The Black-and-Red are coming off a hard earned draw on the road last week in Houston. Bill Hamid was sensational in the last two minutes, coming up with back-to-back highlight worthy saves. They’ll be facing the New England Revolution tomorrow even more short handed than usual. D.C. United has struggled to field a full 18 in the last couple of matches, against Houston they had two keepers amongst the players on the bench just to get to 18. Things got worse this week as Bobby Boswell was suspended for a match and fined from action during the game against the Dynamo.
In the 28th minute of the match, Boswell appeared to have kneed Will Bruin in the lower back. He was issued a yellow card during the match, but upon further review the decision was made to suspend him. The MLS Disciplinary Committee was all in one accord as a unanimous vote is required in these cases, to choose to punish Boswell even further. Bobby has been a mainstay at centre back, rarely missing games.
His absence only makes a difficult situation worse as D.C. United is struggling to field a full 18. Injuries have kept Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko out for a few weeks now. Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio returned to practice earlier this week, while Miguel Aguilar is out with a hamstring injury., Ordinarily the absence of Boswell wouldn’t hurt as much because of Steven Birnbaum and Kofi Opare. That’s not the case as Birnbaum is with the National team at the moment and they play their third place game in the Copa America tournament on Saturday.
The options are to move Sean Franklin inside and put Luke Mishu in his spot, or to give Jalen Robinson his first career MLS start as Kofi Opare’s partner in the middle. Either way, the bigger worry is fixing an attack that struggles with it’s last pass.
“It’s about trusting in the process and trusting each other out there and these results will come.” – Ben Olsen
In the last two matches, one of which was in the MLS, the pairing of Luciano Acosta and Alhaji Kamara has looked promising. The two young talents could be the key to unlocking the Black-and-Red’s struggles in the final third. It’ll be interesting to see how the forward pairings play out as Fabi and Sabo return to the team. Kamara gives them a legit threat up top and has the speed to match his physicality. Espindola and Saborio know eachother very well and play off each other well too. We’ve also seen the connection that Lucho has with Sabo in stretches, the bottom line is that D.C. United needs to start finishing when given the opportunity.
“He’s a guy that you have to keep your eyes on at all times, especially when the ball goes out wide because he’s so dangerous in the air” – Opare on Kei Kamara
Tomorrow’s match is huge for the home side, D.C. United trails the visiting Revs by two points. To take down New England, the Black-and-Red will have to finish their chances. The Revs already had dangerous players up front, D.C. United will see the new look Revolution for the first time. Kei Kamara of the Columbus Crew was traded earlier this season and he’s a handful, in 13 matches against the Black-and-Red as a member of the Crew, Kamara scored six times.
With Boswell and Birnbaum out, the onus falls on the large shoulders of Kofi Opare. He’ll be the one player on the back line that has the physical presence needed to fight Kei in the air. Their communication will be key as well, New England is a tough team to deal with and three of the four members of the back line will be tying to fit in a player that they haven’t battled with in game conditions.
This is the last home match for the Black-and-Red before heading out on the road, it also wouldn’t be bad to get three points in Ben Olsen’s 100th match coaching.