There's no two ways about it: The toughest portion of D.C. United's 2014 season began Wednesday night, and tonight is when we'll start to really feel the effects. Houston in August? It's right at the top of the list of go-to scenarios when people want to explain to outsiders why MLS is a unique animal. That United has to make this trip on short rest only adds to the difficulty of the task at hand tonight.
On the other hand, the Houston Dynamo have given up more goals than anyone in MLS this year and among the league's least productive attacks as well. If United did anything Wednesday, it was to further establish that the Black-and-Red belong among the league's best sides, and teams in that echelon don't lose to teams down near the bottom of the standings. Is tonight the night United finally wins in the Bayou City?
Kickoff Time: 8:00 PM Eastern
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
TV/Streaming: Locally, the game will be on CSN Washington. Nationally, Univision Deportes will be showing the game with Spanish audio. Both broadcasts start at 8pm.
Projected D.C. United starting XI: I was prepared to take some guesses at who Ben Olsen was going to rotate into his squad given the congested schedule and his comments after the mid-week victory, but he told Steve Goff yesterday not to expect many changes. Therefore, this is easy: United should be in the familiar 442 with Bill Hamid in goal; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Chris Korb across the back from right to left; a midfield of Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen (who will be suspended if he's booked tonight), Davy Arnaud, and Chris Rolfe; and a forward pairing of Luis Silva dropping underneath Eddie Johnson.
Match previews: Our staff has made predictions, while Ben Bromley's piece on United's potential lineup dovetails nicely with what Olsen said above. We also have a scouting report for those that like their blogging long-winded. Ben also exchanged questions with our friends - well, frenemies for the night - at Dynamo Theory, who have their preview up as well.
Prediction: In the aforelinked prediction thread, I went with a 1-1 draw. Granted, that was based on the assumption that Olsen was going to do more rotating than we now expect, but I'm sticking with the scoreline. Houston is hell for United, and we're on short rest, and this is their chance to unveil new signings DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido. The Dynamo are not a good team, but they'll be up for this one. I've got a good feeling about a goal from Silva as he fights to keep his spot in the eleven due to Fabian Espindola's return to health.
What are you drinking? When I wrote this, I was down to one beer, so I need to go on a run to answer the question. If I'm not lazy and get that taken care of, expect Flying Dog's Maryland-repping Dead Rise Summer Ale or some kind of IPA. If I fail at running this simple errand, I still have plenty of gin and limes. Rickey? G&T? Gimlet? Who knows?
As always, this is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game chat