(Picture: Team applauds the supporters section after the game)
Well, we’re done and out of the playoffs. We fulfilled our part, beating NYCFC 2-0 Saturday night (October 7) and finishing with 40 points. However, Montreal won against Portland 4-1 (boosting them to 41 points), and put that last nail in our playoff hopes, so we’re done. Don’t be deceived by current standings that have us in 9th; Chicago plays at NYCFC on October 21, and regardless of the outcome of that game, one of the two teams will end up with 41 points or more.
Still, it was an enjoyable evening. The playoffs were pretty much gone after losing to Austin earlier in the week. It was a crisp, clear autumn evening, and it was an entertaining and pleasing display of soccer.
Benteke wasn’t even suited up (not sure why). We went with a small, quick lineup and the soccer was energetic and fun to watch. Ted Ku played all 90 minutes and was his usual energetic self. Erik Hurtado was up front with Ted and played quite well. Matai Akinmboni started in central defense and was outstanding.
DC created multiple chances early but seemed snakebit at first. Hurtado put the ball in the net in the 8th minute but was ruled (correctly) offside. Durkin found the goal with a rocket from the top of the box in the 27th minute, but Steve Birnbaum was ruled (NOT correctly) offside when providing the assist. Replays clearly showed he was onside, but the decision was not overturned. Klich hit the outside of the post in the 23rd minute.
Finally, right before halftime, Birnbaum hit both posts with a header off an Eric Davis free kick (Eric had several good ones over the course of the game) and Klich put in the rebound to put DC up 1-0 at the half.
In the second half, Chris Durkin pounced on an errant defensive header by NYCFC's Mattthew Freese and scored from the top of the box to make it 2-0. He then celebrated by rolling over and over; original, but not sure about the chances of injury :)
NYCFC had chances, but Alex Bono made 5 saves, the post made another, and the defense blocked a lot of shots. Fun to watch.
Then, back to an uncertain offseason; DC and Wayne Rooney announced right after the game that Rooney would not be back next year. This was no surprise since Rooney had approached the front office about plans for 2024 in the summer and had heard nothing back. Unprofessional if you ask me. Rooney met with owner Jason Levien on Wednesday and from reports, while apparently Levien wanted him to wait further on a decision. Rooney understandably said let’s go our separate ways now. All the best Wayne.
Stay tuned for a blog on Cesar Delgado and his charity work in Peru as soon as I can get it finished. Also, there are new entries on the way to the “Club History” section of the website; learn about all the wonderful things Kim Klyberg and Paul Sotoudeh did back in the 2000s and early 2010s. The Screaming Eagles have a proud tradition, and for those of us (definitely not me ;) ) who are young and in their prime, it might be enjoyable to read where we came from. It’s not just boring stories of glory days.
For neutrals, the current playoff picture in the Eastern Conference is discussed below.
Here’s the updated playoff picture for the last two spots in the Eastern Conference. While DC has 40 points as well, Chicago and NYCFC play each other in the last game, and if Chicago wins they get 43 points (beating us), if the teams draw they get 41 points (beating us), and if NYCFC wins they get 41 points (beating us). So even if the Red Bulls and Charlotte lose out, we’re gone.
Team Points Games still to play
Montreal 41 1 Columbus (A)
NY Red Bulls 40 1 Nashville (A)
Chicago 40 1 NYCFC (A)
Charlotte 39 2 Miami (A), Miami (H)
NYCFC 38 1 Chicago (H)
This will make an interesting Decision Week for neutrals. Any of these 5 teams can qualify, and any of them can not qualify.
Charlotte looks good now with Miami eliminated and probably without Messi for their last two games. They control their own destiny.
Montreal also controls their own destiny, but they have an away game against Columbus, who will be trying to hold on to the 4th spot (and home field advantage in the first round) over New England.
The Red Bulls play at Nashville, who will finish 7th regardless of the outcome of the game, so they may have an advantage there. However, they will need to win and get some help (or draw and get a LOT of help) to make it.
Chicago can advance with a win or draw, but will likewise need help.
NYCFC is probably the longest shot after losing to us. They have to beat Chicago and also get some help.