Democracy Dies in Darkness

Soccer Insider

D.C. United and NYCFC will face off Saturday with a lot of faces missing

September 7, 2018 at 12:43 PM

Wayne Rooney, celebrating with Russell Canouse, has four goals and five assists in 11 appearances. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

D.C. United at New York City FC

When: Saturday, 4:55 p.m.

Where: Yankee Stadium.

TV: Univision.

Records: D.C., 8-11-6, 30 points; NYC, 14-8-6, 48 points.

D.C. probable starters: GK Bill Hamid; Ds Jalen Robinson, Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; MFs Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Ian Harkes, Luciano Acosta, Ulises Segura; F Wayne Rooney.

NYC probable starters: GK Sean Johnson; Ds Anton Tinnerholm, Sebastien Ibeagha, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat; MFs James Sands, Tommy McNamara, Maxi Moralez; Fs Jonathan Lewis, David Villa, Valentin Castellanos.

Outlook: United Coach Ben Olsen is scrambling to assemble both a lineup and a bench for this important match, and he might have only 15 players in uniform, three fewer than normal. Consider the absences because of international duty: Paul Arriola (United States), Zoltan Stieber (Hungary), Junior Moreno (Venezuela), Darren Mattocks (Jamaica) and Bruno Miranda (Bolivia). Also consider the injuries: Yamil Asad, Oniel Fisher, Vytautas Andriuskevicius, David Ousted, Taylor Kemp, Nick DeLeon and Chris Odoi-Atsem.

The hosts are also undermanned, with Maxime Chanot (Luxembourg), Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Libya) and Ebenezer Ofori (Ghana) away, Alex Ring serving a yellow-card suspension and four players out with injuries.

MLS had thinned the league schedule, but did not go dark, during this FIFA fixture window. As part of a backloaded schedule caused by the midseason opening of Audi Field, United will be shorthanded again Wednesday against visiting Minnesota. (Mattocks will be back, though.)

In desperate need of depth, D.C. signed free agent defender Kevin Ellis, 27, ahead of the MLS roster freeze next Friday. He will be in uniform Saturday. Ellis was waived by Chicago last month after starting 19 times and contributing two goals and four assists. He was with Kansas City from 2011 to ’17.

In an unrelated move, United traded the rights to homegrown midfielder Jean-Christophe Koffi (Whitman High, University of Virginia) to the New York Red Bulls for $75,000 in general allocation money and a percentage of the transfer fee should he someday be transferred outside of MLS.

As for Saturday’s match, United is seeking to earn its first points at Yankee Stadium after three defeats by a combined score of 10-3. D.C. sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, six points behind Montreal for the sixth and final playoff spot and three in back of seventh-place New England. United plays seven of its last nine at home; it has played three fewer matches than Montreal and two fewer than New England.

Wayne Rooney had a goal and two assists Sunday against Atlanta, increasing his totals to four and five in 11 appearances (nine starts) since arriving in July. Luciano Acosta has six goals in the past six matches and leads United in assists with 10.

Third-place NYC is coming off its first home defeat of the season Wednesday, 1-0 to New England, a result that extended its winless streak to four (0-3-1) and sunk its seven-game stretch to 1-4-2. With Tajouri-Shradi (11 goals) unavailable, David Villa (10 goals and four assists) and Maxi Moralez (eight and 13) will set the pace.

Read more:

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Sebastian Lletget to miss USMNT friendlies; Christian Pulisic speculation is batted down

U.S. soccer is moving to a new generation in goal. Zack Steffen could be first in line.

Steven Goff has covered soccer for The Washington Post since the early 1990s. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the U.S. national teams. He has been on assignment at every World Cup since 1994, plus four Women's World Cups.

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