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D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls 2016: Game time, TV schedule and live stream for MLS

The first Atlantic Cup match of the season finds both the Black-and-Red and the former Metros dissatisfied with their play thus far in 2016

Over the past few seasons, two things have been a constant when D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls meet: It's been a battle of two of the stronger Eastern Conference sides, and the Black-and-Red have struggled to get much going on the attacking side of the ball. We know the former count isn't true right now, as both sides have struggled to pick up points in the first third of the season despite being in an Eastern Conference that looks, somehow, to have gotten weaker.

What about that second issue, though? United's front six has undergone some major changes: Both wings feature a starter that wasn't with the club in 2015, the central midfield's skill set is definitely different from last year's pairing, and Luciano Acosta is the kind of player United simply did not have last year. Will that be enough to finally see them sustain a threat against the Red Bulls? NYRB has struggled to defend all year, and while adding Aurelien Collin made some sense, it's still an unfamiliar group right now. The Black-and-Red has to make that a big part of the story tonight if they're going to get back above the red line.

Key Player: Marcelo Sarvas

It's tempting to highlight Acosta's tricky feet against the hyper-aggressive NYRB center back duo, or Lamar Neagle's ability to slash in from the left into the space those players leave when they step up into the midfield. However, more than anything else, United is going to need a big game out of Marcelo. Both FC Dallas and NYCFC have come to RFK and showed that consistent pressure on the Brazilian veteran is the first step toward beating the Black-and-Red. Jesse Marsch surely noticed that, and his high-pressure Red Bulls are not going to complain if he asks them to focus on winning the ball first and foremost.

Marcelo is also going to have to win the emotional battle in the midfield. With notorious provocateur Felipe lining up for the Red Bulls - what a fitting player for that club, by the way - Marcelo has to keep his head. We've already seen him miss two games due to suspension, with more than one of his yellow cards involving his heated protestations towards referees. Felipe will surely be trying to trigger a reaction, and United can ill afford to lose a player who otherwise has been among their best this season.

Finally, Marcelo has to provide some accurate, threatening passing from deeper positions. With NYRB's emphasis on pressing high up the field, the risk they choose to deal with is the counter attack. In 2015, they were great at defusing those situations; this year, not so much. Teams that hit the Red Bulls on the break have had plenty of success against them, and most good counters involve at least one 30+ yard pass either forward or to switch the point of attack quickly to one wing or the other. Marcelo is United's best bet for that kind of pass breaking out of the defensive end, and when the moment comes he has to deliver.

Location: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington, DC)

Kick-off time: 7:00pm Eastern

Available TV: UniMas (Spanish), Univision Deportes USA (Spanish)

Available streaming: MLS Live for those outside the blackout radius

For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.

Our gamethread will be posted an hour before kickoff.