Now that D.C. United has ended the horrorshow that is typical for March (0.92 points per game in March since 2000), they can turn their sights on April and on the Philadelphia Union. Ben Olsen has some choices to make and has had two weeks to make them, so who will he start this weekend in RFK Stadium?
The first choice Ben Olsen needs to make is on the back line. Steve Birnbaum is an obvious starter but his partnership with Sean Franklin has not been going particularly well so far. Bobby Boswell has been taking some reps with Birnbaum in practice this week, and so it is definitely possible that he will make his return to the starting lineup. Personally, I wish that Jalen Robinson had gotten some time with Birnbaum this week or during the preseason, but Boswell should bring some calm to an unsettled back line.
If Boswell does push out Franklin, I think we may still see Nick DeLeon at right back. He has been improving defensively with every game and has made some dangerous attacking runs out of the back.
The second choice is in central midfield. Luciano Acosta is a guaranteed starter and Ian Harkes is quickly joining him there. Marcelo Sarvas has underwhelmed so far, but the options behind him are a hurt Rob Vincent and a young Chris Durkin. Durkin got some time in a drill with the first team, but I still think we are a little bit away from him starting (though I would be perfectly happy if he did). Another week or two like this from Sarvas, however, and Olsen won’t have a choice.
The third is on the forward line, but Olsen may have his decision there made for him. Patrick Mullins came out of the Columbus Crew SC game with an injury, and I don’t think that one week off would have given him enough time to get healthy. I expect to see Jose Ortiz get a full game as the striker and we will see if he can create some magic where no one else has been able to yet this season.
With this lineup, I see the bench being Travis Worra, Sean Franklin, Jalen Robinson, Jared Jeffrey, Lamar Neagle, Sebastian LeToux, and Julian Buescher. What do you want to see Ben Olsen do this weekend?