When it comes to DC United’s chances in the MLS playoffs moving forward… If you didn’t like Rudy, Hoosiers, Miracle on Ice, Breaking Away or Victory, you’ve got a busy weekend of movies to watch again. It really is like Hollywood made a sports movie and put together the most insane odds you could imagine. Star player and reigning MVP out for 10 weeks? Check. (Like losing your quarterback, point-guard, pitcher or center). Three starting players go out in the penultimate game with injuries? Check. Young rising talent gets suspended from playing in the finals? Check? There’s a dark cloud looming.
For those of you that don’t follow soccer (we’ll fight about that later), let me explain their current situation. In MLS, you play a home-and-away series for the conference finals. Then, you combine the goals from the two games (one home, one away) and the winner of the combined score wins. DC United lost that first game 3-1 in Houston last weekend.
So going into this weekend at home, DC United, missing up to FIVE starters, and already down TWO goals from the start, need to win. And they need to win big. Like 3-0 or 4-1 or 5-2 big. This is climbing Mordor. This is Gleaming the Cube.
But DC’s got this game sewn up. Here’s why:
- The Kids. Perry Kitchen, Bill Hamid and Nick DeLeon just don’t know any better. No one’s told them that they should be nervous or play like they’re new to the pros. In round one against New York, a team of international superstars, Kitchen stole the ball all night like a playground bully, Hamid rewrote the laws of physics with his goalkeeping and DeLeon scored the game-winning goal. Ignorance is bliss, and these three are playing stupid good.
- The Bench. All sorts of players who haven’t played in months because of injuries or just being second string are stepping up. They’re not just filling in the gaps, they’re making shit happen, scoring goals and shutting down the other team.
- The Coach. This team plays just like Benny Olsen did when he was still a player: tenacious, tough, cocky, optimistic and fun to watch. The guys are like homicidal soccer-bots, and the ball is Sarah Connor. Aside from how he’s shaped the team, Olsen’s on a run of making smart subs that win games. Not bad for the youngest coach in the league.
- RFK. DC has only lost once at home all year, and that was to eventual eastern conference winner Kansas City. The fans are loud, the stands are full of banners and smoke bombs, and it’s not going to be no 85 and sunny like it was in Houston.
This team was written off by everyone in early September when DeRosario was injured. They weren’t creative enough, skilled enough, experienced enough. But until last weekend, they hadn’t lost in over two months. Somehow they figured out a way, week in and week out. And with rumors of DeRosario getting healthy enough to come on as a sub? We got this.
Prediction: DC wins 3-1 in regulation, taking it to overtime. DeRo scores on a bike in OT and RFK crumbles in the pandemonium. No, I don’t know where we’d play MLS Cup if RFK crumbled, but I’m voting for the South Lawn.
The Other Game Out West?
I don’t share the normal DC United fan’s hate for Seattle, so don’t be surprised that I’m rooting for them. They’re a fun team to watch, they move the ball really well, and their goal scorers always do it with style. The problem is that they’re up against an LA team that slept their way into the playoffs and suddenly remembered that their team is stacked with people like Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez, and a bunch of names that only soccer fans would know to fear. After beating Seattle 3-0 in the first game, it’s apparent that LA is literally the sleeping giant, and that’s no malarkey. Seattle will have a great, packed house, and they have the guns to go forward, I just don’t see them pulling back three. Hope I’m wrong.
Prediction: 2-2 tie, and LA moves on.