More than a month has passed since D.C. United (9-5-3) last played at RFK Stadium, a 3-2 win over the New England Revolution on May 26. After tonight’s match against the Montreal Impact (5-9-3), United won’t return home for another month, when they face Paris Saint-Germain in a July 28 friendly and then the Columbus Crew in an MLS match Aug. 4.
It’s an unfortunate development for United, who have been superb at home this season, compiling a 6-1-2 record and five-game winning streak en route to a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference. The team’s renewed efficiency at RFK is the focus of my print edition story that ran Thursday.
If you’re going to the game, be prepared to take on the heat — temperatures around kickoff (7:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet) should be in the mid-90s.
“You have to curb the minutes you’re out there, [have] more rest in between bouts of training, a lot of agua,” coach Ben Olsen said Friday after a morning training session in similar heat. “You have to kind of go through it because you’re going to be in game situations where you better have your body adapted to the heat.”
So how did Olsen handle such conditions during his playing career?
“I wasn’t very good in the heat,” he said. “Once it got about 90, 95, I pulled an imaginary hamstring.”
The man to watch on Montreal will be newly signed designated player Marco Di Vaio, who debuted with 55 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Toronto FC on Wednesday. The 35-year-old Italian striker has played for clubs including Parma, Juventus, Valencia and Bologna.
The Impact grabbed a 1-1 draw in Washington on April 18, making them the last team United dropped points to at home. Montreal will be without striker Bernardo Corradi (four goals) after he tore his ACL earlier this month and midfielder Patrice Bernier (three goals, five assists), who was suspended one game for a reckless tackle in his side’s loss to Toronto.
Here is my guess at the starting 11 Olsen will roll out tonight:
Hamid; Russell, Jakovic, Dudar, Woolard; Cruz, Kitchen, Boskovic, DeLeon; De Rosario, Pontius
Brandon McDonald has been a rock in the back for United this season, but after United’s defense was exposed in a 3-2 loss at New York last weekend, Olsen could insert Emiliano Dudar, who hasn’t played in a league match since straining his hamstring in a 3-2 win over Houston on April 28. While Dejan Jakovic could also make way for Dudar, the Canada international has been sharp of late.
With Branko Boskovic, the proud owner of a new contract, seemingly on his way back into the lineup, look for Dwayne De Rosario to slide up top. Although Olsen could start Maicon Santos by shifting Chris Pontius to left midfield and sitting Nick DeLeon, I think Pontius (a career-high eight goals, including two last weekend) is considered a forward for the foreseeable future.