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D.C. United are back at it on Saturday in part two of a three-game road trip following their midweek draw against Toronto FC. They face a stiff test against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium in a matchup of two of the league’s best teams this year. The action is set to kick off at 8:30 PM ET, and coverage starts on FloFC at 8 PM ET for DMV viewers.
After head coach Ben Olsen made wholesale changes in the scoreless draw — seven new faces in the starting lineup — we will likely see a near full-strength lineup against Houston. Front men Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta, and Paul Arriola all entered in the second half, so they should be fresh for the team’s third match in seven days. The same goes for Lucas Rodriguez, who did not see any action at BMO Field.
The Dynamo are unbeaten at home this season with a 5-0-2 record, outscoring their opponents 13-7. Their home record stands tall in the all-time series with D.C. as well — the visitors have produced just one win and two draws in 12 regular season attempts. Arriola is coming off solid performances in recent games is looking forward to the challenge against a difficult team to overcome on their home turf.
“They’re a very good team. Playing at home they’ve been very good this year, so it’s going to be a good game and a good test for us."
With a 6-2-2 record, the Dynamo are up there with the league’s best in terms of points per game. They’re coming off a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers, a game they’ll likely regret not taking three points from after looking like the better side for long spells and missing several chances. They took a first-half lead through Mauro Manotas before new Timbers Designated Player Brian Fernández leveled in his first appearance since joining from Liga MX outfit Necaxa.
The United defense will have to deal with one of the league’s best attacks, which is spearheaded by Manotas and Alberth Elis. Manotas leads the way in the goals department with six tallies, while adding four assists. Elis is not far behind with four goals and has been the team’s most successful provider with six assists to his name.
Olsen has repeatedly voiced how pleased he is with how his players have been able to adjust and do what’s necessary for the team in light of injuries and various absences. “We are going to have to adjust again,” he said before Saturday’s tilt. “The guys continue to be open to pushing themselves and getting out of their comfort zones for the betterment of the team.”
Junior Moreno is still in South America following the passing of his father, and Chris Durkin has departed to join the USA Under-20 team for the World Cup in Poland, so the first void to fill will be in defensive midfield. Chris Odoi-Atsem recently returned from a battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and featured for Loudon United last weekend in their 3-1 win against the Charlotte Independence, his first competitive minutes in 15 months. Olsen called the 23-year-old to join the squad in Houston to round out the squad.
One USL match into his comeback from cancer, D.C. United's Chris Odoi-Atsem has been summoned to the first team in Houston, Ben Olsen tells me. He will fill game-day roster slot vacated by Chris Durkin (U-20 intl duty) and provide cover at outside back. #dcu #mls— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) May 17, 2019
Donovan Pines (knee sprain) and Joseph Mora (broken jaw) remain sidelined, while Griffin Yow has yet to return from international duty with the U.S. Under-17s.
Predicted D.C. United XI (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid; Marquinhos Pedroso, Steve Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant; Leonardo Jara; Chris McCann, Russell Canouse; Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola; Wayne Rooney