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MLS Preview: D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire

Oct 3, 2013, 3:55 PM EDT

Precious few TV viewers watched D.C. United lift its third Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy Tuesday night in Sandy, Utah. Getty Images

• All of D.C. United’s wins in the 2013 Major League Soccer season have come at home, against Real Salt Lake, the San Jose Earthquakes and Montreal Impact, as have 11 of its 17 all-time victories against Chicago.

• Chicago Fire leading scorer Mike Magee has only scored two goals at RFK Stadium in his career: in 2003 with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and in 2011 with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

• D.C. has conceded 16 goals in the final half-hour of games this year, while Chicago has scored 14 in that time frame. However, the Fire has also given up 22 goals in the last 30 minutes of games in 2013.

Back to reality.

D.C. United hosts the Chicago Fire on Friday (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN or NBC Sports Live Extra) after its biggest victory of the season on Tuesday, which saw it win the Open Cup and its top-ranked 13th trophy in league history. Three days after being on top of the heap, United goes back to the bottom, nine points below any other team in the MLS standings.

United is in the midst of an eight-game winless streak in MLS play, although Chicago has only won once in its last six attempts. Despite its poor run of form, the Fire is still just two points adrift from the fifth-placed Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference, and only four points behind the Houston Dynamo in fourth.

This is the third and final meeting between the teams this season, with Chicago winning the previous two at Toyota Park by a combined 6-1 score. Going on the road will likely be a trickier proposition, though, as Chicago has a 2-8-4 record away from home.

Despite all of D.C.’s wins coming at home, RFK Stadium is hardly a fortress this season, with visiting teams managing eight wins and three ties.

What they’re saying

Chicago midfielder Jeff Larentowicz on D.C.’s likely confidence: “I think you have to just assume they’re going to be confident after winning the biggest game of the year. They have that taste for winning and feeling good again. Teams realize to feel that way, you have to win games, and they’ll probably want to do that again. That’s what our assumption has to be going into Friday.”

D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid on the U.S. Open Cup win in Salt Lake: “Now, we know that we can go into any environment and get a win. This is our first away win of the season except for Chicago in the Open Cup. Now we know, we have that belief, we have that faith in ourselves that we can go and get a result anywhere we want. As long as we believe and come with that mentality, we can do it.”

Prediction

A good cup run can define a season, and D.C. will take its trophy as salvaging an otherwise dreary 2013 campaign. But its atrocious league form this year, regardless of positive Open Cup results midweek, point to only one possible outcome in this match. Chicago is still fighting for playoff relevance, while D.C.’s season effectively ended on Tuesday. The Fire should ease this one, even with its terrible road record.

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