Columbus, OH – The Columbus Crew host D.C. United at Crew Stadium on Sunday, as Columbus is clinging to a postseason spot and D.C. is looking to move into a wild card position.
Ahead of weekend MLS action, the Crew are holding down fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 41 points from 31 games. They sit two points in front of Red Bull New York, which occupies the final wild card spot with 39 points from 30 games. And D.C. United is one point off of New York's pace, sitting in sixth place in the East with 38 points from 29 games.
Both Columbus and D.C. played in league matches midweek, and both teams failed to strengthen their cases for a playoff position.
Columbus stumbled at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, losing 2-1 after an own goal from Julius James in the second half. Sporting took sole possession of first place in the East with 44 points.
"He was trying to help," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said of James. "He came from the side. If he had come out front he might have had a better chance to win the ball."
The Crew have struggled tremendously of late, losing three straight and failing to produce a win in their last six matches. They have posted an 0-5-1 record over that period.
D.C., meanwhile, faced another Eastern Conference team in the playoff hunt on Thursday, falling to the Philadelphia Union 3-2 at PPL Park. A win for United could have brought them level with Columbus, but instead, Philadelphia moves into second place, just one point shy of Sporting.
United head coach Ben Olsen was brutally honest after the match, stating that his side deserved to surrender all three points to Philadelphia.
"Overall, we probably deserved to come out on the short end," Olsen said. "All three goals were just very, very school-boy mistakes. Balls over the top, and then diving in on the third one - just bad mistakes, and they're pretty tough to capitalize on."
Dwayne De Rosario continued his goal-scoring tear since joining D.C. United. He scored United's first goal of the match, his 11th goal in just his 14th appearance for the club.
Unfortunately for United, several players may not be fit for Sunday's match, including De Rosario who left Thursday's game in the second half with a knee contusion.
Defender Brandon McDonald is certain to miss through yellow card accumulation, and Dejan Jakovic, who has missed the last five matches with a hamstring injury, is being monitored with the hopes of replacing him.
"We've got to evaluate everybody," Olsen told MLSsoccer.com. "[The questionable players] came in early and are going to see doctors and trainers and everybody and get what they need to recover and be ready."
Columbus and D.C. met on the opening day of the season (Mar. 19) with United earning a 3-1 victory over the Crew. Josh Wolff opened the scoring before Charlie Davies struck twice to give D.C. a comfortable lead. Robbie Rogers pulled a consolation goal back for Columbus.