The staff is split over what will happen this Sunday against the Houston Dynamo, but it is a sign of how far the team has come that no one is predicting that United will lose. That, and the fact that something like half of the Dynamo's team will be missing for this game. Let us know what you think will happen in BBVA Compass Stadium in the comments!
The playoffs have already started for Houston, who are 4 points out of an actual postseason spot even after beating TFC 1-0 last night. This will be a Dynamo team on short rest and deprived of three starters (Oscar Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido are with Honduras, while AJ Cochran was red carded in Toronto), though, so their desperation will be paired with a significantly weakened lineup.
In other words, it's the perfect occasion to make a little history and finally take three points in Houston, and that's precisely what United should be doing in these circumstances. Fabian Espindola dominates the game, scoring both goals as United runs out 2-1 winners. Potential bonus: With Crew and Metro wins Saturday, this result would eliminate the Dynamo, which would feel spectacular.
Consider that in the seven games Chris Rolfe has not appeared for D.C. United, the team has scored six goals, 3 of those were against a trifling Chicago team recently. So hopefully Chris Pontius gets closer to form than before, but a weary Houston team levels things late for a 1-1 draw.
We have qualified for the playoffs, but Sunday's game against Houston is a prime opportunity to stake our claim on the #1 spot. But, we travel to Houston, where by my count we still haven't won in ever. Houston is pressing once again to get above that playoff line and they'll be focused on getting to the postseason but with a depleted lineup due to injury, suspension and international callups.Do we get it done? Do we finally get the 3 points away in Houston? My guess is...we get a point. 1-1 draw, Silva with the goal.
At first glance, it looks like the Dynamo have more to play for than United, as they need basically every available point to keep their slim playoff chances alive. But Ben Olsen wants that #1 spot in the East (along with the Concachamps berth and Garberbucks that come with it), and he knows that second-place New England is in form and gunning for the top seed. Add to that the motivation to finally break their duck, and D.C. should come out hard to claim all three points. In the end, there's a part of me that wants United's win to come by way of a terrible refereeing decision that denies Houston a goal and simultaneously drops them to eight men on the field, allowing los Capitalinos to hang half a dozen on the hosts. But we won't need that help. D.C. are the better team, and they'll do enough to claim a 2-1 road win over a depleted Houston side, goals coming from Chris Pontius early, Eddie Johnson late, and David Horst even later.
This is it. This is the week the winless-in-Houston lifetime record comes to an end for D.C. United. The Black-and-Red need to assert themselves down the homestretch to round into playoff form, and this game sets up well for them to do just that. Look for a solid 2-0 win for the men in black, with goals by Silva and DeLeon. Hamid only has to make a few great saves, and United's Magic number continues to get better.
Can we finally win in Houston? I'm thinking...unfortunately, not this time. But I do think we'll come away with a draw. The Dynamo need the point to keep playoff dreams alive--and although D.C. have already secured their place in the postseason, they want to make sure they stay top of the East. I'm expecting a tight game on Houston's narrow field--D.C. will need all the space they can find, and Kitchen's return will be welcome--but I'm also predicting a feisty 2-2. It'll be 1-1 for a while, and we'll think that's how it ends until a final ping-pong of goals at either end brings us level again. United goals from DeLeon (get in that space, Nicky!) and EJ.
If ever there was a time to win in Houston, this would be it. And despite all of the Houston fans saying that the Dynamo are more desperate for a win, I don't know how true that actually is. The New England Revolution are surging, and first place in the Eastern Conference is a (bloody) big deal for United and they are going to pull out all the stops to try and win it. I think that they will find a way to do it, finally, and get back on the right track as the playoffs approach. 2-1, with goals by Fabian Espindola, Chris Pontius, and Giles Barnes.