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New England Revolution vs. D.C. United: Know Thy Enemy

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Saturday's opponent is the old enemy, D.C. United. The Revs have played the team in the nation's capitol 54 times in the regular season, but they trail 21-25-8 all-time. Last season, the Revolution swept the series, beginning with a 2-0 week 2 victory at RFK on the strength of a Kenny Mansally brace.

New England will look to build on a creditable 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center last week, but DC enters this match on the back of a fantastic 3-1 dismantling of the Columbus Crew last week. The major storyline there was Charlie Davies, who made his first competitive appearance since the 2009 car accident that nearly took his life and celebrated it with two goals.

On the injury front, New England will have Kevin Alston and Didier Domi available for selection, bringing them another step closer to full strength. Ousmane Dabo will have to wait at least one more week for his MLS debut as he recovers from a strained quadriceps, and Marko Perovic is also out after hurting his hamstring against LA.

Today's Q&A is with Martin Shatzer, the managing editor of Black and Red United, SB Nation's DC United blog.

TBM: What do you think of the team's performance last Saturday? How much of it was down to a surprisingly weak Columbus team and how much was DC's dominance?

MS: Yeah, I think it was a little of both. The Crew certainly made some odd roster and tactical decisions that were working against them. I expected a much closer game. Here's what I was most impressed with though: this was the type of match that United would have lost in 2010. They dominated possession in the first half and had far more chances than their opponents, but they failed to finish. If this was 2010, United would have given up two early goals in the second half and lost. But in 2011, they scored two early goals in the second half and won. Watch out.

Read the rest of Martin's answers after the jump.

TBM: How important was it for Charlie Davies to get those goals? Do you think he's poised to be a force in MLS this season?

MS: Lots of folks will say that the two goals were critically important for Davies' confidence. I disagree. The kid has been fully confident in his own abilities for months. I think it was more important for him to make a statement to the U.S. Soccer community as a whole: I'm back. Hopefully we can see some consistency from Davies, because he certainly has the potential to be a force in MLS.

TBM: Give me an under-the-radar player New England fans should watch out for in this match.

MS: Rookie center back Perry Kitchen is out this week with the U.S. U-20 National Team, and will be replaced by Uruguayan defender Rodrigo Brasesco, who filled in for an injured Jed Zayner in the second half for United last week. There shouldn't be any drop-off in defending, but Brasesco is also a known aerial threat on free kicks and corners.

TBM: Who do you think DC fears the most on the pitch for the Revs?

MS: I still have nightmares about Kenny Mansally's two-goal performance at RFK in 2010. That was Week 2 last year. This year United's team is much younger and faster, but still has some questions in the back with improving but still slow Marc Burch likely to start on the left, and inexperienced rookie Chris Korb on the right.

TBM: Finally, let's get your projected starting XI and a prediction.

MS: Pat Onstad, in the twilight of his career, will reprise his role in net. The defense will probably include Dejan Jakovic, Brasesco, Burch, and Korb. The midfield is likely to be a repeat of last week with (left to right) Chris Pontius, Dax McCarty, Clyde Simms, and Andy Najar. Finally, Davies should be set to earn his first start this week, and will be joined by Josh Wolff. I'm a bit worried about our defense, which wasn't really tested last week, but I think United will be able to manage a tie. A 1-1 final seems like the best bet.