The first month of the MLS season has not been kind to D.C. United for over a decade, and 2017 has been no different. Hopefully with calendars turning over to April, the Black-and-Red can start performing as expected. The Philadelphia Union, themselves hungry for a first win, might be just the opponent United needs. When these teams met at the end of the preseason, United raced out to a 3-0 lead within 24 minutes.
Expecting that to happen again might be a bit greedy, but United’s already falling behind in the Eastern Conference. It’s time for this group to put some balls in the back of the net and send fans home with smiles on their faces.
Key player: Jose Ortiz
If United is going to break out of this scoring rut, they’re likely going to need a strong performance from their Costa Rican forward. With Patrick Mullins injured, Ortiz is almost certainly going to start up front. He’s looked active in each of his three substitute appearances, including nearly scoring against Columbus after the best give-and-go United has managed all year. Ortiz has also scored on Philly since arriving on loan from CS Herediano (he had United’s goal in a 1-1 draw on February 4th, the first of two preseason encounters with the Union).
The good news here is that Ortiz’s dynamic style of play seems to be the sort of thing that troubles the Union back four. If he can make some well-timed runs in behind, or work some more slick combinations at the edge of the box, he’ll get plenty of looks at the Union net. The job for Ortiz, and everyone in a United shirt tonight, is to make them count.
Location: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4141) - Bill Hamid; Nick DeLeon, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell/Sean Franklin, Taylor Kemp; Marcelo Sarvas; Lloyd Sam, Ian Harkes, Luciano Acosta, Patrick Nyarko; Jose Ortiz
Bench: Travis Worra, Franklin/Boswell, Jalen Robinson/Kofi Opare, Jared Jeffrey, Julian Buescher, Sebastien Le Toux, Lamar Neagle
That’s an awfully defensive bench for a home game, but with Mullins (hamstring), Rob Vincent (knee), and Alhaji Kamara (calf) injured and Maxim Tissot and Chris Durkin on loan with the Richmond Kickers this weekend, the squad more or less picks itself.
Projected Union starting 11: (4231) - Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Oguchi Onyewu, Richie Marquez, Fabinho; Derrick Jones, Haris Medunjanin; Fabian Herbers, Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius; CJ Sapong
If Bedoya (international duty) is held out of the starting lineup, look for Herbers to move into the middle, making room for Ilsinho.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Available TV: NewsChannel 8 and regional affiliates (check the link for the over-the-air alternate channel in your area).
Available streaming: MLS Live for those outside the blackout radius
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: We pondered the prospects of Boswell returning to to the starting eleven, took a long look at the probable Philly starters, checked in with Marcelo, DeLeon, and head coach Ben Olsen after Thursday’s training session, and while we couldn’t agree on whether to predict a draw or win, at least we all agreed there will be a goal for United. Finally, last night we took a new angle on the tactical keys to the game with this video.
What are you drinking?: I’ve heard rumors of a large slab of pork that is currently sitting in a refrigerator, covered in spices and awaiting a Lot 8 grill. So, I’m going to go find that pork and drink whatever is offered when I get there. And probably a cup of coffee on my way in, since I’ll be coming from the Spirit preseason game and will most likely end up being outside on a cool, windy day for around 6 hours when everything’s said and done.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos!