All United need is a draw at home and they are through to the next round, no major injury or suspension concerns at this time for Peter Nowak’s side;
The victory put to rest all talk of DC struggling to make it out of the first round of the playoffs again. United had struggled down the final stretch of the season but that was due in large part to having used a lot of reserve players in the team. DC were looking to nurse back some of their key players such as Alecko Eskandarian from injury.
Clinching a playoff spot almost 2 months before the end of the season affords clubs that sort of luxury. There were many who felt that Peter Nowak’s side would not be able to respond once the playoffs started. For the time being however, the joke is on the nay sayers. Another sign that United were back to their championship midseason form was the fact that they kept a clean sheet for the first time since the 16th of August.
The injury situation for United this week sees Nick Rimando unavailable due to an ankle sprain. He joins Dominic Mediate and John Wilson on the injured list. Nowak looks to be leaning towards going with the same starting eleven that played the first leg, with Brandon Prideaux , Matias Donnet and Clyde Simms all starting on the bench. The victory in the first leg pushed DC’s dominance over New York in the playoffs to 5 wins against the Red Bull’s 1 win and they have outscored New York 10-3. DC won 4 of the 6 points up for grabs at RFK Stadium this year with a 2-2 draw on 2nd April and a 4-3 win on the 23rd of September.
There is no tomorrow for the Red Bull, only a victory at RFK over United can see them through to the next round, Edson Buddle and Mark Lisi are out;
Red Bull New York blew a golden opportunity to get the edge over DC United in their first round playoff series when they dropped a 0-1 decision at Giants Stadium. United had been struggling in their final matches of the season and save for a 4-3 victory over this same Red Bull side at RFK Stadium, had looked very beatable.
The side managed by Bruce Arena were able to start Markus Schopp , Amado Guevara and Youri Djorkaeff for the first time this season. With Marvel Wynne and Carlos Mendes at the back, New York could not have asked for a stronger formation at the beginning of the match. While the match was very even and close, Red Bull once again came up on the short end against United and must now travel to their personal house of horrors- RFK Stadium, and win a match in what has been an absolutely impossible venue for the Red Bull to win over the years.
This is especially true if they cannot get more of a contribution from Guevara, Schopp, and Djorkaeff. If New York cannot count on those three to have a big game, then they don’t stand much of a chance of winning this match. Edson Buddle, with a right hamstring strain and Mark Lisi, with a right adductor strain, headline the injured list for Arena’s squad. They join Shawn Kuykendall on the injured list while Peter Canero , Jordan Cila and Jerrod Laventure are listed as doubtful.
The absence of Buddle means we will see 16 year old Josmer Altidore once again in the New York attack. The Red Bull were unable to win at RFK all season long, but they did play United tough, holding out for a 2-2 draw in the first match before finally succumbing 4-3 in a back and forth affair last month. It is those two results on which they will have to build to pull out the result they need this week..