D.C. United is looking to head into the upcoming international break on a positive note, but it won’t be easy as they host the Philadelphia Union tonight. United enters the day holding the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they’ll be looking to snap a three-game losing streak. They’ll also want to end a brutal run of results against the Union, who have won nine and gone unbeaten against the Black-and-Red in ten straight league matches, a streak that dates back to the early weeks of the 2017 season.
Key player: Ola Kamara
Kamara’s goals per 90 this year is still pretty outlandish (around 1.21), but against Atlanta last week, he had a regression to the mean sort of game. Despite taking seven shots, including multiple really promising looks, he couldn’t find the net, and United ended up getting one goal from 27 attempts.
So the key here is, first of all, to bounce back from that. Kamara’s confidence has been obvious this season, and he shouldn’t let one off night hamper that. Secondly, United needs Kamara to be sharp, because the Union are unfortunately an extremely organized team that has mostly gotten their points by being stingy and physical. We’re not likely to see United put up 27 shots again this week, so Kamara and the rest of the attack will have to find the necessary goals from fewer chances.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (343) - Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Steven Birnbaum, Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Kevin Paredes; Drew Skundrich, Ola Kamara, Edison Flores
Bench: Jon Kempin, Frédéric Brillant, Donovan Pines, Joseph Mora, Felipe Martins, Moses Nyeman, Yamil Asad, Yordy Reyna, Ramón Ábila
The big news on United’s injury report is that Hamid and Pines are questionable, while Paul Arriola is still out. Hamid would be returning well ahead of two-to-three weeks ahead of the initial prognosis, while Hernán Losada told reporters Thursday that the club was hoping to use the international break to sharpen Pines’ fitness after missing time with a foot injury.
So let’s split the difference with our prediction, and go with Hamid back in goal, while Pines only makes the bench. However, don’t be surprised if giving them both one more game off (plus the international break) ends up being the outcome.
United feels likely to stretch the field with Paredes as a wingback rather than part of the front three, and it also feels like they’ll need a ball-winner as part of their press, opening the door for Skundrich (or possibly Asad). Reyna feels like he’ll remain in a super-sub role, but after looking so confident last week and scoring that wild goal, maybe Losada runs him and Flores out from the start?
Projected Philadelphia starting 11: (4312) - Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Alejandro Bedoya, José Martínez, Leon Flach; Daniel Gázdag; Kacper Przybylko, Cory Burke
Jim Curtin’s lineup is pretty close to settled, especially with the Union settling some transfer rumors around Mbaizo by signing the right back to a recent contract extension. The only real questions pertain to whether Sérgio Santos (questionable, hamstring) is available to start. If not, it’s probably Burke coming in for him, though you can’t rule out homegrown Quinn Sullivan.
The other player to wonder about is Jamiro Monteiro. Arguably the best Union midfielder, Monteiro has nevertheless seen his playing time drop a bit lately as Philly has preferred Flach and Gázdag over the Cape Verde international.
One small mercy for United: Ilsinho, who has maybe been more of a game-changing substitute against the Black-and-Red than anyone else, is out with an injury.
Referee: Rubiel Vazquez
Available TV: TeleXitos. No NBC Sports Washington or NBCSW+ tonight.
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?: Spent some time breaking down the specifics of how the Union go about their business on the latest episode of Filibuster. We also have a very historically accurate and definitely not fictional Tale from Buzzard Point that relates to Philadelphia coming to visit.
What are you drinking?: All signs pointing to the standard cold brew en route + water in the building. When I get back home, I’m leaning towards a round of tequila on the rocks.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos finally, finally beating the doopers!
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