All business this week. It's D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. Good vs. evil, Black-and-Red vs. MetroScum. How's it going to go down?
EJ hears the critics and now that the salaries have been released, he shows the world why we *does "pay me" gesture*. EJ welcomes himself to the best rivalry in MLS with a brace: 2-0 to the good guys.
The rivalry is alive and well. This one promises to be the most exciting game of the season so far. I predict a goalfest. Henry scores early, and EJ can't stand it any longer. He scores twice. Final DCU 3, NYRB 2.
I can't ever pick against United in a rivalry game like this. DeLeon scores early and United bunker down for a hard fought 1-0 win.
As of this writing, the Red Bulls will be sans Cahill and any of Armando, Convey, McCarty and Eckersley are nursing dings at the moment, the anus (thank you Dewey Crowe!) is on DC to start getting into some sort of offensive rhythm ahead of matches against Conference Leaders Columbus & Dallas in the subsequent two games. The dart I threw landed 2-1 DC.
Part of me thinks that New Jersey's defense is not as bad as their numbers make it seem, as 4 of their 9 goals allowed came in their season opening match at Vancouver. Since then they've allowed 5 goals in 4 matches, which is better than United's 6 goals allowed in 4 matches, which itself is skewed by their 3-0 loss to open the season at home to Columbus. What I'm trying to say is I really don't know what to make of this one. United's 2-0 win over New England sort of masked their offensive issues, namely the infrequency of shots. United took 10 shots last weekend, which is actually slightly below their average for the season thus far. To beat the Metros, they'll have to shoot more than that, and thankfully the opposition is fairly accommodating in that (14.4 allowed per game). I see an unsatisfying 1-1 draw in our future. Come on, boys. Surprise me.
Well, Rick's answer sounds smart to me. Let's go with that. 1-1.
Ben Olsen said the team would take time to gel this season, and we've seen the Black-and-Red show improvement each game this season (albeit the team started at a sadly low level against Columbus on opening day). This is the game it all comes together and D.C. United hands the Red Bulls a 2-0 loss that could have been even worse. Goals by EJ and Nicky D pace the offense while the defense largely shuts down New York and Hamid robs Thierry Henry of the usual good chances the Frenchman will create. Vamos!
Despite the shiny-newness of the Cascadia Cup, give me the Atlantic Cup any day. Eddie Johnson finally gets on the board for 2014, and Perry Kitchen dominates Thierry Henry for a 1-0 victory for the forces of goodness and light.
It's very tempting to assume that the Red Bulls will be a mess after some shambolic displays, but their worst performances have both come on turf (which means no Henry and no Olave). With those two available tomorrow, a lot of their weaknesses will be covered. Lloyd Sam getting to run at Christian is worrisome, but then both Jersey fullbacks are struggling badly. I'm leaning towards 1-1, but this is the Atlantic Cup; United usually wins these things. 2-1, Espindola and Boswell scoring.
Adam M Taylor
I'm renewing my prediction from last week, which was mere seconds from being exactly right (thanks, Chris Rolfe!). United manage to earn their second straight clean sheet, and Eddie Johnson breaks his duck off of a cross from Espindola. 1-0 to the good guys.
That's how our staff thinks things will go tomorrow. Now it's your turn. Let us know in the comments.