Its really unfortunate that D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls had to swap dates in their home-and-home series in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs. But it had to be done.
On our podcast this week, I came up with an alternate plan that might help give United its rightful advantage back, since D.C. finished second in the Conference and New York finished third. Here's my proposal: If the two teams are tied after the second leg in New York, and then they're still tied after 30 minutes of extra time, during the penalty kick shootout, both teams will get to stack all the major trophies that they've won during their 17 year history in front of the goal when defending. Sound fair?
United has 12 trophies and the Red Bulls have none. The quest for the 13th comes tonight at RFK Stadium, a place where United hasn't lost a game since March. That home field advantage is a very real thing for this team. They have no intentions of disappointing the 20,000 fans that will be in attendance. This game will be a good one.
Game time: 8:00 PM
TV: NBC Sports Network
Projected starting lineup: Ben Olsen is likely to use the same starting 11 as he used the last time the team kicked off at RFK. That would mean Maicon Santos returning to the starting lineup as a forward paired with Lionard Pajoy. The midfield will consist of Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon on the wings, with Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa in central midfield. The back line will remain as consistent as its been throughout United's seven-game undefeated streak, with Chris Korb, Dejan Jakovic, Brandon McDonald, and Andy Najar defending the goal that will be occupied by Bill Hamid.
Prediction: I'm predicting an entertaining game with plenty of chances for both sides. Fortunately United's defense and goalkeeper are both better, and the home team will emerge with a 2-1 victory.
What are you drinking? I'm making my long-awaited return to the press box tonight, so Coke will be my beverage of choice.
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