United take on the New York Red Bulls at Audi Field in Week 29 looking to continue their impressive playoff push that has seen them rise from the bottom of the East to just below the playoff line. As the playoff race heats up with each passing matchday, here's what to know about the Black-and-Red's current postseason prospects.
1. Tight Race Gets Tighter
D.C. United currently sit in the No. 7 slot in the East with 34 points. They are two points behind No. 6 Montreal, who have played 28 games to D.C.’s 27, and six points behind the No. 5 Philadelphia Union. But D.C. isn’t the only team trying to climb the table. The New England Revolution are in the No. 8 slot with 33 points and Toronto FC sit at No. 9 with 27 points, making for an interesting final month of regular season action in the East.
2. Difficult Opponents Lie Ahead
Of D.C.’s seven remaining games, four of them are against opponents that are currently in playoff spots. On Sunday, United will face the No. 1 team in the East, the New York Red Bulls. A few weeks later, they will go head-to-head with the No. 1 team in the West, FC Dallas. Other playoff opponents include the No. 6 Montreal Impact and the No. 3 New York City FC. The Black-and-Red's September 29 meeting with the Impact will be particularly important, as it is Montreal's playoff spot for which United are currently vying.
3. Focus On The East
Other than the match against FC Dallas, all of D.C. United’s remaining matches are against Eastern Conference opponents, and with six weeks left, there is still plenty of time for shakeups in the standings. United play a number of teams close to them on the table, including Montreal and Toronto—if the Black-and-Red can keep their rivals starved for points while accumulating their own, they significantly improve their chances of climbing.
4. Chicago = Critical
United will play the Chicago Fire twice during the remainder of the regular season—they are the only team the Black-and-Red face more than once until the end of October. On October 7, D.C. host the Fire at Audi Field, then they travel to Chicago for their final regular season game of the year. Chicago currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and with so many games against playoff-caliber opponents, it’s critical that United maximize their points in the two matches against Chicago.
5. Home Field Advantage
The Black-and-Red play six of their seven remaining games at Audi Field, giving the squad favorable home field advantage to close out the year. By comparison, Montreal play half their remaining six games on the road and New England will be on the road for four of their next seven games. No other MLS team will play more home games until the end of the regular season than D.C. United, and the energy of the District's home crowd could have a major impact on the team's performances at Audi Field.