Games against Sporting Kansas City are always demanding, and though D.C. United is MLS's best team in terms of points-per-game they should be wary of KC. Games between the two clubs have been very close over the past few years (save one 3-0 rout for United midway through last season), and both clubs are among MLS's elite on set pieces. Sporting may not have United's discipline or organization, but in Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, and Krisztian Nemeth they have plenty of firepower.
Of course, United will be able to field Fabian Espindola - who is showing no rust despite missing the first six games of the MLS season - and Chris Rolfe, who is as hot right now as anyone in the league. With KC's issues in the back - only Philadelphia and Houston have conceded more goals - there's every reason to expect those two to keep the good times rolling.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: I'm expecting all of one change this week: Bill Hamid in goal, Sean Franklin at right back, Bobby Boswell and Kofi Opare in central defense, Taylor Kemp (replacing Chris Korb) at left back, Nick DeLeon at right midfield, Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud in the engine room, Chris Pontius on the left, and a forward pairing of Rolfe and Espindola. It's tempting to say that this is the week Luis Silva returns as a starter, but the Espindola-Rolfe duo has looked great in the past two games. Plus, there are about a billion games coming up to make that move.
Off the bench, I expect to see Silva come in for either Pontius or Rolfe sometime around the 65th minute. I'm guessing Ben Olsen also wants to get Markus Halsti a taste of actual games after his long time rehabbing that MCL sprain, so look for him to come in for Arnaud late. Michael Farfan is the other likely substitute, and I would think he'll come in for DeLeon at right midfield just like last week.
Match previews: Yours truly looked over KC's likely starting lineup while adding a scouting report this morning. Ben called for Silva to start in predicting United's starters. Steven, meanwhile, was at training and talked to United about the fact that United's goalscoring responsibilities are shared by the entire team right now. Over at The Washington Post, Steve Goff talked to Halsti about his push for playing time now that he's healthy.
What are you drinking: I'm thinking IPA this week, though depending on just how warm it is I might go for Flying Dog's Dead Rise Summer Ale because I am from Maryland and also because it's good.
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