Last week, D.C. United did a lot right, playing both more effectively and more attractively than they have in quite a while. However, the Black-and-Red saw a handful of players miss a handful of chances and couldn’t seal the deal, with a late Montreal goal making the good performance still feel like a loss. Tonight against the Philadelphia Union, there is distinct pressure - that is, a chance to jump back into the playoff picture - to turn a good outing into three points. United simply cannot afford to let this string of home games go to waste.
D.C. United projected starting 11: With Marcelo Sarvas suspended, United is going to have to make some adjustments. Last week, United’s 4141 really looked like a 433 for the first time, but I think Ben Olsen will scale that back a bit without his midfield linchpin. Whatever the disposition of United’s attacking wide players, it’ll be Bill Hamid in goal, and an unsurprising back four of Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp. Jared Jeffrey will drop into the anchor role in midfield, with Nick DeLeon moving back into the #8 spot alongside Luciano Acosta. Patrick Nyarko and the fit-again Lamar Neagle should start on the wings, and Patrick Mullins will lead the line up front.
Off the bench, Olsen will be looking to bring Kennedy Igboananike in again, and if he’s fit we’ll also see Lloyd Sam, probably for Neagle and Nyarko in that order. If Sam can’t go and United has a lead to protect, we could see DeLeon moved wide and Rob Vincent brought into the middle after a solid outing there against Montreal. Alvaro Saborio will most likely come on for Mullins sometime after the 75th minute, much like last week. The rest of the bench will include Travis Worra, Kofi Opare, Jalen Robinson, and (if Sam is left out entirely) Julian Buescher.
Match previews: Opposition 11 discussed what will likely be a very familiar Philadelphia lineup, while our game preview underlined Jeffrey’s importance due to Marcelo’s absence.
Referee: Jair Marrufo
What are you drinking?: When this post goes live, I will probably be sipping on some pour-over coffee while watching the USWNT play France (I’ll be writing our recap and have to get into DC to do so if I’m going to make it to RFK in time. After that, it’ll come down to how fast Metro can get me two or three stops over to Stadium-Armory. Maybe...just maybe...there will be time for a beer in Lot 8.
Prediction: Last week I changed my prediction from 1-1 to 2-1 in favor of DC, and was wrong to do so. This week, I’m sticking to what I turned in for the predictions post: The Black-and-Red win 2-1 via a penalty kick goal (I know, tempting fate given DCU’s luck from the spot this year) and a Birnbaum header. CJ Sapong pulls one back, but a Union red card helps United end their five-game winless streak. 2-1 DC.