Under pressure is the best way to describe both the Fire and DC United going into Saturday’s matchup.
As luck would have it, after zero wins and zero goals through two games, more of the pressure falls on United. Marquee acquisition Eddie Johnson hasn’t produced for them yet, and Head Coach Ben Olsen appears to have his detractors among some of the DC faithful. The Fire, on the other hand, might be forgiven for their goose egg in the win column since they were without reigning MVP Mike Magee for their opening two games. Avoiding a season opening winless streak similar to last season is crucial, so the pressure is still on.
DC United will trot out a revamped line up, far different from the ones the Fire pummeled in the regular season, but lost to in the U.S Open Cup.
Look for an often employed 4-4-2 diamond from the red and black.
Bill Hamid should start in goal since he doesn’t have to report for team USA training until the following day. Should United proceed with caution and decide to rest Hamid, he’ll be deputized by Joe Willis.
The back four will likely stay intact with Bobby Boswell and Jeff Parke in the center, Sean Franklin at right back, and Cristian on the left.
Despite a knock in last week’s game, Davy Arnaud looks fit to start on left side of the diamond midfield, flanked by Nick DeLeon, with Perry Kitchen in the holding position, and Luis Silva as the CAM spearhead.
Up front, DP Eddie Johnson will once again pair up with Fabian Espindola in all likelihood.
Sean Johnson will join his Saturday counterpart in team USA training on Sunday, but he should get the start in goal regardless. Should Frank Yallop decide to rest him, look for newcomer Kyle Reynish to get the nod.
Gonzalo Segares will miss another start at left back, making room for Greg Cochrane to start his second consecutive game. At right back, we could see Matt Watson in relief of suspended Lovel Palmer once again. Too bad that #FreeLovel movement on twitter didn’t exactly work out. In the center of defence of course will be Bakary Soumary and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.
The midfield should look identical to what we saw on Sunday. Look for youngsters Harry Shipp and Benji Joya on the flanks with Jeff Larentowicz and Alex patrolling the middle.
Magic Mike should be fit for his second straight start, paired with Quincy Amarikwa up top.
Bakary Soumare vs Eddie Johnson: Any time the Fire play against a team with an elite forward such as Johnson, you hope that it’s a mistake-free game from Baky. The defense as a whole did well to keep Thierry Henry off the scoreboard on Sunday, but they gave up a rather cheap goal. Soumare’s communication with Johnson must be flawless in this game, and he must be decisive with the ball at his feet. If the Fire concede a goal early, especially to Johnson, he’ll be on the prowl for numbers two and three. It would also allow Parke, Boswell and Kitchen to clog the central attacking lanes in defense.
1-0 Fire with the lone goal coming from Harry Shipp
SO…when and where can I watch it?
KICKOFF: 3pm CT
TV: NBC Sports Network. Yes folks, this is a nationally televised game.