Five-a-side: illumination for tonight’s DC United-Dallas clash

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Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium; Arlo White and Kyle Martino have the call on NBC Sports Network.

  • When 100 percent healthy, Dallas’ attack would include Blas Perez at the top, David Ferreira in a free role underneath, Brek Shea doing his thing on the left and Fabian Castillo, defensive liability though he is, speeding up and down the right channel. Except that Ferreira is coming up one the year anniversary of his ever-more-serious ankle injury, still not back on the field. Shea may have a reduced role tonight given his recent return from the taxing Olympic schedule. And Castillo has now been ruled out with a knee injury. Oh, and Ferreira’s replacement, Ricardo Villar, is hobbled too, although he may play. So there you go.
  • D.C. United is hobbled in its own way; some big names have been a little slow to gain traction in the 2012 campaign. The Black and Red have one goal this year, that by promising rookie Nick DeLeon. Meanwhile, DP forwards Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi and DP playmaker Branko Boskovic are looking for their first goal or assist of 2012. And the entire team remains in search of its first win; the side comes in at 0-2-1, seventh among 10 teams in the East.
  • Somehow, we’re still talking about De Rosario’s optimum tactical deployment. It seems like everyone had settled on “De Ro” as a second striker, operating underneath Salihi. (For the historical arc of De Ro’s strategic use, see this Talking Tactics piece from last year.) But we’re all spinning the wheel on this one once again because De Rosario was back in the midfield last week against Vancouver. If Boskovic can’t cut it in MLS (an increasingly fair question), then midfield creating may fall on De Rosario, even if that’s not his ideal use.
  • Just as Shea has returned to Dallas from Olympic duty, Perry Kitchen and goalkeeper Bill Hamid are back with Ben Olsen’s crew. Kitchen never looked particularly troubled or out of place along the American back line (although no one truly shined back there). Ideally, he would get a little rest, but an injury to Marcelo Saragosa may force the MLS sophomore onto the field. For United, Kitchen plays holding midfielder. Meanwhile, Hamid’s ankle injury will keep him out of the lineup; backup Joe Willis’ solid play makes that less of a concern.
  • While Olsen sorts out his best arrangement of attackers, the choices for FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman are along the back line. He has three quality center backs in Ugo Ihemelu, George John and newcomer Hernan Pertuz, who has done little wrong in his first three MLS accounts. Pertuz played on the left last week because he was a better defensive option against Kansas City’s stacked attack. But Jair Benitez gives the team so much more offensive push up the left side, and Hyndman is an offensive push kind of guy. So he’s got to decide between John and Pertuz as Ihemelu’s central mate.

Relevant stat: D.C. United is 7-17-9 at home since 2009.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
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Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

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France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]

Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?

Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina in World Cup qualifying

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
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Argentina took steps backward Tuesday in its pursuit of a 2018 World Cup berth, on and off the field.

It started as Lionel Messi was suspended four matches for verbally abusing a referee in Argentina’s Friday win over Chile.

Then La Albiceleste made another move in reverse with a shocking 2-0 loss to Bolivia in La Paz. Argentina started Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, and Ezequiel Lavezzi on the bench in what many presumed to be an easy win.

[ MORE: Three keys for USA v Panama ] 

Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins scored as ninth-place La Verde picked up its third win of qualifying with a win over powerful Argentina.

The bad news kept coming for Argentina (and Everton), as Ramiro Funes Mori left the match in the 36th minute with injury.

Bolivia will finish the international break at least 10 points back of the playoff spot, while Argentina could finish as low as that fifth-place spot.

STREAM: CONCACAF tripleheader concludes with USMNT

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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CONCACAF’s bottom three sides in the Hex standings look to make the table incredibly tight as World Cup qualifying finds three-straight matches on the docket beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.

Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Los Catrachos were creamed 6-0 by the U.S. on Friday, and return home hoping a wounded Costa Rica remains vulnerable. Honduras is dead last on goal differential, but three points would be huge and put them level with Los Ticos. Costa Rica won its first two matches before falling to Mexico on Friday.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico

El Tri has two wins and a draw from their first three Hex matches, and will be without Rafa Marquez on Tuesday. A win guarantees Mexico the top spot heading into the next round of matches in June. The Soca Warriors surprised some with their 1-0 win over visiting Panama on Tuesday. Mexico is a different class.

Panama vs. USMNT

Despite its miserable start, the U.S. can find itself as high as second with a win and help from Honduras. The injuries remain plenty for the Yanks, who are without Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, Sebastian Lletget, and John Brooks. Panama has allowed just a single goal through three Hex matches, but also has only managed one.