Chivas USA will face D.C. United in RFK Stadium on Sunday for the first and only meeting between the clubs in 2014. Both teams were horrible in 2013, and while D.C.'s revival has come much farther along than Chivas' to date this season, both sides certainly feel reason for optimism heading into this match. In order to catch up on what's happening in the nation's capital since the last clash between these clubs, I spoke with Ben Bromley of SB Nation D.C. United blog Black and Red United about his team. Many thanks to Ben for taking the time out to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Black and Red United:
1. Last season, D.C. United were firmly rooted to the bottom of the standings. This season, however, they are near the top of the Eastern Conference. What has changed this year to power the turnaround?
The main reason for D.C. United's turnaround this season was the fact that they brought in proven MLS veterans in the offseason to pair with their young core. Players like Davy Arnaud, Bobby Boswell, Jeff Parke, Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe, and Sean Franklin have all been key for D.C. United this season. And even though he has not yet lived up to his designated player contract, Eddie Johnson has been important for this team as well (with still plenty of room to improve). Adding those players to D.C. United's young core of Bill Hamid, Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Luis Silva, and others has allowed the team to take off. Early in the season, the team struggled as it was trying to figure itself out; however, once Arnaud was moved into the center of midfield, alongside Kitchen, the team started to play well.
2. I believe Espindola is set to miss this game as he recovers from a knee injury. Which players are most likely to step up in this game in the attack in his absence?
Ben Olsen has kept the same formation in the absence of Fabian Espindola, who returned to practice this week but is still very unlikely to see any time. In place of Espindola, he has started Silva, who had lost his starting spot in the midfield due to injury and then the good play of Arnaud; Silva is now starting as a forward, alongside Johnson. In addition to Silva, DeLeon and Rolfe have both stepped up their games in Espindola's absence. DeLeon's improvement especially is heartening, as he followed-up a disappointing 2013 season with a disappointing start to 2014; he is now looking more like the DeLeon of his rookie season.
3. Chivas USA fans may be curious to know about the situation concerning a new stadium for D.C. United. Please give us the quick overview of what's going on regarding the team's efforts to build a soccer specific stadium.
The long and tortured process is further than it has ever been, but there is still plenty of opportunity for it to fall apart. Mayor Vincent Gray has unveiled the proposed legislation that would build the stadium. However, this being DC, it is more complicated than most places: the proposed deal involves giving a city-owned building in a prime location to a development company in exchange for the land upon which they hope to build the stadium. The DC Council now looks likely to hire a consultant to study the proposed deal, and the report of that consultant could determine the fate of stadium deal. And all of this is complicated again by the fact that Mayor Gray lost his bid for re-nomination, and the position of the new Democratic nominee for mayor, Muriel Bowser, is much less enthusiastic.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for this game?
Projected lineup: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Chris Korb; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe; Luis Silva, Eddie Johnson
Prediction: While Chivas USA is on a hot streak, they are flying across the country to take on an almost as hot team. I will go with a 2-1 victory for United.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!