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.