United States international Eddie Johnson and his new team, D.C. United, get their best chance of the season to crack into the win column when 2013 MVP Mike Magee and the Chicago Fire visit RFK Stadium this afternoon. NBCSN’s coverage from the national’s capital starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, with the game also available via NBC Sports Live Extra.
United showed improvement last week at BMO Field in Toronto, where a Jermain Defoe goal was all that separated Ben Olsen’s team from its first point of the season. Over 180 minutes, however, the numbers are less flattering. Coming off an opening day, 3-0 loss to Columbus, D.C.’s second defeat of the season left the team 0-2-0, having yet to score a goal.
That puts Johnson, the team’s big offseason acquisition, in the spotlight, but getting the ball to its new striker has been one of D.C.’s problems. To improve on that, Johnson must get help from the players behind him. A midfield of Nick DeLeon and Lewis Neal (in for Davy Arnaud) anchored by Perry Kitchen needs to have a greater impact than it’s had over the season’s first two games, allowing attacking midfielder Luis Silva and supporting striker Fabian Espindola to generate opportunities for Johnson.
In the face of those options, Chicago will rely on the triangle at the middle of its defense to maintain the strength its showed over the last two games. After opening the season with three goals allowed at Chivas USA, the Fire have limited both Portland and New York to one each, with strong play from midfield linchpin Jeff Larentowicz making life easier for central defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Bakary Soumaré. Last week, the Red Bulls’ only goal came from some penalty box chaos after a corner kick.
Up top, the Fire will be looking to get Magee back to his 2013 self. Coming off a career high 21 goals, Magee has yet to get on the scoresheet this season, something he’ll be looking to change against Bobby Boswell and Jeff Parke. Imported from Houston and Philadelphia (respectively) this offseason, D.C.’s central defense tandem has been unable to prevent United from conceding four times through two games.
Improve today, and D.C. should claim its first points of the season. Continue to struggle, and Frank Yallop’s team could leave RFK with its first victory of 2014.
D.C. United: Hamid; Franklin, Boswell, Parke, Fernandez; DeLeon, Kitchen, Neal; Silva; Espindola, Johnson
Subs: Dykstra, Attakora, Kemp, Arnaud, Jeffrey, Caskey, Doyle
Chicago Fire: Johnson; Watson, Hurtado, Soumaré, Cochrane; Shipp, Larentowicz, Alex, Joya; Magee, Amarikwa
Subs: Reynish, Ianni, Pause, Nyarko, Rolfe, Anangono, Gentile