With the Copa America Centenario break looming, D.C. United will be eager to start their first winning streak of the season tonight against the Seattle Sounders. The Black-and-Red were fortunate to snatch three points in KC, but now they get a home game against one of MLS's bottom four clubs. It's the kind of match that good teams win, and it's about time United gave us some proof they can be more than just an inconsistent playoff bubble team.
That said, it won't necessarily be as easy as "bottom four" implies. Seattle may have one of MLS's lowest-scoring attacks, but they don't give away many goals either. Given that United has struggled to score on a regular basis, it will be a challenge for them to break down the visitors. On top of that, Seattle hasn't lost to United in 5 years, and they're under intense pressure to keep that streak alive thanks to their position in the Western Conference.
D.C. United Projected 11: I doubt we'll see many surprises. This may be a mid-week game, but United played last Friday, so they don't need to rotate. That means Bill Hamid in goal once again, with the same back four (Sean Franklin, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp) that shut out KC. The midfield will likely feature Marcelo Sarvas and Jared Jeffrey in the middle, while Nick DeLeon and Lamar Neagle will play on the flanks. If Olsen wants to make an attacking move, he could drop Jeffrey, move DeLeon into the middle, and start either Rob Vincent or Miguel Aguilar wide. However, DeLeon had a fairly good outing on the left against Sporting, and it seems more likely that he stays there for one more game. Luciano Acosta and Fabian Espindola will be the forward pairing.
Off the bench, Julian Buescher and one from Vincent or Aguilar seem likely to get into this one, particularly if Seattle is comfortably holding United off. It also seems very likely that Alhaji Kamara will sub on again, but I wouldn't expect more than 10 minutes out of him as he builds up his fitness. The rest of the bench will be Travis Worra, Jalen Robinson, and Luke Mishu.
Match previews: Our general preview underlines how much United needs the best version of Espindola to get a win tonight. Our more specific previews include a look at DC's likely starters, the probable Seattle lineup, and our predictions of how the game will go.
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
What are you drinking?: Most likely just a cold brew coffee on my way in. If I get to RFK early enough, maybe a beer?
Prediction: I am anticipating a defensive stalemate for the most part, as that's what these two teams do well. However, United is in a better place mentally, and they're at home, so I think they find a way to scrape out a 1-0 win. Espindola grabs the only goal and the Black-and-Red head into the Copa break on their first winning streak in ages.
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