With their tickets for their place of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs already punched, the only thing left for these two bitter rivals is the seeding for the upcoming tournament. Most importantly, who gets the fourth seed, and with it, the precious home match in the first round.
The last time these two squads clashed was back in August as the New York Red Bulls won a much-needed victory on the road, besting Ben Olsen’s crew by a score 2-1 at Audi Field.
It was a wild and very testy affair that saw two red cards given to both Wayne Rooney and Amro Tarek. Add in a controversial penalty call given to Michale Murillo, of which Daniel Royer dispatched for the game-winning goal, and you have the makings of another classic Atlantic Cup rivalry match.
The Red Bulls have won two out of their five matches sitting in fifth place in the East. Thanks to some assistance from Chicago, Orlando, and Montreal, they were able to clinch their tenth consecutive playoff appearance and their twentieth overall.
Meanwhile, D.C. United have won three out of their last five matches and currently stand just a point ahead of the Red Bulls. They are now sitting in fourth place in a very contested Eastern Conference with only two weeks remaining of the MLS Regular Season. This match will be crucial for both squads and a must-have in their respective win columns.
Players to Watch:
Kyle Duncan – Defender
Kyle’s sudden renaissance has been a joy to behold for Red Bulls supporters. His mistake-prone performances look to be in the rear-view mirror, as he has rewarded his head coach and teammates with solid defending that has kept the opponents off the scoreboard for two straight matches. Should he be in the starting XI, will he do the same for a third consecutive match? If that’s the case, it will bode very well for the Red Bulls.
Wayne Rooney – Forward/Midfielder
The former Everton, Manchester United and England national team legend has undoubtedly made an excellent addition once he arrived stateside to The District. The Liverpool native can be very dangerous in the attack giving the opponent defenses a handful – especially on set pieces, something that New York seems to have a difficulty of as of late. If the Red Bulls are ever going to grab three points, keeping him quiet should very high on their list.
If the match back in August at Audi Field is any indication, this is going to be a severe rock fight between these bitter old foes. This is more than just a home game in the playoffs. It’s for pride. Remember that these two teams do NOT like each other. It was a testy affair back then, expect more of the same on Sunday.
Those looking for some free-flowing, SportsCenter highlight-worthy, “sexy looking” football might want to go somewhere else. It’s going to be a drop-dead grudge match, down and dirty, plain and simple. With so much on the line, this match may be a preview of what to come should these be the two teams facing off in round one in the Eastern Conference championship.
Should be a good one. Let the games begin.