Last Saturday was for United fans what Will Ferrell’s emergence was for SNL fans: reason to believe that something you once loved is back in a major way. For Davies, United, and all of us fans, it wasn’t just the start of a new season; it was a new start (+4 cleverness, +2 artistry for that turn of phrase!).
Between the United match and the National Team match, this is turning into a pretty awesome soccer weekend. Of course, a bunch of my wife’s friends will be in town on Saturday, so I’ll be spending the afternoon having tea and watercress sandwiches on the veranda with four gentleladies from New Jersey before heading to the Improv for the evening, at which point they’ll have pillow fights or play Mall Madness or whatever it is they do while I’m gone. My point: I probably won’t get around to writing the match recaps until Sunday or Monday, depending on how quickly we can sweep up the body glitter and empty white zinfandel bottles left over from the slumber party the night before.
Will Jed Zayner be playing? No, not unless you mean playing Big Buck Hunter at the BlackFinn Saloon during the D.C. United/USMNT viewing party he’ll be attending. Two more recent United right backs - Devon McTavish and Bryan Namoff - will be having their own, private viewing party in a darkened room with the TV on mute. Brandon Barklage seemed to technically be an intern until United finally signed him earlier today to replace McTavish. Ethan White didn’t make the 18 last week, so I doubt we see him in the middle and Brasesco on the right. So: ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chris Korb.
My best guess at Ben’s lineup:
Wolff tore it up last game, so he’s definitely back. Same with Pontius. There’s absolutely no question that Davies played better than Ngwenya; the only question is whether Davies is fit enough to go 60 or 70 minutes. Everything else seems pretty obvious - it’s a lot easier to guess at these lineups when the team played well the week before.
Some things I’d like to see:
Three road points. Nothing says “pay attention to us - we’re back” better than three points on the road. I don’t think New England are that good this year (although they did tie L.A. on the road last week), so three points should be possible. It’ll be a better challenge than Columbus, and it’ll be a good sign if this team can rise to the challenge.
A goal for Davies. This is another thing that would excite the fan base and sell some tickets. I know it’s still ridiculously early in the Charlie Davies experiment, but I’m probably not the only one looking at my calendar and wondering if he’s a possibility for the Gold Cup.
Better defense on corner kicks. This was maybe the only thing United did poorly against Columbus. Onstad, in particular, had some shaky moments, but I’ll chalk that up to rust.
Another good game from Wolff. Last week was his “I’m not dead yet” game; he and Kitchen were the best players on the field. When you think about how poorly Ngwenya played, you realize how huge it would be if Wolff can turn in performances like that on a regular basis.
Gillette Stadium’s new field turf. The old stuff in New England wasn’t very good; the ball took weird hops and it was hard to keep on the ground. The new surface is the only FIFA 2-star approved surface in the United States. And if FIFA approved it, you know it must be legit! One thing to think about: this is one of only two games United will play on turf this year. The times, they are a-changin’ in MLS.