MLS MATCHDAY 8
D.C. United vs New York Red Bulls
Sunday, April 22 - 6:00 PM ET
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