Atlantic Cup carries extra meaning for United

WASHINGTON – Thursday night’s edition of the Atlantic Cup will provide the first taste of the DC-New York rivalry for a number of United’s new faces. (8 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

Offseason additions who have seen plenty of action like Charlie Davies, Josh Wolff and Dax McCarty are all almost certain to be in the starting lineup against the Red Bulls. They’ll get a chance to be involved in one of the league’s fiercest rivalries.

It’s been a point of discussion through this abbreviated week of training in D.C.

“Clearly, we’ve discussed that there is a bit of a rivalry there,” Wolff said. “There are rivalries throughout the league, so these games carry extra meaning obviously, and the upside is it’s two teams coming off two good wins. It’s a great meeting, Thursday night on ESPN2, a lot to play for.”

New captain McCarty is also eager for the looming matchup.

“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I’ve heard it’s pretty fierce. I think the whole team’s looking forward to it including myself.”

The game will also mark Ben Olsen’s first game in charge against the Red Bulls, a team he enjoyed success against as a player – with one of the highlights a rare hat trick at RFK back in 2007. Olsen served as an assistant when the two teams played against each other last year.

He’ll likely hand Davies, the league’s leading scorer and another newcomer to the rivalry, a second straight start. The 24-year-old forward is amped for every game, but is excited to line up against an idol of his.

“Just to be back in the United States and to be playing in MLS, it’s great,” Davies said. “On top of that, you add getting to play an idol of mine, Thierry Henry. ... It’s going to be a game where it’s full of excitement, a lot of energy, and is a game everyone looks forward to playing.”

Pulling back from the rivalry for a moment, the game is also a huge litmus test for D.C. United’s young roster. The Red Bulls, with the acquisition of Dwayne De Rosario, enter the match with a very talented lineup, and the game represents a chance for United to make a statement.

“For us, we’re looking at this as a good measuring stick,” McCarty said. “We know that New York is one of the best teams in the league, and if we want to be considered one of the better teams in the league, we need to have a good performance.”