D.C. United has responded well to adversity this season, avoiding prolonged losing streaks and answering most defeats with comprehensive performances. It’s the sign of a maturing team and a young head coach whose message has resonated.
United’s resilience will be tested again Wednesday night at RFK Stadium, but this time to a greater degree.
Four days after a 3-0 loss in Montreal, D.C. will play its prime adversary, the second-place New York Red Bulls, in a match that could serve as the tipping point during the late-season push for an MLS playoff berth.
“Our response is the big thing,” midfielder-forward Chris Pontius said Tuesday. “Generally we’ve had a good response [after a loss]. . . . There is a lot on the line. Everyone knows it.”
What exactly is on the line? First and foremost, United’s comfort level in the postseason race. With Montreal and Columbus creeping up the Eastern Conference standings, United (12-9-4, 40 points) would alleviate some tension by defeating the Red Bulls (13-7-6, 45) and earning at least a draw at Real Salt Lake (13-10-4, 43) on Saturday.