The Opponent: CF Montréal (1-5-0)
Starters: Jonathan Sirois, Aaron Herrera, Rudy Camacho, Joel Waterman, Lassi Lappalainen, Victor Wanyama, Samuel Piette, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Bryce Duke, Mathieu Choinière, Chinonso Offor
Subs: Logan Ketterer, Gabriele Corbo, Róbert Orri Thorkelsson, Nathan-Dylan Saliba, Ariel Lassiter, Sean Rea
Captain: Victor Wanyama
Starters: Tyler Miller, Ruan, Steve Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Mo Jeahze, Russell Canouse, Lewis O’Brian, Mateusz Klich, Victor Pálsson, Christian Benteke, Taxi Fountas
Subs: Alex Bono, Matai Akinmboni, Jacob Greene, Andy Najar, Chris Durkin, Jackson Hopkins, Yamil Asad, Pedro Santos, Kristian Fletcher, Ted Ku-DiPietro
Captain: Steve Birnbaum
Derrick Williams (thigh)
Hernan Losada - Well known to supporters of DC United, the CF Montréal Head Coach is none other than Hernan Losada. The young Argentinan Coach was Head Coach for DC for just a little over a year. Having come in late in the offseason, Losada joined the Black & Red as the youngest head coach in Major League Soccer. Young, charismatic, and with a high intensity style that was a complete departure from the age of “BennyBall”, Losada was embraced by fans and supporters. An exciting win launched the beginning of his era, and after a short dip in form that seemed to have more to do with the large number of injuries, the team seemed to settle into his ultra-energy drink system, and looked set to make the playoffs. There was even a chance that the team might host a playoff game. Unfortunately the team ran out of steam, and some late dropped points meant DC missed the playoffs on goal differential. Still for fans and supporters the thought was with an off-season, and a chance to bring in his own players, that there would be even more improvement in the second season.
This was not to be.
Behind the scenes there was a lot of discord. Players weren’t up for the 100% energy all the time tempo that Losada demanded. Even though the team won their first two games of the season, neither win was convincing, and then the team went on a losing streak, that seemed to demonstrate that the players weren’t on the same page as Losada. To the surprise of many, Losada was let go as Head Coach on April 20, 2022.
In this offseason, Hernan Losada was a surprise hire. Not only had he left DC under a cloud of controversy, but his style was a complete departure from Wilfried Nancy’s. At the same time a lot of Montréal’s key players left during the offseason. The team has also struggled to adapt to Losada’s high octane system. This has led to less than a stellar start to the season for Losada and CF Montréal, earning only three points in their first six matches. This has meant Montréal are bottom of the Eastern Conference and Losada is on the hot seat.
Wayne Rooney - DC United Head Coach Wayne Rooney was brought in for the last third of the 2022 season to clean up the mess that the Losada firing had left, and to rebuild both an identity and culture for DC United. He has continued to try to rebuild the Black and Red in 2023, though the results have not been apparent with DC earning just five points in their first seven games. The play on the field has looked better at times, but there has just not been enough execution in the final third. DC players need to not press so hard, and move the ball around quickly, and get high percentage shots.
Keys to the Match:
Can DC take an early lead? DC United have found themselves playing from behind this season. In only two matches has the team scored first, and in neither of these games have they managed to maintain that lead. This is not a great recipe for success, but that is the scenario the Black and Red have found themselves all season.
DC United has only scored in one of their three road games this season, yet this game is one which could change in this match.
Will either side score? Both DC United and CF Montréal have been shut out in their past two games. Look for this trend to change in this match. The Black and Red have only managed one clean sheet this season, while Montréal have conceded nine goals in just their last two matches. Both teams have created opportunities, but they both need to be more efficient in front of their opponent’s goal and more aggressive in their attacking.
Which team’s transition offense will be more effective? Wayne Rooney has wanted to push his Fullbacks up the field to create offensive overloads, and control the ball out wide. This has led to some vulnerabilities in the defensive half and his team has had difficulty coming up with goals. DC has a team that should be able to control the midfield, as long as it can move the ball past Victor Wanyama. A big part of this match will be the head-to-head between Wanyama and Klich.
Midfielder Bryce Duke and winger Ariel Lassiter were just traded for, from Inter Miami on Wednesday. This was definitely done to help bolster Montréal’s press and attack, however how much they can offer in this game is a question. Rooney has definitely brought in players who can control the ball, it will be important for them to handle the pressure and move quickly, both with and without the ball.
Things to Watch:
Offense - The DC United offense has a real opportunity to get on track in this match; Montréal suffered their second successive lopsided defeat of the season, falling 4-0. Their defense has been suspect, and they just traded Center Back Kamal Miller away. This defense is vulnerable.
The Black and Red have struggled to break their opponents' defensive shape and even when they have, they’ve often failed to capitalize with a quality shot. Playing a Losada coached team, DC has to take advantage of transition moments that are sure to be available. The ability to launch the ball over the opponent, and get it to attacking players looks promising. Expect Ruan to be brought on in the second half to provide direct attack at the Montréal defense.
Defense - DC United have shown some improvement in defense, but still lack consistency. Tonight’s defensive lineup will certainly be the eighth different defense that DC United have employed in 8 matches. Injuries have really run havoc on the defensive team. On the bright side, Donovan Pines and Steven Birnbaum have played better than last season. The bad news is the bar wasn’t very high.
Andy Najar was back at practice, and it will be interesting to see if he’s started or brought off the bench. The expectation is that he will get the start, as his ball control will be helpful in breaking down Montréal’s press. Another player that was unavailable last week but will be tonight is Chris Durkin. Expect the midfielder to play up, but also drop back when Najar or Ruan push up. On the left side, expect Mo Jeahze to return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench last week.
By the Numbers:
DC United has scored 7 goals in 7 games and ranks 14th in MLS offense.
DC United has conceded 12 goals, to rank 25th in the league in defense.
DC United’s -5 goal differential ranks the club number 22nd in MLS.
DC United has lost 10 of its last 13 road games, going 1-10-2 and being held off the scoresheet in 10 of those matches while only scoring 2 goals in the other 3.
DC United has led for fewer than 20 minutes since winning its debut game of the season.
Benteke remains on 3 goals (on 16 shots, 0.6 per game)
Taxi Fountas still has 0 goals
DC United are 13th in the Eastern Conference
CF Montréal rank 15th in the Eastern Conference
CF Montréal have scored 3 goals to rank 26th in the league in offense.
CF Montréal has conceded 16 goals, 29th in MLS this season.
CF Montréal’s -13 goal differential ranks 29th in MLS this season.
Quioto has 2 goals (on 11 shots, 1.8 per game) for CF Montréal.
Chinonso Offor has 1 goal (on 4 shots, 0.7 per game) for CF Montréal.
Richard - 0-3 DC United. The Black and Red have not shown it on the scoresheet, but they have played better than most think. CF Montréal on the other hand have not played well at all. I believe this is a game both teams want very badly, but DC’s Stronger lineup will prevail.
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Written by: RJ Rolsen