DC United will start their playoff campaign on Sunday night when they travel to Red Bull Arena to take on the New York Red Bulls in the first-leg of their Eastern Conference semi-final.
The Red Bulls came through a tough game on Thursday as they came from behind late on to knockout reigning champions Sporting Kansas City 2-1.
DC come into the game fresh, so should have a fitness advantage over the Red Bulls. However, New York has sparked up a run of form, and looks tough to beat, whoever they face.
Eastern Conference top seed DC will have to keep the deadly Bradley Wright-Phillips quiet if they are to succeed and even if he isn’t productive, Thierry Henry knows how to find the net too.
Wright-Phillips has hit his best at the perfect time of the season for New York, netting four times in his last two outings. While Henry has proved that he can still perform to his best at 37 years of age.
Home advantage will play a huge factor in the results of the playoff ties and we see no difference here, and the Red Bulls will want to build on their first ever home win in the playoffs with a second game in three days.
New York Red Bulls’ home form: Played 18 – Won 11 – Drawn 4 – Lost 3
The sides are meeting in the playoffs for the fifth time, and DC have come out on top in all four previous meetings, most recently at this stage in 2012.
New York did beat the Washington-based club at home in the regular season, but lost twice on the road this year and this looks a tough one to call.
DC United’s away form: Played 17 – Won 6 – Drawn 4 – Lost 7
This should be a tight contest, and if DC can walk out of New York with a win, they will have one foot in the Eastern Conference Championship game. The Red Bulls cannot afford to lose this one.
Key Player: Bill Hamid – odd choice we know, but if D.C want to stay in this tie come the final whistle, Hamid is crucial in stopping this Red Bulls attack.
Key Stat: New York has scored at least one in their last seventeen games at home this season.
New York’s last five: W/W/L/W/W
DC’s last five: W/D/W/W/D
Prediction: New York Red Bulls 1 – 1 DC United