You can't really call it the unspoken truth anymore, since everyone keeps saying it, but D.C. United has never won a soccer game in Houston. They'll try to end that streak of futility against the Dynamo Sunday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. Here's how our staff think the game will play out - be sure to share your own predictions in the comments.
Fresh off the thrashing of Toronto FC, United heads to the place where we haven't won in...ever. This is the supreme test for seeing if DCU is for real and can handle the newly-placed title of contender. The toughest road test of the year off a short turnaround is probably the test Benny wanted later on the schedule, but it's now and the team looks ready to show and prove. Do we get the 3 points? I'm going to go out on a limb and say...yes. DeLeon and EJ mark the goals and Bill puts on another show. 2-0 DCU in the H, and the Black & Red return to DC wearing the title of contender for all to see.
While a win over Toronto FC who has a game in hand on D.C. was nice, if given the chance between having Warren Creavalle playing that defense for Houston on Sunday instead of with Toronto last night I know which one I would pick. With DeMarcus Beasley in orange, and having a week to train with the squad I'm not sure how much to expect, but certainly having his versatility in the lineup will only serve to help them. And we should D.C. to sit a guy or two for Sunday (cough, Davy Arnaud) if they want to keep the squad fresh. Looking toward a 2-1 Houston win (primarily because I have to keep the 'contrarian proven wrong' streak going).
As a side note, Real Salt Lake only play their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Colorado Saturday and have Javier Morales, Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran all one yellow away from an accumulation suspension. D.C. goes to the land of Dean Trumbell next week.
Adam M Taylor
As much as I want to see United's winning streak continue and their winless streak in Houston end, this game has the feel of a letdown. With the team on short rest, Ben Olsen is likely to rotate the squad somewhat, and the lucky bounces in Houston never, ever go our way. I expect Eddie Johnson to capitalize on the Brian Ching-provided motivation by scoring a goal and having another wrongly disallowed (because Houston), but the Orange will find a way past Bill Hamid to split the points.
Can Beasley cover both left and right back positions? No. So keep it away from Beasley. DC has the goal-scoring bug. That means we will not get skunked. DC gets a 1-1 draw. Our goal doesn't come until very late, so it will feel like a win.
I worry about this game. Houston is terrible, but United has never won at BBVA, and Ben Olsen has acknowledged the need to rotate players to survive the next couple months. I wish it weren't so, but in competitive games this season there has been a huge drop in quality once United gets past the top 14 or 15 guys on the roster (see also: Rochester Rhinos 1 DC United 0). We won't be sending out complete B team for this game, so we should be able to score on the Dynamo's awful defense, but I'm expecting the Dynamo to have the better of this game. That doesn't mean I pick them to win, though: United is finding a way to avoid defeat, and Houston has found ways to throw points away. 1-1, United scores via Luis Silva.
At some point, D.C. United will lose a game and their 4-game winning streak will end. I don't see that happening this weekend in Houston, however. Despite the arrival of Demarcus Beasley in Orange Land, and the hex which has plagued the Black-and-Red at BBVA Compass, this D.C. United side has become something special. EJ continues his goal-scoring streak, Chris Rolfe continues to prime United's offense, and Bill Hamid continues to impress. Call it a 2-1 win for the good guys.
Our panel is split. What say you, readers? Share your predictions in the comments.