D.C. United take on the New England Revolution tonight in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. We are evenly split on how we think United will do, so please let us know what you think will happen in the comments!
When you’re coming off your worst loss on the road since 1997, you’d expect to see some guys benched for a week to think about what they’ve done, and to feel shame for it. The problem with that is when you do such a thing going into the playoffs it’s that such a thing will probably won’t happen. Combine that with the Revolution winning their first game in five games, and I think D.C. goes out early, again, with a 2-0 home defeat.
Does DC United just roll over after the Columbus Massacre? No, they do not. I predict they shake the grit loose from inside the machinery and get their grind back on. New England won't know what hit them. So much grit will be had that they'll be finding it stuck between their teeth, behind their ears, and in their underwear for days. Rolfe and DeLeon score. DC advances, with a 2-0 win, probably to play Columbus next, for the grudge match.
I didn't think we'd roll over and die in Columbus, but we did...in epic fashion. Most people don't think we're going to be in the playoffs come Halloween, so I'm going to be that dude that goes out on a limb and says we will! 3-2 DCU, goals by Rolfe, Saborio and Espindola in an entertaining game that will surely have my blood pressure going sky high.
The way I see it, there are only two possibilities here. One: DCU crash and burn, epically, as they did in Columbus, and this season fizzles out of existence with a whimper. Or two: They feel so incredibly shitty (as they should) and suffer so much shame that they come out knowing they have something serious to prove, and they win the damn game, damn it. Of course, I want to believe that the latter will happen, because I'm not ready for the offseason. So I'll say that we get an absurdly nerve-wracking game (duh), and we all barely make it out alive of a 2-1 win for the Black-and-Red, goals by Rolfe and DeLeon.
After the disinterested performance we saw in Columbus Sunday, I can't in good conscience predict a win on Wednesday, no matter how desperately I want to make two trips to RFK Stadium this week. New England goes ahead 2-0 going into halftime on the back of goals from Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez. Chris Rolfe pulls one back too late to matter, and our season ends 2-1. I want so badly to be wrong.
I was hoping to find some trend of obvious bounce-backs after bad United performances this season, but if you subtract CCL games it seems to take more than one game for this club to get back on their feet after taking a beating. The main thing I can't get past right now is United's season-long penchant for conceding early. Look for Lee Nguyen to put the Revs up inside 10 minutes, because that's a thing United does this year. Bill Hamid will come up huge numerous times as the game goes on before halftime. A somewhat improved United scrambles an equalizer home on a set piece midway through the second half, but can't find a winner. This thing goes to penalties, where Hamid saves 2 PKs to lead the Black-and-Red past the first hurdle.
I would think a bit differently about this game if the score in Columbus was even a 3-1 loss, but after a pathetic no-show in a game that actually meant something, there isn't anything about which to be optimistic. I'd like to think that the withdrawal of Taylor Kemp would wake him up, and that we'd see something like Farfan replacing Halsti in the starting lineup because try something for crying out loud, but we'll probably see Birnbaum replacing Opare in the starting lineup with no other changes to speak of. New England will score early, and shortly after Alvaro Saborio is introduced in the place of Markus Halsti, New England will score again down the middle to win 2-0. Is that overly pessimistic? I don't think so.
D.C. United. On a Wednesday. In the rain. At home. The karmic forces are aligned for a D.C. United win, now the team just has to hold up their end of the bargain. Give me a nailbiting 1-0 win for D.C. United, with Chris Pontius putting the team into the next round.