It doesn’t quite feel like D.C. United is playing for first place in the Eastern Conference tonight. The Memorial Day weekend looked to have sapped the potential crowd strength by the looks of Lot 8 on the way into RFK Stadium. Maybe the U.S. game against Scotland, which is set for an 8 p.m. kickoff, also has something to do with it. But the last four years and United’s ongoing struggle to get a stadium of its own have really taken their toll. The arrival of Erick Thohir, if that’s the plan, can’t come quick enough.
Here’s the thing: D.C. United is pretty darn good, and in this final game before a three-week break from league play, they’re darn close to being full-strength tonight against the New England Revolution.
The starting lineup: Bill Hamid; Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Branko Boskovic, Nick DeLeon; Dwayne De Rosario (c), Hamdi Salihi.
Jakovic, who played 64 minutes off the bench in last week’s game against Toronto, is making his first start since the last time D.C. played New England on April 14, a span of eight games. DeLeon is back in the lineup for the first time in five games.
Where could this lineup get any better? Perhaps with Chris Pontius, who didn’t make the 18-man roster this week due to his gluteus minimus injury. Perhaps with Maicon Santos, but D.C. coach Ben Olsen seems to like what he has with Boskovic in the middle and De Rosario up top. The defense could certainly use Robbie Russell, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury, but Emiliano Dudar could have his work cut out for him to win back his starting spot in the center of the defense if Jakovic plays well.
Former United midfielder Clyde Simms (ankle tendonitis) didn’t make the active roster for the Revolution, but former D.C. forward Blake Brettschneider will make his sixth start of the season for New England.
The full Revolution lineup: Matt Reis; Kevin Alston, Stephen McCarthy, A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney; Benny Feilhaber, Ryan Guy, Shalrie Joseph, Lee Nguyen; Brettschneider, Saer Sene.
The word is that former New England forward Kenny Mansally, who is currently on trial with D.C. United, had to move hotels on Friday so he wasn’t in the same place as his former team. Awkward.