Not even a month after their last meeting, D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union face each other again tomorrow, this time at RFK Stadium.
United looked generally good last week against the Montreal Impact but couldn't keep it together in the end, and they surely hope both to have another strong performance this week and actually make it count.
Things certainly didn't go the Black-and-Red's way the first two times they met the Union this season (a 1-0 late loss and a 3-0 miserable one), so will the venue make the difference? Or is it just not to be against them this year?
A draw that should have been a win, so that leaves only two options for the consistently inconsistent D.C. United. And they need this win. Badly. Patrick Mullins got off to a good start last week, and if Lloyd Sam and/or Lamar Neagle can be healthy too, this attack might actually be able to string something together. Give me a 2-1 victory for the boys in black, with Mullins and Patrick Nyarko scoring, but with Chris Pontius bringing one back for Philly.
We looked the better team last Sunday against Montreal, were up a man and still somehow gave it up late and had to settle for a draw. I think the team recognizes that was an opportunity lost to make up some ground in the East and they don't let that opportunity slip again. 2-1 Black-and-Red, Mullins with one and DeLeon with the game winner. Rosenberry notches one in for Philly.
The biggest question is whether United can string solid performances back-to-back after a strong, if ultimately disappointing, showing against Montreal. I say they do it this weekend against a Philly side that hasn't won since the last time these two teams played. (And, no, I don't want to talk about that.) Acosta picks a center back's pocket and goes alone to beat Andre Blake early, and Patrick Mullins makes it 2-in-2 before halftime. Charlie Davies marks his return to RFK by turning in a cross from Chris Pontius after the break, but Bill Hamid keeps everything else out as the good guys win 2-1 to avoid the season sweep.
Philadelphia hasn't won an away match since a 2-1 triumph over Columbus on March 12th. Combine that with my expectation of a more focused, determined D.C. off the back of the Montreal match, and I think it's a recipe for a 1-0 win. If all of that isn't enough, United has won every other home MLS match going back to the April 9th win over Vancouver, and in each of those wins, United has kept a clean sheet. Woo! Trends!
The Union are dreadful on the road: 1W-3D-6L, and as was just pointed out, that win came against one of MLS's worst teams back in March. For the record, DC's road record is 1W-4D-6L, and we all know how much the Black-and-Red have struggled away from RFK this year. Philly's also on a losing streak, and despite the gut-punch nature of last week's draw, I'm feeling confident even with Marcelo Sarvas unavailable. Patrick Nyarko wins an early penalty kick that Lamar Neagle - back from injury - converts, and not too long after that, Steve Birnbaum nods home a corner kick. The Union get one back in the second half via CJ Sapong, but their comeback is derailed by Warren Creavalle picking up a second yellow card. 2-1 United.
Okay, but really—this one has to be a win, right? It just has to be. It's a rival, it's a small chance for redemption after losing twice to them already, it's at home following an unsatisfying but not bad performance...seriously, this has got. to. be. a. win. Give me 2-1 to the home side, goals from Mullins and Acosta.
Well, are United looking at three points tomorrow, or are we destined for more disappointment? Hit the comments with your predictions.