- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
D.C. United control their own playoff destiny
Tie Saturday against Columbus would clinch spot
For D.C. United, the math is simple: A win or draw in either of the team’s final two games clinches a trip to the playoffs, vanquishing a drought that has plagued the club since 2007.
So heading into United’s home finale Saturday against the Columbus Crew, the team has leeway, right?
“There’s no leeway,” coach Ben Olsen said. “None. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to continue moving forward.”
It’s a philosophy instilled in United (16-10-6), who are treating their next game like a must-win, despite what the playoff scenarios say. And there certainly is logic to such an approach.
With a loss to sixth-place Columbus (14-11-7), D.C. could find itself needing a result in its final regular-season match — a tough trip to take on the Chicago Fire (17-10-5) — or hope other matches across the league go its way.
No, considering the team has gone 11-1-4 at RFK Stadium this year, not dropping a contest since its March opener, United just want to handle matters this weekend in the nation’s capital.
“We’re at home and we need to get a win,” center back Brandon McDonald said. “We don’t want to go into any games, especially at home, going for a point. I think our mentality coming in is they’re coming to our field, and we have to handle business.”
There also is the matter of seeding. Under this year’s revised format, five teams in each conference advance to the postseason, but the No. 4 and 5 seeds must open the playoffs in a one-off match.
A win against the Crew would put United in solid positioning to claim a top-three seed and a bye to the two-leg conference semifinals. And the three points would clinch at least fourth place, guaranteeing home-field advantage if D.C. does end up in the wild-card game.
“It’s interesting where the East is right now,” said Olsen, 35. “It’s what we’re all tuning in for. This is what is great for our young team, and me as a young coach. They’re great opportunities for us to move forward and learn and get through this and overcome it.”
United enter the match on a roll, having gone 4-0-1 since captain Dwayne De Rosario suffered a sprained knee ligament last month. Often playing a more defensive 4-5-1 formation, the club has become adept at winning ugly without its attacking catalyst.
But with MLS on hiatus last weekend as World Cup qualifying took center stage, there is the typical concern of the bye week derailing the club’s momentum.
“You can make them good and say there is plenty of rest,” Olsen said. “You can make them bad and say you lose a little rhythm. The good thing is everyone is in the same boat with this one.”
Against Columbus, United will turn their focus to attackers Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta, midseason acquisitions who have fueled the Crew’s bid for an unlikely playoff berth.
Columbus is 6-2-1 in games started by Higuain, a commanding playmaker who has recorded three goals and six assists in just 11 appearances. Arrieta, on the other hand, has eight goals and four assists in 16 matches while playing as a high striker pushing the back line.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Luis Silva realizes potential in D.C. United playmaking role
- United, D.C. hope this new stadium plan will be the last
- Jared Jeffrey returns to U.S. in search of playing time after European tour
- Sonny Silooy's career has evolved from standout defender to standout talent developer
- Alain Rochat adjusts to D.C. United move with growing family on his mind
Latest Blog Entries
- Jason Levien, Ben Olsen discuss D.C. United's $300M stadium plan
- Conor Doyle loan continues D.C. United youth movement
- Ben Olsen discusses trading Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake
- Interview outtakes: Sonny Silooy
- Hello Luis Silva, Collin Martin, goodbye Alain Rochat: Breaking down D.C. United's busy day
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuke umbrella
- Echoes of Cold War in Ukraine as Russia battles Western influence
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- North Korean dictator stuns world with uncle's execution
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow