The tricky start to 2016 continues for D.C. United, who follow up the season-opening CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal round with a cross-country trip to face the LA Galaxy. Like United, LA was recently bounced from the CCL, and like United they're trying to incorporate some new midfielders and have a familiar face in a new position. Unlike United, they went out and signed some huge European stars.
United's first regular season game of 2016 will thus involve an attempt to knock off a team with a more eye-catching roster. They'll also have to change history to do it, as United's last win over the Galaxy in Carson came in the summer of 2005.
D.C. United Projected 11: I suspect we'll see the return of the 4411 after going 442 in the second leg at RFK. Andrew Dykstra will remain in goal behind a back four of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp. The midfield will feature Patrick Nyarko, Marcelo Sarvas, Nick DeLeon, and Chris Rolfe. I'd like to find a spot for Lamar Neagle, but I think it's more likely Ben Olsen will give this group another run-out. Luciano Acosta, having moved his family up from Argentina, will return to get the start floating underneath Fabian Espindola up front.
As for substitutes, Neagle for Rolfe around the hour mark seems like a guarantee (barring injuries forcing other moves). Julian Buescher and Alvaro Saborio also seem like they could get into this one, but Markus Halsti could take up one of those subs if United is protecting a lead.
Update: Here's the actual starting eleven:
#DCU: Dykstra; Franklin, Boswell, Birnbaum, Kemp; Nyarko, Sarvas, DeLeon, Rolfe; Acosta, Neagle. (No Espindola)— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) March 7, 2016
Match previews: We took a look at the Black-and-Red's likely starting lineup earlier this week, discussed the likely Galaxy starters yesterday, and this morning we focused on what DC has to do to escape from LA with a result. Finally, our preview contains the TV listings you'll need for #DCUAfterDark.
Referee: Kevin Stott
What are you drinking?: I was up too late last night watching movies, so I might be sipping a cup of coffee pre-game. Costa Rican beans...that means Sabo will score, right? Anyway, after that I'll probably move on to some sort of mixed drink because I don't have time to go get a 6 pack before kickoff.
Prediction: I think this is a great time for United to face the Galaxy, who look disorganized on multiple fronts. They're still an extremely talented team, and if those big names bring their A game United could still take a beating. However, I don't think that's going to happen. The Black-and-Red score a scrappy set piece goal to take the lead (maybe Sarvas with the finish?) and Acosta puts on a show, but Robbie Keane gets an equalizer that LA probably deserves. 1-1 is not a bad result at all for this fixture. I may regret this prediction given that MLS has been insane all day long.
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