D.C. United news and notes ahead of Real Salt Lake match

(D.C. United)
(D.C. United)

*Fabian Espindola, D.C. United’s top scorer, has not played since June 11, when he suffered a knee injury on Felipe Martins‘ challenge two seconds into a match in Montreal. Espindola is expected to return Saturday night when United visits Real Salt Lake. While the Argentine forward is focused on his former club this weekend and the long-term future with DCU, he had plenty to say about Martins and MLS, which declined to suspend the Impact midfielder. [Video of the incident]

*United is returning to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time since upsetting RSL in the U.S. Open Cup final last fall, 1-0. DCU’s lineup on that day:

Bill Hamid; James Riley, Dejan Jakovic, Ethan White, Chris Korb; Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal, Chris Pontius, John Thorrington, Nick DeLeon; Dwayne De Rosario.

Only one of them is sure to start in Utah on Saturday night: Hamid.

Korb and DeLeon are probable after sitting out last weekend against Houston. Kitchen stayed home with a yellow card suspension. Neal might start. And Pontius has missed the entire season with a hamstring ailment. The others are no longer with the club.

Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET.

TV in D.C.: Comcast SportsNet.

Referee: Hilario Grajeda.

Game-time weather: 81 degrees, low humidity, 20 percent chance of rain.

*United has entered into a partnership with Premier League club Sunderland.

“Through this partnership, we look to share best practices on both the technical and commercial side while also helping Sunderland increase its brand recognition in the nation’s capital and throughout the U.S.,” DCU chief operating officer Tom Hunt said.

Fans should not read much into it — United has had similar agreements with foreign clubs in the past — although this photo distributed by Sunderland this morning surely startled DCU supporters:


Jozy Altidore (Sunderland AFC photo)

*If the Washington Spirit finishes third in the NWSL — and at the moment, the club is third with two matches left — D.C. soccer will have a multi-team presence in the Kansas City area Aug. 23. That is the day Sporting Kansas City hosts United in an MLS match and second-place FC Kansas City stages an NWSL semifinal against the No. 3 seed. The women’s game will kick off at noon local time at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the men’s at 7:30 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The Spirit (10-8-4) will probably need at least three points to secure the third position. Its remaining games are Saturday night at league-leading Seattle and next Saturday against Sky Blue FC at Maryland SoccerPlex.

*United returns to the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in five years on Aug. 20, when Waterhouse FC visits RFK Stadium for a Group 4 match. It’s the first of four group games for United, but the second for the Jamaicans, who opened their campaign Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over Tauro in Panama. Video:

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · August 7