United hoping youth make impact vs Montreal

United hoping youth make impact vs Montreal
August 16, 2013, 9:45 am
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Barra Brava at Nats games?

D.C. United is developing for the future. The Montreal Impact is hoping its future is now. The two teams meet Saturday in Montreal with the Impact trying to end a summer slide that included a 3-1 loss to United at RFK Stadium two weeks ago.

In only its second year in Major League Soccer, the Impact served notice in the opening three months of the season that it was prepared to contended for the Eastern Conference title. From March to June 1st the Impact collected eight of its ten wins. In the Impact’s ten matches since there have been five losses, three draws, and just two victories.

The Impact’s offense has struggled. Former Italian international Macro Di Vaio has found the back of the net 11 times and is third in MLS in goal scoring, but Di Vaio has not scored since July 3. The Impact is searching for new ideas. In its last five matches the Impact has scored only three goals.

In short the Impact, who had hoped to reboot its season at RFK, will try again to reassert itself. There is no need for the Impact to panic. With 35 points from 22 matches the Impact is still in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, but only five points ahead of New England. On the plus side, the Impact has played two fewer games and is only four points behind first-place Sporting Kansas City.

While the Impact tries to regroup, United continues with its rebuild with an Open Cup trophy to play for. To that end United signed Dennis Iapichino, released this week by Montreal, to provide depth at left back. He will be available for Saturday’s game. Five different players have played at left back this season for United.

United’s most recent starting eleven in last week’s 2-0 loss to Philadelphia reflected the current state of the team.  The starting lineup for United against the Union last Saturday had an average age of 22.6 years. Head coach Ben Olsen went with the youngest starting lineup in United history because of a combination of injuries and fatigue.

Without a mid-week Open Cup match United as able to address the fatigue, but injuries remain a concern. Chris Pontius is set to miss a fifth straight game because of tightness in his hamstring.  Early in July Carlos Ruiz was United’s first choice striker, but now he remains a question mark because of a hip flexor strain.

Luis Silva did not play against Philadelphia. He returned to training on Wednesday and is listed as questionable for Saturday after being cleared of concussion symptoms suffered in the Open Cup semifinal win over Chicago. It was Silva who ignited United’s three-goal night against Montreal when he scored in his third consecutive game.

At the age of 24 Silva fits perfectly into United’s youth movement and in just three games wearing the Black and Red has added a bite to the team’s attack that had been missing all season. At the other end of the age spectrum Dwayne De Rosario, who rested against Philadelphia, should be back in the side.  

It would be helpful if De Rosario is able to renew his partnership in midfield with Silva that showed so much promise in the previous meeting with the Impact. If Silva is not ready to return, United is confident in its other young midfield options. Jared Jeffrey has been aggressive. Collin Martin has performed with a maturity beyond his 18 years of age and 21-year old Conor Doyle is likely to start at forward.