D.C. United will get to check out TQL Stadium for the first time today as they head to Ohio to face FC Cincinnati. United is kicking off a daunting stretch where they play seven games in 29 days during the toughest part of the summer, and they’re doing it just as the number of injuries to their attack have started to creep back up. Still, they’ll be favored to get a positive result against the hosts, who after a brief uptick in form have now gone five games without a win.
Key player: Kevin Paredes
Cincinnati tends to leave a lot of space between the lines and in transition, and that means Paredes (no matter where he sets up) should be a major factor in this game. While Joe Gyau, the player he’s likely to see the most of tonight, is not slow, there’s a general lack of speed in the Cincy eleven, especially if Paredes can slash inside and get a 1v1 with the 36-year-old Geoff Cameron at right-center back.
Cincy will be fully aware of all of that, and will likely be taking measures to prevent just that from happening. Paredes will have to get his off-ball movement right, anticipating moments when he can set himself up to receive the ball in dangerous spots rather than simply expecting them to appear. It’s important that he stays proactive and selective, and that United keeps finding ways to feed the ball out to the left.
Location: TQL Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (3421) - Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Frédéric Brillant, Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes; Drew Skundrich, Yamil Asad; Ola Kamara
Bench: Jon Kempin, Steven Birnbaum, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Joseph Mora, Felipe Martins, Griffin Yow, Yordy Reyna, Jovanny Bolívar, Erik Sorga
United is facing a shortage up front, with Nigel Robertha going on the injured reserve just the lastest loss. Sorga, who just had his first 45 minutes of action in months in a loan appearance with Loudoun, has been called back up to the first team just as United embarks on yet another three-games-in-eight-days stretch.
While much of today’s lineup is a fairly easy call based on Hernán Losada’s patterns this year, it’s still an open question as to whether Nyeman or Felipe will start here. There’s also reason to think Mora could start, with Paredes playing further forward again, and Birnbaum will be pushing for time too.
The biggest source of confusion is up top, though, with Kamara reportedly questionable despite not being on the injury report. If he’s out, it’s not clear whether Losada will look to Reyna (more experienced, but not a true striker) or Bolívar to lead the line.
Projected Cincinnati starting 11: (4231) - Kenneth Vermeer; Joe Gyau, Geoff Cameron, Gustavo Vallecilla, Ronald Matarrita; Yuya Kubo, Haris Medunjanin; Álvaro Barreal, Luciano Acosta, Allan Cruz; Brenner
Jaap Stam’s side, despite their struggles, feels fairly settled. Matarrita and Cruz are back from Gold Cup duty and should boost the quality of the side, but it’s not exactly clear where the latter will slot in. He and Barreal could swap flanks, or we could see Cruz on the right and someone like Isaac Atanga on the left.
Stam has also been giving Caleb Stanko more time lately, and might opt for him over either Kubo or Medunjanin for tactical reasons, as he’s both more defensively sound than Kubo and more mobile than Medunjanin. Or, we could see Kubo move up to the wing opposite Cruz.
Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington, TeleXitos
Available streaming: dcunited.com if you live within the team’s geofence. For everyone else, ESPN+ or FuboTV (subscribe via those links, & your friends at B&RU get some cash!).
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 episode of Filibuster focuses on this game with Laurel Pfahler from Queen City Press, while we also had some United statistical analysis yesterday.
What are you drinking?: There are a range of seltzers in play. Lemon? Grapefruit? Tangerine? Real thrilling stuff over here.
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