You know we love a good battle of the Uniteds around here. This time D.C. United are up against Minnesota United at Allianz Field, where the home side will be looking for their first win in the new stadium. The Black-and-Red, meanwhile, will be aiming for their second road win in a row after a midweek 1-0 over Columbus.
But you’ve been watching this team, so you know that things could go well just as easily as they could go badly. And frankly, we’re all over the place in our predictions for this one.
Donald Wine II
Our road trip continues to the brand new Allianz Field. The field there was abysmal on Wednesday, and with a forecast calling for more rain and cold, miserable weather on Saturday, don’t expect the field to be much better when these two teams play on Sunday. Because of that, it will be a terrible game to watch (although hopefully not since I’ll be there). In the end, it’s a Titi Rodriguez goal that’s the difference in another 1-0 victory for the Black-and-Red.
Minnesota has two draws to open up Allianz Field, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see another one here. They’re far from airtight defensively, having allowed 15 goals, which is a total only equaled by one Eastern team (New England.) That said, they are coming off of a 0-0 draw with the West’s second best team, the Galaxy. D.C. finally broke their little skid with a 1-0 win at Columbus, but I don’t see them walking out with a win. The combination of weather and the surface make it hard for either team to get going, and they split the points with a 0-0 draw.
As Jason documented in Freedom Kicks and on Filibuster, the Loons defense is...bad. It’s really bad, the Galaxy result notwithstanding. Los Capitalinos have to score goals against it. And I think they do. Rooney sets up Acosta for a goal (please play like we know you can, and have, Lucho!) before Darwin Quintero does something weird and possible against the laws of physics to even things up by halftime. The hosts score after the break when Quintero sets up Abu Dunladi for the go-ahead goal. The proper United gets a point in the end, though, equalizing for good and all through—what else?—a set piece. Rooney swings it to the backpost for Steven Birnbaum, who heads back across goal for a Titi Rodriguez finish. 2-2 final.
Everyone has been talking about Minny’s bad defense (as they should), but it should be noted that Minny has also outscored D.C. by 4 more goals in one fewer game, and D.C. has scored 4 goals in their last 5 games, 3 of them coming at the Colorado Rapids. If there was the chance for Lucho to get his name all over the scoresheet this would be the day to do it, but I don’t think it happens, and I think D.C.’s defense will break just enough, with a Quintero goal the difference in a 1-0 Loons win.
I have a feeling this one is going to be a weird one. Minnesota is surely not just going to hoof crosses into the box after seeing the Crew get shut out, and I think they’ll get out in front midway through the first half on a Darwin Quintero goal. United will have a reply, though, with Paul Arriola forcing a defensive turnover and converting. Expect more of the same after halftime, with both teams able to break each other open and create chances. Quintero strikes again after DCU lets the game get too stretched out for too long, but the Loons are the worst set piece defense in MLS...and United is the best set piece attack in MLS. Late on, a Rooney corner picks out Steven Birnbaum, who flicks the ball past Vito Mannone to give the Black-and-Red a 2-2 draw.
Something about this game says “wonky” to me. I think it’ll end with a deceptively simple score of 1-1, but the path we take to get there will be a little bananas. I’m talking at least one goal that’s called back, some antics with the referee, and a host of missed opportunities. Ultimately, though, it’s just one goal apiece; Minnesota doesn’t get their Allianz win yet, and DCU return to Audi Field to make up for their Easter debacle.
What do you think will happen in today’s game? Share in the comments!
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