D.C. United begins the first-ever Capital Cup tonight at Audi Field, with Costa Rican power LD Alajuelense providing the opposition. The 2020-2021 Apertura champions in the Liga FPD, Alajuelense might be remembered by some United fans from a 2015 CONCACAF Champions League clash that saw LDA eliminate the Black-and-Red.
Key player: Yordy Reyna
The second transfer window in American men’s soccer opened today, which means we’re probably at “put up or shut up” time for any players making $250,000 and up but not cracking the lineup. Reyna, who wasn’t even in uniform for the 7-1 win on the weekend, is firmly in that category, especially as he takes up an international spot.
A preseason injury kept him out of contention for 6-7 weeks, and he’s had few chances to make his case since then. United has 13 players who have seen at least some time up front this year, and though some from that group (Andy Najar, Kevin Paredes, and Griffin Yow) will probably play more minutes elsewhere, it’s still a big group of player vying for a small number of minutes.
Reyna did differentiate himself somewhat, though, in the 0-0 draw against Montreal. There were some clever touches and feints in his brief appearance that opened things up for United, and the only full-time attacker on the roster at the moment with his invention is the injured Edison Flores.
There’s room for a player of his type in the squad, but he’s got to be that kind of player within Losada’s structure. If Reyna’s going to stick around and be involved in the back half of the season, the Capital Cup feels like his last chance to prove it.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (343) - Jon Kempin; Allexon Saravia*, Frederic Brillant, Joseph Mora; Griffin Yow, Felipe Martins, Yamil Asad, Jacob Greene; Yordy Reyna, Jovanny Bolivar, Kimarni Smith
Bench: Chris Seitz, Steven Birnbaum, Hassan Pinto*, Gaoussou Samaké*, Landry Nanan Houssou*, Nicky Downs*, Ted Ku-DiPietro*, Kairou Amoustapha*
* denotes Loudoun United call-up
We held this article awaiting a DCU roster, which was eventually put out by the Washington Post’s Steven Goff. There are some surprises in who is and is not included: Michael DeShields and Tony Alfaro were in this draft as starters, for example, but apparently won’t be in uniform at all tonight. There was also a Venezuelan report saying that Darluis Paz would join the Loudoun call-up list, but he’s apparently not available tonight either.
So this is a lineup with plenty of guesswork on our part. Unless Birnbaum is healthy enough to play 45+ minutes, Hernán Losada will have to start a Loudoun player at the back. However, you can fill out the rest of the starting eleven using players on MLS deals.
Alajuelense roster: The visitors put this squad out before flying up for the tournament:
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington
Available streaming: None
What are you drinking?: Today’s gonna be in the 90s, so as much water as I can find the time to get into my system.
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