MLS game of the week: New York Red Bulls at D.C. United
New York Red Bulls at D.C. United, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
OverviewThe Atlantic Cup rivalry reboots Wednesday, August 21 when D.C. United hosts the New York Red Bulls. The Atlantic Cup is one of Major League Soccer's original rivalries, but despite the action on the field being intense, the league has shifted the focus away from this important rivalry over the past few years. These two teams don't like each other, though, and that aspect puts the rivalry at center stage for this midweek matchup. A winner in this match will also move into third in the Eastern Conference.
United needs to regain momentumD.C. United enters the game in slipping form, with only two wins in its last nine matches. The club is now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and they're looking to get the spark back at home on a newly resodded Audi Field. D.C. United hasn't won an Atlantic Cup since 2016, and this match has playoff implications, including which squad could possibly host the other in the first round.
Head coach Ben Olsen will have to figure out a way to get his stars producing again. Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola and Lucas Rodriguez have provided the bulk of the offense this year, and newly acquired forward Ola Kamara can score goals in bunches if given the opportunity. Bill Hamid has played out of his mind in goal this season, as well. However, the X factor could be Felipe Martins playing against his former team. With him in the middle, can DC United regenerate the offensive flair it had earlier in the year?
Can New York do damage on the road?The Red Bulls have been steadily keeping their position in the playoff race. They're in fifth with 38 points, just one point behind D.C. United. Their form has been up and down for the last 10 games, but five the last eight have been on the road, where they've only won three games this season. To get above that line to host a playoff game or even contend for the No. 1 seed, the Red Bulls will need wins away from home.
Brian White has emerged as their go-to scorer, along with Daniel Royer this season, while Bradley Wright-Phillips has settled for a substitute role since his return from a groin injury in June. Luis Robles hasn't been his usual steady self in goal, but Kemar Lawrence might be the best defender in MLS and has been a rock on the right side all year.
Prediction: DrawD.C. United and the Red Bulls will produce a game that has a lot of action and will turn chippy in the second half. A 2-2 draw (+925) will feel more like a lost opportunity for either team to gain on the top three in the Eastern Conference and leave the Atlantic Cup up for grabs.
The weekday MLS action only starts Wednesday, as there are also matches Thursday and Friday. You can bet all kinds of soccer action at BetAmerica!