D.C. United has not had a great run of late, facing three straight road games with a decimated squad. The results - two 1-0 losses and a 1-1 draw against a 9-man New England side - were not good, but a return home means coming back to a venue in which they have not lost since last summer. The Philadelphia Union, meanwhile, come to RFK on their best streak of 2015: Two straight shutout wins over Eastern Conference playoff sides (one of which is a win over United two weeks ago).
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: Good news: We should see a far stronger team than the side that played in Portland. Bad news: That still means several big names are going to miss out. It seems safe to expect Ben Olsen to start Bill Hamid in goal, Sean Franklin and Taylor Kemp as the fullbacks, and Bobby Boswell and Kofi Opare in central defense. In the midfield, I expect to see Conor Doyle on the right, Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud in the middle, and Chris Pontius on the left. The forwards should be Chris Rolfe and Jairo Arrieta.
Off the bench, there's a chance we could see Nick DeLeon after he returned to full training this week. If he makes the bench, I'd expect him to replace Doyle for at least 20 minutes. Facundo Coria seems highly to come on at some point as well; I could see him subbing on for Arrieta - with Pontius moving up top - in the final half-hour. The final sub depend on the scoreboard, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Miguel Aguilar get the call.
Match previews: We took a stab at predicting the lineups for both United and Philly, while we also got some quotes from Olsen at practice yesterday regarding the status of DCU's injured players as well as the story of Francis Wesley, United's newest recruit. Finally, our staff unanimously expects a win today.
Over at The Brotherly Game, they expect a similar sort of match as I do. At The Washington Post, Steve Goff talked about United reintegrating players who rested on Wednesday, while Dan Steinberg wrote a piece about RFK Stadium. MLSsoccer.com's pre-game piece found United talking about being more aggressive in the attack.
What are you drinking: Come to our tailgate and find out!
Prediction: I anticipate a better performance from United now that they're back at home, but the Union are also no longer the pushovers that they looked like a few weeks back. I think United is going to have some difficulty breaking down what will often be a bunkered Philly team, but in the end I think we see a 1-0 win with a goal from Rolfe.
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