It’s the start of a three-game road trip for D.C. United as they look to close out the regular season on a high note.
Still stuck in last place, the Black and Red have been revitalized since their active Summer transfer window. Signing players such as Paul Arriola and Zoltan Stieber have given United the much-needed spark to get results.
Their momentum will be tested as they travel to New Jersey to face the New York Red Bulls, who are looking to inch closer to clinching a playoff spot.
Drama covered by glory
D.C. United have had their ups and downs this year. Although being in last place in the East for a long time (and were also last in the entire MLS for some time), when the owners broke the bank and signed many notable players; the optimism of fans grew fast.
United have won four out of their last six, which included a 4-0 thrashing of the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the headline fans are continuing to talk about.
With many rumors that he will be leaving once his contract is up, Bill Hamid had gained interest from European clubs. On Saturday he was being scouted, but there was one issue – Hamid sat the bench. Manager Ben Olsen gave Steve Clark the nod, as he has not gotten any playing time since he signed for the capital club.
Many say Olsen did this on purpose to shell off interest from lurking clubs, but he insists it was just simply seeing what his players can offer.
“We’re still going for wins, but also we can see what other players are about. In certain circumstances, you can also get a sense for their competitive nature because they’re not playing for the playoffs.”
Trying to bounce back
The New York Red Bulls have struggled this past month. They haven’t won in seven games (drawn four, lost three), and their last win was against USL side FC Cincinnati in the US Open Cup. RBNY are also still stinging over a heart-breaking 2-1 loss in the US Open Cup finals.
Fortunately for Jesse Marsch’s side, a game against D.C. United might just be what they need. What better way to get more momentum than playing an arch-rival at home?
Despite their recent success, D.C. still can get dominated. They were beaten 3-0 by the Chicago Fire on September 16, proving that they are still human.
Keys to win
The biggest threat D.C. gives RBNY is that they have nothing to lose. Playoffs are nearly out of reach and their signings are just trying to build chemistry. For the home side Red Bulls, they will need their star keeper Luis Robles to keep United at bay. If D.C. begin scoring, they might catch fire. United striker Patrick Mullins is coming off of a four-goal game, which could spell trouble for New York if they let him continue his good form.
For D.C. to take all three points they’ll need to play without a care in the world. Obviously, they will fight for three points, but the pressure is off of them for the rest of the year. For them to be able to simply play and work on chemistry is a blessing in disguise. They’ve shown they can really turn things on, but now it’s time to work on momentum for next season.
Date: Wednesday, September 27
Location: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, New Jersey)
Referee: Christopher Penso (USA)
Watch: D.C.: NewsChannel 8, N.Y.: MSG