After a busy week in the transfer market, D.C. United will look to get their focus back on the field, when they host the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday evening at Audi Field, in Washington, D.C. It will be the only regular season match up in MLS between United's Wayne Rooney and the Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, two of the more prolific goal scorers in soccer over the past 10 to 15 years.
Kickoff is set for just after 7:30 PM ET, and will be shown on tv on FS1.
A week ago, United suffered their worst ever loss at Buzzard Point, when they fell 5-1 on national tv to the Philadelphia Union. It was a big game for the Black-and-Red, who could have moved to a tie atop the Eastern Conference standings. Instead, Chris Durkin injured his foot, and Junior Moreno got a red card, as United's playoff push over the final 10 games of the season didn't get off to a great start.
Then came the news that Wayne Rooney would head back to England at the end of the season, ending his stay with United after a season and a half. Then came a flurry of moves for United in the other direction, as the club brought in Ola Kamara, Felipe Martins, and Ema Boateng, looking to curb the recent run of results.
Kamara was brought in from China on a transfer and does not appear to be eligible to play against the Galaxy, who he scored 14 goals for in 2018. However, both Felipe and Martins could play some part against LA, making their club debuts shortly after arriving in the city.
Felipe, in particular, might be in line for a start on Sunday evening, given the options that will be absent at the defensive midfield positions. Durkin will likely be out for the month of August, along with Russell Canouse, who suffered a collapsed lung at the end of July against the Chicago Fire. In addition, Moreno picked up a first-half red card against the Union, conceding a penalty during a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.
That left United with no natural defensive midfielders for the game against the Galaxy, before United brought in Felipe, who has been a thorn in the side of the Black-and-Red in eight seasons in MLS. Boateng could start in his debut as well but might be a substitute instead, capable of spelling either Paul Arriola or Lucas Rodriguez on either wing.
With Felipe the only everyday defensive midfield option available, head coach Ben Olsen might be forced in a slight formation change, having used a three man back line with two defensive midfielders over the past five games.
Like United, LA comes into the game in 5th place in their conference, having recently been as high as second place. Last month, an emotional 3-2 win over city rivals LAFC seemed to set the Galaxy on course, but they've dropped their past two league games, losing 4-0 to the Portland Timbers, and 3-0 to Atlanta United, both on the road.
With 16 goals this year, Zlatan is third in the league, behind Carlos Vela's 22 and Josef Martinez's 18. His former Manchester United teammate, Rooney, is tied for fifth in the league with 11 goals. The pair spent part of the 2000s and 2010s competing with each other on the field in European competitions, both for club and country, before becoming teammates in 2016.
Tonight's game marks the Galaxy's first visit to United's second-year stadium. In 2018, just before the arrival of Rooney, the two MLS originals played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Dignity Health Sports Park, with the visitors climbing out of a two-goal deficit to earn a point.
Predicted D.C. United Lineup (4-1-4-1): Bill Hamid, Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara, Felipe Martins, Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura, Wayne Rooney