The 2018 preseason kinda-sorta already started for D.C. United around the end of the transfer window, but until Wednesday’s draw there was still an incredibly remote playoff hope. With that pipe dream no longer on the table, it will be interesting to see how the Black-and-Red play tonight against the Columbus Crew. Will the lack of pressure loosen United up? Will we see an influx of younger players? And can United spoil the Crew’s attempt to set a club record for home wins in a season?
Location: Mapfre Stadium (Columbus, OH)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4231) - Steve Clark; Chris Odoi-Atsem, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Nick DeLeon; Russell Canouse, Ian Harkes; Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Lloyd Sam; Patrick Mullins
Bench: Eric Klenofsky, Jalen Robinson, Chris Korb, Marcelo Sarvas, Zoltan Stieber, Bruno Miranda, Deshorn Brown
Clark will face his old team, as per Steve Goff Hamid did not travel to Columbus due to the back injury that kept him out against the Red Bulls. Elsewhere, look for Odoi-Atsem to be part of the necessary squad rotation due to the short turnaround, and the same goes for Harkes in the midfield.
I feel confident in predicting that Sam will start for the same reason, but we’ll see whether it’s for Stieber or Arriola. The latter has unreal fitness levels, but the former’s set piece ability is making a huge difference for United right now. Finally, despite two straight starts, I think Ben Olsen will call on Mullins once again (though that likely means 35+ minutes off the bench for Brown, or possibly Miranda).
Projected Columbus starting 11: (formation) - Zack Steffen; Harrison Afful, Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Hector Jimenez; Wil Trapp, Mohammed Abu; Pedro Santos, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram; Ola Kamara
With no game mid-week, the Crew have no real need to rotate away from the team that beat the Red Bulls last Saturday. One potential weak spot is left back, where former starter Jukka Raitala lost his spot first to Waylon Francis (questionable for this game), and then found himself benched even for Jimenez, a predominantly right-sided utility player. If Francis is able to play from the start, he’ll step in, but in any case the position is in flux.
Referee: Ted Unkel
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 covered this game with a short episode of Filibuster, and there’s a chance that I take a break from vacationing to put something more together on the Crew lineup.
What are you drinking?: I am at the beach and brought a bag full of liquor, so who knows? I’m leaning towards a mezcal mule given that most of my available mixers at this point consist of a giant bag of limes and a six pack of ginger beer.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos continuing to score goals!