The situation is simple for D.C. United: Defeat the Montreal Impact - something they've already done twice this season - and qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs. There would be some pretty good side effects involved too: Ending a five-game winless streak is a pretty big deal, while defeating another likely playoff team at this stage of the season is always a positive statement.
It won't be easy though. The Impact are unbeaten in five games, and with Didier Drogba in the fold they've started producing plenty of goals. They will have some key players missing, but this is a more confident outfit than United saw six weeks ago. United has two 1-0 wins over the Impact, but repeating that feat is going to be quite tricky.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: With Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud out, United is probably going to have to adjust their 442 to something more like a 4132. Bill Hamid will still be in goal, behind a familiar back four of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp. The change will come with Markus Halsti playing a deep role underneath a trio of Nick DeLeon, Michael Farfan, and Chris Rolfe. Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio will pair up again as United's forwards.
Off the bench, it seems likely that Chris Pontius and Conor Doyle will come in at some point. Given these circumstances, we could see something unusual (e.g. Doyle coming in for a forward but playing on the right, with DeLeon moving inside to change up to a 4141). United's last sub could end up being Jared Jeffrey if it's time to congest the middle to protect a result. If it's about overhauling a deficit, we could see Miguel Aguilar or Jairo Arrieta instead.
Match previews: If you click our preview, you'll see plenty of links covering various angles about today's game. I promise!
What are you drinking?: I'm going on a tour of the Heavy Seas Brewing Company's, uh, brewery this afternoon for a friend's birthday. So probably some beer from one of Maryland's finest sources.
Prediction: I predicted a 2-1 loss for United before Wednesday's game, but now Montreal is missing Laurent Ciman, Andres Romero, and Ignacio Piatti. However, in doing research for our preview I looked up United's record when Perry Kitchen is out (0W-4D-7L) and felt negative again. I'm sticking with my initial prediction as a result: Drogba scores as Montreal controls the early going, and the Impact get a second from Dilly Duka around the hour mark. United responds quickly through Fabian Espindola, and they make a concerted push for an equalizer, but they run out of time.
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