The scorching-hot Union will travel to the nation’s capital tonight to meet Wayne Rooney and ten other guys wearing the United crest.
The Union (11-3-11, 36 points, 5th in East) will look for their fourth-straight league win against the resurgent D.C. United (7-6-10, 8th in East) tonight.
You can throw out the 3-2 home win the Union gained on April 28th against D.C. This is not even close to being the same team.
It wasn’t so long ago that D.C. United was as buried as a Poe character in the Eastern Conference standings. With the arrival of Bald English Jesus however, they’ve rocketed up the table to within six points of the playoff line. going 5-3-1 with only losses to RBNY and juggernaut Atlanta United. Thanks to the adjustments MLS made to their schedule due to Audi Field opening mid-season, United also has at least two matches in hand on every catchable team between them and a playoff spot: two on the Union and seventh-place New England, and a whopping four on sixth-place Montreal.
A Union win would create a twelve-point cushion between them and D.C. United. This match is also the match in hand the Union have on Columbus; if they win, the boys in blue will be a single point out of the fourth spot in the East and a knock-out playoff match versus the five-seed at home. Since the Union face stumbling Orlando SC this weekend and Columbus faces high-flying NYCFC, they would do well to win this match to prepare for a weekend in which they could easily jump over the Crew in the standings. A Union loss, however, would be a squandered opportunity and would push D.C. up the table past New England and put United three points away from Montreal, and a scant six away from the U. If last week’s league match was the biggest of the season, this might be the second-biggest as it stands now.
This will be the final meeting of the two teams this year.
The boys in blue will look to keep Cory Burke going, feed the ball to Borek Dockal wherever possible, and will try to avoid forcing Andre Blake into the tough saves he had to made last week to earn the 1-0 shutout versus New England. The young defenders will have to limit Wayne Rooney and the damage he can do in both distribution to Yamil Asad (if fit), Lucho Acosta (5G, 10A), and Paul Arriola (4G, 8A), as well as creating for himself. Also of concern is the speedy Darren Mattocks, who has nine goals of his own. Due to D.C.’s penchant for clogging the middle, the Union’s runs down the flanks will be key tonight, putting extra emphasis on players like Fafa Picault and Keegan Rosenberry, who are more than capable of picking out the right pass and creating havoc.
Do the Union keep rolling? It’s tough to pick against them right now. I say yes.
Union 2, D.C. United 1