D.C. United returns to MLS action tonight, facing off against the Seattle Sounders in another installment of #dcuafterdark. We talked to Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart to preview the game; you can see my answers to Dave’s questions over there!
B&RU: How much did you expect out of Will Bruin this year?
SaH: I didn't expect this much. I though Bruin was starting to fade, underestimating how poor his service was in Houston last year. But the thing is the service in Seattle is pretty darn good. Will Bruin has picked up the slack while Jordan Morris has been off. Even if Morris was performing at last year's level, as he could when he returns from the Gold Cup, Bruin offers a different look. He is becoming the hardworker who creates space for the band of three. He already was the guy who could head in a good cross or corner. It's a great addition, whether off the bench or starting.
B&RU: Who out of the reserves has stepped up during the recent absences?
SaH: In some ways it has been a collection of talent, but the one I'm most excited about getting time against United is Aaron Kovar. After missing a year with a broken clavicle and then a groin injury that required surgery the technically proficient winger is back. Kovar provides width up top, quality set-piece and run-of-play service, is defensively astute, energetic in defense and is becoming goal dangerous. He was a regular starter just prior to his injury sequence and is now getting bumped by more high profile players, but his skill set is unique on the roster. Playing well now could bump him up the depth chart.
B&RU: What will the Sounders midfield look like with Ozzie Alonso dinged up and Cristian Roldan having just returned from international duty?
SaH: Do you have that friend that runs? Like they get up early before work and take a nice little 5k and then after work they toss in some interval training, maybe later they play a soccer game? Cristian Roldan is that guy, except he's actually good at soccer things. Lodeiro is Seattle's player that puts in the most mileage. Roldan's goal this year is to put in that same range. He's getting rather close. Roldan will start.
His partner back there will be the offseason steal of the year -- Gustav Svensson. After China changed their rules about how many internationals were available Gustav's agent contacted the Sounders, who needed a DM/CB on the bench. Svensson talked to former Sounder Erik Friberg. It was the best blind date ever. Svensson is still getting China-money, but at a reasonable cap hit. He doesn't have the range that Seattle fans are used to from Alonso-Roldan, but he is their equal when it comes to passing. Svensson is also solid in the air, never goes to ground and now has 18 starts with 1 sub appearance for 1641 minutes across three positions. He should be bronzed already.
B&RU: Projected lineup?
SaH: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Brad Evans; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan; Aaron Kovar, Harry Shipp, Nicolas Lodeiro; Will Bruin