Our podcast should be up sometime before the Open Cup where we preview the game in depth (and get a little silly of course). I thought I'd throw in some thoughts after watching DC United's last game against the Montreal Impact. Most notably Dwayne De Rosario looks healthy and good to go. He was particularly spry in the first half. Linking well with Luis Silva and being a pest in general. Rosario played as the upfront striker most of the time. He would dip back into the midfield to collect and create as well. Reminded me of Blanco's role with the Fire in 2009. DC's defensive midfield was stout against Montreal allowing Rosario to be so offensively adventurous. De Rosario is more of a defensive liability these days. He still is worth every penny offensively. DC finding a way to make the most of his talents while hiding him on defense is solid tactics.
Joe Willis was very solid in goal. Made several good saves. Ben Olsen is going to reward Willis with the start on Wednesday as he has been in goal for all US Open cup games so far. It is a fine decision as Bill Hamid didn't see any time during the Gold Cup.
When Montreal was able to attack the DC back line with speed they were able to succeed. In particular a nicely worked one two between Jeb Brovsky and Davy Arnaud (fantastic flick from Arnaud) allowed Montreal to score. One would expect the Fire's speedy attack to continue to cause the DC defense the same issues it did in the last two times the teams faced off. In particular the counter attack is a weapon that DC doesn't handle well. For whatever reason the Montreal counter attack was slow to develop the chances that they did have were snuffed out by Willis or were just bad shots. Marco Di Vaio in particular had a chance that you would expect him to score on.
John Thorrington was rested with quad tightness. The rest of the familiar names not in the DC United line up were out with injury. DC has had a terrible time with injuries this year. This allowed them to play some of their newly acquired kids. Conor Doyle (American on loan from Derby County) and Colin Martin (Academy product who made his debut against Montreal) both came in as subs and played quite well. Doyle notably netting the game winner. Jared Jeffrey (acquired via a waiver draft on July 3rd, he previously played with the Mainz reserves) started, played the full ninety, and scored. Other things of note: Nick DeLeon looked good for the first time this season. He had an incredible shot attempt saved by Troy Perkins. United was able to sub off DeLeon, De Rosario and Silva to rest them for Wednesday.
I expect this game to be a war. Neither squad is going to back down. You know that DC sees this as a chance for redemption for their historically horrid season (seriously they just won their third league game of the year). While the Fire have made the Open Cup a priority this season. Looking to win number five. This isn't the same DC United team the Fire beat up a few short weeks ago. De Rosario is back, Luis Silva has a goal streak going, and some young kids are making the most of their so far limited opportunities. Defensively they are still the same but if Saturday was any indication it looks like they are starting to be able to hold their own again.
I'm thinking the Fire will win in a nervy, tension filled showdown 2-1 in extra time. See you at the match tonight.