For the first time since last year, a match between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls will not be directly affected by snow. That's about all we know for sure about tonight's Atlantic Cup clash at the friendly confines of RFK Stadium. Everything else, basically, is up in the air. Will we see the United side that stepped to Sporting Kansas City during the first half last Friday, or the team that couldn't string three passes together in New Jersey four weeks ago? Will we see the Chris Pontius who was MLS Best XI last year and the Dwayne De Rosario who was the 2011 league MVP, or will we see guys who don't want to take the team on their backs and make the big plays. Will we see Lionard Pajoy or Rafael in the lineup, and - whatever the answer to that question - how will the starter perform?
Tonight, we find out. Though good luck watching if you aren't at the stadium tonight: The only outlets available are Major League Soccer's subscription services, Direct Kick (on cable/satellite) and MLS Live (online streaming). So get out to RFK!
Time: 7 pm EDT.
Venue: Robert Francis Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, DC
TV: MLS Live, as I mentioned above, there is no local TV coverage in the DMV.
Projected D.C. Lineup: The back of the formation, as usual, is easy enough to call: Bill Hamid in goal and a back four comprising Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic and Daniel Woolard. I expect to see the same midfield we saw in KC last week, with one possible change. Look for Marcos Sanchez or Kyle Porter (flip a coin?) on the right, Perry Kitchen and Raphael Augusto in the middle and Chris Pontius on the left. Up top, the question is whether Pajoy will fall from the XI, and I think tonight is the night he finally does. Look for Rafael Gladiador to partner DeRo, who will spend plenty of time dropping between the lines to link the midfield and facilitate the attack.
Prediction: The Metros are banged up and - as we discussed with Once a Metro's Matt Coyne on this week's episode of Filibuster - their defense is bordering on the shambolic at the moment. With Augusto helping with possession in the midfield and the Red Bulls not looking to boss the game this time around, I expect United to spend more time on the ball, and I'll be optimistic in thinking that we'll finally see some creativity and danger out of the attack. I know I predicted a draw in our predictions post early in the week, but I'll amend that to a 2-1 win for the good guys.
What Are You Drinking?: I'll actually be missing the game because of a long-scheduled fancy black tie function downtown. So I'll be drinking fancy champagne (well, probably California sparkling wine, but still fancy) or fancy cocktails while checking my fancy smartphone obsessively throughout the night. Fancy.
You know the drill, folks. This is your place for pre-game, in-game and post-game discussion.