With a tough heartbreaking loss to the Red Bulls coming on the heels of a lackluster performance against Vancouver, DC United really needs to get one back in the win column against Chicago when they meet in the Windy City on September 20th.
Bill Hamid was at his finest against New York on Wednesday night stopping everything the Red Bulls fired his way until he let a goal slip past in the 90th minute and United fell to the Red Bulls one to nothing.
DC had been playing a man down since the 32nd minute when Fabian Espindola was sent off with a straight red card after a collision with Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty. The booking was really quite egregious. Both Espindola and McCarty made a play on a ball while it was in the air and a collision ensued.
Espindola had elected to make a play with his foot, while McCarty (coming in from the side) thought leaping into the ball with his chest was the best play. Espindola’s foot met with McCarty’s stomach and McCarty rolled around on the ground like he had been gored by a boar. Espindola was in better position to play the ball and it was McCarty’s somewhat reckless charge into the ball that initiated the contact. The play deserved a foul call but a straight red was over the top and really put DC in a jam for the rest of the game.
Never-the-less, DC will need to put the last week behind them and prepare for a Chicago team that is reeling in their own right with reigning MVP Mike Magee being lost for the remainder of the season with a hip injury. The Fire are sitting well outside of the playoff picture with only five wins on the year but their 14 ties proves they are not an easy victory.
Chicago has given up 15 goals at home this year compared to the 24 they have given up on the road, so they are better defensively at home even if they cannot score no matter where they play. The match up with Chicago would appear to be very similar the one with Vancouver, where DC should have no problem keeping the Fire from scoring but will need to really battle to walk away with three points.
With Sporting KC seemingly back on track after their four goal drubbing of Chivas USA, DC simply cannot leave points on the pitch if they wish to finish top of the table in the East. DC has six games remaining to ensure they are playing their best for the MLS Playoffs and to ensure these last two games were just a slip up and not the start of a downward trend.
A positive from Wednesday’s match with New York was Chris Pontius’ return to the lineup after being out all season recovering from hamstring surgery. The midfielder saw just eight minutes of action Wednesday night but hopefully Pontius will be able to use the remaining six MLS games and the Champions League matches to return to game shape in time to contribute to DC’s playoff run.
DC United will play their next CCL match on Tuesday the 16th against Waterhouse FC in Kingston, Jamaica.