Orlando City will get its first chance to visit D.C. United’s brand new home, Audi Field, this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. With a pair of 1-1 draws already in the books between the clubs this year (with Orlando advancing on penalties in the U.S. Open Cup), both sides will be looking to break the deadlock.
United will get a chance to show off its newest Designated Player with Wayne Rooney getting his first shot at the Lions. To give us all of the insight into D.C.’s ever-changing squad, Managing Editor Ben Bromley of Black and Red United is back yet again to give us an update.
Wayne Rooney is the latest European star to move stateside. How has the Englishman made an impact in his first month in MLS?
Ben Bromley: Wayne Rooney has already proven that he is a class above regular MLS players. He doesn’t have the speed that he used to, but his passing has been something that you usually don’t see in this league, and he has been a step ahead of everyone else. His presence has also made it easier for Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad, Luciano Acosta, and Zoltan Stieber to create more chances; if not for the woodwork, D.C. United could have scored five goals last week. As his teammates get more and more used to him, hopefully things will continue to click and this team will start rolling.
Audi Field has been in the headlines seemingly all year — for good and bad reasons — but what has been the early response to United’s new home?
BB: The injury to D.C. United Director of Communications Lindsay Simpson was horrible and the construction company and the team need to make that right. The issues between fan groups and the team had been simmering all year on multiples points of contention, but that seems to be slowly calming. As my colleague Jason Anderson said, the opening of Audi Field should have been perfect, and it wasn’t.
All of that said, Audi Field is home. D.C. United has a home in the District of Columbia, something that didn’t seem guaranteed even 18 months ago. The team had been under a cloud of existential dread for over a decade, and now all of that is over. We are exploring our new home, getting to know it, and figuring out its quirks and personality. Its going to be a great place for years to come.
D.C. has been up and down this year. How can the Black and Red find some consistency heading into a crucial, packed stretch of the schedule?
BB: D.C. United’s problems have been mostly on the defensive end, which means that United has turned wins into draws and draws into losses; I think it has the most dropped points from advantageous positions in the league. Its two presumptive starters at fullback are currently injured: Taylor Kemp has not and will not play a game this season, and Nick DeLeon’s return from injury has taken a lot longer than expected. United traded for Vytas at the trade deadline to try and shore up the fullback spot, and the re-signing of Bill Hamid will definitely help as well. But until the team plays consistent defense, it will continue to play up-and-down soccer.
What injuries/suspensions will keep players out this weekend and what is your projected lineup and predicted final score?
BB: Since I mentioned the major injuries above, I’ll jump straight into the lineup.
I think it will be David Ousted; Oniel Fisher, Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Russell Canouse; Zoltan Stieber, Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad; Wayne Rooney.
I think a 2-1 final score to United seems right, taking advantage of starting its big home stand.
Once again we’d like to thank Ben for his time and his thoughts on D.C. United.