MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: DC United vs New York Red Bulls

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

Match Preview

DC United and New York Red Bulls clash at RFK Stadium on Sunday in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinal.

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.

DC United vs New England Revolution

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).

Photo: Denise McCooey

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.

Team News

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.

Key Points

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.

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Score Prediction

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.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs DC United

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Sunday, October 25 – 17:00 ET (21:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports 2)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – DC United 12/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host DC United in a key Eastern Conference clash as part of the first ever MLS Decision Day on Sunday evening.

All ten Eastern Conference sides will face off against each other at the same time, with Columbus and DC fighting for a second-place finish. That’s important as a top two finish will earn them a knockout round bye in the upcoming MLS Playoffs.

Both sides have secured a playoff slot but a bye week will be a huge prize and effectively makes this a playoff game as we end the regular season.

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Columbus will be without Federico Higuain and goal machine Kei Kamara. That will hamper their chances but they have won three of their last five in MLS.

Columbus Crew’s MLS record: P33 – W14 – D8 – L11

They have lost their last two at home though and that will give DC United some much-needed confidence.

DC hadn’t won in six coming into October but back-to-back wins over New York City and Chicago Fire have put them back on track.

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A third-straight victory would be huge before the playoffs and would push them straight through to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

DC United’s MLS record: P33 – W15 – D6 – L12

This will be the third meeting between the two sides this season. Both previous games were at RFK Stadium with DC winning 2-0 in the earlier meeting, before Columbus won 2-1 in September.

Team News

Columbus will be without star attacking duo Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara as both will serve a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation. Chad Barson and Kristinn Steindorsson are ruled out through injury, while Matt Lampson is a doubt.

DC United travel to Columbus without Eddie Johnson, Chris Korb or Davy Arnaud as all three remain injured.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/L/L/W

DC United’s last five: D/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Columbus have conceded at least two home goals in each of their last five games in MLS and haven’t kept a home clean sheet since mid-April. Leaky.

Key Player: Chris Rolfe – Rolfe is DC United’s leading goalscorer with ten and found the net in the most recent meeting with the Crew in September.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-2 DC United – This is an enormous game for both clubs as a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs and that will mean a knockout round playoff bye. DC have struggled away from home of late, though Columbus can’t seem to keep clean sheets at MAPFRE Stadium. That should lead to an entertaining game but a draw looks the most likely result. That would see DC seal second place.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. DC United

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Thursday, August 13 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST – Live on Sky Sports 1)

Match Odds: NYCFC 23/20 – Draw  5/2 – DC United 21/10

Match Preview

New York City FC and DC United get Week 24 underway when they meet at Yankee Stadium on Thursday evening, with lots at stake for both teams as we approach the final ten weeks of the regular season.

Time is running out for NYCFC to turn their season around as they need to start winning regularly to have a chance of making the playoffs in their inaugural season in Major League Soccer.

A 2-0 loss to their fierce rivals, the Red Bulls on Sunday night saw them lose a second straight game and they have only registered one win in their last five, despite the arrivals of Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard.

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David Villa has been carrying the team all season but even his 13 goals don’t look enough to save Jason Kreis’ team from missing out on the postseason as defensive horror shows are becoming all too familiar.

A clash with a DC United side still sitting at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings won’t make things any easier for the expansion franchise as their opponents this week are in ruthless form.

DC have won their last three on the bounce, scoring ten times in those games and look to be back at their best after a nervy stretch in July.

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Ben Olsen’s men come into the game off the back of a 1-0 win at Montreal on Saturday evening and will look to win a fourth straight league game for the first time this season on Thursday.

This will be the first ever MLS meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals and it should be a competitive battle. NYCFC need to edge nearer the playoffs, while DC need to remain in top spot. Expect this one to be good.

Team News

New York City will still be without George John, Tony Taylor, Connor Brandt and Chris Wingert, while Khiry Shelton, Ned Grabavoy and Ryan Meara are all doubtful to play. Lampard, Villa and Pirlo started together for the first time on Sunday and should do so again here.

DC United have three injury concerns as Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola are still ruled out, while Michael Farfan is a doubt.

Key Points

New York City’s last five: D/L/W/L/L

DC United’s last five: L/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: NYCFC have conceded at least three goals in each of their last four home games in MLS.

Key Player: Chris Rolfe – The DC United attacker scored his ninth of the season on Saturday and leads the team in goals. He has three in his last two and looks to be in fine form.

