D.C. United takes on Tauro FC tonight in the final group stage game of the 2014-2015 Concacaf Champions League. With passage to the next round already secured and playing in hostile territory with a roster full of backups, our staff goes back and forth on their predictions; leave your predictions in the comments!
While tempted to predict a close win for D.C. United as they take on Tauro down in Panama, the CCL experience this year says only first-choice starters are scoring for the Black-and-Red in the regional championships. Despite having never put the full Starting XI on the field during CCL this fall, the goal scorers for United in their three previous CCL matches have been Eddie Johnson x2, Fabian Espindola x2, and Chris Pontius (thank you league suspensions and rehab assignments!). From what we've heard heading into the Tauro away match, none of these players will be anywhere near the Panama, so give me a 0-0 draw. The team United fields will be capable of the win, but I just want to see one of them produce a goal before predicting it!
Adam M Taylor
With no first-choice players making the trip south to Panama - this is where your internal jukebox should cue the Van Halen - it's hard to predict a win for the Black-and-Red. But I didn't get into the prediction game because it was easy, so let's do it. David Estrada nets a brace, both goals set up by Collin Martin, who shows why he should always, always be played centrally. Kofi Opare, Joe Willis and the rest of the defense keep the rare clean sheet on a Central American trip, and everything continues to come up Milhouse.
It's very hard to predict this match. By all accounts, no first-teamers will be making the trip to Panama. But, this Tauro team isn't very good. This is a road match and it's always difficult to win on the road in CCL play. With seeding at stake with this match, expect the players that do make a trip to try and make a statement and give United reason to have some of them on the bench for the playoffs. Joe Willis brings his A game and the defense helps pitch a shutout. One goal by Collin Martin is the difference...1-0 United and the Black and Red secure a top 3 seed in the CCL knockout stage.
Tauro is dreadful, but it has to be said: United has offered up close the bare minimum necessary in this CCL, give or take one sublime Fabian Espindola goal. With only 14 players traveling and Ben Olsen staying home, I can't help but wonder if the squad going to Panama will be able to take this game seriously. I'd love to offer up a sunny prediction here and talk about winning four of four in the CCL, but I can't bring myself to do it. Still, as pessimistic as I am about treating this game like an afterthought, I have to go back to my opening three words: Tauro is dreadful. I see a 1-1 draw with David Estrada scoring for United.
Tauro has quietly righted the ship a teeny little bit and are up to 5th in their League for whatever that's worth, and if D.C. is playing for seeding, well, a lot has to happen in matches over the next three days and D.C. could very well rue the fact that they brought the Kickers to Panama (no disrespect Ben). I'm hoping for a 1-1 draw and as far as seeding goes? I'll pick 6th for D.C.
I want to predict a simple win for the Black-and-Red, but simple and CONCACAF rarely go together. Tauro aren't exactly the best team in the world, but they're going to make it tough on our guys in Panama. I'm going with a tight 1-0 victory for DCU, goal courtesy of Collin Martin. Joe Willis manages to grab the clean sheet, but just barely. It's going to get messy. That's the only thing I feel confident predicting.
Is it deflating to see a team come to your country leaving its top players and coach behind, or infuriating, or do you even care? I think Tauro can pull out a win in their last CCL match of this season. This DCU team hasn't played much together, and that will be evident, no matter how much latent talent is on that airplane. All Tauro will need is the right ticked off attitude to put this away. Tauro is struggling in home league play, apparently, but this could be their night. If they play with that edge, they will squeak out a 2-1 win over the reserve team. The Korb better not get injured. You hear me, The Korb?