Wednesday, May 31, 2006

DC United vs. Columbus Crew Preview

DC United vs. Columbus Crew
Wednesday, 5/31/2006 7:30pm
RFK Stadium

DC United host the Columbus Crew in an Eastern Conference showdown tonight at RFK. United, sitting in first place in the East with a 5 point lead over the rapidly sinking Kansas City Wizards, are coming home after a 3-1 road victory over Kansas City. Captain Jamie Moreno, and MLS Player of the Week, scored his 98th and 99th MLS career goals in that victory.

The Crew haven't taken the field in a week and a half, last playing at home against DC United in a 1-1 draw, which was a lack-luster performance by United and the Crew lost their second keeper of the season, Jon Busch to an ACL tear. Their field players have been playing well this season, but their goalkeeper situation is worse than a Greek tragedy. They signed former Maryland keeper, Noah Palmer from RSL, where he was their 3rd string keeper, and he will most likely start tonight against United.

United, if they even hope of keeping pace in the Supporters Shield race with FC Dallas, must win this match. This World Cup stretch will be the deciding factor for this season; those teams that can adapt to the environment and take advantage of those teams that are effected the most, will run away from those clubs that have been sent adrift by the World Cup. FC Dallas is showing that they will be able to run away from the Western Conference due to not being effected by the World Cup. United is beginning to show that they have been able to adapt to a United squad without Ben Olsen, but to truly show this, they must continue to win those matches that they should, tonight's match being one of those.

Hopefully, as this will be United's second match in 4 days and as they have another home match this Saturday against another Eastern Conference foe in the New England Revolution, Peter Nowak will think about giving some of the starters more of a rest tonight, namely Moreno, Gomez and Eskandarian. I still feel that they should start the match, as they are the ones that United rely on to take control of the match and get the offense organized and rolling. He should start them, then sub in Jamil Walker in for Moreno in the 60th~65th minute to get some speed on the runs to compliment Freddy. Then in the 70th or 75th minute, depending on his play, have Lucio or Mediate come on for Alecko to keep the offense rolling. Whomever does not come on for Aleck, should come on for Gomez around the 65th minute as well. I think that this gives us the best substitute options, and still allows us to have our main impact players on for the majority of the match to get the goals.

If United plays as they did last Crew match after they were scored on, at home, United should be able to come away with a 2-0, 3-0 victory. We all know that United seem to not "get up" for these "should win" matches, so the big question will be which United squad shows up for tonight's match. I will be in the stands tonight to see the answer to that question. I still feel that United will send Columbus home without any points.

Match Prediction: DC United 2 - 0 Columbus Crew


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