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Dallas FC vs DC United Game Preview

Predicted Lineups: 


Starters:   Maarten Paes, Geovane Jesus, Nkosi Tafari, Sebastien Ibeagha, Marco Farfán, Edwin Cerrillo, Facundo Quignón, Sebastian Lletget, Bernard Kamungo, Alan Velasco, Samuel Junqua

Subs: Jimmy Maurer, Nkosi Burgess, Jose Mulato, Amet Korca, Paxton Pomykal, José Mulato, Tsiki Ntsabeleng, Nolan Norris, Herbert Endeley


Formation (4-3-3)

Injury Report:


  • Paul Arriola (thigh)

  • Jesus Jimenez (ankle)

  • Tarik Scott (cruciate ligament)

  • Ema Twumasi (ankle)


  • Jesus Ferreira (USA)

DC United 

Starter: Tyler Miller, Brendan Hines-Ike, Derrick Williams, Donovan Pines, Chris Durkin, Pedro Santos, Russell Canouse, Mateusz Klich, Lewis O’Brien,  Taxi Fountas, Cristian Dájome 

Subs: Alex Bono, Steve Birnbaum, Andy Najar, Jacob Greene, Gaoussou Samaké, Yamil Asad, Ruan, Nigel Robertha, Eric Hurtado

Captain: Derrick Williams

Formation (3-4-2-1)

Injury Report:


  • Rodriguez (knee)

  • Jeahze (thigh)

  • Christian Benteke (yellow card accumulation)


  • Victor Palsson (family)

The Managers: 

FC Dallas - Nico Estévez 

The second year Head Coach of FC Dallas came to the team after several years working as a U.S. national team assistant. He does play a style very similar to USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. The team will play in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.

A Spaniard from Valencia, Estévez is known as a great communicator with an attention to detail that has his team incredibly prepared for every game. Since taking over the top spot in Dallas, he has had the team play consistently well, with strong defense and dangerous attack, that has had the team in the top four of the west. In his first season with the club, Estévez took Dallas to the MLS playoffs, a year after it finished with the third-worst record in the Western Conference.

Dallas sets up to dominate with the ball while making sure there are no gaps in their formation for counter-attacks when they do turn over the ball.

Similar to Wayne Rooney, Nico Estévez is building a new culture in Dallas, and setting it up for success for years to come.

DC United - Wayne Rooney 

The English Gaffer has continued to improve DC United’s play in all aspects on the field. Every player has demonstrated some improvement this year. At the same time he has built a sense of camaraderie and teamwork that hasn’t been seen in years. 

Rooney is a pragmatic coach who continues to build his strategy around the strengths of his players, while putting in place tactics designed to mitigate their weaknesses. Rooney continues to preach the idea of playing with courage and on the front foot, yet at the same time patience and calmness on the ball when in the attack, so they can maintain control of the game. His team is playing better in defense and controlling the flow of the game. The next step is for the Black & Red to improve in the final third and create more scoring opportunities.

Keys to the Match: 

Can DC United develop any consistency? It’s been a roller coaster of play for the Blad & Red. While the team is playing better than last season, they have not been able to find any consistency. Unfortunate absences in the lineup and inconsistency in those who are playing has left United just inside the playoff line, and now every point counts. The team as a whole did not look good in Nashville, as they let the home team boss them around. A short turnaround has DC playing FC Dallas in their annual Fourth of July home game. The Toros typically play well on the Fourth of July, their all-time record of 10-4-5, so DC will have its work cut out for them. 

The biggest thing that United has to do is be consistent in the back line. Dallas will want the ball, so DC needs to stay focused and keep their shape.

How does DC play without Benteke? Unfortunately the Black & Red will be without Christian Benteke for the game at Dallas. United’s Striker picked up a cheap yellow card against Nashville SC, which made that loss just a bit worse. It will be interesting to see how Head Coach Wayne Rooney sets up the team for this match.

The first option is to bring on Taxi Fountas to play alongside Cristian Dájome who has started the last three games since Taxi left for international duty. A second option is to bring in Eric Hurtado and Taxi Fountas. The last option is to bring in Nigel Robertha, who has returned from injury this week.

The most likely option is to have Taxi Fountas and Cristian Dájome play together, and save Robertha for the end to play against tired legs. It’s going to be hot and muggy in Frisco Texas, having fresh legs in Robertha and Kristen Fletcher will be important.

Who does DC need to be aware of?  Jesus Ferreira And Paul Arriola will not be available for the match. Jesus Ferreira is away at the Gold Cup, destroying Caribbean Island national teams, and Paul Arriola is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Alan Velasco is the team’s most talented attacking option. The 20-year-old Argentinian youth international was really impressive in his first season with FC Dallas. He scored seven goals and notched five assists in thirty appearances across all competitions.

On Saturday, FC Dallas took on LAFC and started Bernard Kamungo, who got a nice poacher’s goal. He has shown he has the strength and field awareness to be dangerous in the box. Kamungo also has speed to burn, and will challenge United’s back line like Nashville did with Leal. The game against LA also saw Sam Junqua get the start in a new position and a goal. While not usually a goal scorer, he has shown strong dribbling ability and will be willing to go at United’s defense. 

