Sometimes, as D.C. United showed Wednesday night, you just have a team’s number. The Black-and-Red have also had some really solid success against the New England Revolution in recent years, including a 4W-3D-0L record in the last seven league meetings and five straight wins on the banks of the Anacostia River. Throw in New England’s dismal 0W-3D-9L record on the road this season, and there are signs that United could be on the verge of a three-game winning streak.
However, United’s in no position to be overly confident. The last time these teams met in any competition, the Black-and-Red scored six minutes in before basically shutting off for the rest of the game, falling 2-1 in the Open Cup. And, you know, that whole bottom of the East thing. United needs to continue making progress, and that means making this a better overall performance than we’ve seen from this remade group.
Key player: Russell Canouse
Canouse has been an instant success since arriving at the club he supported as a kid, filling a role United desperately had to sort out at a level unseen since Perry Kitchen left for Europe. His positional sense, ability to both retain possession and open the game up with his distribution, and his knack for winning the ball back all change the game for this team. Everything works better for this team with the #6 role held down by a natural, talented fit.
However, three games in a week is a tough ask for any player, and Canouse is coming into this straight out of a German preseason. With the Revs likely offering up a fluid attack featuring Lee Nguyen and Juan Agudelo moving in and out of Canouse’s area of the field, this will be a different challenge than Colorado or Atlanta. If he can deliver another top-notch performance, United is probably going to be on course for another win.
6:51pm UPDATE: Here are the actual lineups for both teams:
DCU (4231): Hamid; Franklin, Robinson, Opare, DeLeon; Canouse, Marcelo; Arriola, Acosta, Stieber; Mullins
Bench: Clark, Odoi-Atsem, Korb, Jeffrey, Harkes, Sam, Brown
Notes: Stieber makes his debut, while Ben Olsen made two other changes to the team that beat Atlanta on Wednesday.
Revs (442): Cropper; Farrell, Delamea, Dielna, Watson; Bunbury, Kouassi, Koffie, Fagundez; Agudelo, Kamara
Bench: Knighton, Woodberry, Tierney, Caldwell, Herivaux, Hollinger-Janzen, Wright
Notes: The official teamsheet lists five midfielders and three defenders, so this 442 could be a 352 of some kind, or 4231, or 4141. Lee Nguyen is not in the 18.
Location: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Jalen Robinson, Kofi Opare, Chris Korb; Russell Canouse, Marcelo Sarvas; Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Nick DeLeon; Patrick Mullins
Bench: Steve Clark, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Jared Jeffrey, Ian Harkes, Zoltan Stieber, Lloyd Sam, Deshorn Brown
There’s going to be some rotation, but I’m not sure about every single instance. Marcelo’s return seems probable, as Jeffrey struggled last week and Harkes is probably not quite ready to start fitness-wise. Sam might need a rest too, but it seems doubtful that Stieber can start just yet. As such, look for Franklin to come in, moving Korb across to the left and DeLeon up to the left wing. However, we should really expect to see #Stibi today.
Another possibility that intrigues me? Leaving DeLeon as a fullback, but bringing Brown in as a winger instead of up top. That’s where he did his best work during his first stint in MLS.
Projected New England starting 11: (4132) - Cody Cropper; Benjamin Angoua, Antonio Delamea, Claude Dielna, Andrew Farrell; Gershon Koffie; Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo, Scott Caldwell; Lee Nguyen, Kei Kamara
This could change if Diego Fagundez or Xavier Kouassi end up being available, or if Jay Heaps just opts to tinker with a 4141 or 4231. Meanwhile, Kelyn Rowe is out, and if Fagundez and Kouassi both miss out as well, the Revs have precious little available off the bench. New England also has a bizarrely makeshift back four where Delamea might be the only player in his natural spot. They’re a weird team these days.
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
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?: We talked about United’s probable starters and the prospect of Stieber making his debut, and the weird status of the Revolution lineup right now. We also touched on New England on Filibuster earlier this week.
What are you drinking?: I’ll be in the press box today, so it’ll be bottled water, or maybe a cup of coffee?
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