A year ago, a 5-2 loss on the road in the first leg with backup Andrew Dykstra in goal doomed United. He will have to do better on Tuesday night as United will again be without star
keeper Bill Hamid.
United will make its season debut with an almost entirely revamped midfield, where seven new players have been brought in.
Chris Pontius was traded to Philadelphia, Perry Kitchen is a free agent but still looking for club, Davy Arnaud is out indefinitely due to concussion issues, while Chris Rolfe was slowly brought along in preseason.
The big addition is 5-foot-3 Argentine Luciano Acosta, giving United a playmaker it lacked in recent years. For the Queretaro series, Ghanaian Patrick Nyarko (acquired from Chicago Fire) and Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas (obtained from Colorado Rapids) should join Acosta in midfield along with holdovers Markus Halsti and Nick DeLeon, who has been moved into a central role.
Other first-year players in midfield are draft picks Julian Buescher (Syracuse) and Paul Clowes (Clemson) and Rob Vincent (picked up from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds). Of the seven newcomers, the lone American is Lamar Neagle, who played for the Seattle Sounders in the group stage and is therefore cup-tied.
The big question mark, though, will be Andrew Dykstra in goal in place of Hamid, sidelined with a knee injury. Dykstra was in goal for the first leg of the quarterfinals on the road a year ago and had a nightmare against Alajuelense.
Dykstra has been the No. 1 in goal throughout the 2016 preseason so at least he'll be prepared for the test that awaits him at the Estadio Corregidora.
D.C. United Probable XI:
Dykstra; Franklin, Boswell, Birnbaum, Kemp; Nyarko, Sarvas, Halsti, DeLeon; Acosta; Espindola.
QUERETARO. It finished 11th in the Torneo Apertura -- three places below the playoff zone -- but is only tied for 13th place after seven games in the Torneo Clausura.
Queretaro's coach is Victor Manuel Vucetich, who won three straight Concacaf Champions League titles with Monterrey and, given the Gallos' poor showing in Liga MX, is putting a priority on winning the CCL.
Queretaro has two Americans, Jonathan Bornstein and Luis Gil, though only Bornstein is eligible for the knockout stage. Gil is cup-tied, having played for Real Salt Lake in the group stage.