D.C. United knew at full time that their 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire, combined with a 3-1 win for New York City FC against the Philadelphia Union, had guaranteed them a home MLS playoff match. The only question mark was answered a little over an hour later, as the Columbus Crew’s topsy-turvy 3-2 home win over Minnesota United meant that the Crew would come to Audi Field for a Thursday knockout round game. The match is scheduled for 8:00pm and will air on Fox Sports 1 and UniMas.
Thanks to the vagaries of the MLS schedule, United has not played Columbus in over six months. It will also be the Crew’s first visit to Buzzard Point; their previous visit to play United saw the Black-and-Red take a 1-0 win at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis on April 14. Going even further back to March 24, United fell 3-1 at Crew Stadium in a game marred by a controversial no-call after Lalas Abubakar’s two-footed tackle on Luciano Acosta.
If United’s prior playoff history against the Crew is any indicator, it’s a promising match-up. In 1997, during an era where playoff series were played as best-of-three series, United beat the Crew 3-2 at home and 1-0 away in the Eastern Conference final en route to their second MLS Cup victory. The sides met again in 1998, exchanging home wins before D.C. took the decisive third game 3-0, with Roy Lassiter bagging a brace.
In 1999, it happened again: current head coach Ben Olsen scored the winner in game one of the Eastern Conference final, only for the Crew to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 rout in game two. Back at RFK, United replied in kind, crushing the Crew 4-0 thanks to a scintillating performance from Marco Etcheverry (who had 3 assists before scoring the final goal himself).
That said, United’s home record against the Crew is not ideal. Under Olsen, D.C. has won five and lost five in their ten meetings in the District/Annapolis. The Black-and-Red do have the series edge, but it’s by a single goal. However, it’s safe to say that we’re in a new era, and United’s record at Audi Field is 12W-1D-2L, including five straight wins.