Well, that was quite a first week, wasn’t it? The main thing that I am worried about is the hype, my own included, that has begun to build around this DC United team. They are obviously better than last year; but let’s not lock down their playoff spot quite yet. United will have two defenders out this week: Perry Kitchen is on duty with the U-20 National Team and Jed Zayner will be at BlackFinn with the fans due to a strained hamstring. United saw Kitchen’s absence coming and that is why the picked up Rodrigo Brasesco; from what I saw in the 20 minutes he played against the Crew, I think he will be solid.
This will be the last time I mention it (probably), since it is beating the dead horse, but this is where United misses Julius James. We saw in the Crew game that Perry Kitchen is better than James, but cutting him and the injury to Zayner have United playing a rookie outside back again. Jordan Graye was put in a tough situation last year and he made some rookie mistakes; Chris Korb does not have the pressure of being the full time starter on him, so hopefully he will be able to buckle down and survive this game.
However, if there had to be a week to have two defenders out, this is one of a few that would be near the top of the list. The New England Revolution have a solid defense, as evidenced in their draw against the LA Galaxy, but they do not have enough to really pressure United going forward, outside of Shalrie Joseph. Could they poach a goal through the air? Yes. Could Chris Korb make a rookie mistake and let in a goal? Yes. Could Dejan Jakovic have a patented bone headed defensive gaffe? Of course. But I do not see the Revolution having enough consistent pressure to break down United’s defense outside of those (and other similar) breakdowns.
Other than those two positions, the rest of the lineup should be the same as what we saw against the Crew. I predict:
Korb Jakovic Brasesco Burch
Najar Simms McCarty Pontius
Charlie Davies will get a similar amount of playing time as in the previous game (or perhaps come in at halftime if Ngwenya plays like he did last week). My prediction is a 1-1 draw, with a goal by Najar outworking two defenders. I hope I am wrong; I hope that Josh Wolff plays as well as he did last week, I hope that Joseph Ngwenya shows up, and I hope United’s midfield controls the game again. But I also think that this young United team will be brought back to earth a bit in this game, which in the long run will be good for them. DC United fans are hungry for a good team and if this team continues to play well, I think the expectations could become crushing. So let’s all agree to sit back and enjoy this season and, if great things happen, to be pleasantly surprised. Next year can be the year for expectations.