Two old rivals who have not exactly played that well in 2016 meet up tonight at RFK, as D.C. United hosts the New York Red Bulls. The Black-and-Red are in an uneasy pattern at home and have yet to string two actually good performances together in a season that is already ten games old. NYRB, meanwhile, started the season with six losses in seven matches, but have recently started to find themselves (2W-1D-0L in their last three games). With both teams lingering in the outskirts of the playoff places, this match could have a major impact down the road.
D.C. United Projected 11: United will continue to roll with Travis Worra in goal, and the back four is probably going to still be comprised of Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp. In the midfield, look for a hopefully no longer sick Patrick Nyarko to join the rest of the normal starters (that is, Marcelo Sarvas, Nick DeLeon, and Lamar Neagle). Luciano Acosta will get the start again, and I suspect that Ben Olsen will give Alvaro Saborio one more game, though I wouldn't be surprised if Fabian Espindola stepped in instead.
Off the bench, look for the non-starter from Espindola and Saborio to sub in around the 70th minute. Olsen will also sub out one of his wingers for either Miguel Aguilar or Rob Vincent around the same time. The third sub is harder to predict, as United could go to a five-man midfield if holding onto a lead. That would mean Jared Jeffrey coming in for Acosta. In any case, the bench will be rounded out by Tally Hall, Kofi Opare, and Luke Mishu.
Match previews: We ran the gamut with our predictions, tried to sort out United's lineup, looked over the likely NYRB starters, exchanged questions with Once a Metro, and put together an overall preview this morning.
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
What are you drinking?: That depends on how much I get done at work today. Hopefully I'll be able to grab a beer in Lot 8. If not, it'll probably be some coffee or espresso on my way in.
Prediction: I have no idea what version of United is going to show up, so I'll stick with my borderline delirious prediction from yesterday's post on the subject. Sabo, Neagle, and Birnbaum score, Lucho gets at least one assist while putting on a show, and United wins a 3-2 thriller.
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