After an interminable stretch of road games has left D.C. United in deep trouble, they’re finally back home for tonight’s game against the Houston Dynamo. The Black-and-Red have lost four straight, and have conceded four goals in two straight games. While there have been positives - Deshorn Brown and Ian Harkes have goals in two straight games, for example - it also remains to be seen whether United can pick up the pieces after a shattering defeat in Seattle on Wednesday.
Key player: Travis Worra
Worra hasn’t met his previous standards while standing in for Bill Hamid during the Gold Cup. It’s not that he’s suddenly bad at goalkeeping, but rather that his confidence appears shaken at the moment. Seattle’s goals were pretty difficult to stop, but no goalkeeper concedes four goals and feels pleased with themselves afterward.
Given that United’s attacking success often comes via forcing turnovers and getting out on the run, and that Houston is also reliant on counters and transition play, there’s probably going to be a couple of moments where the Dynamo break forward when the Black-and-Red have numbers forward. What United needs out of Worra is for him to produce the big save when those moments come up. We know he’s capable of it, and United probably won’t win this game without him producing at least one crucial, difficult stop.
Location: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Travis Worra; Chris Korb, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp; Jared Jeffrey, Ian Harkes; Lamar Neagle, Luciano Acosta, Patrick Nyarko; Deshorn Brown
Bench: Eric Klenofsky, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Nick DeLeon, Julian Buescher, Lloyd Sam, Sebastien Le Toux
With Marcelo Sarvas suspended, Jeffrey will step into the starting lineup and Buescher will come back into the 18. I suspect that Olsen will only rotate on the right flank, bringing Korb and Neagle in for Franklin and Sam (who will be the first sub coming in, most likely). It’s hard to see Olsen going further than that, though, because it’s hard to see him dropping players like Nyarko, Acosta, or Brown for a game that the Black-and-Red pretty much have to win.
Projected Houston starting 11: (433) - Tyler Deric; AJ DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, Dylan Remick; Ricardo Clark/Charlie Ward, Juan Cabezas, Alex; Andrew Wenger, Mauro Manotas, Vicente Sanchez
The Dynamo’s trio of Honduran internationals (Alberth Elis, Rommel Quioto, and Oscar Boniek Garcia) are done with Gold Cup duty, but given that all three played Wednesday night, they’re doubtful to start this one. Erick Torres, who is by far Houston’s top scorer, is away with Mexico. New Designated Player Tomas Martinez may or may not have his paperwork in time to play, but Wilmer Cabrera has said he wants to be patient with the Argentine playmaker.
Beyond that, Houston played at Minnesota Wednesday, so they’ll probably rotate in a couple of spot. DaMarcus Beasley, at 35, probably needs to be rested, which means a start for Remick. Another aging veteran, Clark, may also need a rest, which could mean a first MLS start for recent signing Ward. Sanchez hasn’t played much after returning to MLS this offseason, but he seems likely to rotate in on the wing.
Referee: Marcos DeOliveira
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.
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?: Our predictions are coming up later today. In the meantime, Filibuster talked about this game in its final third, while Steven Streff checked in at practice to find United looking into taking the good of Wednesday while improving on the bad.
What are you drinking?: As hot as it’s going to be, I’m going to be trying to down as much water as I can get my hands on.
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