D.C. United return to Audi Field on Wednesday to take on the Chicago Fire following a three-game road trip during which United failed to pick up a win. The Black-and-Red will be looking to get back to winning ways at home and begin the month of June on a positive note in the two remaining fixtures before the Gold Cup break. Kick off is set for 8 PM ET and DMV viewers can watch right here on FloFC.
Ben Olsen’s men rescued a point at the death against the New England Revolution on Saturday thanks to a Wayne Rooney penalty after Juan Agudelo had put the hosts ahead in the 61st. Two points from nine possible on the road could have resulted in a slip in the standings, but the two draws and other results around the league helped D.C. remain at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Fire sit in seventh place in the East and are on the heels of a 1-1 draw with New York City FC. Chicago has been difficult to overcome in recent weeks, losing just once in their last five matches. Head coach Veljko Paunovic has tinkered with the lineup a bit recently, but he typically prefers some variation of a 4-2-3-1 look.
CJ Sapong and Nemanja Nikolic lead the visitors with five goals each. Chicago signed Argentine playmaker Nicolas Gaitan in March on a free transfer and he has slotted into a midfield unit led by German star Bastian Schweinsteiger. Gaitan has missed a couple of games with a thigh injury but could make his return tonight.
Four assists has Gaitan at the top of the team alongside Przemysław Frankowski and Designated Player Aleksandar Katai. Katai has had a solid start to his 2019 campaign with three goals to add to his assists in 12 appearances.
Wednesday’s meeting is the first of two between the sides this season. Last year’s two encounters both came in the month of October, as D.C. picked up a narrow 2-1 victory at home before playing to a 0-0 stalemate at Toyota Park — now SeatGeek Stadium — on the final day of the campaign. The Black-and-Red hold a 16-9-5 record when facing Chicago in the District.
Rooney was leveled by New England goalkeeper Matt Turner on Saturday in what the striker compared to being in a car crash. Despite being banged up a bit, Olsen said that his frontman should be good to go after the violent collision.
Ben Olsen, on @WayneRooney's condition after heavy collision at New England on Sat. "He's got a few aches -- he took a pretty good shot -- but he's also one tough SOB." Rooney trained today and expected to start vs. Chicago tomorrow #dcu #mls— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) May 28, 2019
Paul Arriola will be serving the second part of his two-game suspension for a stomp on Dynamo defender Adam Lundqvist. Chris Durkin is still away with the U.S. Under-20 team at the World Cup in Poland and has played the full 90 minutes in both games thus far for the Stars and Stripes. Joseph Mora (broken jaw) and Donovan Pines (knee sprain) have yet to return from their injuries.
Predicted D.C. United XI (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid; Marquinhos Pedroso, Steve Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara; Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse; Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Ulises Segura; Wayne Rooney