Starters: (4-4-2) - Alex Bono, Andy Najar, Hayden Sargis, Donovan Pines, Jacob Greene, Ruan, Lewis O’Brien, Chris Durkin, Yamil Asad, Jackson Hopkins, Ted Ku-DiPietro
Subs: Tyler Miller, Steve Birnbaum, Matai Akinmboni, Kristen Fletcher, Russell Canouse, Taxi Fuentas, Cristian Dájome, Mateusz Klich, Christian Benteke
Captain: Steve Birnbaum
Martin Rodríguez (knee)
Nigel Robertha (ankle)
Starters: (4-1-4-1) - Will Palmquist, Simon Fitch, Nathan Aune, Dakota Barnathan, Jake Mecham, Zacarias Moran Correa, Matthew Bentley, João Silva, Nil Vinyals, Luke Pavone, Emiliano Terzaghi
Subs: Eli Mumford, Chris Cole, Chandler O'Dwyer, Owayne Gordon, Beckett Howell, Justin Sukow, Kharlton Belmar
Captain: Emiliano Terzaghi
DC United - Wayne Rooney - DC United Head Coach Wayne Rooney has got the team playing his style, which combines controlled pressing with quick counter attacks. The defense has begun to settle into place, with every player better understanding their role.
Richmond Kickers - Darren Sawatzky - The Richmond Head Coach has been coaching since 1991. He started coaching, even as he was still playing. Sawatzky bounced around MLS and USL as both leagues got started, and has coached at the High School, Collegiate and Professional levels of soccer. He is currently both the Head Coach and Sporting Director of the Kickers. In terms of what to expect, Sawatzky is an aggressive coach, who will look to punch DC in the nose, and get an early goal. This will not be a sit back and bunker type of game.
Keys to the Match:
How serious is DC taking the Open Cup? Last season DC went to upstate New York, and defeated Flower City Union. It wasn’t a pretty match, but it was a win. It was also Hernan Losada’s last game as Head Coach. Ashton came in on the interim, and pretty much threw the next US Open Cup match against New York Red Bulls. That was the start of the end. The strategy didn’t pay off, rotating the team didn’t give DC any advantage in league play, and fans were mad that DC took itself out of an opportunity to win a trophy. It will be interesting to see how serious Rooney takes it.
Will DC play their best players? The Black & Red are going to play their young players; that’s a given. Rooney has no issue with playing young players, especially if they earn their minutes. He does however like it to be a mix of veteran players with the young ones, so he can both get a good feel for how they are truly playing, and to put out a lineup with an opportunity to succeed. It will be interesting to see which veterans are brought in to start, and which will be on the bench, eligible for substitution.
Who starts at Striker? Christian Benteke has played every minute this season so far, so it could be expected that he would get a rest tonight against Richmond, yet at the moment there is no clear backup on the team. Nigel Robertha is still out with a fracture in his ankle, and though there has been rumor that DC signed Erik Hurtado, but there’s been no official confirmation yet. If Benteke doesn’t start, it could be that Jackson Hopkins starts as a center forward. This is not a position he’s played with SC, but he did play there while at Loudoun United.
Things to Watch:
Offense - The Black and Red’s offense will probably again rely on two forwards up top, supported by three midfielders and two wingers. Expect one forward to be Ted Ku-DiPietro, in the Taxi role and the other to be Jackson Hopkins, unless Rooney does choose to play Benteke from the start. Ted Ku-DiPietro has shown he can hold his own, and Taxi will be available off the bench if it proves necessary. Yamil Asad will most likely get a start, and Kristen Fletcher will most likely get some serious minutes. Because he is only here for a short period of time, there is a good chance Lewis O’Brien picks up another start, which would mean that DC would be starting the best player by far.
Expect the team to to cross the ball into the box less, and instead rely on quick passes to put the ball on goal.
Defense - DC United have improved their defensive play in recent weeks, as Rooney’s defense has already allowed eight goals in four games; two goals a game is unsustainable. This game could see Akinmboni get another start, and while Hayden Sargis should get his first start. The question will be, which player is in between these two young players. Most likely that player will be Donovan Pines. It will be interesting to see if Pines can take this opportunity and show his leadership. On the wing will be Jacob Greene on one side, and either Ruan or Najar on the other. The expectation is Ruan will get a half and Najar the other. Chris Durkin will play in his more natural defensive midfield role for the first time this season. His ability to protect the back line will go a long way to how DC plays this match.
Richard - 3-0 DC. DC United with a clean sheet against the team from Richmond
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Written by: RJ Rolsen