Ahead of Saturday's Atlantic Cup match-up with D.C. United, we took a couple of minutes to (virtually) sit down with Black and Red United's Managing Editor Ben Bromley to get a sense of what's going on in United's camp.
Once a Metro: D.C. United made a number of moves in the off-season, including one for former Red Bull Fabian Espindola. How have those new guys settled in? How is Espindola doing?
Black and Red United: The team has made progress over the past couple of games, especially the tie against the Chicago Fire and the win against the New England Revolution. However, there is plenty of room for improvement. Only in the last game did Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell show the type of defensive play expected of two players earned a combined $450,000. Fabian Espindola has been playing well, but Eddie Johnson is yet to find his scoring touch. This weekend's game against the Red Bulls would be a perfect time to put it all together.
OAM: How much slack does Ben Olson have this year? Not to rub it in (well, maybe a little), but last year's D.C. United squad was awful on a transcendent level. This year might be better, but if United is near the bottom again, do they start looking for a new coach?
B&RU: If United is near the bottom of the table again this season, it is almost certain that Ben Olsen will be gone. Unlike after last season, Olsen's contract expires at the end of the 2014 season, and the team's leadership will have to take a hard look at this season and at the performance of Ben Olsen, his staff, and general manager Dave Kasper. However, I think he gets the whole season unless the locker room turns on him.
OAM: A lot gets made of the Cascadia Cup matches between Portland and Seattle and the San Jose Earthquakes-LA Galaxy rivalry gets a lot of media play, too. But I think we'd both agree that D.C.-New York is a big deal (just look at the players who have suited up for either side, or both, it's like a who's who of modern American soccer history). Do you feel like the rivalry is getting the shaft from the league?
B&RU: I think that the rivalry definitely does not get the respect it deserves, but I think its also some of our own making. Other than 2012, it's been awhile since both teams have been good at the same time, and that can erode a rivalry in the minds of the general public. But as the 2012 playoffs should have reminded everyone, this rivalry is still one of the league's best. But hey, at least its not the Trillium Cup.
OAM: Line-up? Predictions?
B&RU: Bill Hamid; Christian, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin; Chris Rolfe, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon; Fabian Espindola, Eddie Johnson.