Just how important is today's game for D.C. United? Well, beating the New York Red Bulls is always a must, and United will take the Atlantic Cup back with a win. The Black-and-Red are sitting outside the playoffs at the moment, but could jump back into 6th (and within 3 points of Montreal) with a win today, so that's big. And getting on a winning streak for, somehow, the first time all year would be a positive. Oh, and going 2W-2D-0L from this four-game stretch at home would feel a lot better than getting just one win from four straight on East Capitol St. Plus, things get tough this week, with games on Wednesday and Saturday.
So yeah, it's pretty damn important. Let's go get three points.
D.C. United projected starting 11: United broke a six-game winless streak last weekend, and no one was reported as injured this week, so it’s hard to picture much change from the team that beat the Timbers 2-0. That means a 4141 featuring Bill Hamid in goal behind a back four of Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp. Marcelo Sarvas will sit deep underneath a midfield four of Lloyd Sam, Jared Jeffrey (or perhaps Nick DeLeon?), Luciano Acosta, and Patrick Nyarko. Patrick Mullins will carry on up front.
Off the bench, DeLeon could come in on either wing or in central midfield depending on the scoreboard. Alvaro Saborio is an option to spell Mullins, as is Kennedy Igboananike. Lamar Neagle seems probable to come in on the wing no matter what the scoreboard ends up saying. The rest of the gameday squad will be Travis Worra, Kofi Opare, and Jalen Robinson.
Match previews: Our standard preview points out how the schedule has made this an even more important game than it normally would be, while Opposition 11 breaks down who the Red Bulls will start. We also submitted some pretty upbeat predictions and exchanged questions with Once a Metro to get the NYRB perspective on how things are going.
Referee: Ismail Elfath
What are you drinking?: It seems likely that I’ll have enough time to buy a six pack of Yuengling on my way in to share with some friends. However, with the heat, my drink of choice during the game will probably be water or a Gatorade from the pupusa stand.
Prediction: I’m sticking with what I said on Friday. Mullins opens the scoring, and Nyarko doubles United’s lead early in the second half. A Red Bulls set piece goal will make things stressful, and Hamid will probably end up being in the discussion for man of the match, but the Black-and-Red find a way to get themselves a 2-1 win (sealing the 2016 Atlantic Cup in the process).