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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
Marking the longest break they’ve gotten in between games since the MLS season, the Union will travel down to Washington D.C. to take on DC United. It’ll be a battle of midfields as the Union look to move up further in the Eastern Conference standings.
After losing to NYCFC a little less than a month ago, the Union have outscored their opponents 5-2 and have maintained a record of 2-0-2. They’ve boasted a solid line of defense in goalkeeper Andre Blake, along with a back four of Olivier Mbaizo, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, and Kai Wagner, not to mention an excellent offensive record thanks to Kacper Przybylko and Cory Burke.
It sounds like an easy enough win, considering the fact that United are currently struggling with numerous injuries and less-than-ideal form in the league, but the truth is that there are no easy games in MLS. However, the Union are not without drawbacks of their own—they still have yet to establish consistent form and a real sense of identity in the league.
There are upsides for the Union, though. Defensive midfielder Jose Martinez is finally back from his league suspension, which gives Jim Curtin more depth in midfield. While the midfield certainly hasn’t been lacking in terms of performance and productivity, it would do wonders if Martinez returned to the defensive midfield position, allowing Jamiro Monteiro to move back into his natural position in the attack, and allow for Curtin to experiment more with the placements of Leon Flach and Anthony Fontana.
Martinez being eligible for the lineup couldn’t have come at a better time, seeing as United have started employing a 3-5-2 formation, making midfield their strong suit. With Kacper Przybylko’s questionable fitness for this game and Sergio Santos still trying to find the back of the net more reliably, much of the responsibility for generating offense and ultimately scoring goals will fall on the shoulders of the midfield for this game.
Predicted Lineup: Blake, Mbaizo, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner, Martinez, Flach, Monteiro, Santos, Burke
Score Prediction: The midfield will be where the action happens, but the Union’s offense against DC’s recent defensive record will see the Boys In Blue come out on top. It won’t be a goalfest, but the Union will come away with a comfortable 3-1 win.