So Pablo Mastroeni, in losing to Vancouver Wednesday sent out a somewhat second choice lineup, keeping some better players home presumably for the D.C. game. Given that, combined with D.C.'s general aversion to any sort of offense on the road, combined with an already shoddy record in Commerce, I think the Rapids win 2-0 and more importantly, D.C. can't reclaim the East as the Red Bulls will have presumably dismissed the Fire (as I write this before their Friday game).
This is one of those road games that a team with DC United's record, sitting atop or near the top of the Eastern Conference, should win, unless their points total relative to other teams really is a total fluke. Colorado is going to look like the NYRB, with a little less talent. They will possess and move the ball. So we'll see whether Benny learned how to adjust for a fast-paced team after the Harrison debacle -- and whether the players themselves have decided to turn their play up a notch, somewhere off of "lumbering" mode. I'm going to be optimistic. We'll see some spark from DC. And while that spark might not be enough yet to make a good playoff run, it will be enough to deal the Rapids a frustrating draw at home. Final score, 1-1.
This is one of those games that United has to win, not because of the playoff implications or the push for first in the East or the Supporters Shield. It's because they're better than Colorado. They've had 2 weeks to stew over the bitter defeat up in NJ, and Benny's going to have them ready to play. I'll take 2-0 United, goals by Espindola and DeLeon.
United gets back on track, sort of, and defends higher up the field in this one. Helped in part by a poor Rapids offense, they have the better of the opening portion of the match only to waste a couple big chances. Fabian Espindola ends up breaking the deadlock after halftime, but United can't maintain a rhythm over 90 minutes. The Rapids score a garbage goal on a set piece, and United has to weather a heavy storm late to hang on for a 1-1 draw.
United's two weeks off came in handy as Colorado is tired from Wednesday's loss in Vancouver. Fabian Espindola announces his return with vengeance, scoring twice as United cruise to a 2-0 victory.
United should win this game. It's on the road, sure, and the Black-and-Red have not been good on the road, but it's Colorado, okay? If DC have taken their two weeks off and refocused on how to be Not Bad at Soccer, as they should have, then three points should be very doable. Give me 2-1 to the visitors, with goals from Espindola (yesss welcome back) and Rolfe.
This is where United flips the script. Rolfe scores in the first 15 minutes, but Colorado pull one back before halftime. Fabi does what he does - the good, goalscoring part, not the angry red card/injured part - and puts United ahead for good before subbing off in the second stanza. United hang on 2-1, and we start this latest streak of many games in too few days in style.
This is a good news/bad news situation for D.C. United. The bad news: Colorado is one of two MLS teams with a goals against average below 1.10, with 1.07 goals allowed per game (the other is Vancouver, with 1.00). The good news: Colorado has scored the fewest goals in MLS, with 25. With a mostly, if not entirely first choice team at their disposal, things are looking up for United. In Fabian Espindola's last two matches (coinciding with the arrival of Alvaro Saborio), we've seen 9 goals in comeback victories. I don't anticipate needing to come back from a deficit this time around, as Espindola links up with Saborio for the lone marker and a 1-0 win.
This awful streak has to end at some point, right? Fabi is back and scores one goal and assists on another, and Bill Hamid keeps a clean sheet for a 2-0 win for United.