Preview: United vs New York

Atlantic Cup opener will provide United's defense with its toughest test yet

MLS MATCHDAY 8

D.C. United vs New York Red Bulls

Sunday, April 22 - 6:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN2

Despite the two sides' historic stance as arch rivals,D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls mirrored each other’s starts to the 2012campaign.  When the old foes meetSunday at RFK, both I-95 bragging rights and a pair of unbeaten streaks will beon the line. 

"I've been around for the New York - D.C.stuff longer than most of these guys." United head coach Ben Olsen saidafter his team's training session on Friday.  "I take it pretty serious.  I've always loved the [rivalries] in this league.  It's a chance for us to keep movingforward against a very good opponent."

Olsen's polite words about Sunday's opponentare far more than simple coach-speak. After dropping their first two contests, the Red Bulls have scoredfifteen goals and avoided defeat over the club's four most recent matches.  Superstar Thierry Henry has been thecatalyst for the turnaround, as the Frenchman has either scored or assisted onall but four of New York's sixteen goals so far this season. 

On Sunday, Henry - whose seven goals puts himin a three-way tie atop the MLS scoring charts - will be the focal point ofD.C.'s defensive efforts.  Key tothat effort is the likely return of central back Emiliano Dudar, who missedeach of United's last two matches with a hamstring strain.  Dudar has already shut down the likesof Vancouver's Eric Hassli and Seattle's Fredy Montero, but the Argentine knowsthat Henry will be his toughest test yet.

"Henry is an impressive, world-classplayer," Dudar acknowledged earlier this week in a Spanish languageinterview.  "We have to bevery concentrated for all ninety minutes, because we can't give him a singlechance.  If we do, he'll make uspay."

For D.C., Sunday's match provides an immediateopportunity to rebound from a disappointing mid-week performance.  Heavily favored against the expansionMontreal Impact, United was forced to salvage a draw late after falling behindin the second half.  The tie keptUnited's unbeaten streak - now at five matches - intact, but left a sour tastefor the Black-and-Red. 

"Wednesday was disappointing looking backat it," admitted captain Dwayne De Rosario.  "Montreal came in and [we] basically played almost likewe were away.  We can't afford todo that against a team like team New York.  I think the quick turnaround is good.  I like it when the games come fast andfurious like that.  I know the guysare one-hundred percent ready."

Sunday's winner will take over sole possession of second place inthe Eastern Conference behind unbeaten Kansas City.  Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at RFK Stadium.

» ANALYSIS: Breaking down New York Red Bulls

» Create and share your starting XI

REFEREE: Mark Geiger. MLS Career: 92 games; FC/gm: 26.5; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 18; pens: 31
SAR (bench): Sean Hurd; JAR (opposite): Joe Fletcher; 4th: Andrew Chapin

INJURY REPORT:

  • D.C. UNITED - OUT: DF Ethan White (R knee surgery); MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); FW Josh Wolff (L hamstring strain); DF Dejan Jakovic (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Kurt Morsink (L foot neurectomy); PROBABLE: DF Emiliano Dudar (L hamstring strain)
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS - OUT: FW Juan Agudelo (L knee surgery recovery); MF Teemu Tainio (R knee sprain); DF Wilman Conde (groin strain); DF Roy Miller (L knee effusion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: NY: Rafa Marquez (through May 5)

WARNINGS:

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none

SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Maicon Santos

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (56 meetings): United 30 wins (1 shootout), 108 goals ... Red Bulls 19 wins (1 shootout), 81 goals ... Ties 7
  • AT RFK (29 meetings): United 17 wins (1 shootout), 61 goals ... Red Bulls 9 wins (1 shootout), 46 goals ... Ties 3
  • RETURN MATCHES: 6/24: New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United, 7 p.m. (NBC SN); 8/29: D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. (Galavision)
  • COACHES RECORD: Ben Olsen v NY: P2 W1 L1 D0 ... Hans Backe vs. DC: P4 W2 L1 D1

LAST YEAR (MLS):

  • 4/21: DC 0, NY 4 (Henry 12, 38; Lindpere 76; Agudelo 90)
    7/9: NY 0, DC 1 (De Rosario 61)
  • United won 1-0 last July 9 at Red Bull Arena, ending a three-game winless stretch against New York. In that match, D.C. scored for the first time vs. the Red Bulls since their last win, a 2-0 triumph June 4, 2009.
  • The Red Bulls have won their last two visits to RFK Stadium in dominant fashion, scoring six goals without reply. The Red Bulls' 2-0 win in May 2010 was their first in the nation's capital since 2005. United had won five of the seven intervening meetings at RFK Stadium.
  • The Red Bulls have won the Atlantic Cup the last two years, with three wins in the 10 years it has been contested. New York first won in 2003. Goal difference is the first tie-breaker, followed by away goals; if still tied, the Red Bulls (as holders) will retain the cup.