D.C. United look to end their three-game league homestand with a victory tonight against the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids in a match laden with significance not only for United -- who can climb as high as second place in the Eastern Conference with a win and favorable results elsewhere -- but for striker Charlie Davies and midfielder Dax McCarty. The two will perform tonight under the watchful eye of U.S. National Team Manager Bob Bradley, who is in the process of deciding his final roster for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup and is taking advantage of his last chance to see Davies and McCarty in person before the May 21 deadline.
Colorado Rapids (4-3-2) at D.C. United (3-4-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 14.
Place: RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
TV: CSN (That's right, folks, D.C. United is back on local TV! Cue the music!)
Team News and Tactics
D.C. United: Ben Olsen's had the luxury of fielding a pretty settled team for the last couple matches, and he's been spared a selection headache tonight with the news that Andy Najar has been cleared to play after suffering a bruised foot in last week's 0-0 draw against FC Dallas. Kurt Morsink (concussion) was taken off the club's injured list this week, according to Steven Goff. Though Morsink probably won't return to action tonight, his comeback would be a vital boost to United, who are expected to lose at least Dejan Jakovic and Andy Najar to Gold Cup duty in June. Expect Olsen to return to the partnership of Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff up front after Joseph Ngwenya started in the latter's place against FC Dallas. Look for the back line of Daniel Woolard, Jakovic, Ethan White and Perry Kitchen to remain intact from last week, with either Stephen King or Clyde Simms partnering McCarty in midfield.
Colorado: The Rapids extended their unbeaten streak to four games last Saturday by holding out for a goalless draw at New England. Striker Conor Casey (pulled hamstring) is set to return against United, while fellow forward Omar Cummings (sprained ankle) is expected to miss his second straight match. Caleb Folan had to leave the New England match after just half an hour with a groin strain, and he won't be available tonight, either. Look for Quincy Amarikwa to partner Casey up front (If Casey cannot go or has to be subbed, look for Andre Akpan to take his place. In right midfield, watch for Sanna Nyassi to get the starting nod over Wells Thompson, while Colorado coach Gary Smith will likely pair Marvell Wynne and Drew moor at the center-back position.
Key to the Game
Be Physical and Disrupt Colorado's Attack: United has been on the end of a fair few hidings this season, including a 4-1 loss to the Rapids at Colorado back on April 3. But since then, United and Colorado have gone in opposite directions, especially when it comes to health. Kitchen and Jakovic (as well as Davies) were absent from the April bloodletting, and United's back line has grown in confidence and cohesion. With Casey likely making his return from injury tonight, the United defenders shouldn't hesitate to be physical with him and make the former U.S. international test his recovering muscles.