Things just don’t get easier for DC United, they’ve started the season with many injuries and suffered a key injury in last weekend’s match against the Galaxy. Centre back Steven Birnbaum is reported to be out four to six weeks. Which means Kofi Opare must be that rock next to captain Bobby Boswell at the back of the formation, Opare did a solid job last week in filling in for Birnbaum against the tall, physical forwards of Los Angeles. It’ll be a bit different tonight as they face one of the most skilled players in the world who will be trying to penetrate that back line and cause all types of havoc.
Orlando comes into this game at 1-1-2, they have yet to win a game at home and are looking to make that happen against United tonight. It’s more than just KaKa up front that DC has to worry about, as his partner in crime Pedro Ribeiro deserves some attention as well. To give an idea of how skilled this team is, they have been fouled the most in the entire league and we’re less than five games in.
Head coach Adrian Heath has a healthy respect for the Black-and-Red, as he’s very aware of how quickly they turned things around in the last two years.
“D.C. are a really experienced team. They have five or six players over 30 years of age who know the league inside and out. I watched their game against LA and I thought that we match up quite well in certain areas. We know that it’s going to be difficult, we know that we’ll have to play well to get a result, but I honestly think that we can go and get a win on Friday.”
So while he appreciates what makes the Black-and-Red tick, he feels confident in his bunch securing a result. A win would vault Orlando from their current fourth place in the standings to second (DC’s current spot).
As for United, they should reference their recent bout against a top notch forward. When they played the Red Bulls and Bradley Wright-Phillips owned that third of the field. Not to slight Wright-Phillips in the slightest, but this is Kaka we’re talking about. The 1v1 challenges will be pivotal as United has shown in this young season that they can play clean and physical and they will be tested mightily tonight.
The Black-and-Red must continue to build off their recent win over the Galaxy, as Nick DeLeon mentioned after the game, United is a “counter-attacking” team. They will need to be sharp in that regard tonight, every time they are able to get a stop they must attack. Attack with the same vigor as they did in stoppage time against the Galaxy. There was no over thinking, no over passing on that possession. Just solid decisions by all parties involved in the play, it resulted in a goal. They might need a couple to find the back of the net tonight in Orlando as they can score in bunches.
Keys to the game
- Challenge the player with the ball, hesitation could get you beat and beat badly against this type of skill
- Come out the aggressor on the offensive end, the more time the ball spends on Orlando’s box, the less that KaKa and Ribeiro have the ball
- No over passing, take shots if they are there. An issue DC has had this season, seem to wait for the ‘perfect’ opportunity
- Keep shape on the back line, they can’t afford to be off the same page once. Again, reference the Red Bulls game
- Get the ball out wide more, several times last game DC would ‘switch’ the ball with several passes versus just one. Put more pressure on the defense
- Limit Kaka’s touches, he plays a monstrous role in all they do