Feature photo courtesy of Tony Quinn.
D.C. United will once again deal with a roster adjustment Sunday night when the club hosts NYCFC at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
Both United and NYCFC are struggling to find a winning streak. NYCFC is coming into Sunday’s game with a 2-3-4 record. The club ended a seven-game winless streak last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps. United has recorded two wins this season both in convincing shutouts at home—a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps and 3-0 win over the New England Revolution.
Former Junventus and AC Milan star Andrea Pirlo will once again anchor NYCFC’s midfield with Spanish national team member David Villa leading the offense. Here is last week’s MLS Instagram post of Pirlo’s rocket set piece.
While United attempts to find a rhythm heading into the long summer months of the MLS season, yet another change in the starting lineup slashes the club’s search for consistency.
Forward Chris Rolfe will miss his first game of the season Sunday due to a MLS suspension for a hit he committed in a draw with the Chicago Fire last Saturday. The MLS described the hit as “serious foul play that endangered the safety of an opponent on a tackle against midfielder Nick LaBrocca in the 46th minute.” In addition to his one game suspension, Rolfe will be fined an undisclosed amount.
Although he has played more than 60 minutes in each of United’s nine games this season, Rolfe has yet to record an assist or a goal.
“We have to start to be a little bit smarter about that stuff because we have a few guys out this year and we need everybody,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “Once we saw the footage, it was somewhat clear [that the play was a foul].”
Meanwhile, teammate Patrick Nyarko recorded his second goal of the season off yet another header, this time crossed in by Luciano Acosta. Acosta started Friday’s match up top with Álvaro Saborío and was a key piece in the draw.
“The way we played, it wasn’t [Acosta] playing with Sabo. It was more [Acosta] playing with Rolfe and Jared [Jeffery],” Olsen said. “I thought [Acosta] looked very comfortable in that role … I thought it was his best performance to date.”
Acosta’s assist to Nyarko tied the match and United returned home Saturday evening with one point in the standings after a rough and rainy match in Chicago. Nyarko has been a pleasant constant for the club, with suspensions and injuries causing a series of minor changes in the lineup.
“[Nyarko] is putting himself in good spots, he is brave in the box,” Olsen said. “He has been as bright of a spot as a player as we have had all year: [he is the] most consistent and it has been a big move for us.”
— D.C. United (@dcunited) May 3, 2016
Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas and Nick DeLeon will return to United’s lineup Sunday. Sarvas was suspended from Saturday’s game in Chicago due to an accumulation of five yellow cards this season. Sarvas also missed a game earlier this season for receiving two yellow cards in the same game, which resulted in a red card and a suspension for the following game.
DeLeon missed United’s match against the Fire due to flu-like symptoms. Olsen said DeLeon is expected to be back this weekend.
“Nick [DeLeon] is back in training and he looks fine as well” Olsen said. “He just has to manage his energy levels. He shouldn’t have any issues.”
Fabian Espindola is a possibility for United’s lineup, especially with Rolfe’s suspension. Espindola missed United’s game against the Fire after mildly straining his hamstring in United’s 3-0 win over the New England Revolution. Espindola participated in a light practice earlier this week.
“On Friday we will get back with everyone and we are optimistic that [Espindola] will train full out on Friday,” Olsen said. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t be available for the weekend.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 8. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Follow along with The Left Bench’s live game blog.
This weekend United will celebrate Mother’s Day by honoring women in sports. 1999 World Cup Champion goalkeeper Briana Scurry will be in attendance.
— D.C. United (@dcunited) May 6, 2016
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