Well done, readers. You've survived the annual July 5 hangover and made it to the afternoon. Your reward: D.C. United soccer against one of the tougher outs in the Eastern Conference this year. Which is a weird thing to type, because Toronto FC has never been a "tough out" in any year, unless you got caught in a March snowstorm at YYZ. Anyway, as you're probably aware, today's match pits two of MLS' worst teams from 2013, each of whom has turned over their roster significantly and improved by leaps and bounds in 2014. United come in tied on points atop the Eastern Conference, while TFC, having played three fewer games, carry the best PPG of any team not called the Sounders. With East co-leaders Sporting KC off until tomorrow, a win will at least temporarily put Ben Olsen's side three points into first.
So let's do that.
Time: 7pm EDT
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto, ON
TV/Streaming: CSN will carry the game if you're in the National Capital region, with Dave Johnson on the call alongside Santino Quaranta. If you're elsewhere, MLS Live will carry the stream, most likely with Canadian commentators.
Projected DC XI: With Fabian Espindola out for injury/suspension and Jeff Parke apparently still out, United will welcome back Davy Arnaud from his own suspension. Look for Ben Olsen to run out a similar side to last week - even if a little experimentation wouldn't kill him. 4-4-2: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Chris Korb; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe; Luis Silva, Eddie Johnson.
Match Previews: Ben Bromley looks at the likely lineup we'll see from United tonight, and ChestRockwell breaks down the hosts in his in-depth scouting report. We also exchanged a few questions with our counterparts at TFC site Waking the Red. Speaking of WTR, check out Kristin Knowles preview from a Canuck's perspective.
Prediction: Toronto will cede much of the possession to United because that's what Toronto does. With Arnaud back in the middle, DC will be quicker on the ball through midfield, and with another week of training without Espindola, both Silva and Johnson will be more dangerous than they were against Seattle last week. On the other side, Jermaine Defoe is as dangerous as ever, even without fellow DPs Michael Bradley and Gilberto in the lineup. Look for a 1-1 draw with goals from Chris Rolfe (assisted by EJ and Silva) and Jermain Defoe (Jonathan Osorio).
What Are You Drinking?: After yesterday, not much. I'll crack open a beer for kickoff though, most likely a Northern Lights IPA from Charlottesville, VA's Starr Hill Brewery.
This is your place for any and all pre-game, in-game and post-game commentary and conversation as the Black-and-Red try to take first place.