A lot has changed since the first meeting between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls ended in a 4-0 New York romp at RFK back on April 21. Most notably, the two sides swapped midfielders back on June 27, exchanging Dax McCarty and Dwayne De Rosario in a rarely-seen star-for-star trade. Saturday night, surrounded by their new teams, De Rosario and McCarty will face off in a crucial Eastern Conference match-up.
D.C. United (4-5-7) at New York Red Bulls (6-3-10)
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 9.
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Team News and Tactics
D.C. United: The Black-and-Red's tenuous depth took another hit last weekend when Brandon Barklage suffered a concussion in Sunday's reserve match against Philadelphia. Defender Marc Burch, who was bumped off the substitutes' bench last week when Daniel Woolard passed a late fitness test, is listed as probable and should at least make the bench. I'd expect no significant changes in Ben Olsen's starting lineup tonight after the D.C. United manager expressed a measure of satisfaction with his team's performance in last Saturday's 2-2 draw against Philadelphia. That would mean a paring of Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff up top, with Andy Najar and Chris Pontius driving forward down the wings. Look for Clyde Simms to partner De Rosario in midfield in front of a back line of Perry Kitchen, Woolard, Ethan White, and Brandon McDonald.
New York Red Bulls: Hans Backe will have to make one change to his line-up as Teemu Tainio picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in Wednesday night's 5-0 win over Toronto and will serve a mandatory one-game suspension tonight. Mehdi Ballouchy is expected to take Taino's place and will play either left or central midfield, with Joel Lindpere sliding into the other spot (McCarty will take up the other central midfield position). One of Luke Rodgers or Juan Agudelo will lead the line for New York, with Thierry Henry playing in the hole as a roving pivot figure who can both distribute the ball from the left wing and drive into the penalty area to score himself. New York's back four should be settled with Jan Gunnar Solli moving forward down the right wing from his right back position, Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes as the center-backs (Mendes deputizing for the injured Rafael Marquez), and Roy Miller at left back.
Key To The Game
The First Half-Hour: Back in April, D.C. United were victimized by a 12th-minute goal by Henry and were forced to play from behind for the rest of the match. A similar early goal tonight might completely destabilize United and lead to a New York rout. The Black-and-Red's reshaped back line will be sorely tested on Saturday.