Friday, March 25, 2011

DC United to Face Key Rivals, New England Revolution

DC's 1st away game of the season promises to be a tough slog, as they travel to Boston to face New England Revolution.

Last weekend United's defense stymied Columbus Crew, allowing just one goal behind the leadership (and communication skills) of the ridiculously young Perry Kitchen. Kitchen will not play this week however, because he has been called up for international duty to the US U20 team. United can also miss out on the services of right-back Jed Zayner, who has been nursing a hamstring most of the week and still listed as day-to-day on Thursday. To plug these holes, DC is likely to call on Rodrigo Brasesco (an Uruguayan defender signed in the offseason in place of Julius James) at centerback and Chris Korb, a former team mate of Kitchen at Akron to fill in for Zayner.

While DC’s midfield should remain intact, it is less clear whether Coach Ben Olsen will leave the attack or start Charlie Davies. Davies’s two goals last week (one from a free kick) made great headlines and this storyline will continue to play out over the next eight months. But is Davies a better option up front that Joseph Ngwenya? Ngwenya, a strong and physical attacker, played the first fifty minutes last week, running down balls, holding up the ball and providing some assistance on defense. However, his shots on goal were a little overzealous and they were all way over the bar.

For New England the picture is less clear as the team continues to struggle with injuries to three probable starters, All-Star Kevin Alston (right back), and new additions Ousmane Dabo (defensive midfield) and Didier Domi (left back). Last week, Coach Steve Nicol opted to field a 4-5-1 against L.A. Galaxy in L.A., this week again Nicol’s selection of a starting lineup and formation will be equally difficult, despite playing at home. The Revs backline will again be missing key players, and Marko Perovic (who started last week) has also picked up an injury.

Prediction: Expect New England midfielder Shalrie Joseph to shine again as the Revs will find it extremely difficult to find goals elsewhere. Nicol will go again with a 4-5-1, with Ilija Solica perhaps replacing Perovic in the midfield. DC’s Chris Korb will be tested and but Brasesco’s experience will fortify the center. An aggressive DC will win this one 2-0.

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