It's been nearly a year since they last faced each other, but D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls kick off the MLS Heineken Rivalry Week on Wednesday night when the two sides meet at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
The Black-and-Red will be anxious to end a poor record recently against a fellow original side, with fourth place up for grabs in the Eastern Conference. The 94th meeting between the two teams will be followed up by next month's return leg at Red Bull Arena.
The game kicks off at 8 PM ET and will air on Unimas and stream on Twitter.
United still own the advantage in the rivalry overall, having claimed 43 victories to 34 for the Red Bulls. However, D.C. has won just one of the last 14 head-to-head meetings, with the Red Bulls tasting victory in eight of the other games. The last win for the Black-and-Red came in May 2016 when Alvaro Saborio and Patrick Nyarko supplied the goals in a 2-0 win at RFK Stadium.
That win helped United claim the 2016 version of the Atlantic Cup, but RBNY have taken the last two editions. And in 2018, the Red Bulls inflicted the first-ever loss for United at Audi Field when Bradley Wright-Phillips scored early in a 1-0 victory in July. The same scoreline favored the Red Bulls at RBA last August before a wild 3-3 affair at Audi Field ensured that the New Jersey side kept hold of the Atlantic Cup for another year.
United are coming into the game on the heels of a trip out West that failed to yield any points after a 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. With Wayne Rooney back in the lineup for D.C. after missing the win over the LA Galaxy due to illness, United had plenty of chance to score against the hosts, but could not find the back of the net.
Luciano Acosta was named as a substitute once again, but came off the bench in the second half and hit the post with a header late on, narrowly missing out on an equalizer. Ola Kamara and Emmanuel Boateng also came off the bench for Ben Olsen, marking the team debut for both players.
The loss, coupled with New York City FC's win over FC Cincinnati, meant that United dropped to fourth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of Wednesday night's opponent; the Red Bulls have a game in hand as well. In addition, the defeat was United's third in their past five games, to go along with the win over LA and a draw against the Chicago Fire.
The Red Bulls, meanwhile, missed out on a chance to also jump United last Saturday, when they settled for a point at home against the New England Revolution in a 1-1 draw. Marc Rzatkowski's opener was canceled out by Gustavo Bou's second-half goal, preventing Chris Armas' side from moving up in the table.
United are still without the services of Russell Canouse and Chris Durkin, both recovering from recent injuries. There's another game this weekend — a trip to the Philadelphia Union — looming on the other side of the RBNY game. But with United's playoff position becoming a bit more precarious over the last couple of weeks, all focus will be on their original rivals.
D.C. United predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid, Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara, Junior Moreno, Felipe Martins, Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Wayne Rooney