New England Soccer Today

Scouting the Opposition: A Look at D.C. United with Craig Stouffer

Prior to each match, New England Soccer Today will invite a reporter from the other side to provide insight regarding the Revolution’s next opponent.

This week,  Craig Stouffer from Penalty Kicks soccer blog and the Washington Examiner shared his thoughts on the state of D.C. United and what the New England Revolution can expect when they face them at Gillette Stadium on Saturday Night.

What is D.C. United’s current form?

D.C. United travel to take on the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. on Saturday at 4:30PM.

Craig: If form can be projected on the basis of one game, then D.C. United is playing lights out soccer. But it may be too early to tell if last weekend’s 3-1 over Columbus was an anomaly. There’s no doubt that D.C. is better at nearly every position on the field, but maintaining a high level after the emotion of having Charlie Davies score twice in his first game in 17 months won’t be easy. As currently constructed, D.C. United is still a work in progress and a team that expects a more difficult time against the always-organized Revolution.

What is their likely starting 11 on Saturday?

Craig: Projected starting XI
G-Pat Onstad
LB-Marc Burch
CB-Dejan Jakovic
CB-Rodrigo Brasesco
RB-Chris Korb
LM-Chris Pontius
CM-Clyde Simms
CM-Dax McCarty
RM-Andy Najar
F-Josh Wolff
F-Charlie Davies

What do you feel are D.C.’s weaknesses that the Revs may be able to exploit?

D.C.’s depth will be tested right away with the team set to play without two of the four members of its opening-weekend back line. Right back Jed Zayner (left hamstring strain) didn’t travel with the team to New England, which could open the door for rookie Chris Korb to make his debut, and with rookie center back Perry Kitchen on duty with the U.S. under-20 national team, Uruguayan Rodrigo Brasesco appears likely to make his first start. Zayner’s goal-saving tackle in the box last weekend on Columbus winger Dilly Duka and Marc Burch’s first-half clearance off the goal line were both lost in the euphoria of Charlie Davies’ emotional return to the field.

What seem to be the D.C.’s strengths this season?

Determination and competitiveness are United’s best strengths this early in the season. With the addition of Dax McCarty and the return of Clyde Simms in the central midfield, there’s better belief in this team than at any point last season, and Pat Onstad in fact is both a player and a coach with his ability to make saves and organize. There are signs that the D.C. attack has great potential if Chris Pontius is able to stay healthy and Andy Najar builds off his rookie of the year campaign. With the opening goal of D.C.’s season, Josh Wolff proved that he’s got an extra dose of inspiration after a 2010 that was one of the most disappointing of the 34-year-old’s lengthy career.

What D.C. players should fans keep an eye on Saturday?

Of course it’s Davies, whose potential inclusion in D.C.’s starting lineup is the biggest question ahead of Saturday’s game, which will also mark his homecoming return to the greater Boston area, where he went to high school (Brooks School) and played college soccer (Boston College). Every road game this season will be special for Davies, who was already a hugely adored U.S. national team striker before his accident and subsequent recovery endeared him to even larger numbers. He’s simply not known for wearing an MLS jersey, and even the most diehard MLS fans will have trouble rooting against him. Saturday’s visit to Gillette Field will be the first test case of how that affects D.C. United, which hasn’t beaten the Revolution in league play since 2008.

United head coach Ben Olsen is also in a difficult position when it comes to whether or not to include Davies in the starting lineup as he tries to manage what is a surprisingly deep roster. Davies’ two goals vs. Columbus – combined with a hardworking but underwhelming performance from starter Joseph Ngwenya – will make it difficult for Olsen to start him on the bench.

Craig Stouffer’s coverage of D.C. United can be seen at Craig on twitter @craigstouffer.

Leave a Reply