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D.C. United have what New York Red Bulls want but can’t have unless they collect all three points from their crucial late-season encounter at the Red Bull Arena on Sunday.
If you look closely on the MLS Eastern Conference standings, there is a thin, dotted line that separates teams that will enjoy home comfort in round one of the playoffs, from the ones that will have to travel.
In fourth place, and on the good side of the divide, lie D.C. United, whereas the fifth place is occupied by the New Yorkers who trail their Sunday evening guests by just one point, but one very important point.
A win for the capital city side would boost their tally from 48 to 51 and put their prized fourth place out of the Red Bulls’ reach, at least. With their final fixture of the regular season being against the woeful FC Cincinnati, their chances of clinching home advantage would be very strong.
However, if the Red Bulls come out triumphant, then they’d usurp D.C. but will still have to negotiate their way past the Montreal Impact away from home in a tricky final fixture.
With no midweek commitments, the two teams should be well-rested and their fans must be in for a treat. Even more so because both sides have done well recently with the Black-and-Red riding a three-match winning streak and the Red Bulls winning both their last fixtures.
Before these streaks began though, both had lost three straight, but let bygones be bygones.
D.C. United beat Seattle Sounders 2-0 last time out. The scoreline may suggest that DC had their way but the game was much closer in reality. In fact, the Sounders had more shots despite being the away side and missed a gilt-edged chance early in the game.
Coincidentally, the Red Bulls were also 2-0 winners last week when they beat Philadelphia Union at home. This, too, wasn’t as comfortable as the scorelines suggests. The Union bossed the midfield, had 60 per cent of the possession, conceded the opening goal through an individual mistake and the second did not come until late in injury time.
New York Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last six games against D.C. United. They have won three of those six and drawn the rest. In the reverse fixture in August, the New Yorkers won 2-1 on DC territory. It was a feisty affair and both sides were reduced to 10 men. It’s clear who has the edge in this category.
D.C. United vs New York Red Bulls Betting Prediction
There is very little to choose between these two sides, even if the head-to-head is heavily tilted towards one side. But we’re leaning towards shunning conventional logic in favour of going with a gut feeling here.
Here’s the narrative: D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney is in his final few weeks/months of his MLS stint. This great champion, one of the all-time greats, hit the woodwork twice last week and provided the assist for the second game. He is due something big. Watch out.
The play here is to back D.C. United, the +440 underdogs, via PlaySugarHouse.
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