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Five-a-side: illumination for tonight’s DC United-Dallas clash

Mar 30, 2012, 12:12 PM EDT

Dwayne De Rosario

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium; Arlo White and Kyle Martino have the call on NBC Sports Network.

  • When 100 percent healthy, Dallas’ attack would include Blas Perez at the top, David Ferreira in a free role underneath, Brek Shea doing his thing on the left and Fabian Castillo, defensive liability though he is, speeding up and down the right channel. Except that Ferreira is coming up one the year anniversary of his ever-more-serious ankle injury, still not back on the field. Shea may have a reduced role tonight given his recent return from the taxing Olympic schedule. And Castillo has now been ruled out with a knee injury. Oh, and Ferreira’s replacement, Ricardo Villar, is hobbled too, although he may play. So there you go.
  • D.C. United is hobbled in its own way; some big names have been a little slow to gain traction in the 2012 campaign. The Black and Red have one goal this year, that by promising rookie Nick DeLeon. Meanwhile, DP forwards Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi and DP playmaker Branko Boskovic are looking for their first goal or assist of 2012. And the entire team remains in search of its first win; the side comes in at 0-2-1, seventh among 10 teams in the East.
  • Somehow, we’re still talking about De Rosario’s optimum tactical deployment. It seems like everyone had settled on “De Ro” as a second striker, operating underneath Salihi. (For the historical arc of De Ro’s strategic use, see this Talking Tactics piece from last year.) But we’re all spinning the wheel on this one once again because De Rosario was back in the midfield last week against Vancouver. If Boskovic can’t cut it in MLS (an increasingly fair question), then midfield creating may fall on De Rosario, even if that’s not his ideal use.
  • Just as Shea has returned to Dallas from Olympic duty, Perry Kitchen and goalkeeper Bill Hamid are back with Ben Olsen’s crew. Kitchen never looked particularly troubled or out of place along the American back line (although no one truly shined back there). Ideally, he would get a little rest, but an injury to Marcelo Saragosa may force the MLS sophomore onto the field. For United, Kitchen plays holding midfielder. Meanwhile, Hamid’s ankle injury will keep him out of the lineup; backup Joe Willis’ solid play makes that less of a concern.
  • While Olsen sorts out his best arrangement of attackers, the choices for FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman are along the back line. He has three quality center backs in Ugo Ihemelu, George John and newcomer Hernan Pertuz, who has done little wrong in his first three MLS accounts. Pertuz played on the left last week because he was a better defensive option against Kansas City’s stacked attack. But Jair Benitez gives the team so much more offensive push up the left side, and Hyndman is an offensive push kind of guy. So he’s got to decide between John and Pertuz as Ihemelu’s central mate.

Relevant stat: D.C. United is 7-17-9 at home since 2009.