The Red Bulls will finally be injury free when New York takes the field vs. DC United on Saturday night at RFK (7:30p, FSC). The Red Bulls have lifted themselves into the playoff mix by picking up nine points at home over the last three Sundays, but if New York is to solidify its hold on a playoff spot, RBNY must figure out how to get the maximum points on the road. The Red Bulls' 1-5-4 road record won't serve the club well come the postseason, and after tomorrow's DC match, New York still has to visit Eastern powers Chicago (twice), and Columbus, and has to open RSL's new stadium on October 9th.
First, however, comes what may be the most important regular season match the club has played in some time. A win at DC would lift the club past United into fourth place, and would serve notice to the rest of the league that New York is for real.
Position, Recent League Form, and playoff position:
DC, 31 pts from 21 matches, 4th East, WLWLW, would face New England in Conf. Semis
New York, 31 pts from 21 matches, 5th East, TTWWW, would face Houston in Conf. Semis
Here's a line-by-line look at tomorrow's match:
The DC forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno vs. Kevin Goldthwaite, Andrew Boyens, Jeff Parke, and Diego Jimenez (and Jon Conway). Moreno (9g, 8a) and Emilio (11g, 5a) though a bit grey, are still a dangerous strike force that makes United tick, with 55% of DC's goals this season. Moreno is a Metro killer, with 23 of his 121 all-time goals coming against New York. Without suspended Gabriel Chicero for a second week, the Red Bulls' backline is buoyed by the return of Jeff Parke from injury. New York's D has posted back-to-back shutouts, and has allowed only two goals in the last four games vs. Houston, Toronto, DC, and San Jose. Advantage: Push
New York's attackers vs. the United defense:
Juan Pablo Angel and Mike Magee vs. Brian Namoff, Devon McTavish, and Gonzalo Martinez (and Louis Crayton). Somebody bottle and sell what Mike Magee has been drinking. Magee has scored in New York's last three matches, including a Goal of the Week nominee vs. Houston last Sunday. New York is scoring three goals per match over the last three outings (including 4 in a victory over DC on August 10th), and Juan Pablo Angel is back in top form. United's defense has posted three clean sheets in the club's last five matches, but did allow the aforementioned four goals to the Red Bulls, and two to New England in a loss on August 20th. Slight Advantage: New York
Dave van den Bergh, Jorge Rojas, Seth Stammler, and Dane Richards vs. Craig Thompson, Clyde Simms, Joe Vide, Santino Quaranta, and Ivan Guerrero. New York's Rojas returns to the starting lineup after clearing up visa problems, and will make the Red Bull attack more dangerous. Richards is flying down the right sideline with verve once again (just ask Pat Onstad). DC will be without the injured Fred (2g, 4a). Former Metro Vide is playing well for DC, and a cleaned up Quaranta, a great story this season, has three goals and three assists for United. Craig Thompson has all of five MLS appearances. Advantage: New York
Tom Soehn has got to get his club playing well in consecutive games... Osorio knows this match is a test of whether his new squad can deliver on the road. Advantage: Push
DC is 16-7-2 against New York at RFK all-time, and the Red Bulls haven't won at DC since October 2005. After tomorrow's match, DC plays three of its' next four away from Washington, and will be pressing for all the points. The winner of tomorrow's match gets the league-created "Atlantic Cup." Will RFK keep the lights on? Forecast is for thunderstorms, with a high of 84 degrees. Advantage: DC United
I've come to expect the unexpected from the Red Bulls over the last three weeks, and I have to believe DC may be a little concerned about facing the red-hot New York squad. Without Fred, the DC offense sputters. A hard fought 1-1 draw on goals by Moreno (who else?) and Angel.
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