You can be forgiven for thinking that it's strange to be playing the Vancouver Whitecaps; in the past 28 months, D.C. United has played them precisely once before tonight's game at BC Place. Carl Robinson's team doesn't often lose games, but they're also struggling badly when it comes to winning them. Will United take control of the proceedings and boss a 'Caps side that lacks belief right now, or will this game be more about Vancouver star Pedro Morales?
Kickoff Time: 10:00pm Eastern. I know the team has declared #DCUAfterDark in effect, but I feel like that only applies if we go past midnight. Maybe if stoppage time drags out?
Venue: BC Place, Vancouver
TV/Streaming: This one's trickier than normal. DMV residents can find the game on CSN+ - not regular CSN Washington - from 10pm on, and Steve Goff says regular CSN will pick the game up whenever the HUGELY IMPORTANT Citadel vs. Florida St. college football game ends. The good news is that CSN+ will carry the full game, so you don't actually have to change channels.
For those of you that will be using MLS Live, I would expect no issues. Canadian fans will find the game on TSN I would guess, but since I'm not in Canada that's just a stab in the dark.
Projected DC United starting XI: We've seen Ben Olsen prioritize a game against the Red Bulls over a west coast match recently, and I think we'll see it happen again to a certain extent tonight. Bill Hamid will remain in goal, and I suspect we'll see Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp across the back (though a start for Kofi Opare over Birnbaum wouldn't be a crazy idea). In the midfield, look for veteran Davy Arnaud to get a rest. Instead, I expect a midfield quartet of Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, LEWIS NEAL!, and Alex Caskey. Up front, I think we'll see Fabian Espindola partnered by Eddie Johnson.
As for the subs, Luis Silva will probably come in between the 55th and 65th minutes for Espindola, and we may see Olsen give a short debut to newcomer Samuel Inkoom if the game allows it (and if he actually made the trip, which is unknown at this point). David Estrada will probably get 20+ minutes as well.
Match previews: You know we always come through for you on this front. In chronological order, we've written up a lineup prediction, gone Behind Enemy Lines, and produced a scouting report. MLSsoccer has their own stat-filled preview, while Goff produced a rather sunny piece on tonight's match for the Washington Post. If you want to know what people are thinking in Vancouver, you can check out Eighty Six Forever's questions about the game or the Vancouver Sun.
Prediction: United has a chance to finish with a winning record against the Western Conference with a win tonight, but with a more important game on Wednesday I'm not so sure that'll happen. United's rotated team will still be hard to break down, and the Whitecaps lack the belief to win games right now, so put me down for a 1-1 draw. United's goal will come from Steve Birnbaum, who will finally nod a corner kick past the GK rather than over the bar.
What are you drinking? It is too hot for reasonable life today, so I'm going to make a gin rickey with Tanqueray and Whole Foods sparkling mineral water. The limes are from some farm, I don't know.
This is the place to be for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos!