The Portland Timbers have not won yet in 2014. DC United has not lost since March 22. So we're thinking draw, right? Thankfully instead of just randomly assuming trends will continue, we can ask SB Nation's DC blog, Black and Red United, how things look from the visitors' perspective. Ben Bromley gave us a few minutes to answer a few questions, which you can find below:
1. After a slow start, DC United has come to life over the past month and are now unbeaten in their last five. What's changed to lift United from what looked like a continuation of last year's doldrums?
For once, it has actually been roster construction and then patience that has started to life D.C. United out of their doldrums, plus a possibly well timed injury. The back line of Christian, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, and Sean Franklin is brand new from last year's version, and Parke and Boswell especially are finally learning each other's preferences and becoming a true unit. The attacking four of Eddie Johnson, Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe, and Nick DeLeon returns only DeLeon, and Rolfe was a late addition after the season began.
The possibly fortuitous injury was to Luis Silva, which took him out of central midfield and put Davy Arnaud there in his place. Silva is more a pure number 10, whereas Arnaud's industry has taken some of the burden off of Perry Kitchen and helped to harass other team's midfields. Whereas last year we were all waiting for a team that just wasn't good enough to get better, this years team actually did need some time.
2. This may be impossible, but, Eddie Johnson: explain.
I know, right? In the recent tradition of D.C. United forward, Johnson has actually performed well at many of the unnoticed things that forwards need to do, like hold-up play and pulling defenders out of position. And he got his first points of the season against FC Dallas, pulling wide and swinging a nice cross for Fabian Espindola to put away. But the goalscoring touch just hasn't been there yet. With Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell, D.C. United is already a much better team on set pieces than it has been in the past few years, but EJ was supposed to provide headed goals on a semi-regular basis. I don't think its going to affect his World Cup standing, and I still think that the goals will come, but it has moved past curious into the slightly worrying.
3. Though they did get a nice draw at Columbus Crew two weeks ago, United's run of good results have all been home games. Any worry that a cross-country trip will derail that momentum?
There is always that worry, especially against a team that has a notable home-field advantage and one that is getting desperate for a win. But this is where we learn what kind of team D.C. United is this year, and perhaps what kind of coach Ben Olsen actually is. This team is different than the one that lost 1-0 to Toronto FC at BMO Field, but even still I would be more than happy with a road point in Portland.
GK: Bill Hamid
CB: Jeff Parke
CB: Bobby Boswell
RB: Sean Franklin
LM: Chris Rolfe
CM: Davy Arnaud
CM: Perry Kitchen
RM: Nick DeLeon
FW: Fabian Espindola
FW: Eddie Johnson
Both Eddie Johnson and Sean Franklin picked up knocks in the FC Dallas game, but neither are listed in the injury report. Should either not be able to go, they would likely be replaced by Conor Doyle and Chris Korb, respectively. Other than that, Chris Pontius is out with a long-term injury.
I will predict a 1-1 draw.