D.C. United enters tonight’s game against the New England Revolution in need of some good news. The Black-and-Red are the lowest-scoring team in MLS coming into this one, and will have to make do without two or three starters on the road. Away from RFK Stadium, United has two losses in two outings, with zero goals for and six against.
However, there is some good news. The Revs are playing their third game this week, which should mean some tired legs or a squad rotation that forces Jay Heaps to field something weaker than his best eleven. On top of that, United hasn’t lost to New England since May 24th, 2014. In that time, they’ve gone 4W-2D-0L, scoring ten goals while giving up three (and none since Juan Agudelo’s bicycle kick in the 2015 playoffs). If there’s a team United can get their first road result against, it just might be the Revs.
Key player: Jose Ortiz
Patrick Mullins has been upgraded to probable, and the general consensus in the DMV and around MLS has been more or less “well, it’s about time.” Ortiz hasn’t been bad necessarily, but after threatening to open up a conversation about just how much of a hold Mullins has on the starting job, he has faded.
Mullins may or may not be able to start this one after missing about a month of action with a hamstring strain. If Ortiz is getting one more start, he needs to make it count. United has been shut out four times in six games, and a result against a team with a front three that will likely feature Kei Kamara, Lee Nguyen, and Juan Agudelo will probably require a goal or two.
For United and for himself, Ortiz needs to make a statement today.
Location: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, MA)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4141) - Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp; Marcelo Sarvas; Lloyd Sam, Ian Harkes, Luciano Acosta, Sebastien Le Toux; Jose Ortiz
Bench: Travis Worra, Jalen Robinson, Maxim Tissot, Jared Jeffrey, Julian Buescher, Lamar Neagle, Patrick Mullins
Steve Birnbaum and Patrick Nyarko are out, and given New England’s turf (which is apparently going to be replaced soon), I feel like Nick DeLeon won’t be risked either. That means Opare gets the nod at center back, and Le Toux starts opposite Sam. I also see Marcelo taking his spot back from Jeffrey, who has really struggled in possession throughout both United road games.
Elsewhere, there are no real surprises coming. Mullins will be named to the bench, but I suspect he’ll only play if United has a shot at snagging a result, or if the game is such a blowout in either direction that the intensity drops (effectively turning it into a fitness-building workout).
Projected Revolution starting 11: (4312) - Cody Cropper; Andrew Farrell, Joshua Smith, Antonio Delamea, Chris Tierney; Scott Caldwell, Xavier Kouassi, Diego Fagundez; Lee Nguyen; Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara
It’s weird to leave out Kelyn Rowe, but he’s played 180 minutes this week. That’s a major point for United, who should look to make this game physically demanding. If the game is high-paced and features a lot of vertical play, the Revs will run out of gas first.
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Available TV: NewsChannel 8 and regional affiliates (check the link for the over-the-air alternate channel in your area), and if you’re in RVA, it’s on CW Richmond.
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 looked over the variables in the Black-and-Red lineup, came down in favor of some kind of result for D.C., and looked over the potential Revs starting eleven. If you need something to listen to, the back half of Filibuster focuses on tonight’s game as well.
What are you drinking?: After a day of indulgence, I should probably take it a little easy. Iced coffee, some water, and probably a salad for dinner. This is what happens when your metabolism goes.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion of this bellwether Eastern Conference clash.