On Tuesday night, the United States Men's National Team played Panama knowing at the US result could well save the World Cup dream of arch rivals Mexico. As it turned out, that's exactly what happened, as El Tri lost and was rescued only by Graham Zusi's stoppage time equalizer (and Aron Johansson's subsequent winner). Tonight in the heartland, D.C. United are in a similar predicament to the USMNT, as anything but a win by Sporting Kansas City will be hurt the Sporks' quest for the Supporters' Shield and prove helpful to the New York Red Bulls' chances of claiming their first ever silverware. A result for United tonight - particularly a win with multiple goals - would also help the Black-and-Red avoid the ignominy of a litany of "worst ever" labels that is waiting for them after next weekend's season finale.
What's a D.C.-loving, Metros-hating soccer fan to do?
Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm going to be rooting hard for United to upset Kansas City tonight, for the Red Bulls to lose and for somebody in the Western Conference to step up and deny Jersey the Shield. It could be too much to ask, but with the various crises averted in the Capitol this week, I'm feeling hopefu... nope. It probably is too much to ask. But the only way we'll know where it breaks down is by watching. So let's get to it.
Kickoff Time: 8 pm EDT (7 pm in the Midwestern time of my childhood)
Venue: The now wristband-free Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
TV/Streaming: We can watch this one! It'll be on NBCSN and online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
Match Previews: As always, we previewed the game on this week's episode of our Filibuster podcast. ChestRockwell also ran SKC through the ringer to find United's best chances to survive tonight, and Ben Bromley gave his lineup prediction for tonight. I swapped some questions with another Ben, this one from our Spork-shaped sister site The Daily Wiz. Over at dcunited.com, they have their usual compliment of previews.
Projected D.C. Lineup: As much as I want to see Benny try something new and interesting, I expect we'll see something like his usual vanilla 4-4-2 tonight, maybe even an unchanged XI from the Philly draw last weekend. Bill Hamid in goal; Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard and Dennis Iapichino in defense; Nick DeLeon, Jared Jeffrey, Lewis Neal and Chris Pontius in midfield; Luis Silva and Conor Doyle up top.
Match Prediction: The Sporks are playing for a playoff seeding, potentially hosting MLS Cup come December, and a trophy in its own right. Look for them to come out much more motivated that the two previous times we've met them this year. I don't think it'll be pretty for United. 3-1 win for the hosts.
What Are You Drinking?: Well, I totally don't have a giant illicit stash of stolen Pappy Van Winkle 20-year bourbon sitting in the crawlspace under my house, so I obviously won't be drinking that tonight. Instead, I'll be drinking another, lesser but still very good bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery: Blanton's single barrel. Yeah, Blanton's - totally not Pappy.
Alright, United fans. This is your place for pre-game, in-game and post-game commentary. Have at it.