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May 4, 2011 at 7:29 AM

Sounders FC vs. D.C. United, preview and prediction

D.C. United Logo.jpgSounders FC (3-2-3) vs. D.C. United (2-4-1)

Wednesday, May 4, 4:30 p.m., RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

TV/radio broadcast: KONG 6-16 TV (Arlo White), 99.3-FM La Gran D

Referee: Hilario Grajeda

KEY D.C. UNITED PLAYERS

M Dax McCarty — Many were surprised when FC Dallas let the youngster go unprotected in the offseason (and that Portland didn’t hold onto him after the expansion draft) but he hasn’t done too much to prove those former teams wrong, yet. He’ll face some stiff competition in the middle of the field and will need to be up to the task.

D Marc Burch — The 26-year-old is the only one that’s played all 630 minutes for Ben Olsen’s side this year. That means he’s seen a lot of goals conceded in the back — eight in the last two league games and 16 overall. Apparently his coach has determined he’s not the cause, so I’m guessing he’ll need to help lead the charge.

F Charlie Davies — His perceived impact (5 goals) is a bit overrated considering three of those scores came off penalty kicks, but that isn’t to say he isn’t a player to watch. His speed is back, which always makes him a threat. Whether it’s as a starter or reserve expect him to pressure the back line (and linesman) at some point.

KEY MATCH-UPS

Chris Pontius vs. James Riley — D.C.’s left winger torched Seattle at Qwest Field last season, but I remember him talking about drifting inside midway through that game to avoid the Sounders FC right back. Pontius is D.C.’s only player not named Davies with multiple goals this year (2). He ranks first of the team in shots (15) and shots on goal (8).

Nate Jaqua vs. Dejan Jakovic — I’m guessing the Canadian national gets the call at center back and at 6-foot-2, he’ll have some battles with Seattle’s target forward. Jaqua had a nice impact in his first start and there’s no reason to think he won’t get better as he adjusts to first-team action.

Seattle’s hot streak vs. D.C.’s motivation — With six games unbeaten, the boys in rave green are coming in with some confidence. On the other hand, D.C. has been sinking fast with two blowout losses in a row. Olsen has reportedly been spitting fire at his side this week and there’s no reason to think they won’t come out fighting hard at home.

PREDICTION

D.C. has started 22 different players this season, seemingly putting Seattle’s turnover to shame. With a handful of new players and young players, there have been some growing pains in the nation’s capital. I think the Sounders will take advantage of the home team in flux.

I’m curious to see what changes there might be in the lineup from the Toronto romp. Sigi Schmid made it seem like he’d be more likely to rest players Saturday, and the existing group certainly looked pretty solid if the energetic Mauro Rosales isn’t able to go again with the hamstring injury.

I’m looking for a slow start and a wild second half.

Sounders FC 2, D.C. United 1

SEA — Nate Jaqua (Fredy Montero) 55′

SEA — Mike Fucito (Erik Friberg) 73′

D.C. — Josh Wolff (Andy Najar) 81′

* * *

What do you think? The Sounders are 2-0-1 in games I predict them to win and the tie was against Houston, which they should have won. Think the trend holds up?

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