We fell a little bit out of practice with our predictions threads over the World Cup break, but we're back at it this week, as D.C. United travel to play the San Jose Earthquakes tonight. The two teams come into the game on opposite ends of the standings, so some watchers are (reasonably) calling this a trap game. But will the Black-and-Red pull out a win to stay atop the Eastern Conference? Here's how the B&RU staff think tonight will play out.
San Jose has been shut out their last 3 games in League play and their goalless streak goes back slightly further than that at 315 minutes. They've scored the fewest goals in the League and are the worst team in the West. Naturally I expect D.C. to underachieve in the Buck Shaw band box and lose 2-1, with Wondolowski breaking the Quakes' drought and Steven Birnbaum getting rattled by the antics and/or elbows of Steven Lenhart or Alan Gordon, despite Birnbaum's first game close(ish) to home.
Currently sitting in 1st place in the East, DC United seeks to get a win on the road at a place where we seem to never do well. This time, we get the draw. A DeLeon goal matches an SJ goal and we come home with a point in the suitcase, 1-1.
Adam M Taylor
There aren't many matchups that seem to play into D.C. United's hands across almost the entire field, but San Jose arguably is. United's defense is almost specifically designed to cut out the Quakes' preferred method of attack - Route 1 soccer - while DC's recent penchant for playing through the middle rather than sending in crosses neutralizes the aerial presence of Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson. That said, tight quarters at Buck Shaw stadium don't really play into United's style. Nevertheless, los Capitalinos come out with a 2-1 win, goals from Steve Birnbaum and Eddie Johnson besting a Chris Wondolowski strike.
The mighty road warriors which D.C. United have (sorta) become continue their winning ways in the Bay Area against the Quakes. This is a belief game--I believe D.C. United is actually a good MLS team, and I believe San Jose is not. While that rarely seems to carry the day in MLS, I think United get the job done and wins 1-0 with a goal from Chris Rolfe. As usual, Bill Hamid makes a few ridiculous saves to preserve the result.
San Jose is terrible, and D.C. United is surprisingly good. Can they fly cross country and get a win? Against my better judgement, I say yes. A 2-0 victory for the Black and Red, with and Eddie Johnson brace opening the floodgates.
DCU's no Germany, but I'd expect the Black and Red to more or less look the part Friday. San Jose's the team with that guy who missed the sitter, right?
San Jose's woes going forward are well-documented, though with Wondo back in the fold they won't be the utterly toothless side they've looked like over the last month or so. Still, I think United is set up tactically to cope well with the Earthquakes, and despite the likely return of the elite Bernardez-Goodson center back pairing I think DC should be able to bag a goal or two. I am leery about predicting an away win for any team crossing the country to play, but the Quakes are bad enough to waste that advantage. 2-0 United, with LEWIS NEAL! scoring early and EJ finally notching a goal rather than being taken down on his now-customary late breakaway.
That's how we see it, anyway. Share your predictions for tonight down in the comments.