Just five days after taking apart San Jose, the New York Red Bulls are on the road for tonight's game against DC United, looking for a second successive win, a chance to take over top spot in the Eastern Conference, and knock DC down a few pegs after their 3-0 win over Toronto FC last weekend.
More important than any of those motivating factors, this is New York vs. DC. The Greatest City in the World against A Random Patch of Land That Maryland Didn't Want (and that Alexandria voted to escape from in the 19th century). This is Broadway, avenue of culture and class, versus K Street, boulevard of lobbyists. This is a place where people pay taxes versus the place where people decide how to waste those tax dollars. It's the first capital of the United States against the third-rate capital of the United States (which had slavery until 1862 and malaria problems well after that).* The best stadium in MLS against the worst, and the safest big city in America against a town with HIV infection rates higher than those in West Africa.
I could go on....but the point is clear: DC sucks. New York is vastly superior.
Anyway: the team news. Chris Albright and Greg Sutton are apparently back from injury -- I say apparently because they're not listed as out, even though the team has not announced their returns to training. Austin da Luz, Corey Hertzog, and Carlos Mendes will all miss out with a variety of sprains (ankle, quad, and groin, respectively). Thierry Henry is fit despite appearing to re-injure his Achilles tendon against San Jose, and Luke Rodgers will probably start alongside him again after a brilliant performance, which earned him MLS Player of the Week honors, to beat the 'Quakes.
Unfortunately, DC has started off this season much better than they did last year. At this stage in 2010, the swamp denizens had yet to claim a point (although they did get a win in week six over what was then the Kansas City Wizards), while this year they've already won twice and drawn one other game. On the other hand, their defense has not been great: DC have conceded eight goals in five games and only kept their first clean sheet last week against a mediocre and unlucky Toronto team.
While the marsh people have had the upper hand throughout much of the rivalry between the two sides, the Red Bulls did claim our first Atlantic Cup (which is a contrived competition created by DC fans so they can have another fake trophy) since 2003 last year with a 2-0 win down in their dump of a stadium and a dull 0-0 draw at The Cathedral of Football. Hopefully the tide in this rivalry has turned, and the Red Bulls will follow up their comprehensive victory over San Jose by sticking a few goals past the swamp dwellers.
Since this game is on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes (as well as ESPN3.com), kickoff will be at 8 PM. As always, we'll have a game thread going here, so drop in to berate Charlie Davies for being a cheat....and chat about the match. Let's go Red Bulls.
*History and government major: I can't help myself.