Starters: Drake Callender; DeAndre Yedlin, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller, Negri, Benjamin Cremaschi, David Ruiz, Dixon Arroyo, Nicolás Stefanelli, Leonardo Campana, Josef Martínez
Subs: Nick Marsman, Noah Allen, Christopher McVey, Edison Azcona, Robert Taylor, Ian Fray, Shanyder Borgelin, Harvey Neville, Jake LaCava
Captain: DeAndre Yedlin
Jean Mota (knee),
Rodolfo Pizarro (hamstring)
Adama Diomande (Muscle injury)
Robbie Robinson (calf),
Corentin Jean (knee)
Starter: Tyler Miller, Steve Birnbaum, Victor Palsson, Derrick Williams, Donovan Pines, Andy Najar, Pedro Santos, Mateusz Klich, Taxi Fountas, Chris Durkin, Christian Benteke
Subs: Alex Bono, Brendan Hines-Ike, Jacob Greene, Gaoussou Samaké, Yamil Asad, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Cristian Dájome, Eric Hurtado, Kristen Fletcher
Captain: Steve Birnbaum
Inter Miami - Javier Morales
Inter Miami CF made the surprising move to part ways with Head Coach Phil Neville on Thursday evening, along with Assistant Coach Jason Kreis. With nearly half of their 2023 MLS season completed, the Herons currently sit last in the Eastern Conference table with a 5W-10L-0D record. Javier Morales has been tabbed to lead Inter Miami on an interim basis after being an assistant on Neville's staff. Assistant coach Darren Powell, goalkeeper coach Sebastián Saja and assistant coach/performance analyst Alec Scott will remain in their current roles.
Morales has been a professional player, an Academy Coach, and a First Team Assistant Coach.
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 take advantage of Miami? The Black & Red had two opponents that were down and vulnerable and didn’t take advantage of it last week.
Miami was completely dominated on Wednesday by the New York Red Bulls. They missed an early penalty shot and then were outshot 18-6 in the game with only one shot on goal. Inter Miami had more than sixty percent of the possession on Wednesday night, but couldn’t turn it into any real offense. DC, even with the injuries and O’Brien’s suspension should have what it takes to pick up a win. They just need to play the whole 90 minutes.
Can DC play 90 minutes? United played excellently for 75 minutes on Wednesday night, but the last ten minutes was a disaster with a 2-0 lead turning into a 2-2 draw against CF Montréal. Legs did look heavy, and uncharacteristic mistakes gave CF Montréal the opening they needed to get back into the game. With a short turnaround between the Wednesday and Saturday games, Rooney will need to dig a bit deeper into his bench. Unfortunately there are a number of injuries right now, so there will be some slim options.
Can DC keep Leonardo Campana and Josef Martínez off the score sheet? Leonardo Campana and Josef Martínez both have shown themselves to be goal dangerous in MLS, and have shown the ability to put multiple goals into net in a game. DC United’s defense has improved, but is still subject to momentary lapses of concentration. They cannot do this with Campana and Martínez playing across from them. The three Center Backs need to mark their man, and communicate clearly to one another.
Who steps into Lewis O’Brien’s shoes? Lewis O’Brien is sidelined due to suspension, so someone is going to have to step up. Taxi Fountas is back, so he could step up behind Benteke and next to Ted Ku-Dipietro in a double ten formation. Yamil Asad could also get the start, or Cristian Dájome. But if healthy, the start most likely will go to Taxi.
Things to Watch:
Offense - The offense will start and end with Christian Benteke. His hold up play, and his ability to link up with teammates is unparalleled in this season’s MLS. When you add Benteke’s finishing, there is an 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 opportunities like Ted Ku-Dipietro’s goal versus CF Montréal.
The loss of Lewis O’Brien is a blow, as he’s been such a maestro with the ball and been able to transition the team from defense to offense with line-breaking dribbles. Without his play, DC will most likely surrender some control of the ball, and rely on more long passes.
Defense - The defense of the Black & Red started out the season as United’s biggest question mark, and early in the season they let in a number of goals at one point leading the league in most goals allowed. However, over the last two months, the defensive form for the team has been the foundation the team is built upon. It starts with the Goal Keeper, Tyler Miller, who plays the role of Keeper Sweeper in the most unique way. No other Keeper has made defensive plays at the midfield like Miller has. Rooney wants his Goal Keeper to cover the space behind the back line, which allows his three Center-Backs to push higher.
DC United’s Center-Backs are solid, Victor Palsson, Derrick Williams, and Donovan Pines have become a foundational force, very capable of settling the ball and passing the ball into dangerous attacking positions. The two Wingbacks that Rooney uses have had to rotate due to the number of injuries the team suffered in that position, yet there’s been little drop off. Most likely the team will start. There is a good chance Andy Najar will start, but with the heat of Miami, will most likely get subbed around the 75th minute. On the opposite side of the field Pedro Santos will most likely start, with Gaoussou Samaké on the bench. Pedro Santos played the entire match on Wednesday, so again a substitution around the 80th minute is a good bet.
Durkin has proven to be a decent replacement for Russell Canouse, and so will most likely man the six.
United’s defense has a great opportunity in this match to get a victory, but need to continue to play disciplined soccer.
By the Numbers:
Inter Miami CF with 14 goals, ranks 25th in MLS
Inter Miami CF has conceded 19 (12th).
Inter Miami CF’s -5 goal differential ranks 20th in MLS this season.
Inter Miami CF’s Campana has 3 goals and 1 assist
Josef Martinez has 3 goals and 1 assist for Inter Miami CF
David Ruiz has provided 1 goal and 1 assist.
Franco Negri has 1 goal and 1 assist.
DC United has scored 22 goals in 16 games to rank 9th in MLS,
DC United has conceded 20 goals to rank 16th in MLS
DC United’s goal differential of +2 is 11th in MLS
DC United has 14 goals in 10 games this season (7th in MLS)
Christian Benteke has 7 goals and 2 assists for DC United
Mateusz Klich has 2 goals and 6 assists, for DC United.
Ku-DiPietro has 3 goals (on six shots, 0.6 per game).
Taxi Fountas has 3 goals (on 11 shots, 1.1 per game).
Tyler Miller has kept 5 clean sheets
0-2 victory in South Florida. The Black & Red need this bounce back. They were the best team on Wednesday, but didn’t finish; they will in South Florida
Coverage: Apple MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (Free)
Start time 7:55
📻: 1190am, 101.1HD2, 104.7fm
🔊: Any Smart Speaker
📱: @iHeartRadio App
Written by: RJ Rolsen