We don't need to tell you what's coming because it is already here: it's Hate DC Week for New York Red Bulls fans, just like it is every week. But the weeks RBNY actually play D.C. United are a little more special than the others.
In MLS right now, the only thing separating the two rivals is the red line that marks the difference between those who will make the playoffs and those who won't. Both teams have the same points total (10) after 10 games, but RBNY has the tiebreaker (games won) and therefore the right to sit above DCU in the standings. However, neither side is in a comfortable position, so there should be plenty of incentive for the players to channel 20 years of hate into the task of coming out a little bit sharper and more focused than the other guys.
For Aurelien Collin - who started against Orlando last week and seems likely to start again this week, this will be his first taste of the long-time rivalry between RBNY and DCU. Given his reputation for playing a little more...erm...passionately than the average player, maybe it is a good thing he sounds like he is treating the match like any other: "The DC players, I know about them already. I know how to prepare and it's going to be a physical game against them," he said. "I've faced them before when I was with Kansas City, so I know what to expect."
Head coach Jesse Marsch is preparing for his sixth game against DC since taking charge of RBNY. Last season, the Red Bulls kept four clean sheets in four wins against United, but Marsch is not complacent: "Sometimes I love playing against DC and sometimes I hate it," he said, "Because it's never easy, they make it hard, RFK is a tough place to play. We will get DC's best and we will give them our best, which will make it a very good game and a tough challenge as well."
The fans need no encouragement to be up for this game, and the roster is built around a core of players who have been with the club for several seasons now. But some of those players may feel the rivalry more keenly than others. Lloyd Sam seems to love playing DCU: he scored in all three of the league games against them last season. If he's on the pitch, expect him to lead the way as he chases another goal against the team he seems to love to beat the most.
The rivalry renews at 7:00 pm today (Friday, May 13).