D.C. United have not had the best run of form lately and will face a stiff challenge on Thursday night when they head to Frisco, Texas, to take on FC Dallas. United will have the services of Junior Moreno, who spent the past month away with Venezuela for the Copa America. The midfielder returned to the Black-and-Red this week and should be in contention to start for Ben Olsen's side, at a stadium in which they have not won since 2007.
The game kicks off at 9 PM ET and will be streamed on FloFC for viewers within the DMV area.
Wayne Rooney scored two goals last week, which netted United four points from two games at Audi Field. The first was a 70-yard golazo against Orlando City, the only goal for United's first win in the league since May 12. But three days later, Rooney's stoppage-time penalty was only enough to salvage a point against Toronto FC, in a 1-1 draw at Buzzard Point.
Though United have won just once in their past seven league games, they have been able to maintain pace with the rest of the Eastern Conference, as teams have fallen over themselves trying to pick up wins consistently. But the Philadelphia Union's 3-1 win over Orlando on Wednesday night has United four points back of the I-95 rivals, with the game in hand to be made up on July 4th.
These two teams last met in October when the Black-and-Red squeaked out a 1-0 win at Audi Field, part of a 10-game unbeaten streak to finish the season. A draw seemed to be on the cards before Russell Canouse bundled home a header in the 86th minute. The win was the third of five in a row for United, who climbed up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference to finish out the 2018 regular season.
United's last trip to Toyota Stadium came on July 4, 2017, when they suffered a 4-2 defeat, on the way to missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Ian Harkes opened the scoring for the visitors, but FCD ran off four goals in a stretch of 15 minutes on either side of the break to put the game away. Deshorn Brown added a consolation goal for United, who would then follow up the performance by throwing away a three-goal lead against the Seattle Sounders in a 4-3 defeat in the Pacific Northwest.
This time around, head coach Ben Olsen will be close to full strength, with the exception of two regular starters. Joseph Mora, who picked up an ankle injury against Orlando, will still be sidelined for at least another week. With Mora out against TFC, Olsen opted for Chris McCann from the start but used former Dallas defender Marquinhos Pedroso in the second half at left back.
Paul Arriola is the only other starter that will be absent on Thursday. The U.S. international played in the U.S.' Gold Cup semifinal win against Jamaica on Wednesday night and figures to start once again on Sunday when the U.S. face off in the final against Mexico.
The return of Moreno from international duty should help United clean up play in the middle of the park, where Olsen used Chris Durkin, Lucas Rodriguez, Leonardo Jara, and Antonio Bustamante in Moreno's place.
Despite some struggles recently picking up wins, United come into Thursday's games tied for second-best in goals conceded in 2019. Bill Hamid is tied with Brad Guzan for the most clean sheets in the league this year, with both stoppers having eight each.
Predicted D.C. United Lineup: Bill Hamid, Marqinhos Pedroso, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara, Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse, Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Ulises Segura, Wayne Rooney