D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union find themselves in the interesting position of facing each other in back-to-back matches, although these matches will be in two different locations, and in two different competitions.
Tonight's U.S. Open Cup match will be hosted by United at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD, but the two teams will face off again next Saturday at PPL Park in Chester, PA.
Many teams choose to use reserve lineups in the Open Cup, but that won't likely be the case tonight. With no MLS matches the week before or week after, neither team has any excuse to play anything but its best starting lineup. Unfortunately for United, that lineup is still a bit limited with Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic away with the Canadian National Team, and Chris Pontius still recovering from a butt bruise (let's just call it what it is...). Still, the defense and midfield will be at or near full strength for United, including Emiliano Dudar and Brandon McDonald in central defense, and Perry Kitchen and Branko Boskovic in central midfield. We'll have more on the Union's potential starting lineup later this morning.
United sits in first place in the MLS Eastern Conference, but only by a slim margin. A win next Saturday is vital to preserving that position. But a win tonight may be even more vital because it means moving on in the Open Cup, and moving one step closer to another trophy and a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Of course United fans will want to see our team win both matches, and I think we should all expect the same. But that doesn't make for a very interesting conversation. So here's the question: If for some reason United can only win one of these two matches against the Union, and will lose the other, which match would you prefer for D.C. to win?