New York is riding high as well, though wins in its last two games vs. subpar LA and Toronto sides give reason for pause. Tonight's match (7:30p, MSG) is a real test to see if the Red Bulls have shaken off the mid-season doldrums.
Tonight offers the final regular season match between the two clubs (they've split the first two), and is a potential playoff preview as the teams would face each other should the season end today.
Recent Form/Playoff Position:
DC United: DLWWW/2d in East, would face NY in 1st rd.
New York: LWLWW/3d in East, would face DC in 1st rd.
Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect:
The United forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno vs. Hunter Freeman, Jeff Parke, Seth Stammler, and Chris Leitch (and Jon Conway). What more can be said about Emilio? He's been everything DC has hoped for, with five goals in his last seven matches. Throw in NY-killer Moreno's three strikes, and you've got almost half of DC's MLS goals coming from its front line. All deference to the amazing free-kick ability of David Beckham, but unless New York figures out how to defend set-pieces, the Red Bulls will go nowhere come playoff time. Ron Wattereus is scheduled to start, but after giving up some questionable goals last week, I give Conway the starting nod. Advantage: DC
New York's attackers vs. the DC defense:
Fred, Christian Gomez, Domenic Mediate, and Clyde Simms vs.
Tom Soehn is certainly having the last laugh over his early-season detractors. After an 0-3-1 start, DC is 10-3-2 and looks to be in championship form once again. Bruce Arena is hoping the high of last week's win can provide the confidence necessary to win on the road. NY is 4-2 is its last six outings. Advantage: Push
DC has won the maximum points in six of nine home matches this season (6-1-2) and will have its regular rowdy supportive crowd behind the club tonight. New York has played decently on the road (3-4-2) but has only gone 1-2 in road games after home wins this season. Advantage: DC
While New York has certainly played better without the injured Claudio Reyna, the speed and skill of DC calls for his unique brand of field leadership. Mathis does ok to run the team in Reyna's stead, but on paper United is just too strong to beat at home. Emilio and Gomez score in a 2-0 DC victory.