D.C. United will have 32 more games after today, plus potential playoff games, this fall's CCL matches and the US Open Cup. However, the chances are that you will remember today's Atlantic Cup battle against the New York Red Bulls more vividly no matter how the game goes. That's how it goes against your oldest and most bitter rival.
There are reasons for optimism for United. The Red Bulls underwent some major changes in the offseason, losing some major players (Thierry Henry, Jamison Olave, and Peguy Luyindula) and their head coach Mike Petke. They've changed in terms of style as well, and catching a team like that early in the season is usually a positive. Their already flimsy-looking back four will be missing at least one starter (and possibly two), though honestly Roy Miller is usually a boon for United when he plays so his knee injury is possibly unfortunate.
On the other hand, United looked ill-prepared and immature in their only official 2015 road game. The atmosphere at Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto was undoubtedly a hotter one than we'll see at Red Bull Arena, and Alajuelense was in mid-season form too. Still, we have yet to see the 2015 edition of DCU go on the road and control a game, so one can't help but wonder if that first data point was just a one-off or indicative of long-term issues.
Kickoff time: 5:00pm EST
Venue: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
TV/Streaming: ESPN2 will have the game in English, while ESPN Deportes will carry it in Spanish. WatchESPN is your streaming option.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: Thanks to some injury news we'll link to in a second, there's virtually no option but to play the same lineup as the season opener, bar one change. Bill Hamid will be in goal behind Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp (who replaces Chris Korb). In the midfield, Nick DeLeon will be on the right, Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud will hold down the middle, and Chris Rolfe will be on the right. Up top, it'll be Chris Pontius and Jairo Arrieta again.
As for subs...well, there aren't many available. Thanks to injuries and Fabian Espindola's suspension, United has just 20 healthy, eligible players available today. Regardless of how the game goes, it seems likely that we'll see Conor Doyle and Miguel Aguilar come in at some point. The last sub may be Jared Jeffrey, or it could be Korb (depending on whether Kemp is able to go 90 minutes). United's bench is likely going to feature three defenders because the injury bug has hit the midfield.
Match previews: Around these parts, we've been busy. Ben predicted the same lineup that I do above, while Adam recalled a particularly delightful win in Atlantic Cup history. In discussing NYRB's lineup, I noted that their back four is depleted due to injury. Meanwhile, our staff unanimously predicts a win, Steven Streff talked to several United players about our last match against the Metros, Ben talked to Once A Metro in Behind Enemy Lines, and our scouting report talks about how United might be catching NYRB at the right time.
Elsewhere, Steve Goff's update for The Washington Post expects Taylor Kemp to return to the starting lineup but notes that several others are out injured, and Once A Metro has been following the evolving news of a fan protest.
What are you drinking?: Need a win for the Black-and-Red, so I picked a black beer: Guinness. I've seen pictures that Virginia's Old Ox Brewery was a popular choice for United fans headed up 95 for the match, but I couldn't find any out my way.
This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.