Starter: Alex Bono, Ruan, Brendan Hines-Ike, Donovan Pines, Eric Davis, Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin, Gabriel Pirani, Mateusz Klich, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Christian Benteke
Subs: Luis Zamudio, Pedro Santos, Andy Najar, Hayden Sargis, Yamil Asad, José Fajardo, Cristian Dájome, Erik Hurtado, Nigel Robertha
Tyler Miller (hip)
Derrick Williams (thigh)
Steve Birnbaum (hip)
Andy Najar (hamstring)
New York Red Bulls
Starters: Carlos Coronel, Kyle Duncan, Sean Nealis, Andrés Reyes, John Tolkin, Frankie Amaya, Daniel Edelman, Tom Barlow, Omir Fernandez,, Elias Manoel
Subs: Ryan Meara, Dylan Nealis, Hassan Ndam, Peter Stroud, Jorge Cabezas, Julian Hall, Dru Yearwood, Luquinhas
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.
Lesesne was named Head Coach of the New York Red Bulls for the remainder of the Season in May, after he was promoted up following the Red Bulls letting go of the previous Head Coach Gerhard Struber. He joined the Red Bulls ahead of the 2022 MLS regular season, having previously served as New Mexico United’s Head Coach and Sporting Director for three years.
Lesesne has steadied the club, and is trying to reinstall the use of the high octane pressure that is Energy Drink brand football, but has the team playing with more confidence and scoring more. The play of the Red Bulls bares a striking resemblance to the play Jesse Marsch had the club playing. It may not be enough for this season, but it could be the foundation for a return of the Red Bulls next season.
Keys to the Match:
How will the weather affect the game? Tonight’s DC United match against the New York Red Bulls could see the weather playing a significant role in the outcome. With rain persisting throughout the day, the field will likely be saturated, affecting the dynamics of the game.
The wet conditions could impact the Red Bulls’ high-pressure game plan positively. Slick, waterlogged turf might make it harder for DC United to maintain possession and execute their passing game effectively. The Red Bulls could exploit this with their signature aggressive pressing in an attempt to force turnovers in United’s half of the field.
On the other hand, the home team might find an advantage in these conditions. A waterlogged field often encourages a more direct style of play. DC United could opt for long balls and quick attacks, utilizing the unpredictability of the slippery surface to catch the Red Bulls’ defense off guard.
Despite the rainy weather, it’s unlikely to warrant a reschedule as long as the conditions don’t become too harsh or dangerous. Both teams will need to adapt their strategies to the wet field, making tonight’s match an intriguing battle of tactics influenced by Mother Nature.
Can José Fajardo put a shot on goal? Newly signed Panamanian forward José Fajardo has been picked to start the last couple matches for the Black & Red. Fajardo, has displayed strength and athleticism, in getting himself into scoring opportunities, but has faced notable challenges when it comes to his finishing ability. Against Atlanta United and Charlotte FC Fajardo was able to get into promising scoring positions, but couldn’t put his shots on target which has hindered United’s offense. One noticeable issue has been the accuracy of his shots. Often, Fajardo’s strikes tend to go wide of the target or sail over the goalposts. This lack of precision has frustrated both him and his teammates, as missed opportunities begin to mount. Improving his shooting accuracy would undoubtedly benefit both him and the Black & Red, because it’s desperately needed down this final stretch.
Can DC break the Red Bull’s Press? The Red Bulls continue to play high intensity pressure football. DC United have been very successful with the long ball, kicking long to Christian Benteke. With the Red Bull’s press, there’s a really good chance that the team kicks long, tries to get the counterattack going, and lets Red Bulls have more control of the ball than the they want.
Is Gabriel Pirani ready to take off?
Gabriel Pirani's late-game heroics in the 80th minute, securing his first MLS goal for D.C. United, breathed life into an intense showdown against Atlanta United. The goal highlighted the potential impact of this talented newcomer. Mateusz Klich delivered his team-leading ninth assist of the season to the young Brazilian midfielder with a perfect pass in traffic. There has been a growing synergy between Pirani and Klich that showcases a creative spark within United's midfield, a promising sign for the team's future performances.
