Greetings from RFK Stadium: D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo.
I’m glad to be back in the press box for my annual fill-in game for the otherwise-occupied Steven Goff for an intriguing Eastern Conference matchup between two teams separated by a mere two points in the standings.
United is a far different team from the one that Houston bashed 4-1 at Robertson Stadium on April 29, but D.C. has dropped four straight against the Dynamo and has allowed 3.25 goals per game during the streak. D.C. has clamped down defensively since that loss, and tonight’s contest is a good test to see just how far they’ve come.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET.
TV: Comcast SportsNet/DC, Telefutura.
A couple things to watch...
Set pieces: Houston abused United’s defense on set pieces earlier this season and rookie Will Bruin tallied two of his three goals on headers over Perry Kitchen. D.C. has to keep a body on Bruin at all times and the United can’t concede free kicks close to goal.
Speaking of defense, check out my feature on United’s young back line and the strong play of left back Daniel Woolard.
Charlie Davies: United’s top scorer received an early 25th birthday present Friday when he was hit with a $1,000 fine for “putting the game into disrepute” with his dive against Real Salt Lake. Davies also promised “something special” if he gets on the board tonight. Apparently he’s been cooking something up with Andy Najar.
Physical play: Repeatedly this week Ben Olsen said the Dynamo “bullied” his team in their previous meeting. Following that defeat he said the match was “men versus boys.” It’ll be interesting to see if D.C. is motivated by those remarks and comes out with more of the grit they’ve been showing of late.
DCU LINEUP: Hamid; Zayner, White, Kitchen, Woolard; Najar, Simms, McCarty, Pontius; Wolff, Davies.
Available subs: Cronin, Korb, Barklage, Shanosky, King, Fred, Brettschneider.
Your pregame, in-game and postgame thoughts and all forms of Gold Cup final banter are encouraged in our comments section.