WASHINGTON — Energized from a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy last week, D.C. United (10-7-9) has new options in the attack for its lineup against a struggling Vancouver Whitecaps (5-12-9).
United is relying on that new blood and depth to get through playing four of the next five games on the road.
“The team has a lot of options, and that is a healthy thing from a competitive standpoint,”coach Ben Olsen said. “It can be a little bit of a headache for the coach sometimes, but those are good headaches.”
One of the standout players for United against LA on Sunday was two-way midfielder Felipe Martins, who joined D.C. from Vancouver in the secondary transfer window.
Felipe lined up in the central midfield position against LA, next to Leonardo Jara, a typical right back who was filling in as part of a makeshift D.C. lineup due to injuries to Russell Canouse and Chris Durkin. Defensive midfielder Junior Moreno was on a red card suspension last week, but is available against Vancouver.
“Felipe understands the moments in the game,” Olsen said. “To be a winner you have to be able to adapt within the game. He has been through enough games and is savvy enough to understand those moments but also understands the players around him and what they need to do for the group in the moment to have success.”
United’s other new recruits, midfielder Emmanuel Boateng and forward Ola Kamara will be available against the Whitecaps as well. Boateng was on the bench for United against the Galaxy. He missed the game against LA because he was stuck in Toronto waiting for his visa papers to be finalized.
“It was a 24-hour flight from Hong Kong to here. I was here a couple of days and then I went to Toronto trying to get the visa” Kamara said. “I wanted to see the guys and come and play and try to score against LA, too. It was of course disappointing not to get it on Friday, but as we won the game it is all good.”
Kamara previously obtained a Green Card while playing for the Galaxy in 2018, but surrendered it while signing a contract with Chinese Super League side Shenzhen.
“I wrote a contract that was two to three years, so then I had to surrender my Green Card,” Kamara said. “I didn’t even know if I would be back in the U.S., so it didn’t make sense to have it.”
Before his time at Shenzhen, Kamara was with the Galaxy and Columbus Crew. He scored 14 goals and recorded three assists in 2018 for LA.
“I know the league well since I have been here for a long time,” Kamara said. “I see opportunities to get chances and try to score goals. That is my mindset that I am coming here and trying to contribute to the team.”
The striker adds another option at forward alongside Wayne Rooney, who could make his first appearance following the announcement that he will leave the team at the end of the year to join English Championship side Derby County as a player-coach. Rooney missed the match against LA with a respiratory illness, but will be available for United against Vancouver. He could lineup as the lone striker, which is how United has played most of this season, or he could play alongside Kamara in a two-forward formation.
“I am happy to get last week out of the way,” Rooney told Pro Soccer USA. “There are no more words to say on it. Everyone knows what the situation is. I just look forward to getting back on the pitch.”
When: Saturday, Aug. 17 at 10:00 p.m. ET
Where: BC Place, Vancouver
Streaming: FloSports, ESPN+ (Subject to location based blackouts)