Whatever slim hopes D.C. United have in the Concacaf Champions League will be put on the line tonight, as the welcome LD Alajuelense to town for the second leg of this quarterfinal. For obvious reasons, we are not very optimistic on United's chances (though we do predict wins), but leave us your predictions in the comments!
The rain is supposed to give way to snow on Wednesday night, so I'm hoping that we have another Denver situation on our hands. I want feet of snow and bitterly cold temperatures as I know that will completely frustrate the LDA attack. We know what we need to do, so our team has to come out throwing haymakers from the opening bell and they can't quit until full time. I'm an optimist, so clearly I think we're going to win. My head tells me, however, that it will be close enough to not send us through. 3-1 United (6-5 LDA on aggregate) with goals by Espindola, Arrieta and Boswell.
Looks like we're holding steady for 100% chance of rain Wednesday night, and that means a DCU win, y'all. The guys will have to come out strong to have any chance of getting out of the hole they dug in Costa Rica, so don't expect too much time spent settling in. The midfield will be key in this one if DCU are to succeed at all--Perry Kitchen in particular will need to step up and own, and I think he will. DCU will play a better game than they did in the first leg, but it's going to be a frustrating game nonetheless. I'm predicting two goals for the Black-and-Red (Espindola and Pontius), but even with a clean sheet, it won't be enough without that third goal. 2-0 to the good guys, but thus ends our CCL run.
Rain games remind me of home matches of yore against the Houston Dynamo, of amending songs so that they come to be about rain, of defying stadium edict and staying in the stands amid thunder and lightning, of empty pitches being invaded by fans, of suspended games ending in the wee hours of the morning, of the Concourse Olympics, boxes of fried fish, and drinking beer from unmanned beer stands... Hold on, where was I going with this? Oh, it's going to rain on Wednesday, and with rain usually comes epic events that usually don't always happen on the pitch. I fear this will be another one of those nights. Alajuelense will defend with 11, and we'll have shot after shot go wide, high, or be saved, until finally one goes in to give us hope. I don't see it going past that, and we'll go win 1-0 but go out of the tournament. Don't forget your sandwich bag to put your cell phone in.
Are you ready for one of the greatest comebacks in CONCACAF Champions League history? No? I didn't think so. We're going to play marginally better in a chilly rain at RFK than we did in Costa Rica. But marginally better won't be anywhere near enough to produce the miracle game we need. DC will be up 1-0 at halftime. We'll concede a goal early in the second half. We'll put another in the net for dignity's sake before the final whistle blows. DC United, 2-1. Goals by Espindola (who won't get to shoot any more goals for a while after this game, thanks to his suspension, so he'll be sure to score at this appearance) and Rolfe.
As is my natural disposition, I still find myself thinking "If we just get to halftime having scored and not having given up a goal..." United will once again see an inspired Espindola terrorizing what was a pretty flimsy Alajuelense defense, and I also think we'll see another goal from a set piece. In fact, I think United is going to score the necessary number of goals to advance. However, the defending against LDA and the last preseason game against Dallas points to a team that suddenly can't hold up the other end of the bargain. LDA responds to 2-0 with a goal, and they do it again at 3-1. United wins 3-2 on the night (two goals from Espindola, plus one from Bobby Boswell), but crashes out 7-5 on aggregate.
Adam M Taylor
Rick is right that rain games make for wackiness. Think of the 4-1 dismantling of Theirry Henry's Red Bulls or the rained-out-multiple-times storm-caused-Metro-power-outages-downtown insanity that was the Houston game back in 2008. Or think about what happened in the rain during United's one and only U.S. Open Cup match last year, in Rochester. Weird things happen in the wet. So I think we see lots of goals. Espindola, Birnbaum and Rolfe all find the net, but not before the defense lets one by. 3-1 United on the night, 6-5 Alajuelense on aggregate. And then we all wonder whether we'll be at RFK Stadium again come Saturday.
I get the mystique of midweek games and D.C. United's luck in same, but this would be a massive win on Wednesday, and like we've said before, I fail to see how D.C. has the offensive acumen to pull it off, to say nothing of being slow starters in the Ben Olsen coached era. They may be ready, but I don't think they'll be '3 goals ready,' getting two (Espindola and Arrieta) in a 2-1 win, losing 6-4 on aggregate. Hope like hell I'm wrong.
D.C. United's offense missed some chances last week, and their defense cannot possible be as bad. I see a 3-1 win, with D.C. United falling just short, with goals from Espindola, Kitchen, and Rolfe.