D.C. United faces its first quick turnaround of the season, as they host Orlando City just 70 hours after finishing up their last match. Orlando, meanwhile, is well-rested and unbeaten on the year, having conceded just two goals in their four matches. While the Black-and-Red are rounding into health, their high-pressing style may demand either rotation or some other adjustment to succeed against one of the East’s better teams.
Key player: Junior Moreno
Orlando brings some real weapons to the table between the lines. Nani is thriving by finding spaces that neither defenders nor midfielders are sure is their responsibility, Chris Mueller is a threat all around the box, Mauricio Pereyra is an underrated no. 10, and Tesho Akindele works very hard to make that trio’s lives easier. Orlando would prefer to be a possession team, but if this becomes a transition game, they can still be a major problem.
All of this is to say that Moreno is going to have a busy night on his hands. The good news is that he’s coming off of his most effective game of the season; the bad news is that he’s going to have some heavy legs due to the short turnaround before this game. Finding the energy to match or exceed his play against Chicago will be tough, but it’s also vital for United tonight.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (3412) - Jon Kempin; Brendan Hines-Ike, Frederic Brillant, Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes; Yamil Asad; Edison Flores, Adrien Perez
Bench: Chris Seitz, Joseph Mora, Andy Najar, Russell Canouse, Felipe Martins, Drew Skundrich, Paul Arriola, Kimarni Smith, Ola Kamara
The “out” portion of the injury report is getting shorter, but it’s still not actually short. Seven players are still out (including two who have been moved to the injured reserve), while Russell Canouse and Jacob Greene have both been moved up to questionable for tonight.
We’re also in uncharted territory here as far as Hernán Losada’s rotation policy, making this lineup pretty hard to guess. What we’ve got listed only brings Paredes (who is off the injury report entirely) and Asad in for Najar and Skundrich, but we could easily see other moves. Maybe Felipe starts for the first time this year? Canouse and Mora are listed as questionable and could possibly step back into the lineup as well. We should learn a lot from Losada’s choices tonight.
Projected Orlando starting 11: (4231) - Pedro Gallese; Ruan, Antonio Carlos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith; Junior Urso, Sebas Mendez; Chris Mueller, Mauricio Pereyra, Nani; Tesho Akindele
Oscar Pareja is definitely without Alexandre Pato and Uri Rosell, which means starts for Mendez and Akindele. One other thing that’s not entirely clear is Ruan’s status. He was subbed out of their draw with NYCFC with an injury, but is not on the injury report and trained more or less at full speed yesterday.
Orlando may also want to bring Joao Moutinho in at left back, as he actually replaced Ruan when the latter was hurt (with Smith moving to right back). However, this was seen as maybe stretching what Moutinho can do at this point after recovering from his own knock, so they might play it safe.
Elsewhere, Nani has 3 goals already, and often has freedom to roam. However, United’s right side will need to be collectively strong to restrict his chances to go to goal, because he’s clearly the danger man for the Lions right now.
Referee: Alex Chilowicz
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington, TeleXitos
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What are you drinking?: It’s looking very likely to be a press box bottled water kind of night, especially if I get my cold brew on the way in.
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