There will be a chill in the air as D.C. United, likely in need of a win to ensure a home playoff game, hosts the Chicago Fire. For the Black-and-Red, it seems like a kind match-up: Chicago has not won on the road all season, and United has beaten them twice (including a win on the road with a largely second-choice team). The Fire need at least a win and a draw in their final 2 games to avoid finishing dead last in the 2015 standings.
However, since last month's coaching change, Chicago appears to have improved. Some of that is simply the change in mood around the team, but interim boss Brian Bliss has also made some choices that seem to emphasize skill over athleticism as well. The club that United has made easy work of earlier this year isn't the one that's going to walk out at RFK today, so DCU is going to have to show some quality to get the desired result.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: I see no reason to change anything after last week's win. That means a lineup featuring Bill Hamid in goal; a back four of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, and Taylor Kemp; a midfield of Chris Pontius, Perry Kitchen, Markus Halsti, and Nick DeLeon; and a forward pairing of Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola.
Off the bench, it seems safe to expect Alvaro Saborio to again sub in no matter what happens. It would also not surprise me a bit to see Fire killer Conor Doyle come on, particularly if United is in the lead. If trailing, bringing Michael Farfan in for Halsti would probably be a good idea.
Match previews: This morning's preview is here, and it has more links than you can shake a stick at. Actually that's probably false, but it still links to all of our pre-game pieces.
Referee: Sorin Stoica
What are you drinking?: I'm thinking about getting a large coffee on my way to Lot 8 and adding some Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka to it, but if that doesn't work out it will be random beers.
Prediction: I think United turned over a new leaf in the second half last week, and I think we see less apprehension and more positive play from the start. Rolfe and Espindola are on their game from the start, with both players scoring and assisting in a 2-0 win.
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