Our long national nightmare is nearly over. This afternoon, D.C. United will take the field for the last time in 2013, against their longtime white whales the Houston Dynamo. United will be playing for pride and places on next year's roster - and, of course, to end an awful season on a high note - while Houston need a result to have any chance of leapfrogging New England for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. So I guess United have a chance to play spoiler, too.
Either way, let's have some early afternoon fun.
Time: 1:30 pm EDT
Venue: RFK Stadium
TV/Streaming: NBC had a great idea when the season started - let's pit the two conference finalists against each other in what will surely be a top-of-the-table clash on national broadcast television. Oops. Nevertheless, today's game will be on NBC proper and online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
Match Previews: Check out everything in our Match Center, including ChestRockwell's scouting report on the Dynamo, my question exchange with a Houston blogger, and Ben's lineup prediction. And of course, check out the latest episode of our podcast, Filibuster. For the Houston perspective, click over to our sister-blog on SB Nation, Dynamo Theory.
Final Week Open Thread: Keep up with everything going on around MLS today with our open thread.
Projected D.C. Lineup: I think Ben Olsen might go with a 4-3-3 given his limited options today. (Thanks injuries and suspensions!) Bill Hamid will be in goal, and in front of him Chris Korb, Conor Shanosky, Daniel Woolard and Dennis Iapichino. I think Jared Jeffrey, Lewis Neal and Luis Silva get the run out in midfield, and up front we'll see Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario and Conor Doyle.
Match Prediction: It's really hard to predict a United win, especially with the absence of Perry Kitchen. I expect Houston will head home 2-1 winners today.
What Are You Drinking?: Oh yes, day drinking. But we'll be going easy with some variants of Three Stars at our tailgate.
For the blessed final time this year, welcome to your place for pre-game, in-game and post-game conversation.