Scouting Report: D.C. United

United clinging to final Eastern Conference playoff spot

D.C. United team

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

You might as well throw out the records when Philadelphia plays DC United.

Thursday's nationally televised matchup will be the 9th meeting between the "I-95 rivals". It was only four weeks ago that three players were red carded in a chippy 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium. Dwayne De Rosario missed a late penalty retake, after Hamdi Salihi was judged to have encroached on the original spot kick.

Ben Olsen's team recently ended a 3 game winless streak with a 2-1 home result against New England. United now occupy the final playoff spot in the East, with 44 points and a 13-10-5 record.

Philadelphia is 1-1-1 against DC this season. The Union are 3-3-2 all time against United.

DC Attack

DC will play the rest of the season without their captain, the talismanic De Rosario. The 2011 MLS MVP suffered an MCL sprain on national team duty and was ruled out through November. It's a crippling blow to a team that runs on De Rosario's creativity, influence, and playmaking ability.

There is a good plan B in the United ranks though. Branko Boskovic is a capable backup, a quality distributor from the attacking midfield role. He's likely to start for the rest of the year.

The forward position has seen a bit of a shuffle recently, with former Union striker Lionard Pajoy getting regular starts up top. Maicon Santos, who started 2012 on a tear, is again available after dealing with injury throughout the Summer.

DC also has Albania international Hamdi Salihi available, along with midseason acquisition Long Tan.

DC Defense

The biggest change on the DC backline is the unique insertion of Andy Najar at right fullback. The Honduras international has played most of his career as a right sided midfielder, but his move to right back allows him to bomb forward on the flanks with Nick Deleon in front of him. The switch allows Olsen to put Chris Pontius at left midfield, with Deleon on the right and Najar on the backline. That's three danger men on the field at the same time.

You'll see any combination of Emiliano Dudar, Brandon McDonald, and Dejan Jakovic at central defense. Jakovic and McDonald was the pairing used against New England.

Starting left back Daniel Woolard remains inactive with concussion symptons, so look for Chris Korb on that side of the defense.

Bill Hamid will start in goal, with Joe Willis on the bench.

Notes

Michael Farfan will not play in this game. The Union midfielder is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

DC was outshot by New England last week, 28 to 12. Despite the lopsided numbers, United managed 7 shots on goal while the Revolution were on frame just 6 times. United blocked 10 shots.

DC played fewer passes and had less possession at RFK Stadium, but still came back from a one goal deficit to win.

Last week, defender Robbie Russell returned to action for the first time since July 15th. The veteran played 7 minutes after coming off of plantar fasciitis surgery. Maicon Santos' start was his first since mid-July.