Pirani's breakthrough goal could indeed unlock more potential within him. It often takes time for players, especially those new to a league or team, to adapt and find their rhythm. Scoring his first goal can boost Pirani's confidence, encouraging him to become a more consistent goal-scoring threat for the Black & Red. Additionally, this could energize the rest of the team, fostering a sense of unity and momentum as they aim for greater success in the remainder of the season. With his talent and now a taste of MLS success, Gabriel Pirani has the opportunity to be a key figure in United's quest for the playoffs.
Things to Watch:
Offense - The offense will start and end with Christian Benteke. One set of tactics is reliant on long balls to Benteke, where the Belgian’s 6’3 frame is strong enough to hold off most defenders and his skill at controlling the ball is underrated. His hold up play, and ability to link up with teammates is unparalleled in this season’s MLS. If Benteke’s finishing touch can return. argument that he is the best pure Striker this season. Benteke gives DC the ability to go long, and get the ball out from their half of the field. Even when Benteke doesn’t score, his presence forces the defense to pay attention, and can lead to scoring opportunities for Ted Ku-DiPietro and now possibly Gabriel Pirani making runs off of quick flick passes.
Mateusz Klich and Russell Canouse have been falling back deeper to pick up the ball and give the Black & Red the ability to bring the ball up and play through opponents. This will be tough against the high energy drink press of the Red Bulls, plus a soaked pitch. United will need to make longer passes that bypass the pressure.
United have shown the ability to make direct runs on goal, but haven’t been able to finish the opportunities. If the can, they get the win, if they can’t, expect another draw.
Defense - The defense of the Black & Red DC has greatly improved over the last handful of games with Rooney’s switch to a four back setup. This switch has allowed Russell Canouse to play his more natural position as a pure six. Save for an unfortunate turnover by Durkin that led to a quick counter goal, the Black & Red have been able to shut down their opponents and only given up one goal since surrendering three to the Union. Bringing Russell Canouse and Chris Durkin lower has offered better protection for the Center Backs. Injuries has also brought Donovan Pines and Branden Hines-Ike into the lineup, which has improved the speed of the back line. They have played a shallower line, which has allowed Alex Bono to stay in a more traditional goalkeeping position.
Canouse, Durkin and Klich have been better at closing down their opponents more quickly, especially in the center of the field. They have not given opposing midfielders the freedom of movement and done a better job disrupting the offensive flow of their opponents.
Additionally, United have benefited from the addition of Eric Davis. The true Left Back has been a great addition to the back four, both as a defender and helping to get the ball forward.
The Black & Red must be smart with the ball and move it forward quickly to keep New York’s press from creating cheap turnovers as happened in the Philadelphia and Atlanta matches.
By the Numbers:
DC United has scored 38 goals in 30 games to rank 15th in MLS
DC United has conceded 39 goals to rank 14th in MLS
DC United’s goal differential of +2 is 11th in MLS
DC United’s -1 goal differential is 14th-ranked in MLS
Christian Benteke has 10 goals and 4 assists
Mateusz Klich has 2 goals and 9 assists
Ku-DiPietro has 5 goals and 2 assists.
Ruan has 6 assists
Donovan Pines has 3 goals
Alex Bono has kept 3 clean sheets
Red Bulls have scored 25 goals to rank 27th in MLS
Red Bulls have conceded 34 goals to rank 14th in MLS
Red Bulls -9 goal differential is 23rd-ranked in MLS
Omir Fernandez has scored 4 goals and 3 assists
John Tolkin has 1 goal (against DC) and 4 assists
Frankie Amaya has scored 4 goals
Tom Barlow has 2 goals and 1 assist
1-0 The Black & Red get revenge for the late loss to the New Jersey Energy Drink.
Coverage: Apple MLS Season Pass on Apple TV Pregame 7:15p
Start time 7:35
📻: 1190am, 101.1HD2, 104.7fm
🔊: Any Smart Speaker
📱: @iHeartRadio App
Written by: RJ Rolsen