DC United have gone 3-0-1 in MLS play since I pushed the panic button on September 21st after their draw with the Chicago Fire. Perhaps, I was simply being irrational and over reacting or maybe head coach Ben Olsen reminded his club of what lead them to this unexpected bounce back season. Whatever the reason it is a relief to see DC United back in good form for their playoff run.
DC has locked up the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, guaranteeing home field until the MLS Finals. Olsen deserves a great deal of credit for keeping his team from slumping down the stretch. For much of the year Sporting KC was DC’s biggest rival for the top spot but now, SKC is fighting to avoid the four versus five play-in game. DC did well to avoid a similar fate.
The New England Revolution have been surging since the acquisition of Jermaine Jones and have positioned themselves into the two spot in the East. Any slippage from DC United this month could have given the number one seed to the Revs and I do not believe any club wants to trudge up to Boston for the deciding play-off game in November.
The turnaround this year has been remarkable but after playing so well throughout the season, simply making it in to the play-offs really will not be enough to mark the season a success. The story of “wow, what a remarkable turnaround” is over. That was the line for the regular season. That season ends on the October 25th in Montreal.
We are talking about the post season now. And in the post season, it is all or nothing.
The top seed quickly turns from an outstanding accomplishment to a position of added pressure. Is DC United up for it? I had my doubts a month ago. I was worried that the team was coming apart at the wrong time, but now I believe they are ready for the challenge.
DC United should be the favorite to represent come out of the East. They have righted the ship and positioned themselves to head into the “second season” with confidence. I feel that if DC United were to lose before reaching the MLS Finals, it would not be because they stumbled but because they ran into a red hot Revs team that could knock off anyone.
Eddie Johnson has been scoring goals down the stretch. Chris Pontius got a goal last game. Bill Hamid is as sharp as ever.
DC United looks ready to fully go from worst to first and capture the clubs fifth MLS Cup Championship.