Summer has largely been good for D.C. United, but a flood of injuries has hit just as the number of games has started to pile up. United has also played poorly in two straight games, and with another loss would drift further off the pace of Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Eastern Conference.
On the other side of the ball, the Colorado Rapids come to RFK tonight even more desperate for points. Colorado has taken just nine points from the last thirty available to them just as the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas have hit their form. For the Rapids, it's likely going to be a battle to the end for the final Western playoff spot, which means improving their dire road form ASAP.
Kickoff Time: 8:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, DC
TV/Streaming: Today's game is on Sunday because it'll be televised nationally on Univision Deportes. If you prefer English coverage, good news: CSN Washington will also have the broadcast.
Projected D.C. United starting XI: Ben Olsen has stated that he will be more focused on the playoffs than the CCL, so I expect the squad rotation for the time being to break down as "A Team and "B Team." With Eddie Johnson out, Olsen's biggest challenge is to decide how many minutes Fabian Espindola can play. After his long layoff, Espindola shouldn't be playing 90, but if he can play 60, he'll start.
With that in mind, I think we'll see Espindola paired with Luis Silva up top; a midfield of Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, and Chris Rolfe; a back four consisting of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp; and of course Bill Hamid between the sticks. As for the subs, it seems safe to expect David Estrada and LEWIS NEAL! to play significant minutes.
Match previews: There are plenty. Staying here at B&RU, we have our staff predictions, a scouting report of what to expect from the Rapids, and our question exchange with the fine folks at our Colorado analogues over at the Burgundy Wave. They've got their own preview from the Rapids side of things as well. Finally, the neutral preview from the league website has info about tonight's referee Allen Chapman as well as stats on the history between the two sides.
Prediction: I'm going with 2-1 United. The Rapids have been poor on the road, and though United might struggle for possession without EJ available to hold the ball up, I think the Rapids will be generally outfoxed by Espindola, Rolfe, and Silva.
What are you drinking? Right now, as I type this? Ceremony Coffee's Muungano, which are hard-to-come-by beans from the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are flat-out delicious. In Lot 8? Probably a Yuengling.
Got things to say about this game? This is your spot for all pre-game, during-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos!