D.C. United welcomes the Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium tomorrow night for a knockout round match in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Ben Olsen’s team is as healthy as it has been almost all year, so Olsen will have plenty of options from which to chose as he makes up his lineup. He has also seen basically everyone play recently, with his regular starters creating the four game winning streak and the backups showing what they can do in Decision Day.
The first decision that Olsen will have to make is whether to keep Nick DeLeon at right back or whether or bring back the starter for most of the year, Sean Franklin. Franklin played in the game on Sunday, but I think Olsen stays with DeLeon, who is definitely 90 minutes fit over two games and who has gotten better at right back in each game he’s played. It is a little rough for Franklin, who was playing well before his injury, but sometimes circumstances keeps players out when they might otherwise start.
The other main choice that Olsen will need to make is whether Marcelo Sarvas or Rob Vincent will start. Sarvas was often D.C. United’s best player as the team tried to grind out results, but Vincent has been a revelation in defensive midfield, showing that he is clearly an MLS quality player at that position. Just like DeLeon-Franklin, I think Olsen sticks with Vincent in this game.
The rest of the lineup will be the players that you’ve come to expect: Bill Hamid in goal, with the defensive line of DeLeon, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp; the central midfield will be Rob Vincent, Jared Jeffrey, and Luciano Acosta; and the attacking triumvarite will be Lloyd Sam, Patrick Mullins, and Patrick Nyarko.
Julian Buescher helped himself the most in the Sunday game, and he has earned more minutes as one of United’s first substitutes. He and Lamar Neagle can change the game off of the bench, and will be joined there by Travis Worra, Jalen Robinson, Sean Franklin, Marcelo Sarvas, and Kennedy Igboananike.
Who do you want to see Ben Olsen start on Thursday night?