D.C. United hosts the New England Revolution tonight in two minds. There’s the obvious situation in the standings, where United is right in the middle of the Eastern Conference pile-up. They could climb up to 5th place with a win, getting back within range of a top four spot, but they could also find themselves below the red line in 8th at the end of the night.
There’s also an aspect here pertaining to ambition, with New England closing in on their first-ever Supporters Shield. United wants to be a team that can compete for that kind of hardware, and they’ve given the Revs trouble twice this year. Taking that next step and proving they can beat MLS’s best would be a major achievement, and it would also serve to end what is an eight-game winless run for DCU in the series between these MLS originals.
Key player: Bill Hamid
When facing a team that’s having the kind of season the Revs are, this could just be a cop-out answer of “every player,” because you don’t beat New England without everyone having a good game. Given the Revolution’s goal-scoring record this year, it seems reasonable to focus at the back. We know United won’t play with fear, having come close twice in road games against New England, but that opens the door to plenty of chances at both ends.
As such, United’s hopes tonight hinge on Hamid, especially if this game becomes a wide-open shootout. After all, the Revs are at full strength, while United is missing numerous attacking options. Balancing that out with a standout goalkeeping performance opens the door to what would be a statement win at this point in the season.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (343) - Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Steven Birnbaum, Donovan Pines; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Kevin Paredes; Drew Skundrich, Ola Kamara, Adrien Perez
Bench: Jon Kempin, Frédéric Brillant, Tony Alfaro, Joseph Mora, Felipe Martins, Moses Nyeman, Griffin Yow, Nigel Robertha, Ramón Ábila
Paul Arriola is officially listed as questionable, but the Washington Post’s Steven Goff is reporting that United wants to hold him out until next week, so we’re going to assume he’s unavailable tonight.
Our expectation is for very little rotation: Skundrich for Robertha, and that’s it. However, don’t be surprised if players like Kamara, Gressel, Paredes, and at least one central midfielder are candidates to be subbed off by the 60th minute. Perez, given how long he was out, is also probably on a minutes cap.
There are some questions in here, though. Might we see Felipe from the start? Or perhaps Mora, with Paredes rested for the weekend or moved further forward? Yamil Asad’s status is a mystery after he didn’t dress on Saturday, and you can make a case that Chris Odoi-Atsem’s speed on the right may be quite valuable off the bench...but who do you drop? It’s a tricky situation right now due to the absentees and the schedule.
Projected New England starting 11: (4312) - Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Tajon Buchanan, Matt Polster, Tommy McNamara; Carles Gil; Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa
Bruce Arena has a full-strength roster available, with no injuries or suspensions to deal with. For most of the last couple of months, he’s been fielding his team in an asymmetrical diamond regardless of personnel, and that’s what we’re expecting tonight. Buchanan will stay wider than a normal right-sided shuttler would, pushing up alongside Gil in the attack (with Gil sometimes drifting left of center to balance things out), while McNamara — or possibly Wilfrid Kaptoum or Luis Caicedo — will drop back alongside Polster at times.
Arena is not opposed to rotating heavily, but it seems unlikely that the Revs go that route tonight. That said, don’t be surprised if he turns to Ema Boateng before the hour mark if United is controlling the game, as being direct and looking for speed out wide is how they flipped the last meeting between these sides.
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington + (please note the +, it’s not the normal NBCSW), TeleXitos
Feel free to check our our DCU how to watch guide to figure out what your best option is.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: There’s a brand new Filibuster that gets into the difficulties of playing the Revs, and the simplicity of how New England goes about their business.
What are you drinking?: It’s gonna flirt with being below 60 by full time tonight, so I might have to break out an insulated bottle and bring some hot green tea up into the press box.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos stalling when the Supporters Shield gets handed out!
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