There's no need to lie: This game is not a big deal. You know it and I know it. D.C. United is in Jacksonville, FL because reasons to face Fulham FC, who followers of English soccer know were relegated from the Premier League last season. Thanks to this game taking place just before a Carrie Underwood concert at the same venue, kickoff is at a time that throws a wrench into any dinner plans you might have made.
If you're still reading any of this, you clearly can't get enough United. Tie off with your fellow addicts as we try to follow a game that won't be shown on video. I suggest spending the game being thankful for modern technology, or to accept the fact that our team is broke and could use the appearance fee.
Kickoff Time: 6:00 PM EDT
Venue: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
TV/Streaming: The nature of a far-flung mid-season friendly against a English Championship - that's "2nd Division" for regular folks - already makes drumming up interest a difficult task. Now throw in the fact that this game will not be televised or streamed online, and...wait, come back! Fulham's website will carry live audio! It's almost the same?
Projected D.C. United starting XI: It's hard to guess what Ben Olsen will do here, but I have a hunch we'll start the game with a mix of starters and the guys who regularly make the gameday 18 but don't get many minutes. Bill Hamid should play for a half behind a back four of Chris Korb, Nana Attakora, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp (who really should go the full 90 if he goes uninjured).
In the midfield, it's even more of a stab in the dark. My guess here is Alex Caskey on the right, Perry Kitchen and LEWIS NEAL! centrally, and Chris Rolfe in his usual left-sided role. Up top, Eddie Johnson starts against his former club, and I'm guessing we'll see Collin Martin play the withdrawn forward/attacking midfielder role. Full disclosure: The only guesses I feel better than 60% about are Johnson, Martin, Birnbaum, and Kemp.
Also, I know what you're thinking: "Where's Michael Seaton?" I figure he plays 30-45 minutes off the bench for EJ.
Match previews: We exchanged questions with our Fulham analogues over at Cottagers Confidential, who also have a podcast concerning this game and Fulham's time stateside. On Fulham's official site, club hero Brian McBride previews the game (or just talks American soccer, since he admits he hasn't been watching United this year because Fox Sports is doing such a great job prepping for being MLS's broadcast partner next year!!!).
Prediction: Fulham boss Felix Magath is notorious for putting his players through a medieval sort of preseason full of arduous long runs, hundreds of sprints, and little else. He probably doesn't even let his players drive to and from training. They'll likely be rusty on the ball and completely spent in terms of fitness, so I'll take United winning this one 3-2.
What are you drinking? In honor of our English opponents and because it's summer, I'm going with a classic gin and tonic.
As always, this is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game chat. Feel free to make up what's going on since we won't be able to see it.