For the most part, it's been a good preseason for D.C. United. There have been more clean sheets than goals conceded, and we've seen some very pretty goals scored by the Black-and-Red. While there are some injured players, those injuries happened in 2014 or with the USMNT. United is deep enough that trialists who may have found a contract elsewhere in MLS are being cut from camp here. For the most part, there's been some kind of appreciable progress from one game to the next.
However, United's next game is still going to feel like jumping into the deep end of the pool after spending weeks hanging around in the kids area. There should be an emphasis on playing well and being very smart tonight. While a Dallas preseason crowd isn't going to hold a candle to the hot atmosphere that DCU will encounter in Costa Rica, the test on the field should be a good one. Dallas has some potential match-winners in Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz, and last week's game got more than a little chippy. Ben Olsen will want to see his charges post another shutout, as doing the same next Thursday will go a long way towards seeing United into the CCL semifinal round.
Kickoff time: 8:30pm EST
Venue: Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX)
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: We should expect a very similar situation to last week's game against the Hoops. United is just six days from a CCL quarterfinal, and this is the last chance to improve cohesion and understanding with whoever the starting eleven will be at Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto. Barring the possibility of Steve Birnbaum or Luis Silva being further along than I expect, that would mean a 442 of: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Markus Halsti, Taylor Kemp; Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, Chris Rolfe; Fabian Espindola, Chris Pontius.
Match previews: We previewed the match a couple of hours ago, while the good folks at Big D Soccer did something similar from their side of the ball. United talked about yesterday's training session and got in an interview with goalkeeper/brewmaster Andrew Dykstra.
Prediction: Bar the slight drop in quality from the Orlando game to the tie with Jonkopings Sodra, United has made progress from game to game. I expect that to continue, but I also expect Dallas to produce more of a legitimate final product as opposed to last week's repeated choice to settle for long-distance shots. Even with that in mind, I think United has the better team right now and is closer to the finished product in terms of collective play and the little things required to win games. 2-1, with goals from DeLeon (he's due) and Pontius.
What are you drinking?: I may have gone overboard in my last trip to the liquor store, and as a result I have seven different beers to choose from as well as some new liquors. Still, as a nod of respect and/or fear of the raging winter outside, I think I'm going to pop open Great Divide Brewing's Yeti Imperial Stout. Plan B would be a hot cup of coffee mixed with a shot of Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka, which is a) pretty good and b) is vodka with caffeine, so if you're a reckless young person who goes out and parties hard but has moved past Four Loko or equivalents, you should buy some to drink on the rocks.
This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.