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Score Prediction

New York City FC 2-3 DC United – Expecting a dramatic encounter in New York for this Thursday night clash. NYCFC need to attack from the outset to try and win the game but DC are in free-scoring form of late and should be too strong.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. DC United

Venue: PPL Park – Sunday, May 17th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST – Monday, May 18th)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 7/5 – Draw 23/10 – DC United 19/10

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union take on DC United at PPL Park on Sunday evening in an MLS clash between two sides at opposite ends of the Eastern Conference.

The Union have statistically been the worst side in MLS this season, other than Montreal Impact, as they sit one place above the bottom of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

Jim Curtin‘s side have also conceded more goals (21) than any other team – that’s seven more than the next worst defence, which is Houston who have let in 14.

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Philadelphia’s most recent outing saw them comfortably swept aside in a 3-0 defeat away at the Vancouver Whitecaps, extending their run of consecutive defeats to four games – the Union have won just one of their opening 11 games (D3, L7).

The only points the Union have picked up in the last nine games came courtesy of a win and a draw in back-to-back games against fellow strugglers New York City.

By stark contrast, DC United’s start to the season has been excellent as six wins, three draws and one defeat from their opening ten games is enough to see them at the top of the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

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Ben Olsen will be delighted with how efficient the performances of his DC team have been, conceding fewer goals (8) than any other side so far, and they’re now unbeaten in their last eight games (W5, D3) with the most recent success a 2-1 victory at home to Orlando City last weekend.

Chris Rolfe has led the line well with three goals and three assists, but the key to DC’s success so far has been the overall team ethos as nine different players have already contributed to the 13 goals they’ve scored this season, showing that the load has been shared equally.

DC United won both of the games between these two sides in 2014 by a 1-0 scoreline. Philadelphia’s most recent victory over DC was a 2-0 win back in August 2013.

Team News

Philadelphia Union are suffering with a very long list of absentees which only adds to their ongoing problems. Rookie Richie Marquez will miss the game through suspension following his red card against Vancouver. Steven Vitoria is struggling with a knee injury and loanee goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre is likely to deputise in goal once again as John McCarthy continues his recovery from concussion. Fernando Aristeguieta (international duty), Andre Blake (knee) and Mike Lahoud (leg) are all unavailable, while C. J. Sapong remains out for non-footballing reasons. Antoine Hoppenot (hamstring) and Fred (hamstring) are also doubts.

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DC United will be without the injured Steve Birnbaum, Collin Martin and Markus Halsti. Forward Fabian Espindola missed the Orlando game with a slight knee problem but could return to the squad for this clash.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: D/L/L/L/L

DC United’s last five: D/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have won just two of their last 18 games in MLS (D6, L10) combining the end of the 2014 with start of the 2015 season.

Key Player: Perry Kitchen – The 23-year-old hasn’t missed a single minute of the MLS season so far and has been a vital component in the DC United machine at the heart of the midfield. His performances are one of the reasons that DC have been so hard to break down.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 0-1 DC United – DC United will expect to win this one against a Philadelphia side that are struggling at the moment with both casualties and form. It’s tough to see any other outcome than a DC victory.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. DC United 

Venue: BC Place – Saturday, April 25th – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: Vancouver Whitecaps 8/11 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 4/1

Match Preview

Vancouver Whitecaps welcome DC United to BC Place on Saturday evening as they look to remain top of the Western Conference against a DC side sitting in second in the Eastern Conference.

The Whitecaps have had an impressive start to the season, winning five of eight games, but Carl Robinson will know his side will be hard pushed for a win in this one.

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Robinson’s side got back to winning ways last weekend with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake and he will be hoping Octavio Rivero will end his two-game goalless run after starting the season so well, with five goals in six games.

Ben Olsen’s DC have drawn back-to-back games and fallen off the pace a little. They are joint top of the Eastern Conference with the Red Bulls, second only on goal difference, but have played one game more than their rivals.

Goals look like they could be a tough thing to come by from this DC United forward line, as Chris Rolfe and Jairo Arrieta have netted just one each so far and the return of Fabian Espindola from suspension is a huge boost for last year’s Eastern Conference winners.

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DCU would have expected to win last weekend against Houston Dynamo and will be disappointed they couldn’t hold out at home to Owen Coyle’s side after taking the lead.

This is going to be a hard-fought game and if either side can come away with all three points it will be a great result.

Team News

Vancouver Whitecaps have three injury concerns as Andre Lewis, Marco Bustos and Diego Rodriguez could all be sidelined, while Kendall Watson is just one yellow card away from a suspension after racking up four cautions already.

DC United have four sidelined as Markus Halsti, Eddie Johnson, Steve Birnbaum and Collin Martin are all struggling with injuries. Olsen knows his side will be in for a difficult tie, playing against a Whitecaps side who are the joint top-scorers so far this campaign.

