In the last game before a well-deserved break, D.C. United takes on the Seattle Sounders. Both teams are missing key players, but most of us think that United somehow manages to eek out at least a point. Let us know what you think will happen in the comments!
After 34272 games in 12 days, United head cross country to kick off Independence Day festivities against Seattle in the last game for quite a while. I think that because we will have an extended break, we see our A++ lineup ready to rock at Benny's disposal. Seattle is reeling after losing Deuce to suspension (and Gold Cup) and Martins to injury. Without those two, their attack isn't quite the same. I think the Black & Red head into the CLink and assert to anyone that didn't already know that they are the team to beat not just in the East, but the entire league. Gimme 3-1 United, goals by Rolfe, Espindola and Kitchen.
Without their Big Names, I fully expect the Sounders to take a page out of, well, Benny's book and put a lot of bodies behind the ball and grind. Seattle thinks the grind is their ally, but they merely adopted the grind. United were born in it, molded by it. They didn't see sizzle until they were already in first place; by then, it was nothing to them but blinding! The physicality betrays the Sounders because it belongs to us. DC will show them where we have made our home, whilst preparing to avoid cards. Then we will break them. Their precious three points, gratefully accepted. We will need them. Ah yes, I was wondering what would break first, my character or your patience. Anyway, United gets the 1-0 result on the road. Goal by Nick DeLeon, because he's totally gonna score one of these days, y'all.
Three things to keep in mind about this game; number one is that Seattle has lost five of six, including the U.S. Open Cup debacle at Starfire, so "due" may be a word here. Second, that D.C. hasn't won in Seattle since Chris Pontius played regularly and scored two goals at the CLink. That was five years ago. Third, D.C. has a week off for the first time since the Whigs were a serious political entity. Regardless of how first choice this team is, they're not leaving Seattle with more than a point. 1-1 with Espindola scoring the goal, best case scenario, regardless of whether the Sounders dress all three DPs.
It's hard to make a prediction about Seattle in this hour of empathetic despair and disbelief with Laura Bassett and the Lionesses. I can't even. I'm not sure the universe works correctly right now, according to the rules of physics and with some sort of moral structure. How does a ball not go over the net upon clearance? How does it pop into the three dimensions of the goal then pop out again at some strange angle, like it just hit the vortex of a black hole spraying x-rays into the chasm of space? I'm sorry. With that in mind, the quantum mechanics of a DC road game in Seattle are such that we'll see Bennyball meet a team with the opposite instincts - but without the protons that make it all work for them. DC wins, unbelievably, 2-1.
It could be that the number of games has just ground my ability to feel highs and lows into nothingness, but I feel less nervous about this long flight to play on turf than I normally would. Seattle is not playing well of late, and without Martins and Dempsey - let's also mention Marco Pappa here - there's not a whole lot of invention here. Believe it or not, "without a #10 United is no good" truthers, the more creative and technical front six on the field might be wearing black...well, unless Seattle wears their dumb black jerseys, but you get the idea.
So there's room for optimism, but this is still a cross-country trip. Only one center back will be carrying heavy legs from Philly, but it also means United's subs are going to have little to give (and Olsen does tend to find goals from the bench). Temper those expectations, in other words. I do expect United to get themselves a lead here after a first half where the two teams cancel one another out. I'm leaning towards Rolfe scoring the goal, though I also feel like Espindola is due to get one himself. In any case, United goes close to making it 2-0 before the Sounders haul themselves off the ropes and scratch out a goal for Lamar Neagle. 1-1.
The Sounders are not on a great streak right now, but this is still a long road trip in a tough environment after a long stretch of games for DCU. Sure, the Black-and-Red get a break after this, and sure, we could see a real first choice lineup because of that. I'm still not prepared to predict all three points out of this one, though. Now, a #DCUAfterDark point to make the late kickoff pretty worth it--that I can see. United play to a 1-1 draw, goal from Espindola.
This is a great time to play Seattle away, as Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Marco Pappa, and Obafemi Martins are all out for the Sounders. Meanwhile, United should have close to a full strength side. Still, while I would love to pick a DCU win, but I am feeling more of a 2-2 draw.
A cross country trip, after a mid-week game, against one of the best teams in the Western Conference? I don't care that they've lost their last three games by a combined 7-1, Seattle is still a bugaboo for United. 1-0 victory for Seattle, and United has the time that they need to regroup for the rest of the season.