Both the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United seem to be hitting their stride as the postseason race heats up, making Wednesday’s match at Audi Field all the more important for both clubs as they look to halt the other’s momentum.
A three-game winning streak has elevated the Union (11-11-3, 36 points) to fifth place in the Eastern Conference, giving them a seven-point lead over seventh-place New England and a bit of breathing room in the table.
While catching fourth-place Columbus and hosting a first-round playoff game is surely on the team’s wishlist, Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin believes his team will have to keep up its form just to ensure any sort of postseason berth.
“Our guys have really raised the level of play, both offensively and defensively,” Curtin said. “If you look at our remaining nine games now and the Open Cup final, every game will have that same ‘big game’ stigma attached to it. We’ll have to continue to push.”
Both teams will be playing their second game in an eight-day stretch. The Union are coming off a 1-0 win over New England on Saturday, while D.C. saw its own three-match win streak snapped after a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
With just over 72 hours between games, D.C. United could be without Yamil Asad, who left Sunday’s game after 49 minutes due to an ankle injury. It would be a significant blow to the D.C. lineup as Asad ranks second on the club in minutes and is tied for the team lead in goals.
D.C. United (7-10-6, 27 points) will at least have the benefit of playing at home, both for recovery purposes and because of their impressive 5-1 record at Audi Field.
“We know we can play a midweek game no problem, especially at home with our fans who provide a good energy for us,” D.C. midfielder Paul Arriola said. “Philly’s obviously coming in hot with their winning streak, but for us it’s extremely important to get three points against a team we’re chasing.”
The Union won the first meeting between the two teams, a 3-2 victory at Talen Energy Stadium on April 28.
—Field Level Media