It has been ages since D.C. United had a game like this in late August. I don't need to embellish the details to pump you up: United is playing at Sporting Kansas City, the defending MLS champions and the hegemon in the Eastern Conference over the past few years. A win would see the Black-and-Red vault over KC, FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, and the Seattle Sounders and into the lead in the race for the Supporters Shield. This is pretty much as good of a measuring stick as you're going to get in terms of United's true potential in 2014.
Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM Eastern
Venue: Sporting Park, Kansas City, KS (as opposed to Kansas City, MO, the home of Grits n' Gravy)
TV/Streaming: Unless you live near Kansas City or have Direct Kick, this one won't be on your TV without an extra device. United will stream the game on the team site, and MLSsoccer.com has made it the league's Stream of the Week (which means it's free provided you sign up for an MLS account, which is really easy to do). Those living away from the DMV also have MLS Live as an option.
Projected D.C. United starting XI: After Ben Olsen rested his entire starting lineup from the win over the Rapids, this one's not hard to predict. Bill Hamid will be in goal behind a back four of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp. The midfield will be Nick DeLeon on the right, a central pairing of Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud, and Chris Rolfe on the left. Luis Silva will play off of Fabian Espindola up front, though we may see Silva sit deeper in a 4411 to help negate KC's 433.
Match previews: Fans in black, we've got your back. We have a scouting report, a piece on United's likely starting eleven tonight, and a question exchange between our own Ben and the Ben from The Blue Testament (SB Nation's Sporks blog). United has a video preview featuring Arnaud and Espindola. MLS's own game preview includes a note that tonight's referee is Alan Kelly.
Prediction: I would love to be wrong, but I think United being without a hold-up presence in this one thanks to Eddie Johnson's suspension will mean possession is too hard to come by to keep the pressure off the back four. United will create some looks and put in a respectable performance, but ultimately I see Sporting edging a 2-1 victory.
What are you drinking? Good question. It's time for a beer run, but if that fails I might get fancy and go with some Courvoisier VSOP. We're trying to run with the aristocrats, right?
You're in the right place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion of tonight's big game.