You felt that there was going to be a familiar opponent for the Red Bulls when they were waiting for someone to win one of the two Eastern Conference Wild Card's and when it all came down to a Montreal Impact destruction, it would be DC United that was going to step up and say hello.
Last season we remember the big victory in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals when the Red Bulls took advantage of a poor DC side that fell asleep after the first ten minutes of the match and then out of no where you saw Thierry Henry set up Bradley Wright-Phillips for the first goal with a beautiful back heel flick, then he launched a floating ball to Peguy Luyindula who did all the rest and beat Bill Hamid thru the wickets.
That return leg at RFK Stadium was also special where they needed just one away goal and not only take advantage of the away goals rule, but to win that series on aggregate three goals to two. The start of that playoff run began against Sporting Kansas City before they moved to the Western Conference this season and it continued towards a steamrolling on DC United that this club either as Metro or Red Bulls finally won a playoff round against their most bitter rivals.
But the real question is this, is DC United looking for revenge even though they still lead the playoff history by 5 to 1? I think we all know the answer to this as we will have two weeks of Hate DC Week and it feels like the verbal jousting will always continue when these two sides are going after each other. But the road game in the first leg will be a big task for the Red Bulls as DC has the advantage of playing one game more than the Red Bulls do after the wild card win against the Revolution.
"It's just going thru the details of what their team is, their personal in which we know what it is already. Going thru that set pieces are clear and who's responsibility, things we will include on our attacking end. So it's about ironing out things on our end." Said Head Coach Jesse Marsch, "We know when DC comes to town or when we go down there that it's a big rivalry match and it will be very physical, the game doesn't settle down much. They had a great start and middle of the season but ended in a rough patch, but still they are tough and always scratch and claw to get a win."
In these three games of the regular season Fabian Espindola was nowhere to be found due to being injured or serving a suspension from the league. As everyone remembers after the second leg of the series last season, Espindola shoved the near side assistant and the league gave him a six game suspension to start the season.
"It's possible that he and (Alvaro) Saborio plays, they have other options to throw out there but Espindola is an X factor that's for sure. He can make plays out of nothing and he is clever around the goal, he can finish and has a crafty left foot, he has confidence & is a big player on that team. It's a different team with him in it, but you also have to be aware of others on the field as well."
The one player that has success against DC United is Lloyd Sam who has scored a goal in all three regular season games and two more in the past couple of years. The DC Killer knows very well that while it's nice to get goals against your most hated rival, you need to take the regular season stats and throw them away when you get to the playoffs this time of year.
"The success of the regular season is thrown out the window, this will be a very tough game and we got to be prepared to see a team that hasn't done so well against us, so we need to be ready and expect their best."
And at the end of the day that's all you can expect from the Red Bulls, but the truth is that this is a rivalry game that has plenty of teeth that will sink into from both sides of the field as well as in the stands. This is a type of series that you know will have tons of songs being sung at each other with a lot of poor words that you can't say on television, but the action will be very hot on the field and the responses should be fantastic at RFK and on social media.
It all begins at 3PM Eastern at RFK stadium and away goals will be a premium if the Red Bulls can get an advantage on the aggregate inside our Nation's Capital. So buckle up and get ready for a fantastic first leg in the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.