With Thanksgiving behind us, we turn our attention ahead to Christmas and beyond. Of course, we've been doing that for a little while now here at B&RU, and we continue on that course today with the fourth entry in our series of unreasonably early lineup predictions for D.C. United in 2016. Be sure to check out the entire series in our StoryStream.
My 2016 first XI is a mixture of reality and fantasy. Why not? It comes with a switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
GK: Bill Hamid. Unless someone comes in with a big offer for him over the winter, which is unlikely, he'll be here. If he does go, I could see United using the money to rescue Dan Kennedy from the FC Dallas bench.
RB: Sean Franklin. He needs to stay healthy.
CB: Steve Birnbaum. He's been great. If DCU had the chance to make that draft pick again, they wouldn't take a mulligan.
CB: Kofi Opare. I think he's better than Bobby Boswell, and that's all the reason required to promote him to full time starter.
LB: Taylor Kemp. I was justifiably hard on him for being the catalyst of the first Red Bulls goal in the playoff match at RFK. He needs to be smarter defensively in a lot of ways, and I'm not sure that's something you can teach. I would love an upgrade here, but I don't see it happening in the winter, but if Chris Korb is healthy and fit it would be an interesting competition.
CM: Markus Halsti. I eagerly anticipate him playing this role by himself, without someone next to him playing the same position.
CM: Kwadwo Poku. This is a pipe dream... or is it? I think Perry Kitchen is off to Europe, and Chris Pontius is off to somewhere else in MLS. There is plenty of salary to be had, and once MLS allots additional TAM to everyone as a means of allowing the Galaxy to buy down another DP contract, United will be able to send a bundle to NYCFC to ease their midfield congestion. It's a win-win.
RAM: Nick DeLeon. Perhaps the most secure player in the midfield.
CAM: Chris Rolfe. A more central role is better for him, and this keeps him off the wing. He's one of the most creative players currently in the team, and that will allow him to make opportunities for the next two guys.
LAM: Darren Mattocks. He started just 9 league matches, and came off the bench in 15 others. His salary is currently a palatable $272K, and he'd add some needed youth, speed and athleticism among the attackers. If he's out of favor in Vancouver, I'd welcome him here.
CF: Fabian Espindola. He's better dropping off of defenders than he is trying to run behind them. Let him do what he does while Mattocks and DeLeon do the running.
Let us know in the comments if you think United could land Poku and Mattocks and what they'd bring to the team. How do you think this 4-2-3-1 would work at RFK?