We’re into the final third of the MLS regular season, which means that the fight for a top eight spot and a place in the play-offs is hotting up, and Wayne Rooney’s DC United are in an excellent position going into this weekend’s game against New England Revolution.
DC On Top
These are two of the longest-established teams in MLS and as regular competitors in the Eastern Conference, they have built up a strong rivalry. But in recent seasons, DC have come out on top most often. The Black-and-Red have won five of their last ten against New England, and have drawn four, the most recent stalemate coming earlier this season in New England when a Rooney penalty in the last minute of the game salvaged a point for DC.
There was a degree of scepticism in some quarters regarding Rooney’s move to DC United ahead of the 2018 season, but after slow start, the former England and Manchester United striker has established himself as one of the stars of MLS, using his experience to lead the line and contributing more than his fair share of goals, including a handful of goal-of-the-season contenders. Inspired by Rooney, DC started the season strongly, winning seven of their first twelve, although a run of four draws in their last six has seen them lose ground behind East pacesetters Philadelphia.
Improving New England
New England go into this game as the clear outsiders, and on paper they shouldn’t be strong enough to match DC, being eight points behind their rivals and currently outside the play-off places. But this is one occasion when the table doesn’t tell the whole truth. Having sacked their coach Brad Friedel, in May, New England turned to the former US coach Bruce Arena, and he has produced a remarkable turnaround. The Revolution have adopted a direct, counter-attacking style and it has paid immediate dividends. They are seven games undefeated and have secured an impressive victory over LA Galaxy in LA, as well as a creditable draw against Philadelphia.
Tricky Test for DC
Given DC’s current form, bookmakers are being cautious about their chances here. Odds of 10/11 despite home advantage reflect a little uncertainty, and there may be some MLS punters interested in taking the 5/2 available on a fast-improving New England side.