• Dan Berridge

Preview: D.C. United (h).

Updated: Jul 4

When? Monday July, 4, 4 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. ET and midnight BST (5/7).

Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.

How can I catch the action? MLS Live on ESPN+ and DAZN for residents of North America. The game is being broadcast on Fox 35 Plus and LionNation TV for residents of Central Florida. Radio commentary is available on 96.9 The Game and Accion 97.9. The game is scheduled for broadcast on FreeSports in the UK (Sky channel 422) and via the FreeSports app & website.


After the highs of the US Open Cup triumph over Nashville, it will be important for Orlando to get back to winning ways against D.C. United. This is not a game that Orlando can afford to drop points in. They're currently delicately poised in terms of the eastern conference standings, so it's important to ensure we keep pace with the leaders.


It's also important to acknowledge D.C.'s position in the standings. The Capitol club are currently dead last in the east, although I feel like their position is a disingenuous one. They have a better squad than their position suggests, so this won't be a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination. I was going to shoehorn a Ms. Marvel reference in here, after the word 'stretch' but I khan't seem to do it. OK, that was bad, even by my standards.



D.C. United's style


D.C. United have struggled so far this season. Head coach Hernan Posada was ousted early doors, and Chad Ashton has been tinkering to try and find the most appropriate set up for this roster. Despite that fact, certain facets of their play remain. D.C. like to try and attack down the sides (figure 1) particularly with the likes of Julian Gressel and Brad Smith on the left and the right (figure 2). D.C. hit an average of 19 crosses per game.


They're a team that likes to hit their opponents in transition. They're not afraid to let the opposition have the ball; D.C. averages 47.2% of the ball, which is the 20th lowest average in MLS. The trouble is... They haven't been particularly good at winning the ball; they're ranked 21st in terms of successful tackles per match, with 8.2. Their pass success rate is one of the worst in MLS too.


It's hard to pinpoint exactly what has gone wrong at Audi Field. Still, this is a team that shouldn't be underestimated at all. They have good players like Taxiarchis Fountas and Julian Gressel who can hurt anyone on their day.


Figure 1 shows D.C.'s attacking sides on the season so far.


Figure 2 shows Julian Gressel's and Brad Smith's heatmap from their last game Vs Nashville.



Team news


D.C. United have been beset by injuries of late. Adrien Perez, Moses Nyeman, Chris Adoi-Atsem, Theodore Ku-Dipietro, Jacob Greene and Hayden Sargis are all listed as out. There are doubts over Bill Hamid and Russell Canouse too. Andy Najar is also suspended. Edison Flores this week departed the club.


As for Orlando City, Mason Stajduhar is out and Michael Halliday is still away on international duty.


Edit 7/4 Joao Moutinho is listed as questionable.


This section will be updated as new information becomes available.


Possible starting XI


D.C. tend to employ a wing-backs system, than can either look like a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2. Orlando have struggled against front 3s in the past, so I can see them going with the 3-4-3 and having a go at this game. They need a win. I think they'll line-up something like this:





Top player


Taxiarchis Fountas



The Greek attacker has hit the ground running so far in MLS; he's scored 6 goals and assisted 1 in 649 minutes of action so far. The winter signing from Rapid Wien is a full Greek international, who looks set to play his way back into the national team reckoning, having been out of the squad since September 2021. Fountas is currently massively outperforming his XG of 3.5, but that's hardly surprising with 58% of his shots being on frame so far this season. Of the 6 goals scored so far, 5 have come inside the box, which speaks to how clinical he is in the 18 yard box.


Form


It's not being unkind to say that D.C. United are in terrible form right now. They've won none of their last 7 games, losing 5 of them. They currently sit bottom of the east and the Supporters Shield with a 4-2-9 record.


Orlando City, aren't exactly in stellar form, winning 1 of their last 6 in MLS. Their recent US Open Cup triumph should give them a little bit of a boost. Orlando are 5th and sat on a 7-4-6 record.

*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com and whoscored.com.

Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com