D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls
2017 MLS Regular Season
Sunday, October 22 – 4 pm ET
(Washington, D.C.)- On Sunday afternoon’s Decision Day, we soccer fans say goodbye to two things- the MLS regular season, and historic RFK Stadium. In this grand finale, it will be an Atlantic Cup match-up between the New York Red Bulls and DC United. Truth be told, the stakes in this one are not too high, as the Red Bulls have already clinched the sixth and final playoff spot in the East, and DC’s place in the basement of the East has been secured.
That is not to say that RFK’s farewell match is one to turn a blind eye to. Regardless of the big-picture situations surrounding the teams, there is yet an Atlantic Cup to win for RBNY against a long-hated rival. Both of these teams will put everything out on the pitch, and here is what to watch for:
New York Red Bulls Travel to RFK Stadium for Last Time in Decision Day Clash
The NY Approach
Plain and simple: expect a fight at full strength. This match will likely take on the feel of a playoff atmosphere even though it has very little meaning as far as the standing of each team.
“We want these points. We need these points, for multiple reasons,” said head coach Jesse Marsch during the week. The Red Bulls are going to go for this one, and here’s why they want it.
US Open Cup Disappointment
RBNY fans suffered through yet another disappointing championship game this season. The Red Bulls floundered in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final against Sporting Kansas City, keeping the club without a Cup of any kind. It is not the same as an MLS Cup, but any kind of tangible hardware is good for the club right now.
The Red Bulls struggled to finally clinch a playoff spot, going winless in eight games. That trend seemed to be behind them as the team produced a convincing victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and played to a dominant scoreless draw against the very hot Atlanta United FC. What Jesse Marsch needs from his team on Sunday is one more victory against a rival to give them a boost heading into the playoffs.
Planning for the Best
New York can no longer move up in the Eastern Conference standings, but this game could provide critical points in the long run. The MLS Cup Final is hosted by the team with more points during the regular season. Three points on Sunday would put them at 50, tied with the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC at the moment.
Depending on what happens in the West on Decision Day, three points will help position the Red Bulls better for success in a Cup final. With just four loses at home in the last two seasons combined, it is safe to say hosting the Final is the best scenario for New York. They need to do everything possible to make that happen.
Without further ado, the New York Red Bulls’ lineup projection:
Aside from a very normal starting XI, expect to see substantial minutes from the likes of Muhamed Keita. The central midfielder looked promising in his first few appearances for the team, but hasn’t been getting time of late. He will likely come on in place of Sacha Kljestan depending on how things go.
Match-up to watch: Paul Arriola and Zoltan Stieber (DCU) vs. Daniel Royer and Sean Davis (RBNY).
Look for the wingers on each team to get involved, and the teams to play down the sides. The game may be won or lost on the outside.
Prediction: New York fights for the 3-1 victory, and takes the Atlantic Cup back home to Harrison. Bradley Wright-Phillips bags a brace to end the regular season, and DCU battles their hearts out for the home fans. When Decision Day 2017 is said-and-done, RFK Stadium gets the spectacle of a send-off match it deserves.