Today's game is the end of several things: D.C. United and the Montreal Impact will both end regular seasons that contained lots of surprises, while Impact striker Marco Di Vaio is going to retire after the match. For United, it's also the warm-up for a playoff run that seemed completely unlikely around October 2013.
While the Black-and-Red don't have much to play for beyond keeping the good times rolling, a win combined with an LA Galaxy loss (we'll know by 4:30 or so about that) would mean that MLS Cup would be hosted at RFK Stadium if anyone other than Seattle wins the Western Conference Final. For those of you that weren't around back in the day, 1997 was a lot of fun, and this is a chance to make a repeat that much more of a possibility.
Kickoff Time: 4:00pm Eastern
Venue: Stade Saputo (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
TV/Streaming: MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick should have the game, and for those without a pay service it will be streamed on dcunited.com/live once again. Note: In all three cases, the match will be in French. If anyone reading this speaks French, please feel free to clarify any important info said by the TVA announcers. As far as I know, there is no English TV coverage. If your only option is radio, the game will be in English on The Fan 106.7 FM here in the DMV. This section has been so weird to write recently.
Projected D.C. United starting XI: This is a sparring match for the playoffs, so Ben Olsen will be fielding every normal starter that's healthy. That means Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola up front, a midfield of Nick DeLeon on the right, Chris Pontius on the left, and Perry Kitchen will likely pair with Lewis Neal (who will step in for Davy Arnaud) centrally. In the back, it'll be Sean Franklin on the right, Bobby Boswell and Steve Birnbaum in the middle, and Taylor Kemp on the left. Bill Hamid will be in goal.
As for subs, it'd be awfully nice to see Chris Rolfe get a couple of minutes in before the playoffs start. I'd also say the same for Samuel Inkoom, whose crossing ability might go very well with EJ's aerial talents. As for the last sub, I'd like to see a scenario where a forward can be brought off for Michael Seaton or Collin Martin, but I suspect it'll be David Estrada instead.
Match previews: Our staff predictions are nearly unanimous, while Ben's lineup post is - like me - hopeful Rolfe can make an appearance. Our scouting report went up this morning if you haven't had a chance to read a novella on a last-place team. MLSsoccer's preview has some interesting notes (example: Montreal has conceded 2 goals in 10 games, but only has 8 shutouts), while Steve Goff's piece for the Washington Post finds United hungry to build momentum for next weekend's playoff opener.
Prediction: I'm sticking with the prediction I submitted for the post linked above. 3-1 United on the back of goals from Espindola, Johnson, and Birnbaum. And, because I like him, Montreal gets a goal from Di Vaio. Oh, and Felipe will go order a snack from a concessionaire, and he'll drop it on his shoes, which will be suede so they'll be ruined, and when he goes back to the stand they'll be out of whatever it is he wanted.
What are you drinking? I had a fair bit to drink last night, so I might watch this game with a glass of water or a fresh cup of coffee. The former will come from my refrigerator's tap, while the latter will be Whole Foods Espresso Bel Canto made pour-over style because that is how I roll.
This is the place to be for pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.