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Philadelphia Union At DC United – Talking To The Enemy, Martin Shatzer Of Black And Red United



Matin Shatzer, of SB Nation’s DC United blog Black and Red United and SBN DC, and I exchanged three questions a piece ahead of today’s Philadelphia Union-United match at RFK Stadium.

tBG: Does the addition of Dwayne De Rosario provide enough offense to make up for the loss of Dax McCarty‘s control of the midfield?

B&RU: Yes I think so, but mostly because McCarty never really had that much control of the midfield here in D.C. anyway. The bigger concern is that DC United will be changing its formation from their comfortable bucket 4-4-2 to a diamond 4-4-2, thus utilizing De Rosario as the attacking link between the midfielders and forwards, but also putting more pressure on Clyde Simms in the CDM role. Simms is an entirely adequate MLS starter, but I worry that using him as the sole disrupter will cost us some possession percentage. If DeRo gets up to speed quickly though and develops some chemistry with Andy Najar and Chris Pontius on the wings, a slight dip in possession might not matter if our scoring average increases.

tBG: Charlie Davies has used his speed to make opportunities for himself, usually within the opposing box. The Union have done a pretty good job of neutralizing opposing speed in 2011. Will he be able to hold up under the pressure from the Union’s two physical center backs, Carlos Valdes and Danny Califf?

B&RU: I dunno. Will your physical center backs be able to avoid giving Davies a gentle shove within the box? The Galaxy’s physical center back Omar Gonzalez wasn’t. Seriously though, Davies has been the best striker in the league this year at cleaning up mistakes made by opposing defenses, whether that’s drawing a penalty on an attempted slide tackle in the box, or running hard after Chad Marshall falls down. He’s not just in the right place at the right time. He knows where the right place will be and when the right time will be. The defenses that have done the best against Davies and Josh Wolff this year have been those that are the most organized (FC Dallas for example).

tBG: Bill Hamid has had an interesting 2011 in terms of his squad status on DCU. How has he played so far this year?

B&RU: Hamid is a good shot-stopper and an intimidating physical presence, but he’s definitely made some mistakes, perhaps the biggest one coming last week against the Houston Dynamo when he took down Brian Ching as the veteran forward was heading out of bounds. Ben Olsen has given Hamid a long leash though, and I don’t think his starting job will be in doubt anytime soon.

I’d give you the same answer though whether you asked about Hamid, Perry Kitchen, or Ethan White. United’s defensive starters are very young (all three of these guys were born in the 1990s) with loads of potential, but they’ve made their mistakes. D.C. acquired Brandon McDonald this week to add a bit more leadership to the backline to help limit those mistakes, and he’ll be starting right away.

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