D.C. United had a bye last week, so as we head into Week 9 of the season, it just so happens that their last result was a win. A win! I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that Columbus Crew game.
That game marked the last of only two “home” games for the Black-and-Red until Audi Field opens, so this weekend is the start of an extended road trip, with a first stop a few hours up I-95 to face the Philadelphia Union.
These meetings always have a little something to them—and we’re all feeling...optimistic? We may be jinxing the team here, but here’s how our predictions fell out:
Donald Wine II
After another 14 day break, the Black-and-Red travel to Philly to take on the Union, who have lost three of their last four and haven’t looked good since their Opening Day victory over New England. Have United turned the corner after somehow holding off Columbus two weeks ago despite having to bunker for 89 minutes and do it down a man for 40 of them? The answer is yes. I think finally, finally, the offense opens up. Darren Mattocks opens up the scoring, while Yamil Asad adds two more and it’s a clean sheet at the back as the Union cannot muster anything resembling an offense. Good guys win 3-0.
The Union give D.C. United chippy games on the field, even if the fans have a good relationship; red cards are more expected than not. But even without Russell Canouse and (likely) Junior Moreno, D.C. United needs to win this game if they are going to contend for the playoffs this year, even on the road. I need Chris Durkin to make his mark on this team, Ulises Segura to continue what he showed last game, and the attack to continue to click. I think they start to do so, and I think United gets out of Philly with a 2-1 win.
You know how D.C. United wanted to strengthen the spine of their XI and get a whole bunch of midfielders who either got/get hurt or take some time adjusting to the League? Well take an unimpressive #10, and two 19-year-old center backs and you have Philly right now. And watching FC Dallas counter and do so with speed, would seem to go right in the wheelhouse of D.C.
It would have been nice if Paul Arriola’s mobility would be in the game, but I’ll take Yamil Asad and Lucho Acosta’s and a dusting of Zoltan Stieber’s guile. D.C. hasn’t won at Philly’s stadium since 2014 when it was PPL Park, but Chris Durkin finds Yamil Asad for a goal and Stibi gets another to offset a CJ Sapong goal for a 2-1 win. On the road. For a win streak. On the road.
United have struggled against strong central midfields for a while now, and that is precisely what the Philadelphia Union are missing. Between the matchup and all the training time these last several weeks, look for Durkin and Segura to give us a demonstration Saturday of how the Black-and-Red’s revamped platform is supposed to work, moving the ball quickly forward in transition and maintaining possession in other phases.
I expect D.C. to press early, and hard. The DOOP backline was spectacularly unable to cope with Dallas’s high pressure last week and required something like divine intervention to survive the first half on even terms. They won’t be so lucky this week. Yamil Asad forces an early turnover deep in Philly’s half and puts the ball on a platter for—Zs up!—Zoltan Stieber to open the scoring.
Durkin springs Asad with a long diagonal later in the half, and the winger combines with fellow Argentine Lucho Acosta to put the guests up two. CJ Sapong pulls one back as Philly throws numbers forward late, but Los Capitalinos walk out deserved winners, 2-1.
This optimism is fine. I felt good about the match against Columbus, and I feel good about this one too. Since scoring twice on opening day against New England, the Philadelphia Union have scored just once in five matches. The United attack, averaging one goal per match, looks prolific by comparison. Completely ignoring the fact that the D.C. defense is also more accommodating than Philly’s, I’m taking United to win 1-0 on the strength of a Yamil Asad goal.
Oh, so we’re all feeling positive? Interesting, interesting. I feel like now we’ve 100% set ourselves for embarrassment with all these winning scorelines. But I don’t know—I think I’m feeling it, too. I’m not feeling a lot of goals, though. Give me a rough 1-0 for the Black-and-Red, Asad with the goal towards the end, after a distinctly un-pretty game that only turns for us for that moment.
The Union aren’t a good team at all right now, but it’s hard to go out and predict a win when United has lost five straight in the Keystone State. And yet, with Philly struggling and United coming out of the last bye week with a solid plan (before the red card, anyway), I’m going to go there. Yamil Asad finishes off a flowing move to cap off a good opening for the Black-and-Red, with Zoltan Stieber getting the assist. Luciano Acosta and...well, whoever the starting forward is both strike the woodwork, and United appears set to cruise into halftime up 1-0 until CJ Sapong nods home an otherwise aimless ball into the box.
The goal should spark the Union, but it’s D.C. that ends up galvanized instead. It’s not perfect by any means, but Ian Harkes comes in off the bench to bag a late winner after some high-pressing forces a giveaway deep in the Philadelphia half of the field. 2-1 United, an actual winning streak, and actual positive vibes. I know, we’re tempting fate here.
Do you see United winning tomorrow, or are we nuts? Share your prediction in the comments, but not before taking this week’s silly poll.
Based solely on the title, which book on my to-read list should I start next?
This poll is closed
The Oracle Year
The Philosopher’s Flight
The City of Brass