For the third week running, D.C. United will face an opponent missing important starters. The Vancouver Whitecaps will arrive at RFK Stadium without Pedro Morales and Matias Laba, two players who have the potential to make MLS's Best 11. The Black-and-Red's first attempt to take advantage of a team in that scenario went horribly, while last week they managed to improve quite a bit in earning a tie against San Jose. However, events off the field and elsewhere in the league have ramped up the pressure a bit. There are no must-wins in MLS in April, but this one kind of has that vibe.
D.C. United Projected 11: After a more or less solid performance in San Jose, Ben Olsen is likely to make just one change in his lineup: Marcelo Sarvas, back from suspension, will step in for Jared Jeffrey in central midfield. The rest of the team isn't going to surprise anyone: Travis Worra in goal, a back four of Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp, a midfield filled out with Patrick Nyarko, Nick DeLeon, and Lamar Neagle, and a forward pairing of Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola.
Off the bench, Luciano Acosta seems sure to come on for Rolfe or Neagle sometime around the hour mark. Alvaro Saborio will be an option if the Black-and-Red need a goal, while Rob Vincent figures to be the third sub. Jeffrey, Kofi Opare, Luke Mishu, and Tally Hall should fill out the list of potential subs.
Match previews: Our preview, along with the customary TV listings, hopes Neagle has another strong showing. We also a took a look at Vancouver's forcibly changed starting lineup, considered how United can get a win today, and exchanged questions with Eighty Six Forever.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
What are you drinking?: Due to the aggressively unpleasant weather and a late night last night, coffee is going to be a requirement on my way to RFK. In Lot 8, assuming the weather allows for tailgating, it'll be whatever random beer I end up with from generous friends.
Prediction: The weather and the defensively stingy Whitecaps are going to make this a tough one. However, I've had a hunch all week that this, finally, is where United gets their first win of 2016. I think we'll see a 1-0 win via a goal from Sarvas, cleaning up a scramble in the VWFC box midway through the second half.
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