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BWP, Red Bulls have big opportunity against D.C. United

It’s “Hate D.C. midweek,” as the Red Bulls travel to the nation’s capital to face United.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at D.C. United
Bradley Wright-Phillips scores an acrobatic goal, one of three last September against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The time has come, once again, for the oldest rivalry in Major League Soccer, as the New York Red Bulls approach a midweek clash at Audi Field on Wednesday.

The Red Bulls are currently fifth place in the Eastern Conference, still three points ahead of New England after their 1-1 draw last Saturday and one point behind their opponents, fourth place D.C. United.

“You can’t overthink what DC United is going to do, but our principles will be the same in what we will do with the ball and without the ball,” Chris Armas said. “They are one of those teams that doesn’t rely on one player. (Wayne) Rooney and (Luciano) Acosta are a one-two punch that’s always tough to stop.

“We also think highly of how Paul Arriola plays. He’s a work horse and a good player, always looking to get on the the move. They attack with their outside backs, they have a bunch of guys that can hurt you.

“So, they are similar to us as we are similar to them. It’s just another rivalry game. A tough test, but it’s always a fun one.”

A positive for the Red Bulls is that, in two visits to Audi Field last season, they were undefeated with a win and a draw. All four of the Red Bulls’ goals were scored by Bradley Wright-Phillips, as he scored his 100th league goal in the second minute of their July 25 match.

In their second visit to Audi Field, Wright-Phillips was a one-man wrecking crew, scoring every time DC United took the lead. He earned a big hat trick in the 90th minute, smacking home a great cross from Alex Muyl to take a big road point that Sunday afternoon.

“It means a lot to win against DC,” Wright-Phillips said. “That’s the team that we have the most history against. They don’t like us, and we don’t like them. There’s still some hate there.

“It’s always a game that you go into knowing you have to win, because of bragging rights. But it’s a tough one because you have to earn every inch, and it won’t be any different on Wednesday.

“At this stage of the season, there’s no better games than to have rivalries (with NYCFC coming afterwards). We have to bring the energy all week. We have to bring that intensity into training, so it translates to the pitch.”

With Brian White’s ankle injury making it unlikely for him to play, the question will be: can BWP go 60-plus minutes once again and possibly repeat his performances from last year? He has not scored two goals in a match since that hat trick, but maybe this is the game that turns it around for him.