Know Your Enemy: DC United #3

It never really looks like this.

OTF’s Stephen Mangat is off Midwestern interstates in time to preview the Fire’s next opponent…

Life is great when you have accomplished an important task and have some time to relax before tackling the next challenge. Getting into your choice college a few months before high school graduation, taking two weeks between leaving one job and starting another, finally getting out of the hell that is Chicagoland traffic/construction and onto the open road – nothing beats putting life on cruise control. Having surprised everyone by winning the US Open Cup on Tuesday, DC United’s life is good as they needn’t worry about the rest of their pitiful MLS season.

So, Fire fans, speed up to 80, click the switch, and put your feet on the dash, because we’re joining United in going into cruise control.



Ben Olsen, who may have saved his job with the Open Cup win, keeps it simple. It’ll be some kind of 4-4-2 with the forwards next to one another or stacked. The outside midfielders will attack and the two central midfielders are defensive. Sound familiar, Fire fans?


Many view Bill Hamid as someone with the chops to continue the tradition of great American goalkeepers. While he compensates for shaky fundamentals with fantastic athleticism a bit too often, he’s a real talent. Sound familiar, Fire fans?

Too familiar, I bet.


The United defense is terrible. They’ve given up the second most goals in the MLS even though they’re shielded by two defensive central midfielders each game. The names of the usual back four aren’t very familiar (James Riley, Chris Korb, Dejan Jakovic, Ethan White), and for good reason.


It’s normally Nick DeLeon on the right, Chris Pontius on the left and Perry Kitchen with John Thorrington in the middle. DeLeon and Pontius have proven quality but have been ineffective this season. Plus, they’re not much for defending. Kitchen and Thorrington are very limited and to be honest, they represent an American soccer problem.

There’s so many American Dax McCarty-types and it seems like every team has an American defensive central midfielder. At the same time, more creative types aren’t being developed. About two-thirds of MLS teams have a central midfield containing some hard-running American who can’t pass particularly well.

Real. American. Toughness.


The additions of the skillful Luis Silva and athletic tall guy Conor Doyle have provided a spark to this once-moribund attack. The goals aren’t pouring in by any means, but along with DeRosario, United has players up top who can threaten.

This is how to really threaten.

How can Chicago win?

Try to win

Chicago needs to win. Chicago is better. Chicago should run out a lineup from the beginning containing at least five attacking players. Simple stuff.

Get on the front foot

DC United’s first XI played midweek, so the Fire may see tired and/or second-choice players. In either case, Chicago has the talent advantage should, so it should be aggressive from minute one.

Get aggressive.

Forget about the defense

The Fire are not good at defending. They consistently make careless mistakes and seem to lack the focus that’s required to succeed at this level. Frank Klopas should give up on defending (especially against this group) and just look to score as many goals as possible.

So good luck Fire fans. I’m back on the East Coast after a great few days in Chi-town and I already miss the Hinsdale Oasis – that place was awesome!

Basically me on I-90 save for the crashing.

OTF’s Stephen Mangat is building an oasis over his driveway this weekend. Follow him @smangat12

One thought on “Know Your Enemy: DC United #3

  1. The winning part sounds really easy – except that it won’t be. Doesn’t matter who they play – they are their own worst enemy – and I suspect they will lose again. With any luck they might even get shut out for added pain. Onward lads and let’s hope for the best.

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