D.C. United travels to New York for tonight’s Atlantic Cup finale (8:00 p.m. ET / NBC Sports Network). Needing a win by two or more goals to defend its title, the Black-and-Red will look to maintain its current run of good form and clinch the organization’s 13th crown. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, have the Eastern Conference’s top spot in their sights and will hope to improve their record of 11-9-6 with a win over their rivals.
New York comes into the game following last weekend’s shocking 3-2 loss at Chivas USA. Despite goals from Tim Cahill and Dax McCarty, the Red Bulls couldn’t contain the Western Conference’s last-place side and missed their chance to move above Montreal for first place. Recently, Cahill and fellow Designated Player Thierry Henry have provided most of the New York offense—both players have seven goals on the season, and the Frenchman has provided a team-high six assists. The Red Bulls have also performed well at home of late, registering three wins and a draw over the last two months.
While United hasn’t found the same level of League success, the Black-and-Red has shown plenty of improvement over the past month. In its last action, D.C. drew 1-1 with Toronto FC thanks to a stunning curler from Dwayne De Rosario, who—along with Luis Silva—leads the team with three goals. With a U.S. Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake in a month’s time, United will be keen on maintaining not just its overall form, but the re-energized play of its front line.
Even after a scoreless draw and a 2-0 loss at RFK Stadium earlier this season, the Atlantic Cup is still within reach for the Black-and-Red. A win by at least two goals will earn United a consecutive title and add another crown to D.C.’s 12-5 series lead. Overall, United currently enjoys a 31-21-9 mark in MLS play against New York as well as a 4-0 record in playoff series. Last season, D.C. claimed the Atlantic Cup with an aggregate score of 8-6 before edging the Red Bulls 2-1 in the MLS Cup quarterfinals.
This year, with New York looking for valuable playoff points, United Head Coach Ben Olsen hopes his side can deliver a solid performance in Red Bull Arena.
“[We’re] going up to New York and trying to play a bit of a spoiler role," said Olsen. "They’re a very, very tough team to play at home, so we’ll have to be ready.”
The Black-and-Red return home on Sep. 14 to host the Los Angeles Galaxy, a game during which D.C. United will formally induct Jaime Moreno into the Hall of Tradition. Buy your tickets here.