For those who thought 2014 was an aberration for DC United, well, you'd be wrong. Last year's regular season conference champs are still in first place, but that could change today at Gillette Stadium. We exchanged questions with Ben Bromley (a solid Twitter follow in general but has been on top of the DCU Stadium news in particular) over at Black and Red United, to see our responses to his questions click here.
TBM: It feels like D.C. United is sort of like the Rodney Dangerfield of MLS: you get no respect. All you've done is continue last season's form by topping the East yet again so far this year, and yet it feels as though everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Why do you think that is?
B&RU: I think it is a number of things. From 2008 to 2010 the team was in steady decline, 2011 had a brief bright spot at the end of the year with Dwayne De Rosario, and 2013 was an awful year as well. That is a long time of of United being out of the national spotlight, and so it is easy to not talk about United when you haven't been talking about United in years. Also, new stadiums have been opening throughout the league, and they have either revitalized existing franchises or welcomed in brand new teams. RFK Stadium is a lovable dump, but it also doesn't make for great television watching. Finally, Ben Olsen's teams do not play a flashy offensive style, but instead emphasize defense and goalkeeping. As a fan, I just prefer wins, but a more attractive style might get the national media interested, even if the results were worse.
TBM: Bill Hamid just re-upped with a more lucrative contract that should keep him stateside at least a little while longer. How much more time do you think D.C. has with their stellar homegrown goalkeeper, and why is he just so darn good?
B&RU: Anything after this year is gravy. We all know that Bill wants to go to Europe, and United would have had to sell him this summer if they wanted to get anything for him. With the new contract, they can sell him in the offseason if Bill finds a good situation for him, or wait until he is ready to leave if if is not this offseason. Hamid gets a good raise and guaranteed starts, which will help keep him in the national team picture. I don't think that Hamid wants to sign abroad and then sit on the bench for four years, like Brad Guzan; he has specifically mentioned David De Gea as a model he wants to follow, a young keeper who just steps right in and starts. This contract helps United, but it also helps Hamid find the exact right situation for him without languishing on a bench somewhere.
TBM: Chris Rolfe had success overseas and looked good in Chicago, but then sputtered. Now, it looks like he's coming back into his own in Washington and he's really making that offense tick. How does he direct and influence the attack, and what do you think can be done to stop him?
B&RU: The Chris Rolfe trade is one of the greatest heists that Dave Kasper has ever pulled on the rest of the league, sending allocation money to Chicago in exchange for Rolfe. He made an immediate impact last season, and his absence was tremendous at the end of the season last year. He brings an audacity to the team that only Fabian Espindola can match: he is willing to run at players and do something creative, something unexpected, that is very difficult to stop. The best way to stop him is to prevent him from getting the ball, and especially do not let him get free and running.
TBM: Give us an under-the-radar player that Revolution fans should watch out for in this match.
B&RU: Miguel Aguilar is an under the radar player who has a bunch of potential. He has only played 118 minutes so far this season, most of that in his first start last week. He is a rookie winger who has been a spark off of the bench recently, helping to create a goal in the comeback against Orlando City and ripping a great shot off the post last week. He was supposed to go to Richmond this year, but has forced his way onto the field by his play.
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
B&RU: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, Chris Korb; Michael Farfan, Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, Chris Pontius; Jairo Arrieta, Chris Rolfe
1-1: D.C. United have a good defense, and it will be good enough to get them a road point.