Who would have thought after losing six of their first seven games that the New York Red Bulls would be in the midst of a club record unbeaten streak with a shot at the Eastern Conference title within reach?
Among the many teams the Red Bulls have avoided a loss to during that streak are DC United, who beat the Red Bulls 2-0 earlier in the season and then overcame a 2-0 deficit in the second game to tie it at 2-2. Both of those matches were at RFK Stadium though - not the fortress that has been Red Bull Arena.
Nonetheless, DC United have been tough to beat over the last month and a half. They've netted in each of their last nine games and are only two weeks removed from a dominating 6-2 win over the Chicago Fire where Patrick Mullins recorded a hat trick.
The Red Bulls were fortunate enough to get their second road win of the 2016 season against the Vancouver Whitecaps without the services of superstars Sacha Kljestan and Kemar Lawrence last week. Unfortunately, the win came at a cost: yellow cards for Mike Grella and Alex Muyl that resulted in match bans due to accumulation.
As a result, the Red Bulls are expected to give starts to two of their three expensive benchwarmers: Gonzalo Veron, Omer Damari and/or Daniel Royer. However, we must also take into account the exceptional play of Sean Davis, who filled in for an injured Dax McCarty and was featured alongside the captain in Kljestan's absence.
Suffice it to say, the Red Bulls have a lot of options for this game - even with Grella and Muyl absent.
Here is the New York Red Bulls predicted XI vs DC United:
GK Luis Robles
DF Kemar Lawrence
DF Aurelien Collin
DF Ronald Zubar
DF Chris Duvall
MF Dax McCarty
MF Sean Davis - Rather than move Felipe back to DM and Davis to the bench, we'll see if Jesse Marsch gives Felipe some rest ahead of the CCL game against Alianza and keeps Davis in the lineup.
FW/MF Omer Damari - One has to believe that with the usual starters suspended for DCU's visit the Israeli loanee will get his first start either on Sunday or in the CCL.
MF Sacha Kljestan - Felipe does a good job filling in at the No. 10 for Kljestan, but the newest USMNT star retakes his spot on Sunday.
MF/FW Gonzalo Veron - Regardless of where on the pitch Veron actually gets placed, it seems natural to at least suspect he'll be in the starting XI since Muyl will be absent.
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
What do you think?