Badji, Hany Mukhtar, Alex Muyl; Daniel Rios
Gary Smith has some questionable (probably more like doubtful) wingers that may be missing tonight. One thing we do know is that starting left back Dan Lovitz is out through suspension, with Washington (who has spent most of this season as a back-up wide midfielder) the most likely to step in. Randall Leal could be fit to start on the right wing, but it sounds more likely that we could either see another start for Alan Winn, or for Badji to move off of the front line and out wide, with Rios getting the nod in that scenario instead.
Referee: As of the time this was written, PRO had not named a referee, but Pablo Maurer reported last week that the referee will be Tori Penso:
For the first in over 20 years, a woman will be the center referee of an MLS match. Tori Penso will call #DCU vs #EveryoneN on the 23rd of September, I've been told.— Pablo Iglesias Maurer (@MLSist) September 14, 2020
Last time this happened: Sandy Hunt, 5/13/2000.
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 includes plenty on where things stand with NSC right now.
What are you drinking?: After two straight weird nights of interrupted sleep, it’s probably best to avoid adding any alcohol to the mix, what with having to cover the game. Grapefruit seltzer, from the can.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos goalscoring!
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