BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – DC United will be involved in the playoffs of the MLS with a 10-match unbeaten streak, with the satisfaction of winning seven places in two and a half months, and more concrete in its efforts to embark on a deep race in the playoffs, with a home date in the first round.
On the final day of the regular season Sunday, United's 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire went perfectly with Philadelphia's loss, finishing fourth and an Eastern Conference playoff match against Crew Columbus Crew No. 5 Thursday at 20h. at Audi Field.
The performance – on a windy and wet day against a losing enemy in front of an announced crowd of 19,459 at Toyota Park – was not a work of art. United (14-11-9) made a colossal defensive effort in the second half to get what he needed and at least one more game in a new stadium where DC is 12-2-1. on average more than two goals per exit.
"We are excited to host a match," said defenseman Steve Birnbaum. "We know we have one of the best teams in the league right now. We think we can succeed seriously. "
Finally, United has 12-4-4 points since the arrival of the British superstar Wayne Rooney and, after being undefeated for two months, is the most prominent team of the MLS. Sunday's draw ended a run of five straight wins.
D.C. even finished with Columbus on points (51) and wins (the first tiebreaker), but was comfortably ahead in goal difference (the second tiebreaker) by taking fourth place. In their regular season games, everyone has won once at home (although the CD's victory came to Annapolis before Audi Field opened).
Third place at New York City FC (56) will host Philadelphia (50) in the other match of the first round of the conference. The New York Red Bulls (71) and Atlanta United (69) have been eliminated.
The remarkable rise of United was not lost to the players on Sunday night, but to a man, they said that the focus was on the task that awaited them.
"We understand [the surge] does not mean much at the moment, "said coach Ben Olsen." The fun part starts now. And a knockout game at home is a great opportunity. We do not want to spoil this, and keep playing as long as we can. "
Playing at home means that United can avoid the rigors of the road, where she won once this year, in San Jose in May. Of course, D.C. has spent most of the second half of the season in Washington, but even with the improved lineup, he has not won in five away games.
United was lucky enough to reach half-time tied after conceding several dangerous opportunities and generating few goals.
Olsen had modified his training, resting midfielder Yamil Asad (nine goals, eight assists), rewarding right-back Nick DeLeon for his second start since his return from a long-term injury and return of Paul Arriola on the right wing after a pass on the back line.
United's only real chances came in 10 minutes in the second period. Patrick McLain, goalkeeper on penalties, gave Rooney a 25-yard free-kick and Frederic Brillant of D.C. opened the rebound and Segura's header on Joseph Mora's center hit the crossbar.
When it became clear that Philadelphia was going to lose, Olsen said, "We've closed our doors for the last 20 minutes. … At some point, it makes sense to score a point.
At about seven minutes from the end, Birnbaum asked the team to take a step forward when the coaching staff reported slowing down.
"We just played smart," said Birnbaum, "and we tried to play the clock."
Chicago (8-18-8) failed to break through resistance from United, who recorded their fourth shutout in six games. Brilliant was particularly impressive in central defense with his tackles and aerial work.
"Defensively," said goalkeeper Bill Hamid, "it was a first class performance."
Asked about the relaunch of United, Hamid added, "The second half of the season really came to life, but the season is not over. This is not the time to dwell on what we did. It's time to look forward. "
As United packaged her things and went to the airport, this feeling was shared by the entire delegation.
"This satisfaction," said Rooney, "must be suspended and we must move on."
Olsen said he could not think of the series of defeats "because we have a match. It's just not there yet. I am very happy to be associated with this team. They are a brave group and have managed to win in many ways over the past two months. "
Remarks: Birnbaum set the club record for the minutes played in one season (3,060), breaking Bobby Boswell's record in 2014 (3,045). … Asad entered the 85th minute and was the only submarine used by United.
"We thought it was important to get a result and reward the fans with at least one more home match," said Olsen about rest resistance for two other starters. "You take into account that the other teams also needed this game, so they will probably be in the same boat physically."
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