*Ahead of D.C. United’s do-or-die playoff match against the Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium, I examine the deep bond between the club and its followers and the unique, unwritten oath between soccer players worldwide and their most loyal fans. “I don’t know if a team and a fan base could be closer,” said one longtime backer.
*United is pursuing a loan extension in 2013 for Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto, who had an eventful MLS debut last weekend in Houston.
*For the fourth straight day and 10th time in 15 days, United is on the front page of the Sports section. (How many times has MLS appeared on the front of the New York Times or USA Today since 1996?)
Official injury reports:
D.C. UNITED — OUT: F Josh Wolff (lower back); QUESTIONABLE: MF Chris Pontius (groin strain); MF Marcelo Saragosa (knee pain); D Brandon McDonald (calf spasms); PROBABLE: D Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); F Long Tan (ankle sprain); MF Dwayne De Rosario (knee sprain). HOUSTON DYNAMO — DOUBTFUL: F Calen Carr (hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Ricardo Clark (adductor strain); MF Adam Moffat (concussion/chest contusion); PROBABLE: D Jermaine Taylor (knee sprain).
*The Houston Chronicle profiles former United defender Bobby Boswell.
*Our poll results show most of you believe United will find a way to win this series.
*TV: NBC Sports Network. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET, but kickoff is not until 4:21.
*Game-time weather outlook: 52 degrees, partly cloudy, 9-mph wind, slight chance of rain. The Capital Weather Gang has the details.
*Tickets: As of early this morning, only a few seats were available. The season-long downsized capacity at RFK Stadium is 19,647, but the club was looking to find space for close to 20,000. Should United advance, the upper deck would open for MLS Cup on Dec. 1, allowing for about 45,000 spectators.
*Parking: The lots open for cars and tailgating at noon.
*In the Western Conference finals, the reigning champion Los Angeles Galaxy brings a 3-0 lead into Seattle for the second leg against the Sounders (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). If the Galaxy preserves its aggregate lead and Houston defeats D.C., Home Depot Center will stage MLS Cup for the second consecutive year.
*The NCAA tournaments continue today with the men’s round of 32 and the women’s round of 16. My print-edition preview examines the Maryland, Georgetown and Virginia men, as well as the Virginia women. The full brackets are here and here.