D.C. United returns from the long international break by hosting the exact same Inter Miami side they last played. United entered this three-week gap in the schedule by humbling Miami 3-0 in Florida, and will be looking to make sure that showing is a platform to build on rather than a one-off success. For the first time since March 2020, the Black-and-Red will be able to welcome a 100% capacity crowd to Buzzard Point, and they’ll be looking to send those fans home happy.
With today’s game falling on Juneteenth, United has several special events planned at Audi Field today, which you can find out more about here.
Key player: Paul Arriola
United’s ability to press Miami defined the last game, and no one executed in that regard at a higher level than Arriola. The goal and assist were great, obviously, but United’s ability to predict Miami’s choices on the ball and force them to abandon those plans due to pressure were the foundation of that win.
The Herons will surely have changed some things about their patterns of play, but United will be looking to once again make sure their pressure is the defining tactical trait on display. That’s a collective concept, but the most advanced pressing player for United will have to lead the way at a high level again if they’re to duplicate or improve upon their last performance.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 8:08pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (3421) - Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Brendan Hines-Ike, Donovan Pines; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Felipe Martins, Kevin Paredes; Paul Arriola, Adrien Perez; Ola Kamara
Bench: Jon Kempin, Frederic Brillant, Tony Alfaro, Joseph Mora, Moses Nyeman, Yamil Asad, Yordy Reyna, Griffin Yow, Nigel Robertha
After winning the last meeting 3-0 and playing the way he says he wants United to play, Hernán Losada seems unlikely to make changes that he doesn’t have to make. That doesn’t mean an unchanged team, though, with Junior Moreno away with Venezuela. Given that Felipe came in earlier than Nyeman in the last game, we’re thinking he’ll get the start, but this is a really interesting question for Losada, and we don’t really have a bad option here.
The other absentees are Erik Sorga, Chris Odoi-Atsem (both still on the IR), Drew Skundrich (knee), Steven Birnbaum (ankle), Edison Flores (hamstring), and Loudoun loanees Jovanny Bolivar, Michael DeShields, Jacob Greene. Robertha is questionable as he returns from his hamstring issue, and could be in uniform tonight; if not, it’ll be Kimarni Smith (who could also end up on the bench anyway, with he and Yow likely battling for a spot).
Projected Miami starting 11: (4231) - John McCarthy; Kelvin Leerdam, Ryan Shawcross, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Joevin Jones; Gregore, Blaise Matuidi; Lewis Morgan, Julian Carranza, Brek Shea; Gonzalo Higuain
Phil Neville tried to change his lineup specifically for United, and it categorically did not work, so look for him to return to his long-preferred 4231 (which is what he did once DCU went up 2-0 in the last meeting). Gonzalez Pirez is back from suspension, which will make a difference in the back, while there are a few questions within the lineup. Will Leerdam start over Victor Ulloa at right back? Will this look more like a 442, given that Carranza isn’t a true midfielder? Or, will he make way for former United creator Federico Higuain to start against his old club?
Don’t be surprised if the answers for Neville all involve choosing the players who can bring the required intensity, because they simply didn’t have it when these teams last met.
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington +, 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?: The latest Filibuster features our former DCU beat writer Lizzy Becherano (who’s down in South Florida these days) helping us preview what’s up with the Herons, and we also have a very factual and not made up Tales from Buzzard Point about how an oracle has predicted doom for Miami.
What are you drinking?: It sounds like it’s going to be a classic humid-as-hell D.C. summer day, so I’m going to pound water to make sure I’m not a wreck tomorrow.
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