The first match in MLS history saw D.C. United travel west to take on the San Jose Clash. Four days short of the 20th anniversary of that match, the Black-and-Red are back in California, taking on the San Jose Earthquakes at a stadium that had not even been imagined in their first meeting. A lot of things have changed over the years: The Clash became the Earthquakes - a reprise of the city's old NASL club's name - and were later moved to Houston. The current Quakes are actually an expansion team from 2008, and Avaya Stadium's existence means they're not going to be shipped off to some other MLS-hungry city any time soon.
As for tonight's game, the Quakes have won both of their 2016 home games while only conceding once. They haven't looked particularly great in the process, taking by far the lowest number of shots on a per-game basis, but they're getting the job done. Sounds familiar, doesn't it United fans? Against a foe that will frustrate an impatient offense and punish defensive mistakes ruthlessly, the Black-and-Red need to be very smart at both ends of the field if they want to pick up some points.
D.C. United Projected 11: This one's tough, for a variety of reasons. I think Ben Olsen is going to throw Tally Hall straight into the starting lineup, as he's been in training for about 2 weeks and had spent time with United during the preseason. He'll be behind a more predictable back four of Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp. Jared Jeffrey seems to be the surest choice to replace Marcelo Sarvas as Nick DeLeon's central midfield partner, with Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe on the wings. There are a lot of ways the front line (and left midfield) could shake out, but I think we see one more look at Luciano Acosta and Fabian Espindola as a duo.
Off the bench, Lamar Neagle will replace either a forward or the left midfielder, whoever it is, around the hour mark. Personally I'd like to see Alvaro Saborio get some time in a game with Acosta, but I'm pretty sure that if Sabo enters after Neagle, it'll be for either Acosta or Rolfe. As for the third sub? A lot depends on how the game is going, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Rob Vincent get in. If United wants to jam up central midfield to protect a result late, we could see a debut for Paul Clowes. Julian Buescher (hopefully) is also being given real consideration, as United could just some more fluency going forward.
Match previews: Going in reverse chronological order: We laid out the things United has to do to take three points in Keys to Victory, and early this morning we previewed the game by looking at how important it is for Boswell and the defense to sort out their issues. Opposition 11 examined the likely San Jose starting lineup, and Ben took a stab at predicting United's uncertain starting lineup.
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
What are you drinking?: Yesterday I discovered what's called a Santa Carla, so I might make another one. However, there's a chance I just go with beer (Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA).
Prediction: I think the Quakes are actually not that strong of a team, particularly without Clarence Goodson or (reportedly) Anibal Godoy. However, I don't think United is mentally in the right place to go cross-country and beat a dogged, determined team. I do expect a bit improvement over last week, but I think the Quakes are going to take this one 2-1. Lucho Acosta scores for United.
This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.