Guys, I still have an Orlando magnet from when I was at a game last summer and we found the magnet on our rental car afterwards. Never did decide what to do with it (most suggestions were "burn it"). Is this the week I destroy it once and for all?
Remains to be seen. What also remains to be seen is whether D.C. United will destroy OCSC tomorrow.
This match, in my opinion, is the most important one of the season. It's against an Orlando team that's tied with them for 7th place and together, the teams are only two back of the Revs. Each have a game in hand as well on New England. Win Saturday and the Black-and-Red will be in the driver's seat in the chase for the final playoff spot. Sadly, I think we're in for another stalemate. Acosta nets one and DeLeon nets another but Larin grabs 2 and it's a 2-2 draw.
D.C. United needs this game badly, and it is at home. A loss and they are behind both the New England Revolution and Orlando City for one playoff spot. I think the team feels the pressure and comes out and performs: Luciano Acosta comes to play, scoring a goal and giving Patrick Mullins an assist. Kaka pulls one back, but it's not enough and D.C. United wins 2-1.
Orlando followed their big 4-1 road win against Montreal with a 4-2 loss at LA and a 4-1 loss at home to Columbus. That bodes well for a D.C. United team that seemingly hasn't done anything but draw since Adrian Fenty was in office. Somehow, some way, the urgency that this team displays late in games to tie needs to show itself early in games to get on top. There will be goals in this one, and I see United winning on the odd goal in five. Patrick Mullins will be back on the score sheet, with Patrick Nyarko and Steve Birnbaum. 3-2 D.C.
This weekend feels like a playoff weekend, with DC playing Orlando, and Columbus playing New England. For these four teams, practically every game from here on out is a must-win. So I expect an electric atmosphere at RFK and fireworks on the field. Luciano Acosta scores early for DC United. Orlando ties it up before the half. The teams seem headed for a draw until Marcelo has a go from outside the box to pull out a 2-1 win for United, which will move above the red line and stay there after the ascendant Crew crush a cocky Revolution.
Orlando has been a defensive disaster recently, but apparently Antonio Nocerino—who has actually been good under Jason Kreis, believe it or not—is in contention to play on Saturday. They'll still play too high a line for their slow defense, and they'll still be sluggish to actually pressure the ball, but fans expecting DCU to roll because Orlando shipped four goals at home to the lowly Columbus Crew should probably take it down a notch.
Nonetheless, those errors seem tailor made for Lucho Acosta to rebound from last week's strangely quiet performance. United won't create 7 or 8 easy chances like the Galaxy and Crew, but they will manage to get themselves that critical 2-0 lead that has been so rare this season. Acosta should get assists #9 and #10 on the season, with Patricks Mullins and Nyarko scoring in the first half. Kaka will get Orlando on the board early in the second half, and the second half will be nerve-wracking to say the least, but some missed chances at both ends will leave the Black-and-Red 2-1 victors in 2016's most important game to date.
D.C. United has been scoring reliably over the last couple months for the first time in a couple years. Unfortunately, the defense has become more porous than in recent memory during that window, too. Multiple-goal games are fun to watch, but when you're allowing more than one goal in every game, you force yourself to need three goals to win. I think we see some improvement on both sides of the ball this weekend, as Luciano Acosta scores one and assists on two more—to Patrick Mullins and Steve Birnbaum—while the defense only lets Cyle Larin celebrate his topping the 24 Under 24 list with a single tally. 3-1 to the Black-and-Red.
We're quickly running out of games where we can say, "Well, we didn't win, but we could still make the playoffs if..." Three points against Orlando are kiiiiiind of critical. Thankfully I think the team recognizes that and, back at home, rights the ship a little. Not a clean sheet unfortunately, but 3-1 to the Black-and-Red will give us a brief sigh of relief nonetheless. At least one goal is from Mullins.
Those are our predictions—share yours in the comments! But first, your poll of the week: