It's another game against an Eastern Conference team trying to move up in the world tonight for D.C. United as they play host to Toronto FC. The Black-and-Red, with a win, will stay in first place in the MLS Supporters Shield race no matter what happens elsewhere this weekend. It won't be easy, either. TFC, despite having played just 3 of their 11 MLS games at home, currently occupy a playoff spot in the East. For arguably the first time in their entire history, the Reds appear to be a decent team.
Key player: Fabian Espindola
OK, no big surprise here, but come on: How fun was that second half Wednesday night? Espindola's return was a reminder that this team is more than just hard to score on. While United's inspirational Argentine is probably not going to play a full 90 minutes tonight, he will be able to link up with Chris Rolfe for what feels like the first time in forever. That should see United creating chances throughout, which points to another fun night at RFK.
It's crucial that the attack gets going, too, because United still has some question marks in the back. Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, and Taylor Kemp are all questionable to play, and TFC still has Sebastian Giovinco in excellent form. It's going to be very difficult to get a shutout tonight, so the goals better be flowing at the other end.
Key question: Is United going to falter just as they get to the finish line?
It's been a ridiculous two weeks for this club. MLS's reckless schedule-making designed to "help" one of their CONCACAF Champions League representatives has instead forced United to change their lineup every few days, and in all likelihood has caused more than one injury due to overuse.
And yet here's United, still atop the East. In fact, United enters today with more points than anyone in MLS, though that total is padded because most teams have 2 games in hand on the Black-and-Red (TFC, for the record, has 4!). Despite some iffy performances, and a tendency to start games poorly, United is finding it within themselves to keep winning games. Today, against a well-rested team featuring arguably the most skillful player in the entire league, the challenge is to finish strong in spite of a brutally unfair calendar.
Match date/time: Saturday 6/6, 7:00pm EST
Venue: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)
TV: CSN Washington (English), MLS Direct Kick (English, blacked out in DC region)
Online: MLS Live (English, blacked out in DC region)
Check back in two hours for our gamethread.