D.C. United news & notes

October 31, 2012

Major League Soccer will conduct a conference call today with D.C. United and New York Red Bulls officials to discuss whether their Eastern Conference playoff match Saturday night in Harrison, N.J., will proceed as scheduled in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Red Bull Arena did not suffer any significant damage but lost power and the New York region is just beginning to recover from the powerful storm.

“I think we are going to discuss all options this afternoon,” United President Kevin Payne said. “They were originally told they might not get [electricity] back until Monday, but I would obviously be concerned if the PATH train service isn’t running and you have to think about the emergency service workers and what they are going through right now. Do they really want to now deal with a special event on the weekend where they have to dedicate half of the police force of Harrison to traffic control? It’s a tough situation.”

With the game three days away, a decision on whether to play Saturday, move it to Sunday or drastically alter the schedule would probably have to be made today.

In a tweet this afternoon, the Red Bulls said: “Due to power outages at RBA, email and phone systems are down. We’ve also seen issues with completing online purchases.”

*United resumed training this morning after cancelling Tuesday’s session because of the weather. “They weren’t as rusty as I thought they would be after a couple of days,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “The energy was good. Now it’s about getting our minds and bodies right for New York.”

*Midfielder Lewis Neal, who missed the regular season finale with a calf strain, returned to practice this morning. Midfielder-forward Dwayne De Rosario continues his rehab from a sprained knee ligament, doing some ball work but concentrating on lateral movement, jogging and sprints. Defender Daniel Woolard, out since August with concussion symptoms, is working on fitness after not experiencing further symptoms.

 *The playoffs begin tonight with the Eastern Conference first-round match between the fourth-seeded Chicago Fire and No. 5 Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Game-time weather: 41 degrees and breezy. The winner will host the first leg of a conference semifinal series this weekend against first-place Sporting Kansas City. In the West, Vancouver will visit Los Angeles on Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network), with the survivor set to face the San Jose Earthquakes in the second stage.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · October 30, 2012