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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting D.C. United

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United have struggled to open the season, but FCD will be without several key players.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at D.C. United Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Hoops bested Montreal last week, shaking off that game that shall not be named. Meanwhile D.C. United is struggling this season and coming off a 1-1 draw to the Rapids last week.

Problems in the Capital?

D.C. United have had a rocky start to the season, two goals for and five against. Some of that is down to that game against the Galaxy, which saw the Black and Red get toasted by set pieces, but they are struggling to score goals. D.C. has struggled to find the net this season and often look out of ideas.

International Break

It is a shame that as a league we can’t find a way to work with FIFA dates. That said it might not wound Dallas as badly this year as it has in years past. Oscar Pareja really worked on the depth of this side and though the defense is a bit patchy there are still many options to choose from. D.C. loses two players, Alvaro Saborio the Costa Rican forward and Steve Birnbaum starting center back.

Potential Lineup

Birnbaum will be a big miss at CB for United. I expect their lineup will be similar to last weeks, though Fabian Espindola may have worked his way back into the starting 11 after last week’s late equalizer. D.C. United lineup in a 4-4-2 formation.

GK: Travis Worra; RB: Sean Franklin; CB: Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell; LB: Taylor Kemp; CM: Marcelo Sarvas,Nick DeLeon; RM: Chris Rolfe; LM: Patrick Nyarko; F: Fabian Espindola, Luciano Acosta.

Key Matchup

Matt Hedges vs. International call-ups. Matt Hedges ability to lead a patchwork defense is going to determine how well Dallas does this week. Hedges will likely be working with either the youngster Aaron Guillen as a center back partner, or he will be dealing with somebody who is not a natural defender in the back four. Hedges will need to command the back four and keep D.C. from exploiting a lack of defensive depth.

Keys to Three Points

Michael Barrios gets his season going. Michael Barrios was a great pick-up last offseason. He impressed and swiftly won a starting position in this team. Barrios has had a slow start this season and has gone missing on a few occasions. Dallas will be looking for Barrios to turn it up and make a bigger impact this week. If he can provide an outlet out right Dallas will have a good shot in this one.

Take advantage of Birnbaum’s absence. D.C. United are missing a starting center back just like Dallas. The difference is that Dallas offense has been creative most of the season, where United’s offense has not been. Dallas has not lost many players going forward and should look to score goals to offset the lack of defensive depth. An attacking trio of Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz and Maximiliano Urruti should be able to take advantage of a porous defense missing a starter.

Close Down Chris Rolfe and Lamar Neagle. Seriously, do not let them take long shots. Both of these guys have an ability to shoot from range and Dallas has been burned from more than 20 yards out by both of them just last season. Ulloa and Gruezo will need to close these guys down in shooting positions if we are going to avoid letting in a screamer.

Prediction

D.C. United have struggled this season and the international games could help or hurt them. Both defenses are weakened, but a core of Loyd, Hollingshead and Hedges should be able to get FC Dallas through this one. I expect the game will be open and allow chances on both sides, with Dallas counter attacking ability eventually prevailing.

My Prediction: 3-1 FC Dallas.