The story of D.C. United in 2016 is one of consistent inconsistency. Los Capitalinos are more than halfway through this season and have yet to put up consecutive wins or losses. It's a dynamic fans in the DMV will be counting on tonight as the Black-and-Red visit the Columbus Crew.
Luckily, if there is one team to face on the road while searching for a turn-around win after a couple discouraging performances, it's probably this Columbus side, which has the lowest point total and worst points-per-game average in MLS, is missing their top chance creator, and coming off a must-win midweek game (which they tied). So, y'know, be thankful for small mercies.
Of course, it all comes down to how United play, which the last two weeks -- yes, including the Hamid-delivered 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake -- has been best described as "pretty bad." The players and Ben Olsen are all going to have to do better during the second half of this four-game road stretch than they did during the first.
D.C. United projected starting XI: Expect Benny to keep with the 4141 he's used since the 2-0 win over the Revs and to return to something marginally closer to the lineup that provided it. Bill Hamid, of course, will be in goal. As much as many fans (myself included) would like to see the home-grown Jalen Robinson to replace the suspended Kofi Opare, I expect team captain Bobby Boswell to return to the XI this week to partner Steve Birnbaum in central defense. Sean Franklin and Taylor Kemp keep playing ALL the minutes in the fullback positions.
The central midfield goes back to where it ought to be, with Jared Jeffrey making way for Luciano Acosta to join Nick DeLeon in front of the deep-lying Marcelo Sarvas. Up top, Alvaro Saborio replaces Alhaji Kamara.
The wings might be the hardest positions to predict right now. We know Chris Rolfe is out, and the just-returned Patrick Nyarko won't be fit for more than a substitute appearance (if that). So it comes down to three guys -- Lamar Neagle, Fabian Espindola, and new acquisition Lloyd Sam -- competing for two spots. I think one or both of Fabi and Neagle ought to be benched for sleepwalking last week against Philadelphia, but I'm not confident either will be.
In sum: Hamid; Franklin, Birnbaum, Boswell, Kemp; Marcelo; Neagle, DeLeon, Acosta, Espindola; Saborio. Look for Sam, Kamara and Jeffrey as the most likely subs.
Match previews: Our ChestRockwell tells us what and who to expect on the field tomorrow for the hosts in Opposition 11. Our gameday preview is focused on Lucho’s importance on both sides of the ball. Yours truly spoke with our burgee flag-loving sister site Massive Report to get the lowdown on all things Black & Gold.
From the same Midwestern friends, check out their predictions on tonight’s game (majority opinion there is a DCU W) and their take on United. Finally, if you want some nuts and bolts with a side of history both recent and ancient, check out the league website’s preview.
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Prediction: In this morning's predictions post I'm on the record calling for a 2-0 win, and I'll stand by it. Benny lights a fire under his guys, and they respond, Acosta, Sabo and Fabi combining in some combination on either side of halftime to get United heading the right direction -- and keeping the streak of not having any streaks alive for at least one more week.
What are you drinking?: Well, it's not going to be rum, thankyouverymuch. Depending on my citrus situation come kickoff, it'll either be a gin rickey or some variant of manhattan. Or beer. Check the comments for final confirmation.
And speaking of the comments, this is the place for pre-game, in-game and post-game discussion, revelry and realtime taeks.