1) Looks like Eddie Johnson will be available this weekend after having his red card suspension rescinded. How does this change the game plan for DC United and do you think his form will improve as the season goes on?
It won't really change D.C. United's approach, as they will be defaulting back to their setup for most of the year so far. And EJ's form can only get better, as he has looked frustrated throughout the season so far. I was hoping that his first goal would lift some of that frustration, but that hasn't happened yet. Hopefully he can get going against SKC's makeshift back line.
2) DC United has only allowed five goals in seven home games. What's different this year that allows DC United to be much better defensively than last year?
In a word, everything. In the last matchup between SKC and D.C. United last season, DCU started a back line of Denis Iapichino, Daniel Woolard, Perry Kitchen, and Chris Korb. And that was with Dejan Jakovic hurt, after Brandon McDonald had been traded, and after Alain Rochat had made a brief appearance in the District. Out of all of those players, only Perry Kitchen and Chris Korb remain on the team, and only Perry Kitchen is a starter (as a midfielder). The presence of Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell in particular has provided the team with rocks in the center of defense, and has really allowed the team to defend without putting the entire team back. Having Sean Franklin and Cristian Fernandez as fullbacks has helped as well, in both the attack and defense.
3) Although DC United has really turned it around this season, there has to be some weakness. If you're Peter Vermes, how are you planning to beat DCU?
Speed through the middle. The first goal that the New England Revolution scored began because of Diego Fagundez's speed, allowing him to blow past United's defense. Dom Dwyer should be able to have a similar effect on United unless the midfield is working in perfect tandem with the defense, which is what they did against the Houston Dynamo. If United can force Sporting into crosses from wide positions that Parke and Boswell can head away, it is likely that the game will be going United's way.
Check out the views from the other side over at Black and Red United.