In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with Sarah Kallassy of The District Press to learn more about DC United, New York City FC’s opponent tomorrow when they face off at Audi Field in Washington, DC: Here is your NYCFC vs DC United preview.
1. The hope is running low
Hudson River Blue: DC United have drawn three out of their last five matches, losing to the New Jersey Red Bulls and Austin FC. DC is still in the race for a playoff spot but just barely, as they are one point off 9th place with one game left. What’s the vibe in the seats at Audi Field these days?
Sarah Kallassy: Supporters are holding on to their last bit of hope for success on Saturday. It’s certainly been a frustrating winless stretch. Losing to your longtime rival, especially at home, hurts. We’re hoping for a strong performance on Saturday to reward DC United supporters a bit.
2. All or nothing
HRB: DC are the only team not to play on Decision Day, with their last game of the season being against NYCFC this Saturday. How will that affect the team this weekend?
SK: The pressure is undoubtedly on the Black-and-Red to achieve a result this weekend. After a disappointing run of matches, regardless of whether or not DC makes the playoffs, a convincing result to close out the season is essential.
3. Homegrown Ted Ku-DiPietro is one to look out for
HRB: The former Premier League striker Christian Benteke has scored a team-leading 14 goals. Mateusz Klich is the type of player who likes to distribute the ball, as he has seven assists. Who else should NYCFC be worried about on Saturday?
SK: Homegrown Ted Ku-DiPietro has brought the tenacity at this late stage in the season. He’s an exciting player able to get forward and make creative, physical plays. Ku-DiPietro has come in clutch at the death before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it again.
4. The X-Factor: The referees
HRB: What’s the X-factor that could decide this game?
SK: Officiating has the potential to make or break this match. At this late stage, a call for or against DC United could make all the difference.
5. Predicted Starting XI
HRB: Prediction time: Starting XI? Final score?
SK: This always depends on how everyone performs in practice and if there are any further injuries to contend with (we certainly hope not). Wayne Rooney has made no secret that he selects his XI according to merit. I’m a bit superstitious, so I don’t predict score lines, but I will say this – it will likely be all or nothing.