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DC United’s victory over Real Salt Lake in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final will be fresh on their minds when they welcome the Chicago Fire into town to continue MLS play. With just four matches left on their schedule, DC United (3-21-6, 15 points) has accepted they will finish bottom of the league. However, I am sure they will go out and try to get three points against the Chicago Fire (11-12-7, 40 points.) While DC United has nothing to lose when it comes to MLS standings, this is a crucial match for the Chicago Fire who sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. With a victory in this match and a little help in some of the other matches this weekend, the Fire could move into the 5th place spot.
The Chicago Fire has won the two previous MLS meetings this season in their match up with DC United, including a 4-1 beatdown the last time they met. However, most recently, DC United defeated the Fire 2-0 in the midst of DC’s impressive Open Cup Run. This win sent DC into the Cup Final. The match tonight will mean everything to the Fire who will come in confident and expecting three easy points despite DC’s Open Cup success.
Chicago is coming off a September run of matches that saw them go 1-2-3 including a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew. MVP candidate and MLS transfer of the season, Mike Magee, will be looking to start October off with three points. Magee leads the MLS in shots (101), and is second in goals this season with 18. DC United will also have to be wary of Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko.
I would expect DC United to give the nod to a couple of the youngsters who may see larger roles in the upcoming season such as Casey Townsend, Jared Jeffrey, and Dennis Iapichino. DC United will probably rest some of the starters who logged large minutes against Real Salt Lake on Tuesday. DC United will hope for a better result than the last time they did not play their best XI. On their recent trip to Toronto, the majority of the first team stayed at home and DC was defeated 4-1.
DC United will not lay down for the Chicago Fire, but they will be in for a long, hard-fought match if they want to come out with a good result. DC will have to be on the top of their defensive game to hold out a Fire team capable of scoring goals. Chicago will probably come into the match looking to strike early and get advantage of the match early on. If DC United is not focused on a strong defensive effort, the Fire will be in for their three points and moving into the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Projected XI for DC United:
Porter, Jeffrey, Kitchen, DeLeon
Iapichino, Woolard, Jakovic, Korb