The first thing I want to see is this game happen, without a rapture. But what I actually want to see is all about partnerships.
The first partnership that I want to see is Santino Quaranata and Blake Brettschneider up top. With the way Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff have played so far this year, it would be very difficult for anyone to displace them when healthy. But if Santino Quaranta can put in a great effort against Ajax, combined with the fact that his free kicks are far superior than what Dax McCarty has put in so far this year, he may wiggle his way back into Ben Olsen’s starting lineup. I also want to see Blake Brettscheider start; I am already over the Joseph Ngwenya experiment. Ngwenya has all of the physical tools, but he can’t seem to put it together on the field in a way that has him finding the back of the net. I see him as a more physical version of Adam Cristman: a hard worker who can give you a change of pace, but not a starter. Let’s see what United has in Brettschneider, who did nothing but score in the preseason and in reserve matches so far. Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff won’t be too long for DC, but a Quaranta-Brettscheider pairing might.
The next partnership I want to see is the Stephen King-Dax McCarty partnership again. Dax is not a true defensive stopper, but he’s not the playmaker either. He is a deep lying distributor who can take the ball from the defensive and work it up front. With Clyde Simms next to him, he has been pushing too hard to try and fit as a playmaker, which may explain the recent problems with his free kicks. If Branko Boskovic were still healthy, we probably would have already seen him debut with McCarty. But Dax’s best game, arguably, came when he was playing alongside Stephen King, who is more of the attacking type of midfielder. We have seen flashes of King’s ability, like the nice back to the goal chip assist he put into Andy Najar last year. I don’t think he can consistently be that player, but I think that he can be a solid contributor who takes the the attacking pressure off of Dax McCarty. With the resurgence of United’s defense, I think that this can be a risk that they can take.
The final partnership I want to see is the continued partnership of Ethan White and Dejan Jakovic. I need to see one, or both, of them really start to boss the middle of the field, especially through the air. What they need is some Clockwork Orange style action, being forced to watch loops of vintage Oguchi Onyewu just destroying attacks in the air. They also both need to play smarter. Both relay a little too much on their physical abilities to bail them out of problems; when that doesn’t work, we get the goal like we saw against Colorado Rapids. Watching Steve Cherundolo on a loop might install some smarter play in them.
So who do I see playing? Well, if you couldn’t tell, a combination of current starters and people I hope will start.
Kitchen White Jakovic Woolard
Najar King McCarty Pontius
While I expect that we will see liberal subbing, a first team squad for most of the game is likely/necessary for what people are spending to see this game. I hope that United can pull out a draw, but I’m going to say 3-1 Ajax if they start their first team.