Adam of SB Nation's D.C. United blog, Black and Red United, answered three questions for RSL Soapbox today in advance of RSL v. DC United on Saturday.
1. Nick Rimando just completed his 100th clean sheet. How's he come along since his D.C. days? Do you ever, you know ... miss him?
Miss him? Sure we miss him - Nicky's great. We miss him more than we miss that other guy went sent your way back in 2007. Rimando's turned into a great keeper, and the guy who made him expendable here thanks to his own MLS GK of the Year crown has since moved to Scandanavia, moved back, been traded to Portland and finally to Montreal. We're pretty happy with our man between the pipes nowadays, though, as Bill Hamid entered the league D.C. United's first ever homegrown player and has turned into a USNMT-caliber player whom I would not recommend trying to hold back.
2. This Marcos Sanchez kid seems like a good option for your side. Here in Salt Lake City, we might better remember him as part of a Tauro FC side that gave us some troubles. Does he play on Saturday, and is he ready to make a difference?
He made his debut for United as a second-half sub in last weekend's 2-0 loss at Houston, entering as a central attacking midfielder/withdrawn forward for John Thorrington, who had been ineffective on the night. Immediately, D.C. started to come back into the game and creating some danger with his passing and movement. I think a lot of fans out here are expecting him to make the starting XI on Saturday, especially with Dwayne De Rosario out and the team in need of more creativity. The question will be whether he takes that central role again in a 4-2-3-1 or whether Ben Olsen runs out something more like a 4-4-2 with Chris Pontius partnering Lionard Pajoy up top and Sanchez playing opposite Nick DeLeon on the outside.
3. You're coming off a 2-0 loss to open the season against Houston. How will DC United respond? Are there any tactical tricks up Ben Olsen's sleeve we should be concerned about? Will the loss of De Rosario start the sounding of death knells already?
No death knells here, though there are always some who see cracks in the sky that portend doom. DeRo is undoubtedly a major part of this side - honestly, he's the guy that makes the attack go when he's in. But D.C. United finished last year on a seven-match unbeaten streak, and all of it came after DeRo's injury on Sept. 11. The trick so far has been minimizing mistakes - which didn't happen in Houston, at least not from the 80' mark on - and finding one or two goals to run out the winners. To that end, Olsen has been much more aggressive in his lineup selection at home than he has on the road, so I'd expect to see John Thorrington moved out of that attacking role - either to the bench or to replace Marcelo Saragosa deeper in midfield - for somebody with a bit more flair going forward. The biggest challenge for United tactically will be to wrest possession away from that hawking midfield RSL has and to keep Kyle Beckerman from having too much time to cycle the ball around the middle of the park. If D.C. can do that, I like our chances.