Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal First Leg) – DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
Venue: RFK Stadium – Sunday, November 1 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)
Match Odds: DC United 9/5 – Draw 13/5 – New York Red Bulls 13/10
The match-up between these two sides sees a repeat of last season’s tie at this same stage, although DC will play the first-leg at home this time around due to their lower seeding.
DC secured their place in the semifinal by bouncing back from a crushing 5-0 defeat away at Columbus on the last day of the regular season to beat New England Revolution 2-1 in the Eastern Conference knockout round.
Ben Olsen will be delighted with his side’s strong reaction, which secured a third win in four games and keeps alive their hopes of winning an MLS Cup for the first time since 2004.
Revenge will be in the air at RFK Stadium after the Red Bulls knocked DC out of the competition a year ago, with a 3-2 aggregate score over the two legs.
The New York Red Bulls will be refreshed and full of confidence after they’ve enjoyed a week off to relish the fact they’re Supporters’ Shield winners for the second time in three years.
Jesse Marsch has inspired his team to an excellent season but must now ensure the players maintain their focus if they are to sustain a serious challenge at winning the 2015 MLS Cup.
The Red Bulls fell short in 2014 after a conference final defeat, but the platform to go all the way is now in place and they just need to continue their impressive form of 12 wins in their last 17 games (D1, L4).
DC United failed to beat New York Red Bulls in any of the three meetings between the two sides in the regular season (D1, L2), with the most recent clash ending in a 3-0 win for the Red Bulls in August, while the last encounter at RFK Stadium was a 2-2 draw in April.
DC United will be without Chris Korb (knee), Davy Arnaud (concussion) and Jared Jeffrey (facial fracture) who are all injured. Bobby Boswell will miss the match as a result of a one-game ban issued by the league for an off the ball incident against New England on Thursday.
New York Red Bulls defender Chris Duvall remains out (leg), while Roy Miller (knee) and Anatole Abang (hamstring) are also struggling with injuries.
DC United’s last five: L/W/W/L/W
New York Red Bulls’ last five: W/W/L/W/W
Key Stat: New York Red Bulls were the highest goalscorers in the MLS regular season with 62, so they’ll be looking to continue scoring freely and get that all important away goal.
Key Player: Chris Rolfe – An obvious choice, but he is crucial to DC United. He’s their top goalscorer this season, with 11 goals in all competitions. Rolfe also scored a late winner against New England Revolution in the knockout round.
DC United 1-1 New York Red Bulls – DC have been strong at home with just 3 defeats all season, so it’s a tough ask for the Red Bulls to win the game. However, they should have enough to get an away goal and secure a draw – a result that would put them in the driving seat for the second leg.