If you're like me, you maybe don't pay that much attention to everything going on with the rest of MLS, so may not know all that much about other teams in the league. To help out with that, I'll be doing a regular-ish feature, inviting a blogger from Toronto FC's upcoming opponents to answer a few questions and give us an idea of what to look out for when TFC play them.
Here to prepare us for Saturday and introduce us to D.C. United is Martin Shatzer of SB Nation's D.C. United blog Black and Red United. So, D.C. how you doin'?
Waking the Red: Charlie Davies is obviously the biggest name DC brought in, but what other changes have been made to improve last year's squad? How much are DC going to rely on homegrown players like Andy Najar?
Black and Red United: United has made changes all over the field. We went into this offseason expecting a complete rebuilding and having to wait 1-2 years to make the playoffs, but then Davies came along and accelerated all that. The back-line is improved by the addition of No. 3 overall draft pick Perry Kitchen, who has drawn favorable comparisons to Tim Ream, and the midfield is much better in possession thanks to Dax McCarty. D.C. also jettisoned every single one of their forwards from last season, adding Josh Wolff among others in their place. United became the first team ever to start three homegrown players last week with Najar, Bill Hamid, and Ethan White in the lineup, and all three might start again Saturday night.
WTR: Ben Olsen. He had a great record as a player for D.C, but is obviously inexperienced as a coach. Do supporters have confidence he can lead the team back to competitiveness?
BRU: Absolutely. Competitive is one of Ben Olsen's middle names, along with Work Ethic, and Deity. Plenty of folks questioned whether he'd be a good hire when he took the job due to his inexperience, and obviously that's fair. But Olsen has rebuilt this team in his image (hard working, aggressive, energetic, intelligent). They're Olsen's Army through and through. They may not yet be championship contenders, but they'll be hard to beat every single week.
WTR: What sort of formation and tactics can TFC expect to see from DC on Saturday? How does Olsen have them playing so far?
BRU: This might not make a whole lot of sense to Canadian fans, but Olsen's formation is very similar to what Bob Bradley's been using with the U.S. National Team the past few years. McCarty plays slightly ahead of a more true defensive midfielder in Clyde Simms, while the wingers (some combination of Najar, Chris Pontius, and Branko Boskovic) traditionally play fairly high up the field. D.C. will try to take advantage of the speed of guys like Davies, Najar, and Pontius to generate goals off counters, while also maintaining lots of possession through McCarty in the middle when appropriate.
Thanks Martin, and be sure to check out Black and Red United for the D.C take on Saturday's game.