D.C. United takes on the Chicago Fire tomorrow in the last regular season home game of the 2015 MLS season. We're surprisingly confident, given United's recent form, but let us know what you think will happen in the comments!
This game is a chance to secure the guarantee of a home game in the playoffs. The team, rested after s week off, comes out firing against a Chicago side that checked out months ago. 2-0 United, goals by Espindola and Rolfe, and Bill Hamid with a few saves to keep the clean sheet.
This is a must-win game for DC United in the following sense: if we can't beat the Fire at RFK at this stage of the season, we'll have a very short playoff run. DCU will be proving themselves - proving that the win over NYCFC wasn't a fluke and that they are now back on course for a legitimate run at the Cup. I predict an early goal by Chicago's David Accam -- because he's so fast and we start so slow. This will not be deflating because we're generally used to an early goal, win or lose. Then the fun begins. Chicago is missing Sean Johnson in goal due to injury. And Johnson really is one of the top goalkeepers in the League (second tier anyways, with the first tier occupied by one man: Bill Hamid). Without Johnson to parry their strikes, Pontius, Espindola, and Rolfe will have fun scoring. DCU wins, 3-1.
Chicago comes into RFK eliminated from the playoffs, and plays the third and first place teams in the East in their last two games, and if they lose Sunday, they go winless on the road in 2015. So basically this match screams vanity for them. Combined with D.C. not being able to completely game for the Fire team in front of them, I think a couple missteps happen for the hosts. Call it a 2-2 draw, with Fabian Espindola and Álvaro Saborío with both goals.
Chicago is currently a team built around the counter-attack, so United's tendency to play too slowly and risk too little may be good enough for them to get out of the first five damn minutes without conceding. I think the nature of the NYCFC win - particularly that second half - will be enough to get United playing some front-foot soccer (particularly if Chris Pontius maintains his level of play). The Fire look better under Brian Bliss than they did under Frank Yallop, but they're still a one-trick pony that United should be beating at RFK. Rolfe and Espindola both finish with a goal and an assist as Chicago's weakness down the middle is exposed. 2-0 DCU.
It's cliche, and everybody is trotting it out right now, but there's good reason for that. It's true: Confidence is the name of the game for United come Sunday, and it should be running high even after the bye week. Chris Pontius with a goal (set up by DeLeon) and an assist (to Espindola) are enough to weather a late storm and a tally by Harry Shipp. 2-1 to the good guys.
It sure would be nice to end the regular season on a high as the team heads into the playoffs, and with a week off before this game, DCU should come out strong. Should, of course, is the key word there--it's hard to say whether or not they actually will. But I'll be optimistic and say that the Black-and-Red secure a win in their last home game, especially against this Chicago Fire team. 3-1 with goals from Pontius, Espindola, and Rolfe.
D.C. United has their last home game of the season and, while they are already in the playoffs, this is still a game that they need to win. Chris Rolfe will finally take the field against his old team, and I expect he will make it count; 2-0 to the forces of good and the forces that have more than one chant, with a Rolfe brace the tally.