Wayne Rooney - D.C. United - celebrates a goal vs. Atlanta
USA Today Sports

DC United kick off crucial 7-game homestand with playoff berth up for grabs

D.C. United are set to embark on a unique seven-game homestand and at the other end of the rainbow is the promise of a playoff berth — as long as they continue to take care of business at Audi Field.

Since christening Audi Field on July 14, D.C. are 6-2-0 at home. Those wins have seen the club climb from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to eighth place where they now control their own destiny to crash the playoffs. 

"Going into these homes games we will try to maximize as many points as we can," center back Kofi Opare said. "I think everyone’s mindset is, 'we are focused, we are ready to go.' We know our responsibilities as a unit and as a team in order to pick up points and make a push for the playoffs."

To boot, a recently-depleted D.C. squad has gotten reinforcements.

Paul Arriola (USA) and Darren Mattocks (Jamaica) returned from international duty early for Wednesday's match against Minnesota United FC (7:30 pm | TV & streaming info) while Junior Moreno (Venezuela) and Zoltan Steiber (Hungary) will be back in time for Sunday's match against the New York Red Bulls (1 pm ET | ESPN — Full TV & streaming info) . Yamil Asad (ankle) and Oniel Fisher (hamstring) are working on their returns as well.

United have two eyes focused fully on the playoff line, of which they sit five points behind with two games in hand. One of those games will be cashed on Wednesday night, the first match of their month-and-a-half run at home.

The Loons are also hit hard by the international break and injuries, lending United a golden opportunity for three points against a less-than-full-strength Minnesota side that has struggled away from home in its two-year MLS existence. While star attacker Darwin Quintero is set to return from injury, the Loons will be without suspended defensive duo Michael Boxall and Francisco Calvo and midfielders Rasmus Schuller (Finland) and Romario Ibarra (Ecuador) who are still on international duty.

After Minnesota, over the next 49 days, D.C. will welcome the Red Bulls, Montreal Impact, Chicago Fire, FC Dallas, Toronto FC and NYCFC to the nation's capital before spending Decision Day in Chicago against the Fire.

For a side that has had to endure multiple three-match weeks, the schedule is tight but manageable. Can they make it to the other side of their Audi Field rainbow with enough points in their pocket after 49 days to redeem playoff qualification?

“It’s all there for us,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “We just have to go get it. We need to be at our best for the next month.”

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