Preview: D.C. United (a).
When? Sunday July 31 2 p.m. PT, 5 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. BST.
Where? Audi Field, Washington D.C.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on MLS Live via ESPN+ and DAZN for residents of North America. Fox 35 Plus and LionNation TV for residents of Central Florida. The game will also be on radio locally via 96.9 The Game and Accion 97.9 FM. The game will be broadcast on Sky Sports Football for us UK folk.
Orlando City head to the Capitol with one thing in mind: revenge. The Lion's 5-3 humbling at Exploria Stadium recently has left a bitter taste in the mouth for many supporters. Factor in the added caveat that Wayne Rooney is now in charge of D.C... Again, revenge is going to be the order of the day Orlando City.
The midweek dismantling of the New York Red Bulls, in the US Open Cup semi-final, couldn't have come at a better time. Results, and performances, have been patchy lately. Questions were starting to be asked by many in relation to Oscar Pareja's leadership. The reaching of the club's first ever major championship final has certainly lifted spirits around the club, and undoubtedly given Oscar Pareja some respite.
Wayne Rooney has haunted us in the past, but it's time for us to correct that narrative. Rooney is looking to take his coaching career to the next level, having almost kept the absolute mess that was Derby County Football Club in the EFL Championship last season. This was a bigger achievement than some would have you believe. To even have a fighting chance, when on -21 points, and when the club is a shambles off the field. Relegation was a fate that Derby deserved though and now Rooney is moving up in the world by turning his hand to MLS, at a club that he served so well as a player.
I'm not going to go into much detail here, because I feel like it's difficult to predict how they're going to approach this game, given that it's Wayne Rooney's first match in charge. I think he'll pick the same XI that played in their last match. However, I expect they will be more organized defensively with a compact structure that suits the 4-2-3-1 they often used before Rooney's appointment.
At Derby County, Rooney set his team up to be hard to beat, whilst having a sprinkling of quality in forward areas. They would often try to keep things tight, whilst using a possession based style; they averaged 51.2% possession and ranked 8th for completed passes per match in the 24 team Championship with 334.2 successful passes per game. Ravel Morrison was central to their attacking output with 4 assists and 36 chances created across 25 starts and 11 substitute appearances. I can see Taxi Fountas also being central to Rooney's set-up in that CAM role, much like Tom Lawrence was for Derby. Based off of Rooney's set up at Derby, and given D.C.'s current league position, I can see this being the way they approach the game against Orlando City.
D.C. United are without Adrian Perez, Bill Hamid and Brad Smith due to injury. Ravel Morrison will be available for selection, following the receipt of his visa documents.
Orlando City, on the other hand, are definitely without Mason Stajduhar and Joey Dezart. through injury. Ivan Angulo isn't expected to be available at this stage.
This section will be updated as new information becomes available.
Possible starting XI
They were much improved last weekend, against CF Montréal, so I'm not sure they will change that much this time out. I think they'll name an unchanged team, in their preferred 4-2-3-1 with Ravel Morrison coming off the bench at some point:
Orlando City supporters need precious little introduction here following the Greek attacker's explosive hattrick at Exploria Stadium. The former Rapid Wien man has 10 goals and 1 assist through 11 MLs starts and 2 substitute appearances. Orlando City will have to do a better job of tracking his runs from deep, than they did a few weeks ago. Has been a rare bright spot in a difficult season for manager Wayne Rooney's new club.
Many in D.C. were hoping there 5-3 win over us would act as a catalyst to turn their fork around. So far it hasn't worked out that way; 3 defeats in 4 MLS outings have followed that game (including the 7-0 loss to Philadelphia). Add to that, a 6-2 defeat to German giants FC Bayern München in a friendly, and it's 4 defeats in 5. Currently, D.C. sit bottom of the east on a 5-3-12 record.
Orlando City, until the defeat of the Red Bulls, had been in rotten form themselves. A run of 1 win in 4, has put their seemingly nailed on play-off place in real jeopardy. Orlando are currently 8-6-8 and sit 5th in the east.
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com.
Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com.