The 2012 season will end tonight for either D.C. United or the New York Red Bulls.
Oh, so it’s snowing in New Jersey? It’s going to be a little chilly out? The conditions might not be conducive to beautiful soccer, unfortunately. Tonight’s match won’t be the prettiest you’ve ever watched.
And you know what? WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK.
D.C. United has won cups in the pouring rain. We’ve won cups on soggy fields. We’ve won cups in the cold, and we’ll do it again. Games like this can define a team. The early United teams made a tradition out of winning at all costs and in all conditions. The 2012 United team has already made a tradition out of winning when their backs are against the wall, despite adversity and despite long odds. The 2012 United team has made adjustments to deal with player injuries, player suspensions, field conditions and the like. Tonight, United will make adjustments again to counteract the weather. The constant long balls over the top of the back line of the New York Red Bulls were very effective on Saturday night, but that might not be an option this time around. Nor the diagonal balls to Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon on the wings.
So Ben Olsen will have to adjust. So will the Red Bulls. So will Hans Backe. I’ll be happy to put United’s long history of winning in bad weather, and recent history of making positive tactical adjustments against New York’s long history of failing in big matches and recent history of tactical mistakes.
I’m not ready to write an obituary on the 2012 season. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll have to quite yet.
Game time: 8:00 PM
TV: NBC Sports Network
Projected starting lineup: If this game was back at RFK Stadium, or even at a neutral site without the nasty weather, I’d expect the same formation and same lineup as we saw on Saturday, with the obvious switch of Robbie Russell for the suspended Andy Najar. Olsen felt that United should have won the first leg, so he’d stick with the same strategy. But we’d be crazy to ignore the weather, and so I think that we’ll also see Maicon Santos next to Pajoy in the starting lineup in place of Branko Boskovic, with the Montenegran coming off the bench in the second half (regardless of the score). The midfield will once again feature Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa in the middle with Pontius and DeLeon on the outside. Chris Korb, Dejan Jakovic, and Brandon McDonald will line up next to Russell in the back with Bill Hamid in goal.
Prediction: I’ve seen several people predict a United win with Dwayne De Rosario scoring late. That would be totally cool. I see it a little differently though. I see United taking a 1-0 lead earlier in the match with a goal that is either created or scored by Pontius and holding on in the second half with Hamid making several big stops to seal the victory.
What are you drinking? I’m too anxious to do anything creative. Captain and coke.
This is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. It won’t be our last.