It's a hot day today, and D.C. United's games against the New England Revolution tend to be a bit hot as well. The stakes are high in this one: Both teams are looking to get themselves back onto better form, and a win for United would a) see the Black-and-Red go back atop the Supporters Shield race and b) open up a 7 point gap between the capital club and the rest of the Eastern Conference. The Revs are well aware that this game could prove decisive in a few months.
Both sides also had US Open Cup matches to cope with Wednesday, and while the results were markedly different - United won at USL opposition, while the Revs lost despite hosting a team outside the USL playoff picture. However, both clubs rotated enough players in that only one or two starters at most will be playing on short rest. That'll be key, as today's punishing conditions are going to make it tough on both teams in the second half. This may well be a "first goal wins" sort of affair as a result.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: The mid-week Open Cup game really streamlines Ben Olsen's options. Bill Hamid will be in goal, and it looks like the back four will consist of Chris Korb - Sean Franklin is on the doubtful side of questionable - Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp. Nick DeLeon only played 37 minutes in Pittsburgh, so he should be good to go at right midfield. Perry Kitchen and likely Davy Arnaud (thanks to Markus Halsti going the full 120 mid-week) will partner in central midfield, but I'm not so sure about the left side. If Chris Pontius is fit to play an hour or so, he'll get the start. Otherwise, Chris Rolfe will be out there, and that means starting Jairo Arrieta - who also played the full USOC game - with Fabian Espindola up front.
Off the bench, I would expect to see Facundo Coria get in after scoring his first goal for United and generally showing some skill and creativity on the ball. If Pontius can't start, he'll likely sub in for half an hour or so. Luis Silva or Conor Doyle will both be considered for the last substitution, depending on the state of the game at the time.
Match previews: The Open Cup and some real-life concerns have thrown us off our stride a bit, but we still have Opposition 11, our predictions, and our preview from earlier to talk about today's game. Adam's Throwback Thursday piece took us back to the mythical origins of Brankostock.
Elsewhere, Roman Stubbs talked about the even history between the clubs in his piece for the Washington Post, while MLSsoccer's preview notes that the referee is Ismail Elfath. Over at The Bent Musket, they're talking about the injuries both teams are dealing with.
What are you drinking: Probably whatever beer my friends hand me at the tailgate, plus a lot of cold water to prevent dehydration-related miseries from visiting me later on.
Prediction: The Revs are a bad road team, and United has mostly been a reliable winner at RFK. I'm going with 2-1, with Espindola scoring the opener and United getting the second on a corner kick since that's been so fruitful lately. New England pulls one back through Teal Bunbury, but they wilt in the heat - well, everyone does - and United clamps down to take the full three points.
This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.