Well, we all know what the problem is with this DC United team, both the reserve team and the first team: defense. United’s defense has been torched in its last two games, giving up 7 goals (including a goal and an assist from former William & Mary player Alan Koger). The three best players on the back line so far are the three rookies, Perry Kitchen, Chris Korb, and Ethan White. With Jed Zayner coming back soon, hopefully for tomorrow, why not start a back line of Korb, Kitchen, Jakovic, and Zayner? When United acquired Zayner from Columbus last year, he was introduced as a player that could play either fullback position. Marc Burch got exposed, badly, against the Red Bulls and if we can get him to the bench, that may shore up the left channel at least somewhat. And while I think that Ethan White may be starting in place of Dejan Jakovic by the end of the season, that time has not yet come.
There is also the problem of Branko Boskovic. He came in and ignited United during their US Open Cup match versus the New England Revolution, before picking up a bit of a knock. It doesn’t seem to be serious, so hopefully he can earn his first start of the year tomorrow against the Houston Dynamo. This is a team that needs Boskovic: they are trying to play a creative, attacking style but their central midfield pairing is more suited to a Bob Bradley counterattacking style. United needs Boskovic to step up and play like the playmaker he was brought in (and paid) to be. I do not see Ben Olsen going to a 4-5-1, and so that means that one of Dax McCarty or Clyde Simms will have to start the game on the bench. I am thinking that it will be Simms, especially since Houston has not had that threatening of an attack so far this year; however, I would not be surprised if McCarty sat. If the defense continues to be a problem, I could see McCarty sitting more, with Simms necessary to protect the back line.
Here is what I am hoping for tomorrow, if Zayner is fit:
Korb Kitchen Jakovic Zayner
Najar Boskovic McCarty Pontius
Do I expect that lineup? Not really. I expect Burch to be in there, regardless of the health of Zayner, and Fred will probably start in place of Andy Najar. Regardless, this is a team that can do some damage offensively, as long as it can keep its feet defensively. Going to Houston is a rough proposition, and so I am hoping that United can sneak away with a 1-1 draw. Its less than what I am truly hoping for, but its more than what I should be expecting. Therefore, a compromise. I’ll be back tomorrow if Steve Goff gleans any nuggets of information.