Washington, D.C. – D.C. United continues a busy stretch on Wednesday night against Red Bull New York, and its recent loss at the Montreal Impact is already "forgotten," according to Andy Najar.
United coach Ben Olsen did not start a number of regulars over the weekend and D.C. lost, 3-0, in Montreal. But with its fourth match in just 11 days on the horizon against New York, Olsen knew players needed a rest.
Montreal took advantage to win its fifth straight match, and moved within just one point of United for fifth place and the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
But with three matches in hand on Montreal, United can remain confident of its chances of its first playoff berth since 2007 with a win against New York
"We've forgotten that already," said Najar about the Montreal loss. "There's a more important game Wednesday. We are going in with the full intention of taking all three points."
United (12-9-4) has been impressive at home this season, going unbeaten in its last 12 games since a season-opening loss to Sporting Kansas City. Another win at RFK against New York, and Olsen will feel even better about his decision to rest players.
Although Olsen used Branko Boskovic, Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius off the bench, it was after Montreal took a two-goal lead. Like Najar, De Rosario was focused on the upcoming match.
"We are going to keep moving forward," De Rosario said. "We are playing New York on Wednesday; it's going to be a massive game."
Pontius scored a hat trick on April 22 at RFK as United beat New York, 4-1. In the teams' other meeting at Red Bull Arena, Brandon Barklage had two goals in a 3-2 New York win.
United can climb within four points of East leader Sporting KC, but the stakes are even higher for New York.
The Red Bulls (13-7-6) are just two points off the summit, and could move into the lead with a victory over United.
New York snapped a three-match road losing streak Sunday, tying Sporting on an own goal from Kei Kamara, 1-1. With just a 4-7-3 record on the road, it was a positive result for the Red Bulls.
The Red Bulls have earned the most points through 26 games in team history and could have Thierry Henry back after he missed the Sporting fixture due to the birth of his son.
"He trained individually on Sunday, Monday, two quite hard sessions," New York manager Hans Backe said.
New York could also have recent addition Lloyd Sam, who missed the last match, but Backe was not sure about the availability of the midfielder.
Backe knows a tough match awaits in D.C., one that could ultimately determine if his side can secure the regular-season title or even the Supporters' Shield for the best overall record.