A slow start to 2017 has started to change for D.C. United, who went 3-1-1 in April and are coming off of a remarkable win on the road against Atlanta United. With the injury list starting to shorten a bit last week, the Black-and-Red will be looking to ramp things up as they get three straight matches at home against Eastern Conference opponents. Today against a Montreal Impact side hit by multiple attacking injuries, the standard for D.C. has to be nothing less than three points.
Key player: Sean Franklin
Shutting down Montreal’s Best 11 caliber attacking hub Ignacio Piatti is a team job, but no one will have more to do on that front than Franklin. Piatti lines up on the left wing, but often drifts inside looking for opportunities to either beat people on the dribble (where he’s unmatched in MLS) or to get multiple defenders to collapse on him before laying off a pass to an open teammate in a dangerous spot. None of that is unusual, but Piatti is so good and has so many tricks that he’s extraordinarily hard to stop.
Job #1 for Franklin will be to contain Piatti without simply standing off of him. If you’re too zealous, he’ll humiliate you with some sort of move and advance into the box. If you give him too much room, his passing vision ends up becoming the threat. Franklin will need plenty of help, but on most occasions it will be him seeing the most of Piatti, and that means he’ll have to strike the right balance between closing the Argentine’s space without selling out to do so.
Location: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 6:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4141) - Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, Taylor Kemp; Jared Jeffrey; Lloyd Sam, Ian Harkes, Luciano Acosta, Lamar Neagle; Sebastien Le Toux
Bench: Travis Worra, Jalen Robinson, Maxim Tissot, Marcelo Sarvas, Julian Buescher, Jose Ortiz, Patrick Mullins
If Le Toux weren’t coming into this with goals in two straight games, I’d expect today to be the day Patrick Mullins returns to the lineup. However, for tactical reasons (namely, the fact that the Impact will sit deep, reducing Le Toux’s chances to run the channels and get in behind), there’s still a chance that Mullins does start, with Le Toux moving to the left wing.
Projected Impact starting 11: (4231) - Evan Bush; Chris Duvall, Kyle Fisher, Laurent Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo; Marco Donadel, Hernan Bernardello; Ballou Tabla, Patrice Bernier, Ignacio Piatti; Dominic Oduro
Anthony Jackson-Hamel is a late scratch with an undisclosed injury, further stretching Montreal’s thin resources in the attack right now. In the back, Hassoun Camara may be in line to start at either right back or center back if he has cleared the concussion protocol.
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Available TV: NewsChannel 8 and regional affiliates (check the link for the over-the-air alternate channel in your area), and TVA Sports (Canada only)
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?: The back half of Filibuster talked about how Montreal changes with Mancosu out. Elsewhere, we unanimously predicted a United win, and delved into Mauro Biello’s potential lineup and subs.
What are you drinking?: I will probably enjoy a beer or two at a mid-day party I’m going to, but given the temperatures (around 60 at kickoff) I’ll probably grab a cup of coffee on my way into the District.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos winning streak!