Normally MLS teams don’t feel too much pressure until late August, but for D.C. United there’s a real sense of urgency ahead of tonight’s game against the Montreal Impact. Facing four straight games at home, the Black-and-Red probably need to take a minimum of 9 points to put themselves in a good position for the final stretch of the regular season.
That has to start today against the Impact, who arrive in the District on the back of a 5-1 rout of the Philadelphia Union. Didier Drogba, Ignacio Piatti, and Laurent Ciman give Montreal a clear advantage in top-level talent, so United will need to deliver a very good team performance to get a much-needed win. They have added yet another new attacker in Kennedy Igboananike to help the cause, but may have to find a way to win without Bill Hamid, who is questionable due to the hand injury that kept him out of last week’s loss in Toronto
D.C. United projected starting 11: Hamid’s status is the major question for United. If he can’t go, Travis Worra will get the call in goal. The back four will definitely feature Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, and Taylor Kemp. Bobby Boswell is not listed on the injury report, but missed a big chunk of the week recovering from strep throat. If he’s not well enough to be at his best, United should consider giving Kofi Opare the start instead.
Marcelo Sarvas will play the deep role in midfield once again, with a quartet in front of him consisting of Lloyd Sam, Luciano Acosta, Nick DeLeon, and either Lamar Neagle or Patrick Nyarko. It’s unclear who will start up front, with Alvaro Saborio and Patrick Mullins both fighting for the job right now.
Worra (or Hamid, or possibly Andrew Dykstra) will be the backup GK on the bench, joined by a center back (Opare, Boswell, or Jalen Robinson) another defender (Robinson or Luke Mishu), Jared Jeffrey, the non-starter between Neagle and Nyarko, the non-starter between Saborio and Mullins, and we could see Igboananike make his Black-and-Red debut.
Referee: Ted Unkel
What are you drinking?: Currently: Iced coffee. Between now and arriving at RFK: Water (it’s hot out, stay hydrated). In Lot 8? Hopefully I’ll have time for two beers, though I have no idea what kind of beers they will be.
Prediction: In our prediction post, I went with a 1-1 draw. Maybe it’s lack of sleep, or the heat, or maybe it’s just DC soccer optimism after the Spirit’s strong outing earlier today, but I’m feeling better about United now. So, in a rare move, I’m going to stray from that earlier guess. 2-1 United, with Mullins and Nyarko scoring for United. Piatti will do something ridiculous to create Montreal’s goal, but the Black-and-Red will manage to hang on and get a crucial three points.