When Major League Soccer released the schedule for the 2013 season, one of the more intriguing closing matches was this rematch of the 2012 Eastern Conference Final. Both teams had high expectations entering the season, but only one of those teams lived up the hype.
It’s very simple for the Houston Dynamo; a win over last-place DC United will put them into the postseason. Houston had put themselves in a good position going into their home finale against the New York Red Bulls last week, but Houston came away from the fixture on the wrong side of a 3-0 score line. Now Houston must win or hope that New England Revolution lose in order to secure a return to the postseason.
Houston will be looking for a positive result after failing to advance into the CONCACAF Champions League knockout round with a 1-0 in Panama to Arabe Unido, even while playing a semi-strong squad. Houston will not want to miss out on their second opportunity to advance into the next stage of a competition this week, and for them they could not have asked for a better opponent to play against in this must-win situation.
In Washington, DC the present is very bleak for the hometown soccer club but the future is bright for this once prominent franchise.
United are in the process of securing a new soccer-specific stadium in the Washington area which should help sustain their current fan base and even bring in some newer support. Next season they will be participating in the CONCACAF Champions League after winning the U.S. Open Cup against all odds.
On top of all of the positives that DC United fans can look for in the future is the young returning nucleus they have. In fact, 41.4 percent of all outfield minutes were accumulated by players currently aged 24 or under, led by central midfielder Perry Kitchen at 2,773 minutes played.
For DC to take the next step in 2014; they will need to upgrade the defense in front of goalkeeper Bill Hamid. There is only so much that a Hamid can do by himself without a solid back-line in front of him, or more specifically, a taller center back. They also need to reevaluate whether Dwayne De Rosario fits into the game plan. De Rosario is 35 and does not have the same stamina he did in his twenties. Look for DC to target a young DP-level striker or two during the off-season.
Houston Dynamo travels to RFK Stadium to take on DC United on Sunday, Oct 27 at 1:30 p.m. ET. This match can be seen on NBC.
Prediction: Houston Dynamo 3, DC United 0
Houston has won five of the last six matches played against DC United, outscoring them, 15-2. With a postseason berth on the line—this streak will not end on this match day.