D.C. United Aim For Home Playoff Game In Visit To Red Bull Arena

D.C. United Aim For Home Playoff Game In Visit To Red Bull Arena

Three points for D.C. United on the road against the New York Red Bulls could see the Black-and-Red secure fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Sep 29, 2019 by Steven Streff
D.C. United Aim For Home Playoff Game In Visit To Red Bull Arena

D.C. United have not won at Red Bull Arena in over eight years and have won just one of the last 15 meetings against the New York Red Bulls. But a win on Sunday could help United finish fourth in MLS' Eastern Conference, a spot which hosts a playoff game in the first round. Despite their poor record recently against the Red Bulls, United will be buoyed by their form of late, having won three games in a row all via shutouts.

The game in Harrison kicks off at 5 PM ET as part of MLS' penultimate weekend, which has all Eastern Conference teams playing at once, and then all Western Conference teams playing later on Sunday. The game will be shown on FS1 and will be streamed by Fox Sports.

On the backs of wins against the Montreal Impact, Portland Timbers, and Seattle Sounders, United find themselves in a much better position than when they lost to the Red Bulls 2-1 last month at Audi Field. Wayne Rooney was sent off in that game, and Ola Kamara scored a stunning goal to open his account with United, but it wasn't enough to keep the RBNY from picking up three points and jumping their rivals in the standings. 

Kamara has been unavailable for the previous two games for the Black-and-Red after his two-goal performance against the Impact helped jumpstart United's recent run. However, the Norweigan striker was back at practice this week and could figure into head coach Ben Olsen's plans one way or another. 

Rooney will likely get the nod up top for United, though, after a strong performance against the Sounders, capped off by his assist for Frederic Brillant for the second goal in a 2-0 win. In the first half last Sunday, Rooney hit the woodwork twice, in his second to last regular-season home game with D.C. 

Rooney has not found the back of the net since July but still leads the team with 11 goals and eight assists this season.

The recent standout performers for United have been the back line, particularly the play of Brillant and Steven Birnbaum. The three clean sheets in a row match United's longest streak of the year when they didn't allow a goal in the first three games of the season. Bill Hamid has 12 shutouts this season, trailing only Atlanta United's Brad Guzan in that category.

As a team, D.C. have conceded just 38 goals in 2019, which is only bested by the 35 given up by Supporters' Shield champions Los Angeles FC.

But winning at Red Bull Arena has been nearly impossible for United since the stadium's opening in 2010. D.C. have won just one of the 12 regular-season games played in Harrison, New Jersey. United did win there in 2012 during the playoffs, the last time the Black-and-Red tasted victory on the banks of the Passaic River.

In addition, it has been over three years since United last defeated their rivals, in any setting. United beat New York 2-0 on May 13, 2016, which helped D.C. claim the Atlantic Cup that year. In nine games since, the Red Bulls have gotten the better of United five times, with the other four games ending in a draw.

At the same time United play against the Red Bulls, Toronto FC will be in Bridgeview, taking on the Chicago Fire. D.C. can clinch fourth place in the East with a win, and a loss or draw from TFC. Any other combination of results mean that United could still finish in fourth place when they host FC Cincinnati next Sunday for the final game of the season.

D.C. United Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid, Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Felipe Martins, Lucas Rodriguez, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura, Wayne Rooney