D.C. United will look to prove their playoff-contending credentials when they host Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.
D.C. United (6-8-5, 23 points) enter the weekend in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, above the playoff line on goal difference. The Black-and-Red are coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since March, and they’ll be without center back and captain Steve Birnbaum after he was sent off in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.
But they have not lost three in a row all season. And despite a previous 2-1 defeat in Cincinnati in May, D.C. United gave a performance that may inspire some confidence in the rematch. They outshot Cincinnati 13-11 overall and 5-4 in efforts on target.
“We had a good performance, but I think there’s more we can take from the game,” D.C. midfielder Russell Canouse said this week. “So I’m excited to be able to have a second opportunity to play them this weekend.”
The Black-and-Red also had the advantage of being idle in midweek, while Cincinnati (13-1-4, 43 points) played to a 3-0 win over Toronto FC at home on Wednesday night.
Former D.C. attacker Luciano Acosta scored his team-leading ninth goal and added an assist in that win, which pushed Cincinnati eight points clear of Nashville in the Shield chase with a match in hand.
His next goal will tie a career high he has previously reached twice, the first time in 2018 when he played alongside now-D.C. manager Wayne Rooney in Washington, and the second time last season with Cincinnati.
Cincinnati manager Pat Noonan could have three reinforcements back to help manage the quick turnaround.
Attacker Sergio Santos and defender Nick Hagglund are both expected to be available. They both were upgraded to questionable with respective hamstring injuries before Wednesday’s game but did not play.
“We didn’t want to push them too early,” Noonan said of the pair. “So ultimately it’s just about being a little more cautious with how many training sessions they had in. So yeah, they’re both available and we anticipate them playing a role.”
Center back Yerson Mosquera also returns after serving a yellow card accumulation suspension.
–Field Level Media