The Houston Dynamo are coming off an impressive 3-0 win against the Montreal Impact and now head to RFK Stadium to take on D.C. United in what is sure to be a battle of the defenses. In our preview of the game we discussed the strengths and keys to the matchup, but we wanted DC's perspective so we asked Ben Bromley of Black and Red United to discuss his side and how he thinks the game will go.
Dynamo Theory: D.C. United placed first in the Eastern Conference last season and currently sit in first in the East again. What are the expectations this season about how far DCU can go?
Black and Red United: Most fans expect that D.C. United will contend for the Eastern Conference crown again this year, with the spot in the CONCACAF Champions League that comes with it. There is a debate, however, over whether or not Ben Olsen's system is situated for a playoff run to MLS Cup. In 2012, they were one missed red card away from possibly taking on the LA Galaxy for MLS Cup. This past season, they fell short in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Red Bulls. Another first round exit would be disappointing, and with the way the Eastern Conference is playing out so far this season, any number of teams have a reasonable shot at making MLS Cup; so why not D.C. United?
DT: Despite having a pretty good record to start the year with 3-1-1, DC has had trouble closing out games and giving up goals as they've only scored 5 goals and allowed 4 goals in 5 games. The team is getting results, but are they convincing? If they aren't what needs to happen for blowout wins?
B&RU: The funny part is that D.C. United's most complete performance, the last game against the New York Red Bulls, was a game in which they gave up two late goals. Their wins have been on the back of excellent play by Bill Hamid and the defense, with some timely scoring by players like Chris Pontius, Jairo Arrieta, and Luis Silva. What they need is for their injured and suspended players to come back, which leads us into the last question...
DT: D.C. is a little banged up at the moment with players like Steve Birnbaum and Nick DeLeon on the injury report and now goalkeeper Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen are with the USMNT. Will DC be getting any injured or called up players back and what's the game plan if that isn't the case?
B&RU: Luis Silva is the main player who has been injured at the beginning of the season and who could start this game. Fabian Espindola has been suspended for the first six games of this season for shoving a ref in the playoffs last year, and luckily for Houston this game is his last one out. Steve Birnbaum and Markus Halsti are both still a couple of weeks away from coming back, and both should be starters when they are healthy. Nick DeLeon should be healthy and in the mix to start this game and I would imagine that both Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen will start as well. Finally, Eddie Johnson is out indefinitely and the rumor has it that he may have to retire.
Projected Lineup: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe; Jairo Arrieta, Chris Pontius
Prediction: United are pretty good at home, so give me a 2-1 victory for United. I think Will Bruin will somehow score for Houston, because he always finds a way.
For my answers to Ben's questions head over to Black and Red United and check them out!