Back at home for the first time in over a month, D.C. United will look to end a rare losing streak at RFK Stadium this evening against the Philadelphia Union. The last five games between the clubs in all competitions have been decided by a single goal, and in league play this season those winning goals have come in the final five minutes or later. Today's match promises to be yet another hotly contested battle between two very familiar rivals.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: I don't think there will be too many surprises for United fans here. Andrew Dykstra will continue to deputize for Bill Hamid in goal. Chris Korb is apparently fine after last week's precautionary substitution, so look for him to stay in the back four along with Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp. In the midfield, look for Nick DeLeon on the right, Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud in the middle, and Chris Rolfe on the left. Fabian Espindola will return from suspension, and I expect him to be partnered by Jairo Arrieta.
That leaves no spot for newcomer Alvaro Saborio, but we will almost certainly see him come on for Arrieta after 55 or 60 minutes. If United needs a goal, look for Miguel Aguilar to enter for one of the wide midfielders, while Conor Doyle as always could enter as a more defensive option if the object is to protect a lead. If United is hanging onto the lead - or just in need of fresh legs in the middle at some point - Markus Halsti could get in as well.
Match previews: We've taken a look at the expected lineup for United as well as the probable 11 for the Union, as well as exchanged questions with The Brotherly Game, and emphasized Kitchen's importance in our preview.
Over at TBG, they made note of the late, crucial goals that have decided each game between the clubs this season. The Washington Post's Steve Goff found United hoping to trend away from constantly having to change the lineup due to injury and suspension, while MLSsoccer's preview lists some stats and notes that today's referee is Jose Carlos Rivero.
What are you drinking: It has been way too long since I drank a beer in Lot 8. I'm not sure what I'll have, but location goes a long way.
Prediction: I sense a sixth straight one-goal game between these two sides. Espindola and Rolfe make the breakthrough for an improved - maybe not truly impressive, but improved - United before halftime. Philadelphia gets themselves back level, but their issues on set pieces crop up in the second half. Birnbaum is due a goal, and today he comes through, delivering a much-needed 2-1 win for United.
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