D.C. United takes on Columbus Crew SC in their regular season finale, and we are split between wins and draws. Let us know what you think will happen in the comments!
A first round bye is on the line in Columbus as United plays a Crew team that will be missing Kei Kamara and Federico Higuaín due to yellow card accumulation. This is a chance to get a full week off (and get 2 weeks to fill RFK) for a home playoff match, and with the game on national TV, I think the boys respond. 2-1 DCU, goals by Espindola and Franklin in a surprise tally.
I'm curious to see how Gregg Berhalter handles temporary life without Pipa, though it's clear Hector Jimenez is a replacement in purpose only. If Tony Tchani plays then the battle between he, Wil Trapp, Markus Halsti and Perry Kitchen will be an intriguing one. 1-1 D.C., hanging on to the bye week as Montreal beats Toronto FC at home.
Chris Pontius will continue his 2012 Revival Tour with a couple of assists, Perry Kitchen and Chris Rolfe finishing the chances he creates. The Crew will pull one back through Wil Trapp, because he and Perry Kitchen must forever be locked in mortal combat in people's minds. United hold on, though, and go into the playoffs on a 3-game winning streak. 2-1 to the team that has always worn black.
The Crew's entire gameplan is built around crossing to a player like Kei Kamara, and the replacements either don't fit the bill or have been proven to be not good enough as a target man. Throw in an absent Federico Higuain (whose replacements pretty much fall into the categories mentioned before), and you have a prime opportunity for United to make sure they get that #2 seed. And that's what happens: The Columbus possession game ends up toothless, and United will defend rather comfortably. The national TV audience hoping for drama will instead get more of a chess match, but things will turn once Alvaro Saborio enters and United has the kind of target that can punish the Crew's inability to defend in the air. A cross from Taylor Kemp finds Saborio soaring over Michael Parkhurst to score a late winner as the Black-and-Red get the kind of 1-0 win that contenders can pull off at this time of year.
DC United tends to have a tough time in Columbus. The shorthanded Crew won't go down easy at home. I predict a 1-1 draw. Goals by Finlay and Pontius. It's enough to get us second place. The main thing is for Espindola to not get carded.
The Black-and-Red will finish on a high note with an away win against a Columbus team that's missing some key players. These points matter to DCU, and I think the good guys take them. The Crew will make it annoyingly difficult, of course--they'll score first, and we'll shake our heads, and wonder what the hell our team is up to. But in the end, I'll say it's 2-1, goals from Pontius and Saborio.
Columbus Crew SC is without their two best players, but
CrewMapfre Stadium is still a tough place to play. Give me a 1-1 draw, with Chris Rolfe scoring for the good guys.