Look, I'll level with you: The 2015 MLS Homegrown Game is more or less a game that exists to further expand the Chipotle brand. However, it's the only MLS All-Star Game event that involves anyone from D.C. United. Even as all-star nominees drop out of the game at top speed, no one from United has been invited to replace them. It may well be good for the Black-and-Red in terms of Saturday's game, but the snubs are starting to feel more than a little pointed at this...er, point.
Anyway, DCU academy product and Maryland native Jalen Robinson will join the Homegrown team that will face Club America's under-20 side as the ASG appetizer.
Key player: Jalen Robinson
Obviously. It's not entirely clear where Robinson will play on this team. First of all, as we discussed earlier today, dude can play anywhere across a back four. Secondly, five of the six defenders - as well as one midfielder - called in can play right back, which is where Robinson has seen all of his minutes with United. However, center back (where Robinson usually lines up for the Richmond Kickers) also goes five players deep. We may end up seeing Robinson on the left, where only LA's Oscar Sorto and Vancouver's Russell Teibert - who is much more of a midfielder anyway - have experience.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how Robinson does. He's always been highly rated for his ability on the ball, whether it be helping build play up as a center back or getting forward to hit crosses as a fullback. With the low stakes involved, Robinson will likely have license to be attack-minded no matter what position he ends up in.
Key question: How will Landon Donovan fare in his coaching debut?
Another reward for the soccer addicts tuning into this game will be Donovan's first game as a head coach (not counting player-coach duties in Cambodian pick-up games). Between the circumstances and Donovan's history as an attacker, one hopes to see him put together a team that goes forward in a stylish fashion. That's not easy to put together in a couple of training sessions, but with guys like Harry Shipp, Tommy Thompson, Dillon Serna, and Teibert all on the field together we could see some enjoyable, fluid soccer tonight.
Match date/time: Tuesday 7/29, 9:00pm Eastern
Venue: Dick's Sporting Goods Park (Commerce City, CO)
Treat this as our gamethread for tonight's match.