By: Kyle McCarthy
D.C. United travels to Houston to kick off the two-legged Eastern Conference championship on Sunday afternoon. Here are five points to watch as the two sides prepare to duel at BBVA Compass Stadium:
1. Mitigating the damage: United suffered two defeats in the Oven this season. Ben Olsen and his players would probably take a repeat of the stadium-opening 1-0 setback on May 12, but they simply cannot afford another 4-0 thumping as they did on July 15 if they want to secure a berth in MLS Cup.
2. Maintaining the necessary energy: In order to avoid a repeat of that July debacle, United must somehow find a way to avoid the common second-half fade most teams suffer in Houston. This gritty group won’t back down (as evidenced by the ridiculousness in Harrison on Thursday night), but it must find some way to grind through a match that will prove even more difficult as it enters the late stages.
FOX Soccer caught up with Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit ahead of their playoff clash with the LA Galaxy on Thursday night. Vancouver is the first Canadian team to make the MLS playoffs, and they must face the reigning MLS Cup champions in a one-off knockout match away at the Home Depot Center.
“With our backs against the wall as an underdog, you go in there and just fight,” DeMerit said.
Check out this video to hear more from DeMerit on what it means for him to have reached this milestone, and his hopes for the future of the club.