On September 24th D.C. United had an impressive showing against a somewhat second team squad of Real Salt Lake but the result was exactly what United needed - 3 points.
The Black and Red seemed poised to make a strong playoff push down the stretch of the 2011 MLS season however the ensuing road trip saw United lose to Eastern Conference and I-95 rivals Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew just three days later failing to collect a single point. Not the results the coaching staff, players, and fans had hoped for.
Now United find themselves two points out of the Wild Card Race and looking at a possible last chance to salvage any hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Luckily for United they are set to face Vancouver (W-T-L-L-L) who they handled easily back in August in a 4-0 home win. Now D.C. United faces a must win situation and three points are the only acceptable result.
One negative note for the re-match against the Whitecaps is that MLS leading scorer and MVP candidate, Dwayne De Rosario will most likely miss the game due to national team duty. The absence of DeRo will simply be an opportunity for another United player to step-up (Davies, Najar?) and help salvage the teams hopes of a playoff birth.
Oct. 12 D.C. vs Vancouver players to watch:
Perry Kitchen, the rookie must not suffer the mental lapses we have seen from him throughout the season while having to help the United defense keep track of F Eric Hassli (10 goals).
Charlie Davies, the streaky attacker has 11 goals this season and must help fill the void if De Rosario is absent as expected. Vancouver has allowed 8 goals over their last 4 matches.
Eric Hassli, the Frenchman has 10 goals this season but was essentially a non-factor in the previous match against United at RFK. He will be looking to exploit the inconsistent play of United's back line. Keep an eye on the 6'4" stiker on set pieces and crosses into the box.
Jay DeMerit, DeMerit is back to top form after having played the full 90 in his teams last six games. If DeRo does not play, the former USMNT defender and Whitecap captain will be looking to minimize the United attack and shut down Davies up the middle.