MLS Playoffs GameThread: D.C. United Vs. Houston Dynamo, Leg 1

Bob Levey

We're just two matches away from the 2012 MLS Cup. Can D.C. United get there? They're the highest seed remaining, but somehow still not the favorite.

The goal going into this season for D.C. United was just to make the playoffs. Mission accomplished. When the Eastern Conference playoff seedings fell into place, United was pitted against the hated rival New York Red Bulls, and winning that series became incredibly vital to the organization and the fanbase. Mission accomplished.

So what's the mission now? It's all just gravy from here, right?

Not exactly, no. United is the top seed remaining in the MLS playoffs. This round's opponent is the Houston Dynamo, who happen to be the lowest seed remaining. To go out now would be a disappointment. I'd like to see the better team go through. And D.C. is the better team.

Game time: 4:00 PM

TV: NBC Sports Network

Projected starting lineup: With Bill Hamid suspended for a red card, the only change in the starting lineup for United will be between the pipes, with Joe Willis taking over temporarily. We might wind up seeing Chris Korb return from injury to replace Lewis Neal, but with only two days passing since the Red Bulls match, I think Korb's return might be unlikely right now. Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald, and Dejan Jakovic will make up the rest of the back line. In front of them, there will be five midfielders together with Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon on the wings, Marcelo Saragosa and Perry Kitchen in central defensive midfield, and Branko Boskovic above them. Lionard Pajoy will be alone up top.

Prediction: With the first match happening on the road, look for Ben Olsen to employ the conservative approach that we saw often when the team was away from home in the last two months of the regular season. I'm predicting a 0-0 draw, and will be totally satisfied if that's the final result.

What are you drinking? Staying on the east coast with Delaware's own Dominion Octoberfest.

This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.

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