D.C. United trained this morning at RFK Stadium before catching a flight to Houston ahead of Sunday night’s match against the new-look Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (8 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet, Univision Deportes). Look for my feature about rookie center back Steve Birnbaum in Sunday’s print edition (available online Saturday night).
United is seven places and 18 points ahead of the Dynamo in the Eastern Conference, but …
DCU has never won in Houston since the Dynamo was born in 2006: no victories, 10 defeats and one draw across all competitions. The scoring margin is 23-5. The only point came from a 0-0 draw in 2008. Houston leads the all-time series with 15 victories, five losses and three ties.
The Dynamo also just added two World Cup players: U.S. left back-wing DaMarcus Beasley and Honduran defensive midfielder Luis Garrido.
Where will Beasley play for Houston?
“I would expect him to play on the backline,” United Coach Ben Olsen said. “I don’t think he is going to take Brad Davis’s spot [on the left flank]. They are a much better team now, for sure. With him and Garrido, Brad and Boniek [Garcia] and [Giles] Barnes and [Will] Bruin, they are a very good team that had a tough start. It will be a high-energy start from them tomorrow: They want to right the ship and the hype of DaMarcus is all positive for them.”
After Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Toronto, Olsen hinted that, with a brutal stretch of matches in August, he would have to manage minutes and shuffle the lineup, possibly starting with the Houston match.
However, he said today that “I can certainly wait because we got the extra day to recover and evaluate by playing Sunday instead of Saturday. I wouldn’t expect too many changes.”
Olsen did say leading scorer Fabian Espindola “looks good” after recovering from a knee injury that has sidelined him since mid-June. He was expected to travel with the squad to Texas.
Reserve forward Conor Doyle is on crutches and did not travel to Houston. Olsen would not specify the injury but said Doyle probably wouldn’t miss more than one week.
Midfielders Kyle Porter (ankle) and Alex Caskey (knee) are out.
Center back Kofi Opare, acquired from Los Angeles on Tuesday, will make his first appearance on the game-day roster Sunday.
Korean trialist Lee Ki Je, a left back, was recalled by his Japanese club, Shimizu S-Pulse, after just a few days with United. Shimizu this week appointed a new coach, who wanted Lee back in training. United will not pursue him any further.
Squad changes remain possible, though, ahead of Thursday’s international transfer deadline and during the all-star gathering in Portland, where general managers will converge starting Monday. The trade deadline is Sept. 15.
“There are going to be hopefully moves in the next few days,” Olsen said. “We’ll look to make a move or two. We are still evaluating all of the options out there. There is some stuff in the league and some stuff out of the league that we are looking at.”