WASHINGTON–D.C. United needs to win games.
United hosts the Colorado Rapids Saturday just three days after a loss to rival New York Red Bulls.
United looked to the opening of Audi Field as a late season boost after a string of far-and-wide road games. The Black-and-Red secured a convincing win against an average Vancouver Whitecaps with the help of Wayne Rooney but dropped two consecutive games since the win.
United (3-9-5) consecutively faced two top performing teams in the East in Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls.
“We’ve played [New York] and Atlanta in the last two games, two pretty good teams,” Olsen said. “There’s some urgency here, but also sometimes you have to tip your hat a little bit to the other team.”
Although Colorado (4-11-5) has played three more games than United this season, the Rapids find themselves among the worst teams in the league. Both clubs are coming off matches affected by rain delays against rivals.
The Rapids were down 2-0 in the first 20 minutes of last week’s installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup against Real Salt Lake. Colorado used the 45-minute delay in the first half to regroup and ended the match in a 2-2 draw.
How to watch
What: D.C. United vs Colorado Rapids
Where: Audi Field – Washington, DC
When: Saturday, July 28 at 8 p.m. ET
Predicted Starting XI: Steve Clark; Joseph Mora, Frédéric Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Oniel Fisher; Russell Canouse, Yamil Asad, Luciano Acosta, Ian Harkes, Zoltan Stieber; Wayne Rooney
Oh Captain, My Captain
Olsen officially handed Rooney the title of captain Thursday, a D.C. United team representative told Pro Soccer USA Friday. The honor is not something Olsen assigned to any player this season until this week.
This season, defender Steve Birnbaum, who was United’s active captain last season, bore the title in the capacity required by MLS.
Before the season started, Olsen refused to name a captain.
“It’s a little overblown, this captain thing,” Olsen said, adding in jest, “I’m the captain!”
Rooney has the right resumé and respect from the other players to don the captain’s armband, Olsen told Steven Goff of the Washington Post.
Rotations ruled by minutes
United is slowly returning to full strength after several players fell under the injury bug. Defender Russell Canouse and midfielder Ulises Segura are finally available for selection.
Canouse played minutes in United’s last three matches, while Segura made his way back to the pitch in the mach against the Red Bulls. Canouse played 23 minutes Wednesday, the most minutes he has seen all season.
“Certainly there will be some fresh bodies on the field. It was good to see [Canouse] in there,” Olsen said after Canouse’s minutes against the Red Bulls. “He won more tackles in that second half than our whole team combined in the first half. That’s a little bit of what we need right now.”
Because the club plays three games in the span of a week, United will make minor changes to the lineup this weekend, including a potential first start of the season for Canouse.
United will also be without midfielder Paul Arriola due to yellow card accumulation.
“For the first time, I think, this season, we are going to have to start to rely on depth,” Olsen said. “Not through injury, but through minutes and managing that.”