For the Chicago Fire, there's almost no margin for error as their playoff hopes dwindle with each passing week. They've struggled to win all year long, but are unbeaten at home since early June and have beaten some solid playoff teams along the way. D.C. United hasn't won in Bridgeview since 2009 when it comes to MLS play, but walked away from Toyota Park 2-0 victors in last year's Open Cup visit.
Regardless of what the standings say, this will probably be a tough one for the Black-and-Red.
Kickoff Time: 8:30pm Eastern.
Venue: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL
TV/Streaming: CSN Washington will have the game on local TV, while out-of-market fans will need to fire up MLS Live. If you won't be at a TV/computer/tablet/smartphone/other gadgets I don't even know about, 99.1 WNEW will have the game on local FM radio.
Projected DC United starting XI: I think Ben Olsen will be going in with his best available team for this one, especially since Fabian Espindola is suspended. Right now, that means a forward pairing of fit-again Eddie Johnson and Luis Silva. In the midfield, I doubt Samuel Inkoom is fit enough for back-to-back starts, so I think we'll see Nick DeLeon stay on the right, Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud central, and David Estrada on the left flank. In the back, Sean Franklin and Taylor Kemp will be the outside backs, and Bobby Boswell will be partnered by Steve Birnbaum in central defense. The human wall that is Bill Hamid will man the nets behind them.
As far as subs go, I think Inkoom and Chris Pontius will both get into this game. It will be interesting to see if Pontius replaces Silva - who usually is subbed off after an hour or so - up front, or if he comes in on the left side. The third sub will likely depend on how the game is going, but I could see Collin Martin getting into this game in a lot of different scenarios.
Match previews: Let's start with someone else for a change. MLSsoccer has their preview up, while United's video preview features interviews with Estrada and Boswell. Elsewhere on B&RU, Adam relived our last visit to the Windy City, Ben felt like partying in his lineup prediction, and I scouted a desperate Chicago side.
Prediction: I really want to go with a win. United has the better team soccer-wise, the more athletic players all over, the better goalkeeper (please figure this out Jurgen) and the mentally stronger group. However, Chicago doesn't have 15 ties on accident, and they haven't lost at home in 9 competitive games. As such, I'm going 1-1 with EJ scoring for United.
What are you drinking? I probably won't know the question to this one until closer to kickoff, but I can tell you that I had a pint of Grimbergen Dubbel while out with friends in Baltimore, and it was pretty good. I'll have an answer in the comments.
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