D.C. United had an off night on Sunday, and they’ll be looking to course-correct tonight as they visit the New England Revolution. On top of being a road game against the Supporters Shield leading Revs, who are on an imperious 6W-1D-0L run at the moment, it’s also the middle game of three in one week. United were very unlucky to not leave Gillette Stadium with a draw early this season, but both teams have changed since then. As such, this will be a stern test of United’s depth, their resolve, and just how good they currently are.
Key player: Andy Najar
United rested Najar, and while a lot of things went wrong in Nashville, one of them was that they were missing their most mobile defender. We think of Najar’s play as a right-center back as remarkable for what he does on the ball, because that part is great, but he’s also faster, more agile, and a better defender when isolated one-on-one than United’s other defenders. Hany Mukhtar probably doesn’t have quite the same night he had if Najar is out there.
Resting him — especially to make sure he’s ready for a game on turf — is a calculated risk. For it to pay off, United needs to benefit from his passing and dribbling as a scheme-breaking X-factor going forward, but they’re also going to have to hope he can thrive against a very different New England attack. The Revs go direct, and their forwards are big and powerful; it’s less about defending in isolation and more about winning duels.
Location: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, MA)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (343) - Jon Kempin; Andy Najar, Frédéric Brillant, Steven Birnbaum; Julian Gressel, Junior Moreno, Felipe Martins, Joseph Mora; Paul Arriola, Ola Kamara, Kevin Paredes
Bench: Chris Seitz, Tony Alfaro, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Moses Nyeman, Drew Skundrich, Yamil Asad, Edison Flores, Yordy Reyna, Ramón Ábila,
We’re hazarding a guess that Hernán Losada won’t rotate heavily, but there are some real questions here. Najar should return as a starter, but who joins him in the back three? Is Kempin going to keep the starting job in goal? And is there more rotation needed in the midfield and front line? It wouldn’t be a massive surprise to see Skundrich or Asad start, nor would it be too outlandish if Kamara is on some kind of minutes limit after going 90 in Nashville on Sunday.
There’s also the prospect of Losada playing a 352 instead, which in this case probably means Nyeman starting ahead of Paredes or Mora.
Projected New England starting 11: (442) - Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Tajon Buchanan, Wilfrid Kaptoum, Maciel, Tommy McNamara; Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa
Bruce Arena is not a big rotator generally speaking, so we’re guessing he also makes few changes for this one. Matt Polster had an ugly fall that left him with a knee injury last week, and while the Revs have said it’s not as bad as it looked, it seems likely that they’ll rotate him out for the night, with Kaptoum or McNamara both solid candidates to step in alongside Maciel in the engine room.
If McNamara ends up in the middle, Arnór Traustason would probably retain his normal starting role on the left. Arena could opt for some rotation on the wings or up front if he wants to give Teal Bunbury a start, and he has mixed in a midfield diamond rather than this more traditional 442 in of late. If that’s the case, Buchanan will be an unconventional no. 10 underneath Bou and Buksa.
Referee: Ted Unkel
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, once we finished reviewing the Nashville loss, is a preview of who the Revs are right now, and why they’re on such a roll.
What are you drinking?: During the game: lemon seltzer. Post-game: I’m probably going to pick up some Sapporo this afternoon, so odds are it’ll be one or two of those.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos streak-breaking!
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