On the birthday of the United States of America, Orlando City will welcome the team from our nation’s capital to Exploria Stadium. D.C. United will visit the City Beautiful for the first of two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference sides during the 2022 Major League Soccer season, with Orlando headed to Audi Field at the end of July.
To get up to speed on the Lions’ next visitors, I spoke to Sarah Kallassy, managing editor of SBNation’s Black and Red United. Sarah was kind enough to help us get caught up on D.C. ahead of Monday’s visit.
One of the big stories of D.C.’s off-season was sending Paul Arriola to FC Dallas. How has D.C. replaced the USMNT winger in the lineup?
Sarah Kallassy: Paul Arriola really hasn’t been replaced in a 1-1 way yet (at least in my opinion). Players like Andy Najar have been able to come in and be difference makers, and the offense has begun to build around Taxi Fountas and Ola Kamara (and at times Estrada), but as for a true replacement, we will hope to see one soon!
A few of the notable names to join D.C. this year are Taxi Fountas, Chris Durkin, and Brad Smith. How have they looked so far, slotting into the team?
SK: Taxi Fountas has certainly been an impact player for D.C. United. Although he joined the team after the start of the season (and (former coach) Hernan Losada’s departure) he has been able to connect with any number of players on the field to create scoring opportunities.
Chris Durkin definitely grew as a player during his loan and the maturity of play shows. He has put in some very impressive minutes so far!
Brad Smith is a great player and has worked hard to integrate with the Black-and-Red’s style of play. The recent stretch has been hard on everyone though, so we are looking to see more from Smith as the season progresses.
Chad Ashton is currently interim head coach after D.C. moved on from Hernan Losada. How does the team look stylistically under his direction compared to Losada’s style of play?
SK: D.C. United are still working to play the same high-press style that Losada implemented, but are suffering from a lot of the same issues that have plagued the team all season long. Set pieces and clinical finishing continue to cause trouble for the Black-and Red.
Are there any players who will be unavailable due to injuries, suspensions, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
SK: This is hard to say until training (Saturday). We are looking forward to seeing who is officially available. The most recent availability list (to be taken with a grain of salt) is:
Out: Adrien Perez (foot), Moses Nyeman (thigh), Chris Odoi-Atsem (ankle), Theodore Ku-Dipietro (thigh), Jacob Greene (thigh), Hayden Sargis (illness).
Questionable: Bill Hamid (illness), Russell Canouse (thigh).
[Note: No score prediction or lineup was provided.]
Thank you to Sarah for helping re-familiarize ourselves with the new-look D.C. United squad ahead of Monday’s league match-up. Vamos Orlando and happy Independence Day!