United needs a boost vs. Red Bulls

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Sports,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer

D.C. currently holding last East playoff spot

It was a sacrifice D.C. United calculated was worth making.

In the midst of a crucial and exhausting stretch of five games in 13 days, United coach Ben Olsen left the top attacking trio of Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius and Branko Boskovic on the bench for the start of last weekend's visit to Montreal.

The predictable 3-0 loss to the Impact that ensued didn't hurt much in the standings; Montreal remains one place behind D.C. United (12-9-4, 40 points), which currently holds down the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But it magnified the importance of D.C.'s latest rivalry encounter with the New York Red Bulls (13-7-6, 45 points), leaving little room for excuses if they don't emerge with a victory.

Up Next
Red Bulls at D.C. United
When » Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where » RFK Stadium
TV » Galavision

"You can't play these guys every game, with two days' rest in between three games," Olsen said after the Montreal game. "I went out with a group that had some energy, and overall they were pretty good."

D.C. has been outstanding at RFK, where it can match a club record for consecutive matches without an MLS defeat (13 in 2007) with a tie or win on Wednesday. United is 9-0-3 at home since a season-opening 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.

New York is winless (0-4-3) in its last seven games on the road and will play on one fewer nights' rest than D.C., having drawn 1-1 on Sunday night at Kansas City. But the Red Bulls have been reinforced by the addition of Australian forward Tim Cahill, who has one goal and two assists in four matches since joining forces with Thierry Henry (11 goals, seven assists).

De Rosario, Pontius and Boskovic have had varying degrees of success against New York.

Pontius has five of his 10 goals this season against the Red Bulls while Boskovic didn't start either of the teams' first two games, which were each won by the home team. De Rosario (six goals, 11 assists) had an assist in each of those games and remains one goal short of 100 in his MLS career, having reached 99 by scoring against Chicago last week.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner