Friday, July 21, 2006

DC United Preview 7/21/2006

DC United vs. Chicago Fire
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
8:30pm EST, 7/22/2006

4-0. That was the score of the last United match of last season. It was the home leg of the playoff series against the Chicago Fire. United were at home, a place that they had a season record of 8 wins, 5 loses and 4 draws. They were returning from Chicago where they shut out the Fire in the first leg 0-0. When United left the pitch at the end of the second leg, they were blown away by the Fire, who ran them off the field.

United have since hosted the Fire at RFK, the very scene of that crime and defeated them 1-0. Now United travel to the new home of the Fire, Toyota Park. Time to give them a loss at home.

United are riding a 6 match win streak, and are undefeated in their last 13 league matches. The Fire have lost their last three matches at home; 3-2 last week to FC Dallas, 2-1 to New England and 2-1 to Club America in an international friendly. A lot of people would say that the Fire will be out to defend their new home. I agree, but I don't think the Fire will have anything to say about tomorrows match. United are on a mission this season, a mission that the Fire set them on by drubbing them at RFK last November to end their 2005 season.

USAToday has a very good article about United in which Freddy Adu summed it up best -

"Our team is too talented to go out like we did last season," says 17-year-old Freddy Adu. "Four to zero at home? That was bad. We got drilled a little bit (in the meeting), but it was well understood. We knew it was coming."

Freddy was referring to a post-match meeting the entire squad had with United President Kevin Payne. Payne dressed down the players for their lack of effort in the match. He set the team on the path that they have been on this entire season.

United won last week 3-2 against a badly depleted Columbus Crew club. The Crew started to claw back into the match in the last 20 or so minutes, as United started to get very sloppy and lazy on and off the ball. The players realized this, as Ben Olsen was quoted in the article -

"There's a little stain on that game because we tried to give it away there at the end," Olsen said. "Columbus right now isn't the best team in the league and we should do better against that team. . . . We've got to be sharper because a better team punishes us for some of those mistakes."

I feel that last weeks performance could have been the last piece to the already focused mind set that United has towards this season. They are going into the home of the club that ruined their season a year ago, coming off of a match where they lost focus, yet still managed to walk away with the three 3 points. Having realized that they started to pack it in too early last week, coupled with the desire to give the Fire another loss at their new house, should be the perfect mixture for a very good and impressive performance by United.

Prediction: DC United 3 - 1 Chicago Fire


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