The New England Revolution will be facing DC United for the second time this season on Wednesday night as they attempt to sweep their I-95 rivals and rebuild what has been a forgettable season. New England is coming off an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Philadelphia that also featured a supporters' protest and walkout while DC recently played Dallas to a scoreless draw in a season that has certainly had its ups and downs.
The key for the Revs is going to be discipline. Ousmane Dabo retired this week and Didier Domi was released while Benny Feilhaber is suspended after his red card against Philly, meaning that Shalrie Joseph will find himself in the lone creator role this week as he was so often last season. If New England can stay compact and well-drilled and maybe hit DC on the counter, they might have a chance at taking points in this game.
Without Dabo and Domi to anchor it, this week's injury report doesn't look quite as bad. Kheli Dube remains out as he recovers from whiplash, but the Probable list features Kevin Alston, Zak Boggs, Ryan Cochrane and Chris Tierney, meaning all of them will probably feature on Wednesday night.
TBM: DC is very much an enigma to me this year. They have a wealth of talent and at times play like world-beaters, but seem to suffer from maddening inconsistency and thus don't find themselves in the best position this year. Furthermore, they sport a very poor 2-2-5 home record. What do you think is the reason behind the up-and-down nature of DC's summer has been?
MS: Inconsistency is something you come to expect from a young team like ours. With two or three rookies starting on the backline on a regular basis, we aren't shocked at all to see a few rookie mistakes. Those should start to go away though in the second half of the season, and since this team is coming off two straight road shutouts, it appears that they may have gone away already. United has had a rough stretch of difficult opponents. Now entering a softer part of the schedule, the team needs to show that they don't just play to the level of the competition. They need to start beating teams with less talent than them.
TBM: The Dwayne De Rosario merry-go-round has apparently stopped off in the nation's capitol as he replaced Dax McCarty in a blockbuster trade. How does DeRo fit into this team's plans going forward, and do you believe he can finally find a stable home at RFK, like he had in San Jose/Houston?
MS: I do. Its telling that when the De Rosario trade happened, General Manager Dave Kasper said that he had basically just acquired Jaime Moreno. This team is huge on "Tradition." They're used to having a proven attacking midfielder leading the charge. That's what they had in Marco Etcheverry and Christian Gomez, and now that's what they have in De Rosario. He has a goal and an assist so far in three games with D.C., and I certainly expect that early success to continue.
TBM: Give us an under-the-radar player Revolution fans should watch out for (keep in mind your answer last time was Rodrigo Brasesco, who is no longer with the team).
MS: United's No. 3 overall pick Perry Kitchen had a breakout performance on Saturday against FC Dallas. I had never seen Brek Shea move from the left to the right for an entire half before, but he did it in that game to get away from Kitchen. If he can play like that consistently, then the early comparisons to Tim Ream will absolutely be justified.
TBM: Who do you think United fears most on the pitch for the Revolution? (In a deviation from the norm, your last answer was Kenny Mansally)
MS: We fear Marko Perovic. We fear Benny Feilhaber. Since neither of them are playing, the only thing I fear is that United will enter this match overconfident.
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
MS: For the most part, I think we'll see the slightly more attacking lineup that United used in the second half against Dallas. In my mind, that means De Rosario starting as a withdrawn forward behind Charlie Davies, with Fred da Silva at the top of a "T" shaped midfield, with Chris Pontius and Andy Najar on the wings, as Clyde Simms as the lone defensive midfielder. Its doubtful that Ben Olsen will mess with his backline after two straight clean sheets, so you'll probably see Kitchen, Ethan White, Brandon McDonald, and Daniel Woolard in defense, with Bill Hamid in goal.