D.C. United returns from the international break tonight as they head to Red Bull Arena to face their oldest rivals, the New York Red Bulls. United will be hoping the break didn’t diminish the momentum built up from an authoritative win over Philadelphia two weeks ago, and they’ll certainly want to add to the struggles of a Red Bull side that has won just once in their last nine games.
Key player: Julian Gressel
This game is going to feature a lot of pressing, a lot of disrupting, and relatively few chances. United may have controlled the last meeting, but they had fewer chances than we’re used to seeing. The Red Bulls may not be as good as they have been in the past, but they’re still a tough nut to crack.
So we’re looking to Gressel to provide top-end service in the few chances he gets in space — with United hopefully able to carve out more of those as they did against the Union — and from set pieces in a game that will probably have a fairly high number of them. The Black-and-Red have shown lately that they have the goalscoring punch to break through against tough defensive teams, so if the service is there, the chances of a win feel pretty good.
Location: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (343) - Jon Kempin; Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum, Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Felipe Martins, Joseph Mora; Paul Arriola, Ola Kamara, Kevin Paredes
Bench: Chris Seitz, Frédéric Brillant, Andy Najar, Moses Nyeman, Drew Skundrich, Yamil Asad, Griffin Yow, Yordy Reyna, Ramón Ábila
Let’s start with the availability updates Hernán Losada provided on Thursday:
Paul Arriola & Donovan Pines have been training fully, & while they might not be able to go 90, sounds like they're in contention for the weekend. Bill Hamid "just came back this week," still evaluating. #DCU— Jason Anderson (@JasonDCsoccer) September 9, 2021
With Edison Flores and Junior Moreno staying home, and Bill Hamid only just back in training this week, United will still be a bit short-handed. The injury report got shorter, though, with Arriola and Pines listed as questionable but sounding more like probable. So, we’re listing them as being in the lineup, though Losada said both may not be able to play the full 90 just yet.
We also have to account for playing Wednesday and next Saturday, so expect rotation all week. That starts today for Najar, who played the full 90 for Honduras this past Wednesday against the USMNT. Elsewhere, it’s rather up in the air who will partner Canouse in central midfield, and it really could be Felipe, Nyeman, or Skundrich.
Finally, Nigel Robertha has been moved to questionable on United’s injury report, but MLS’s game guide says he’s still on the team’s injured reserve list. Activating him would involve freeing up an international spot (very likely by Jovanny Bolívar going back on loan to Loudoun), but it sounds like we’re not quite there yet.
Projected NYRB starting 11: (4222) - Carlos Coronel; Tom Edwards, Andrés Reyes, Sean Nealis, Andrew Gutman; Sean Davis, John Tolkin; Wikelman Carmona, Caden Clark; Patryk Klimala, Fábio
Gerhard Struber has been toggling recently between varieties of 442 and a 3412, but with Kyle Duncan suspended, he’s without the only obvious right wingback on the squad. So, we’re guessing it’s a back four, though it could be Amro Tarek over Reyes at center back. We could also see Tolkin return to left back, with Cristian Cásseres Jr. or Frankie Amaya alongside Davis.
However, this could be a midfield diamond (likely meaning a start for Dru Yearwood over Clark), or we could still see the 3412. In that case, it’s not clear who would play right wingback, but Clark would likely give way to the third center back, very likely Tarek on the left.
Referee: Robert Sibiga
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 episode of Filibuster is about what United needs to do to make it another Atlantic Cup win. We also have a definitely very real and not fun fiction Tale From Buzzard Point.
What are you drinking?: I think the closest seltzer to the door in my fridge is lime, so it’ll be lime seltzer.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos taking back the Atlantic Cup!
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