WASHINGTON — The first meeting between Chivas USA and D.C. United of 2011 is loaded with serious playoff implications for both sides.
The two teams are locked at 31 points in the league standings, a single point out of the final wild card spot. And while DC have three games in hand, a huge matchup at the Home Depot Center on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) could push either side into that echelon.
“These three points are huge,” DC midfielder Chris Pontius said. “We dropped a couple against Kansas City which I thought was one of the biggest games of the year for us, but we can quickly redeem ourselves if we can get our three points here against Chivas.”
For DC, this two-game road trip – starting in LA and concluding next weekend in Seattle – is not only a chance to climb up the standings, but also to get back to their winning ways away from RFK Stadium.
Last time on the road, United managed just a single point in a two-game stretch that included a 1-0 loss to Sporting KC last month. And this time out won’t be any easier.
“Chivas is always a tough game. That field’s big, and a good place for us to play as a team,” midfielder Santino Quaranta said. “You expect them to fight, work hard and play like a team that wants to win the playoffs. If we don’t bring that, we won’t have a chance against them.”
Head coach Ben Olsen, meanwhile, will have several late lineup decisions to make.
Forward Josh Wolff, who has battled a hip flexor issue, said he’s ready to go. Center back Dejan Jakovic is listed as out due to a hamstring injury, with Ethan White most likely to start in his place.
The status of DC’s two most involved players during the international break is also up in the air. Dwayne De Rosario (Canada) and Andy Najar (Honduras) both traveled with the team after starting for their respective countries on Tuesday’s international state, and both could possibly start on the bench.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.