D.C. United is looking to bounce back this evening as they host a struggling Toronto FC side at Audi Field. United, who were so close to a huge road win only to lose a heartbreaker to NYCFC last week, will be looking to pile on the misery for a TFC side that has lost five straight games amid rumors of strife between coach Chris Armas — at one point the favorite to take the DCU job — and his squad.
Key player: Kevin Paredes
At home, United has pinned their opponents back for stretches, or even for the large majority, of all five games played on Buzzard Point this year. However, generating high-end chances and finishing them has been an issue: In their last 406 minutes at Audi Field, United have just two goals.
Paredes has been a spark all season, but thanks to a preseason injury and some awkward timing schedule-wise, he has just one start at home. So while this is obviously a team-wide issue, it stands to reason that the top dribbling threat on the team will be of enormous importance against TFC. While the Reds have some speed problems in most areas, they do have some pace on the right thanks to Auro Jr. and Richie Laryea, so Paredes will have to bring his best stuff to help United put goals (plural) on the board.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 5:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (343) - Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Brendan Hines-Ike, Donovan Pines; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Felipe Martins, Kevin Paredes; Paul Arriola, Ola Kamara, Adrien Perez
Bench: Jon Kempin, Tony Alfaro, Joseph Mora, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Griffin Yow, Yamil Asad, Yordy Reyna, Nigel Robertha
With no midweek game to cope with, Hernán Losada can field a team without having to factor in player rotation. However, there are still questions: Moreno returned to training Wednesday, but it’s unclear whether United wants to risk him after he played 352 minutes in 14 days for Venezuela at Copa América.
Nyeman and Frédéric Brillant are also in question, with Losada hinting that at least one of his injury/fatigue-enforced substitutions last week may not be ready, but not specifying which player that is. Both could dress if they’re fit, especially if Moreno is given time to recuperate. Hines-Ike, who came off at halftime last week, declared himself fully fit and termed his situation at NYCFC as merely “precautionary,” so look for him to return.
One final wrinkle: Erik Sorga is off the injury report and has been activated from the IR, so he is eligible to dress tonight. However, after such a long layoff, don’t be surprised if United holds him out until the upcoming Capital Cup friendly series.
Projected Toronto starting 11: (4231) - Alex Bono; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Kemar Lawrence; Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado; Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Yeferson Soteldo; Ayo Akinola
Chris Armas has been flailing for a lineup that works, trying a 352 in a miserable loss at FC Cincinnati last weekend as well as deploying a 442, a 4411, and a 4231 at times. The latter feels like his preference, so we’re listing that, but do not be surprised if he prefers something else (possibly a 541 or 532). There are also questions up top: will it be Akinola, or Patrick Mullins, or Dom Dwyer? Or some combination thereof?
Longtime United man Nick DeLeon, along with veteran left back Justin Morrow and goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, are all out with injuries, while one Designated Player (Jozy Altidore) remains in exile after falling out with Armas. Another DP, Soteldo, is back from injury and seems sure to start on the left...unless he’s moved into a central role to bring some life to a team that needs a jolt.
Alejandro Pozuelo, TFC’s third DP is the big question. The Spanish wizard was a major doubt earlier this week, but was listed as questionable for this evening’s game. If he can go, TFC is a far more formidable opponent; if not (and this does feel like sandbagging from TFC), United’s odds are much better.
Referee: Lukasz Szpala
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?: A whole new round of Filibuster previews this game, and all of TFC’s current foibles.
What are you drinking?: Cold brew en route, press box bottled water in the building. Plus, with this game being played at 5:30 on a sunny day, enough sunscreen that there’s almost certainly gonna be some ingested.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos not going blind in the late afternoon sun!
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