Streaks are on the line at RFK Stadium this evening, with D.C. United (2-2-2), unbeaten in four straight matches, hoping that the 21st time will be the charm that results in its back-to-back league victories since June 2009. They’ve lost 10 and tied 10 up to tonight.
Meanwhile, in their inaugural MLS visit to Washington, the expansion Montreal Impact (1-5-1) are simply looking for their first road win after losing their first five away games of their MLS existence.
D.C. United is 8-1-1 oveall in its first games against expansion teams.
In the stands, a moment of silence is expected to be celebrated in the 12th minute for longtime Barra Brava member Chico Solares, who died of a heart attack on Tuesday at the age of 53.
My outlook for the United starting lineup in yesterday’s item on Bill Hamid was correct, except for Hamid, of course.
The starting XI: Joe Willis; Chris Korb, Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Branko Boskovic, Nick DeLeon; Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario.
Subs: Hamid, Kurt Morsink, Hamdi Salihi, Maicon Santos, Danny Cruz, Lewis Neal, Stephen King.
Willis remains the starter over Hamid, who hasn’t played since the season opener. Boskovic has plenty to prove as he also makes his first start since the first match of the season while Najar makes his third. Pontius moves up top after his gamewinning goal over the weekend, and he’ll play alongside De Rosario, whose responsibilities to track back and cover ground won’t be as great as they have been when he’s been in the midfield.
As for Hamid, United’s long-term plans at goalkeeper, where it is now clear that Willis is coach Ben Olsen’s first choice, have to be watched closely.
The pressure lies more on the D.C. defense with both Dejan Jakovic (ankle) and Emiliano Dudar (hamstring) both out. United doesn’t have a single proper defender on the bench, but Morsink, Cruz and King all have the potential to play on the back line in a pinch.
Montreal's equipment manager is suspended after getting red carded in the Impact's last game, but here are the expansion team's starters: Donovan Ricketts; Zarek Valentin, Shavar Thomas, Matteo Ferrari, Tyson Wahl; Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Collen Warner, Justin Mapp; Sanna Nyassi, Bernardo Corradi.