D.C. United hosts the New York Red Bulls Saturday evening at RFK Stadium in Round 2 of a 3-round fight for the Atlantic Cup. As always, we have our predictions, but we want to hear from you as well! Sound off in the comments with your predictions for this hate-filled matchup.
Even with the loss at Red Bull Arena, D.C. United are a different team at home. They continue to get better in the midfield, the defense is figuring itself out, and Bill Hamid is Bill Hamid. Give me a 2-1 win, with goals by Chris Pontius, Luis Silva, and Lloyd Sam.
Adam M Taylor
The unlikely headline to three of United's four league games so far - played almost entirely without any of the team's top three forwards from last year's conference champions - has been "1-0, good guys." That'll continue Satirday night as the midfield and central defense tighten up relative to the last meeting with the Metros, and Chris Rolfe finally breaks his MLS duck for the season. Bill Hamid will, of course, also be huge.
When Thierry Henry retired, and then that whole thing with Coach Petke happened, and then NYCFC debuted, I thought NYRB would be headed to the basement. But just the opposite has happened. They are playing extremely well. They are one of the best teams in the League right now at this early stage of the season. While DCU has its home groove back, NYRB actually plays better away than they do at home. So I'm predicting DCU falls 1-2 in a heartbreaker. NYRB scores before the half. DCU levels it very late using a magic headband, but then lets one slide right before the triple whistle. Atlantic Cup is conceded super early.
United is riding a six-game home winning streak across all competitions, and have avoided defeat in twelve straight on East Capital Street. While I assume United isn't quite ready to ace the whole "playing out of pressure" thing that NYRB would really struggle with, I also assume this streak is mostly based on dogged determination and winning battles inside both 18 yard boxes. Bill Hamid keeps being awesome, and the play of Michael Farfan brings a boost to a midfield that in recent weeks had no competition for starting jobs. I have a hunch United's veterans will provide the scoring: Bobby Boswell heading in a first-half corner, and Davy Arnaud scrambling home the winner after a second-half mess in the Metros penalty area. 2-1 forces of good.
I think DC will definitely be better than they were a couple of weeks back and not start flat, but let's not go crazy and suggest Luis Silva is going to automatically go 90 minutes after one game. Also, the wild card is how rusty the New York New Jersey Bye Weeks might be. I think it'll be tough, maybe a 1-1 draw that somehow Michael Farfan plays a role in.
Despite the disappointing performance and result at Red Bull Arena earlier this season, and despite the Red Bulls' solid play so far, I'm not prepared to predict anything other than a win for D.C. The Black-and-Red are coming off two stoppage time wins, which can be real confidence boosters, and this is New York we're talking about--United aren't about to let them come down and take away points. I'll go for an ugly (but, I mean, awesome) 2-1 win for the good guys, with goals from Pontius and Boswell.
We will see two teams this weekend riding a lot of confidence as the top 2 teams in the East so far this season (points wise, at least). United has taken serious advantage of the second half stoppage time the past two games, while Red Bull has had a couple victories sandwiched between two bye weeks. I think in this one, the trend of the home team winning in this series continues. We see another miraculous performance by Bill Hamid between the sticks, and Chris Pontius proves he loves playing against Red Bull in April at home by notching the Jersey killer in the 2nd half. 1-0 DC United.