On a weekend where most of the attention in MLS is on Cascadia or the faux rivalry that is LA vs NY, a look at the MLS standings reveals that the biggest match of the week is actually tonight's game between D.C. United and the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Black-and-Red are tied for first in the East, while VWFC is atop the West on 16 points. Don't believe the hype from elsewhere; this is a big match between strong teams.
For United, it's also a big game because Fabian Espindola is back from suspension. It's been nearly two months since he played a competitive game, and despite the fact that he'll be rusty (and may not even start) fans can't help but look to the fiery Argentine for inspiration. United will probably need a little magic from somewhere, as the club's top player Bill Hamid didn't make the trip west.
Can United deliver a statement road win at a very unkind venue? Stay up with us for #DCUAfterDark and find out!
Kickoff time: 10:30pm EST
Venue: BC Place (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
TV/Streaming: The game will be on CSN Washington locally. For fans outside of the DMV, you'll need to turn to MLS Live online or MLS Direct Kick if you're a subscriber.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: Ben Olsen has some big decisions to make, and not all of them involve the number of minutes Espindola and Luis Silva can play. With Nick DeLeon looking sharp off the bench last week, I think we'll see United make a tweak to their team. Andrew Dykstra will start again behind a back four of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, and Taylor Kemp. In the midfield, I think we'll see DeLeon on the right and Michael Farfan on the left, with Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud unsurprisingly in the middle. That means a move up front for Chris Rolfe, who should partner Chris Pontius.
Coming off the bench, I imagine Olsen will want both Espindola and Silva to get their minutes in. Depending on the circumstances, we could even see them both brought on at the same time (for Farfan and Pontius, perhaps?). The last substitution will naturally depend on how the game is going. We could see something really defensive - like Chris Korb coming in for Rolfe, pushing Kemp into the midfield - if United is trying to protect a result. Otherwise, you can't really go wrong in predicting an appearance for Conor Doyle this season.
What are you drinking: I slept in long enough to get through tonight's game without needing a coffee-based drink, so I'm leaning towards popping this glorious bottle of Delirium Nocturnum.
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