Sebastian Lletget has also returned to the Dallas lineup and will provide a steadying presence in the midfield.

Who does DC start at Right Back?

Andy Najar has been amazing on the field this season, when he’s on the field. Najar has incredible control of the ball, but has a penchant for picking up injuries. With the short turnaround time, and the expected heat, Rooney could look to rotate Najar and shift Chris Durkin to the Right Back spot. This would open a spot for Russell Canouse in the midfield. Canouse has not played in recent matches, so there could be an unreported knock. Another option would be to start Ruan, who has the speed to keep up with Kamungo. No matter what, the expectation is that the position is platooned for tonight’s match.

Things to Watch: 

Offense -  The offense will not have Christian Benteke, so the team will need to be less reliant on long balls. Wayne Rooney has proven to be a pragmatic coach, who deals with the reality of what he has and not trying to implement strategies that do not fit the skills of his players. With Mateusz Klich, Lewis O’Brien, Taxi Fountas, and Cristian Dájome, expect a lot more tiki-taka style soccer with controlled passing to the players feet.

Wayne Rooney is pragmatic at his core, and he will have seen that on the road his team has been vulnerable in defense. Playing a team like FC Dallas who want to control the ball, look for United to play a counter-attack strategy. While the counter-attack is an offensive strategy, it’s also a defensive minded strategy at its core. United’s defense will play tight and compact on the defensive end of the field looking to create tight passing lanes and force turnovers. Once the defense wins the ball the team will need to counter quickly. This is where Mateusz Klich and Lewis O’Brien will need to be on top of their game. It’s important that they move the ball quickly up the field. O’Brien and Klich are really good at making quick passes toward the opposing goal, and can send teammates like Taxi and Dájome sprinting towards the goal. At the same time the wings like Santos and Najar or Ruan will look to overwhelm the defense with numbers.

Defense - The defense of the Black & Red looked to be in top form last week against FC Cincinnati, but then reverted to the mistakes that cost them in the past against Nashville SC. FC Dallas will look to control the ball with Alan Velasco, Sam Junqua, and Sebastian Lletget looking to control the ball, and then feed Bernard Kamungo who will be making runs off the backline. Kamungo’s speed will mean Brendan Hines-Ike and Donovan Pines will need to be on their toes. While neither is a world-beater, both are faster than most give them credit for.

Playing on a short turnaround, Rooney might decide to play deeper and more defensive so Dallas has to break through a set defense. If there was the usual week between matches Pedro Santos and Andy Najar would most likely get the start. With a short break in between games, both having a history of injuries and the expected heat in Texas, one or both could be rotated to the bench. Expect one, as both players give an outlet for the defense to pass the ball to. Durkin can slide over for Najar and Russell Canouse slot into the midfield.

Canouse hasn’t played in the last few matches, so he could have a knock. If he’s unable to play, Ruan is an option. Ruan is the weakest of defenders, but his speed could prove useful and is a threat on offense.

The key to the United defense is the Goalkeeper. Tyler Miller was beaten for the first goal, but it wasn’t because he plays the Keeper Sweeper, no matter what Taylor Twellman says. If Miller had been playing more of the Sweeper Keeper at that moment, he probably stops the first goal. Miller will continue to play the role of Keeper Sweeper when possible, though against Dallas the team could be pinned back more. 

DC United’s Center-Backs are solid but are better with Victor Pálsson in the lineup. Brendan Hines-Ike is still getting up to speed, and doesn’t have the leadership that Pálsson provides. Derrick Williams, and Donovan Pines have become a foundational force, very capable of settling the ball and shutting down opponents but the three are still learning to play with each other. Pálsson and Williams give DC two excellent long ball. 

United’s defense has a great opportunity with the absences Dallas is contending with in this match to get a victory, but need to play disciplined soccer.

By the Numbers:

FC Dallas has put up 23 goals in 20 games (20th in MLS)

FC Dallas has allowed 22 goals (6th in MLS)

FC Dallas ranks 12th in MLS in goal differential at +1

Jader Obrian has 2 goals and 2 assists

Nkosi Tafari has 2 goals and 2 assists

Marco Farfan has 1 goals and 2 assists 

Maarten Paes has kept 5 clean sheets

DC United has scored 29 goals in 20 games to rank 9th in MLS

DC United has allowed 28 goals (17th in MLS)

DC United ranks 12th in MLS in goal differential at +1

Taxi Fountas has 4 goals and zero assists on the season 

Mateusz Klich has 2 goals and 5 assists, for DC United

Lewis O’Brien has provided 1 goal and 2 assists

Donovan Pines has 3 goals 

Tyler Miller has kept 6 clean sheets


1-1 Draw. DC United will put in a better effort than they did in Nashville, but find it difficult to break down the strong defense in Dallas especially without the services of Benteke, though they benefit from not facing Jesus Ferreira.

Coverage: Apple MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (Free)

Pregame 8:15p 

Start time 8:30

Listen on…

📻: 1190am, 101.1HD2, 104.7fm

💻: iHeartSportsDC

🔊: Any Smart Speaker 

📱: @iHeartRadio App

Written by: RJ Rolsen 

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