The time is now for D.C. United, who start the second half of their season with a tough away match against an improving Seattle Sounders side. 10 points out of the final MLS Eastern Conference spot, the Black-and-Red have wasted all of their excuses and outs. Now, with 15 games left in the season, they simply have to start picking up points regardless of the circumstances. Mid-week game on the Pacific coast while missing Bill Hamid? It doesn’t matter. United needs to get up to speed tonight, and that means getting points in difficult situations.
Key player: Deshorn Brown
Sometimes we don’t have to dig too deep for a key player. United has 14 goals in 19 games, easily the worst total in MLS. However, Brown has one goal in under 180 total minutes played, which is the kind of ratio a good striker tries to maintain whenever possible, and he’s added some danger up top that United simply didn’t have before his arrival.
The Jamaican, coming off of a crucial week of training to gain understanding with his teammates and work on patterns of movement under the guidance of coaches, more or less has to carry a big share of the goalscoring load right now. Brown’s speed should be able to stretch the field vertically for United in possession, while also significantly boosting D.C.’s chances to be dangerous on the counter-attack.
Given that the Sounders will be on the front foot, looking to possess and control play, that last factor may be critical. United, for all their flaws this year, have had a couple of good performances built around counter-attacking play. Whether it’s by catching Seattle with too many people forward, or by breaking the Sounders down during longer spells of possession, Brown needs to be very sharp for the Black-and-Red to get the goals they will almost certainly need to come home with a result.
Location: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)
Kickoff time: 10:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Travis Worra; Chris Korb, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp; Jared Jeffrey, Ian Harkes; Lloyd Sam, Luciano Acosta, Patrick Nyarko; Deshorn Brown
Bench: Eric Klenofsky, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Rob Vincent, Marcelo Sarvas, Sebastien Le Toux, Lamar Neagle
With Julian Buescher’s Instagram story indicating that he was in the weight room at RFK while his teammates were in a hotel in Seattle, it seems probable that Ben Olsen will have just two attacking players (both former Sounders) to call on tonight. With Houston on the weekend, we may see Neagle starting over one of the wingers. Nick DeLeon may be on this trip as well, which would be a nice bonus. Who would he replace? Maybe Vincent, maybe Boswell, maybe Franklin.
Projected Seattle starting 11: (4231) - Stefan Frei; Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Joevin Jones; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan; Aaron Kovar, Nicolas Lodeiro, Harry Shipp; Will Bruin
Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, and Oniel Fisher are all away on Gold Cup duty, while Osvaldo Alonso is out injured. That’s three sure starters and a potential fourth. However, with Marshall recovering from a foot injury surprisingly early, the Sounders get stronger at several positions: Svensson at defensive midfield instead of center back, and Shipp further forward rather than filling in as a #8. Bruin, the ultimate United killer, has 10 goals and 2 assists in 15 career MLS appearances against the Black-and-Red (including 9 goals in 13 league games).
Referee: Kevin Stott
Available TV: NewsChannel 8 and regional affiliates (check the link for the over-the-air alternate channel in your area), including CW Richmond in RVA. Please note that this game was originally scheduled for ABC 7, but is in fact on NewsChannel 8 tonight.
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 sorted through the likely Seattle lineup, and on Filibuster we had Sounder at Heart’s Jeremiah Oshan to talk about where the Sounders are at right now. Later today, our predictions will go up.
What are you drinking?: Late night game against a team featuring Will Bruin? I’ve got to go with some bourbon. Evan Williams Single Barrel, maybe one ice cube clinking around inside the glass.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos astonishing course-correction that starts now and ends with 15 straight wins!