Major League Soccer has been growing in popularity in recent seasons, partly for its ultra-competitive nature, and this year’s edition has thrown up some new names at the top of the MLS pile.
The arrival of former England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney at DC United made a big impact last season, but this year the team has progressed further and going into this weekend’s round of MLS fixtures, they lie second in the Eastern Conference, behind Philadelphia Union.
They owe that position to a solid all-round unit that has made it possible for Rooney to showcase his talent. He may be at the end of his career, but he still has a lot to offer and some of his goals over the last season and a half will end up in his career showreel alongside some of the most spectacular efforts he contributed while at Old Trafford and Goodison Park.
Seven wins in their first twelve games took DC to the front rank in the East and they have remained there, although there has been a dip in their recent form, with four draws in their last six, which has allowed Philadelphia to open up a gap over their near rivals.
According to BetCris, DC are the strong favourites to win this game, being rated as -107 shots, with the Revolution pencilled in at +260 and the draw reckoned to be a +263 bet. They also have the edge on their rivals, at least in recent seasons. United have been victorious in five of their last ten games against the Revolution, with four draws along the way. But interestingly, the latest of those draws came just a few weeks ago and was earned courtesy of a last-minute Rooney penalty.
That New England came so close to beating DC was no fluke. Since parting company with Brad Friedel and replacing him as coach with former US manager Bruce Arena, the Revolution have enjoyed a remarkable revival. Their draw with DC was the third game in a seven-match undefeated run that has also taken in a creditable home draw with Philadelphia and an extremely impressive 3-2 victory in Los Angeles against a high-flying LA Galaxy team.
That run of form has brought them to the brink of the play-offs and means that a game that might have been regarded as a straightforward home win a month ago has now taken on a very different aspect. Under Arena’s astute guidance, New England have developed a clear counter-attacking identity, and their direct approach may well cause problems for a DC side that has been struggling for goals in recent games. United have scored just three in their last four outings and were well beaten in Dallas last time. They’ve also been held at home by mid-ranking sides Toronto, Chicago and San Jose in their last three fixtures. They are the favourites to win this one, but it won’t be easy and MLS fans look set for a fascinating battle this weekend.