D.C. United’s season is in dire straits. Starting with Toronto FC today, they probably need to put up 10 wins in 12 games. That would be hard for even the best United teams ever, and this one is not at that level. Most likely, we’re at the point where players are trying to prove they deserve to be around in 2018, and there will be no bigger test than facing top-of-the-table TFC.
Key player: Bill Hamid
For one thing, Hamid is looking to bounce back. Last week against Minnesota, he was not at his best, which was a common state for every United player that participated in the game. He’ll be looking to return to his normal high standard at RFK today.
On top of that, there’s the sheer reality that a United tie or win against TFC will almost certainly require a man of the match performance from Hamid. The Reds are the best team in MLS, and their superstar forward Sebastian Giovinco seems to reserve his very best play for games against the Black-and-Red. Given the gulf in talent between the two teams, Hamid will have to put on a show for United to break this losing streak.
Location: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp; Marcelo Sarvas, Jared Jeffrey; Lloyd Sam, Luciano Acosta, Nick DeLeon; Deshorn Brown
Bench: Travis Worra, Bobby Boswell, Chris Korb, Julian Buescher, Sebastien Le Toux, Lamar Neagle, Patrick Mullins
Between Ben Olsen’s comments about not giving up the ghost just yet and injuries to starters like Patrick Nyarko and Ian Harkes, it’s not too hard to guess who gets into the team tonight. I suspect that Opare returns, given that putting Boswell in hasn’t changed United’s fortunes defensively. From there, I think we see what is a pretty conservative midfield, as I don’t think Buescher is going to play as the #8.
Bruno Miranda, just signed yesterday, is not yet eligible while the club awaits his visa and International Transfer Certificate.
Projected Toronto starting 11: (352) - Alex Bono; Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga; Nicolas Hasler, Marco Delgado, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez, Justin Morrow; Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Morrow is on the injury report, but with no details or even a probable/questionable/doubtful designation. If he’s out, teenager Raheem Edwards will step in on the left. That’s not exactly a huge let-off, as Edwards is very dangerous going forward.
On the other side, Hasler will probably be the first-ever Liechtenstein international to take the field in MLS play. Greg Vanney is missing starter Steven Beitashour due to a pancreas injury, while rookie back-up Oyvind Alseth was removed with a lacerated foot last week and is out for this one. If Hasler is not deemed ready to step in, Edwards could play on the right, or we could see Armando Cooper come into the middle while Delgado moves to the right.
Referee: Allen Chapman
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?: Despite all the transfer madness lately, we managed to take a look at a possible lineup that would help United build for next year, delve into who should replace Harkes while he’s injured, and predicted some bad news today.
What are you drinking?: During the game, if I’m being honest, probably nothing. But I might grab a beer in Lot 8, depending on whether I leave myself with enough time to do so.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos nice weather?