After scraping together a much-needed 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on Sunday, D.C. United will look to make it two wins in a row tonight when they travel to Canada to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Black-and-Red haven't won two games in a row since May 4 and May 12, when they took down the Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City in back-to-back games at Audi Field. The win over LA last weekend catapulted United back into third place in the Eastern Conference, despite just three wins in their past 14 games.
The game against the Whitecaps kicks off at 10 PM ET and is available to viewers in the DMV area on FloFC.
Head coach Ben Olsen reverted back to the 4-2-3-1 formation against the Galaxy, after exclusively using three center backs for the previous five games. But with several players missing for the win on Sunday, all the questions heading into this game will be who Olsen will use in the starting lineup.
Wayne Rooney, fresh off his announced move to Derby County, missed the Galaxy game with an illness but is expected to play tonight. Luciano Acosta was available but was an unused substitute, a rare non-appearance for the Argentine playmaker. Ola Kamara, just signed from China, didn't have his work permit in time and was ineligible to play against his former club.
There's a possibility that all three could be inserted into the starting lineup for United's first away game in Vancouver since a 1-0 win back in May 2017. Rooney starting seems to be the safest bet, as United rely on the veteran's goals and assists for much of their production this year. Acosta could also return, and would likely take the place of Ulises Segura, who started out wide against the Galaxy, with Paul Arriola moving inside to take Acosta's place.
Having not played much since moving from LA to China, Kamara still might need some time to regain fitness before being inserted into the starting lineup. And then there's the question of where Kamara might start. Alongside Rooney as a two-striker system? Olsen hasn't used a look like that much over the past couple of seasons.
Kamara also scored 14 goals last year, mainly playing as a winger, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic up top for the Galaxy. It's not his best position, but the Norweigan international showed he's capable of producing goals from there anyway. But United had two pretty good attackers there as well, in Arriola and Lucas Rodriguez.
But for tonight, against the Whitecaps, it seems that if Kamara is used, it will be in a reserve role, while fellow recent signing, Felipe Martins, will get a start at defensive midfielder again, against the team that just traded him to D.C. Martins had a solid outing against the Galaxy in his debut, being paired alongside Leonardo Jara in midfield. Junior Moreno should return to the starting lineup to pair up with Martins, after being suspended for the game against the Galaxy.
Opposite of United tonight is a Vancouver side that sits in 12th place in the Western Conference this year, with just five wins from 26 games. Only expansion side, FC Cincinnati, have fewer points than the 'Caps 24, who are guided by first-year coach Marc Dos Santos. Vancouver has won just two of their last 15 games, having nearly already played themselves out of the playoffs with eight games left in the MLS regular season.
D.C. United Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid, Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara, Junior Moreno, Felipe Martins, Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Wayne Rooney