With last night's game against the Philadelphia Union in hand, Everton now turn their attention to Washington D.C. where they will taken on D.C. United this Saturday. As part of our coverage of the U.S. tour, Royal Blue Mersey had a chance to sit down and talk with Martin from the SB Nation D.C. United blog Red and Black United. I also answered some of their questions about Everton, and you can read those answers here.
RBM: For our readers outside of the U.S. could you give us a little bit of history about D.C. United and their current season?
B&R: History is something United has plenty of. They dominated MLS when it first started in the late 1990s by being the best team in the league at identifying foreign talent and putting them in the right positions. They played a possession-oriented attacking style and racked up the trophies. United's 12 trophies are the most of any MLS club. Coming back to 2011 though, the league has changed. United no longer has an advantage in the foreign scouting department, and now actually has the most Americanized team in the league. Their new strategy involves finding talented young domestic players and developing them. United is currently 5th in the MLS Eastern Conference, putting them roughly in the middle of the pack for the league overall.
RBM: Who are the players from D.C. United that will give Everton the biggest problems?
B&R: United has two of the most talented attacking wingers in the league. Chris Pontius will start on the left and use his speed and aggression to take on defenders. Andy Najar is the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year and will start on the right. He's a good crosser and also D.C.'s most creative player.
RBM: If D.C. United is to get anything from this game who is going to have to step up and deliver?
B&R: United's backline is very young and will need to stay compact defensively to stay in this game. Brandon McDonald was acquired just a few weeks ago to lead the defense from a central spot and has performed well since arriving. He'll need to keep the defensive unit together to limit Everton to just taking outside shots, which goalkeeper Bill Hamid does a good job of saving.
RBM: What are you as a fan looking for out of Saturday's game against D.C. United?
B&R: I'm hoping to not get embarrassed, but I'm not looking for much else. We as fans have come to realize that friendlies give no indication of a team's actual ability to get results. Last year, D.C. United defeated AC Milan 3-2 in a friendly, but still finished with the worst record in the league.
RBM: With Charlie Davies and his progress this season, how important of a match is this for him to truly measure his progress since his accident in 2009?
B&R: I do think this is a big match for Davies. He started this season on a tear, but has since faded and now hasn't scored a goal in several weeks. For Davies to fulfill his goal of ultimately getting back to Europe, he needs to step up and make an impact in big games. He's also probably the only player on our team with the ability to create something out of nothing or strike unexpectedly on a counter attack. Davies holds our best chance of winning.
RBM: Are there any younger players on the team that could use this game as a chance to show their talents for a move to Europe in the future?
B&R: Hamid and Najar are each graduates of the D.C. United Academy, and each will be playing overseas in the future. Hamid idolizes Tim Howard, and many see him as a potential National Team player down the road. He'll be looking to impress on Saturday night. Najar seems to give maximum effort no matter the circumstances, and this game will be no different for him. As fans, we're just hoping to have Najar for at least another year or two.