It's one of those packed weeks in MLS, and D.C. United have not escaped the wrath of the scheduling gods. So here we are, three days after a game day, for another game day.
This time the Black-and-Red hit the road to take on the Montreal Impact, and we're uncertain about whether the recent not-bad team we've seen at home will show up at Stade Saputo.
This week will be where our depth is put to the test as we will have three games. The quick turnaround in going to Montreal midweek is a major challenge. Do I think our guys are up to the challenge? Remains to be seen. This is a major game to gain some ground on Montreal (who is in 5th place), but this may be too much to ask for a win. I'm going for a draw. 1-1, goal by Mullins and the draw parade continues.
The big question for me is whether Ben Olsen will have his team playing on the road at the same level of quality and intensity as he did during the just-completed unbeaten (if disappointing) home stand. L'Impact's 3-0 loss at home last weekend to Chicago will be fresh on everyone's minds, and I think United comes out of the gate flying. Unlike most recent games, they make the pressure count as Lloyd Sam finishes off a chance created by high pressure. Steve Birnbaum and Patrick Mullins combine on a set piece for a repeat of last weekend's final goal to put los Capitalinos up two. Didier Drogba scores—as he always does against us—to cut the margin, but the Black-and-Red claim their second road win of the year and give us all hope they can hold strong during the run-in.
Montreal is coming off of a humiliating 3-0 loss to the worst team in MLS (who had gone two full seasons worth of road games between wins away from Chicago), a game in which they were beaten in transition time and time again. That's the good news for United. The bad news is that they'll probably have focused on that problem, and we don't know how capable this new-look United is on the road. On top of that, both teams are being screwed by some nonsensical scheduling, with this game coming three days after their last outings and three days before their next matches. It's very hard to predict this game having no idea whether either or both teams will opt to heavily rotate for this game. As such, I'll have to go for more of a default road game on short rest prediction: United plays well enough to get a draw, but after Matteo Mancosu and Lamar Neagle exchange first half goals, Montreal gets a scrappy set-piece winner via Laurent Ciman (and possibly with the help of an uncalled foul). 2-1 Impact.
I've got a bad feeling about this one. Over their one other stretch of three games in eight days this season, guys such as Didier Drogba, Ignacio Piatti, and Laurent Ciman started all three games. With Montreal just having been pasted on the road, and with this game presenting the possibility of beating another playoff contender, I don't see Montreal rotating much. United will defend well early, but ultimately concede a Didier Drogba goal, and then concede another goal late while trying to equalize. 2-0 to Montreal, and United will face a virtual must win game against Chicago at home on Saturday.
I have a similar feeling, though a little contrarian to Rick. Sure, D.C. plays Chicago Saturday, though Montreal plays at Toronto Saturday and wouldn't want to risk Drogba having a hot temper and seeking vengeance on Marcelo Sarvas from their tussle a few weeks back, and they could make similar decisions so that they can rest up and have a chance to vault into the Top 4 while gaining ground on the Reds. DCU's iffy performances at Saputo aside, I'll go with a 1-1 result with Lloyd Sam pitching in to level things in the second half.
Yeah, the schedule is rough is week, and yeah, United are not great on the road, Bob. I'm tempted to predict a draw and give our guys a little credit considering the decent run they've been on, but the pessimist in me feels like we're headed to a loss in this one. I'll say 2-1, a disappointing point total of zero for the Black-and-Red despite a Patrick Mullins goal. Drogba continues to be a menace.
Well, that's what we're predicting. What do you think will happen tonight? Let us know in the comments!