Key Points

Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: W/W/D/L/W

DC United’s last five: L/W/W/D/D

Key Stat: Octavio Rivero has scored just one goal less than the whole of the DC United side combined this season.

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Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Vancouver playmaker has three assists so far this campaign and his range of passing can unlock even the toughest of defences. If DCU can stop him getting on the ball they have a good chance here.

Score Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 DC United – The Whitecaps have what it takes to edge this one and home advantage will play a part as they are likely to remain top of the Western Conference and MLS Supporters Shield standings after eight weeks.

What did we learn in DC United’s win against the Houston Dynamo?

Houston Dynamo visited DC United on Wednesday night and left with nothing but an injury to rookie Mark Sherrod as DC strolled to a 2-0 win. However, there a many things we can take from the game:

1. Giles Barnes is playing to deep for Dynamo.

The ex-Derby County winger is being deployed as a central midfielder as of late, and he is struggling with the defensive responsibilities assigned to him.

If the Dynamo wants to get the best out of Barnes they are going to have to play him in a more advanced role, and reduce the amount of his defensive duties.

You don’t keep your thoroughbred locked in the stables!

 

2. Dynamo are desperately missing Brad Davis.

Much of the reason why Barnes is playing in midfield is down to the loss of Davis, who is currently with the national team.

However, the experienced midfielder is widely expected to miss out on Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23- man squad for the World Cup, and so he should be back sooner rather than later.

The Dynamo midfield is missing their playmaker badly, and his set-pieces are irreplaceable.

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(Photo: Houston will be looking forward to the return of Brad Davis)

 

3. No Eddie Johnson, no problem.

Chris Rolfe deputized for the suspended Johnson on Wednesday night, in an advanced position, and he managed to score as well.

Filling-in to partner red-hot Fabian Espindola, Rolfe beat his man and fired past Tally Hall in textbook fashion.

Rolfe acts as a partner for Espindola rather than a target man like EJ, and it will be interesting to see how the trio play when Johnson comes back into the side.

 

4. Espindola is a touch of class.

I mentioned in the preview for this game that there was expectation on Espindola to perform, and he did not disappoint, grabbing the assist for Rolfe’s goal and scoring one himself.

He single-handedly inspired DC to victory by notching his fifth goal of the season.

He is arguably DC’s most important player as Eddie Johnson has yet to start firing on all cylinders.

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(Photo: Fabian Espindola is crucial for DC)

 

5. Bill Hamid has to be the next long-term USMNT ‘keeper.

The 23 year-old shot stopper showed again last night why he has such a great reputation. He was tested throughout the game by long-range efforts and looked commanding at all times.

With an upcoming age problem amongst the goalkeepers in the USMNT, the young Hamid has to be the first port of call, post Brazil. Brad Guzan is the youngest ‘keeper going to Brazil at 29.

Many will argue Hamid should be heading to Brazil, but playing more games for DC will only enhance his ability.

 

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

DC United edge past hapless Philadelphia

By Zack Walford

DC United got back to winning ways, beating Philadelphia 1-0 on Saturday to heap more misery on the Union.

Philadelphia Union and DC United are two teams in very different positions, heading into this one the Union were looking to break an eight-game winless streak, while DC United saw their five-game unbeaten run end last week at home to Portland Timbers.

Within six minutes the deadlock was broken, Cristian sent the ball in, which took a deflection before falling to Chris Rolfe, who chested  it down and struck it beautifully with his left foot, blasting the ball into the net past Zac Macmath. The goal was Rolfe’s fiftieth in his illustrious career in MLS.

Nine minutes later, Union had the chance to level through Andrew Wenger but the chance was wasted by the twenty-three-year-old.

Former Fulham front man, Eddie Johnson, then thought he had doubled the Washington side’s lead only to be denied by the linesman, who raised his flag for offside. Another chance came the way of Fabian Espindola but this was wide of the mark and failed to test Zac Macmath.

In the fifty-second minute, Union came close to equalising through a smart long range effort from frenchman Vincent Nogueira.

Following a bright start by the home team, they again tested the defence of DC with a corner but Nogueira’s effort was nowhere near the target.

With the game still in favour of DC United, a high through ball found Wenger again but his effort was cleared by goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who flung himself again to save the rebounded effort from Conor Casey, as DC preserved their one goal lead.

Hamid made some important catches and saves inside the closing stages of the game to make sure all three points were heading to the away team.

For DC United, they now have fourteen points and currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, as they head home to play bottom side Montreal Impact next weekend.

Whist Union are now on a nine-game winless run, their longest in the franchise’s history. They have the tough task of ending that when they face Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

Highlights via Major League Soccer’s YouTube channel: