Once again, D.C. United stands right on the edge qualifying for the playoffs. A win over New York City FC tonight would get the Black-and-Red over the line after weeks of being on the brink but failing to get the job done. NYCFC is moving in the opposite direction, winning three straight and playing their best soccer of the season. It's probably too late, but as of now they do still have a chance to get into the postseason provided they avoid dropping any points. United, for their part, is probably just as concerned about getting a win after picking up just one point in six games as they are about clinching their playoff berth.
D.C. United Projected Starting 11: Ben Olsen has talked about possible changes, but I'd be surprised if we saw more than three in terms of personnel. The 442 remains, with Bill Hamid behind a back four of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare - in for a suspended Steve Birnbaum - and Taylor Kemp. Perry Kitchen will return to defensive midfield alongside Markus Halsti, allowing Nick DeLeon to move to right midfield. Chris Rolfe will take up his normal spot on the left. The final change may come up front, where Fabian Espindola could well be partnered by Jairo Arrieta. Alvaro Saborio has been in poor form and was replaced at halftime last week, a sign of either dissatisfaction or injury.
Off the bench, it seems highly likely that Michael Farfan comes off the bench (though where he enters relies entirely on how the game is going). We'll probably see Saborio come in for Arrieta in the last 20 minutes. I'd also like to see Miguel Aguilar get into this game to add some speed to a game where both sides are on the slow side.
Match previews: Our preview has enough other previews linked within that you'll have a hard time reading all of them before kickoff.
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
What are you drinking?: Rain falling from the heavens. I've also been told a friend is bringing a cooler full of beer, so some kind of random mystery beer(s) in Lot 8.
Prediction: I like these conditions when it comes to this game and United's chances. The weather is going to make this game ugly, and United plays the uglier soccer. NYCFC is going to have to adjust in ways they're not really comfortable with. I'm not really sure how, but Espindola pokes home a loose ball on a scramble, and United hangs on to (finally) clinch their playoff spot. 1-0 DCU in a game that will mostly be memorable because of the conditions.
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