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Red Bulls-United Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The New York Red Bulls expect to have Thierry Henry available Wednesday night when they try to slow down Chris Pontius and end D.C. United's 12-game home unbeaten streak.
Henry, tied for fourth in the league with 11 goals, was not with the team Sunday for a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City due to the birth of his son. Coach Hans Backe has indicated that the French superstar will be back for this match.
New York (13-7-6) could have moved ahead of Kansas City for first place in the Eastern Conference with a victory, but remained two points back in second. The Red Bulls were thrilled to snap their three-game road slide, although their winless streak away from home has stretched to 0-4-3.
"We could have won it," Backe told the Red Bulls' official website. "We had two of the best goal scoring chances in the game. Most important, we stopped our losing streak on the road."
It's not surprising that the home team was victorious in both previous meetings between these clubs, which have combined for one home defeat.
Since dropping its season opener at home to Sporting KC, D.C. (12-9-4) is 9-0-3 at RFK Stadium including a 4-1 victory over New York on April 22 highlighted by Pontius' hat trick. Pontius also had both tallies in a 3-2 loss at New York on June 24, with half of his 2012 goals coming against the Red Bulls.
United can match the club's longest home unbeaten streak, a 10-0-3 run May 3-Oct. 13, 2007.
"Hopefully, we can continue our home success on Wednesday," Pontius said.
D.C. is playing its fourth match in an 11-day span. With an eye on this contest, coach Ben Olsen did not start Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario in Saturday's 3-0 loss at Montreal.
Pontius came off the bench for 32 minutes after logging at least 80 in nine straight starts. De Rosario was bothered by a calf injury entering the contest, and played 29 minutes as a substitute.
"You can't play these guys every game, with two days rest in between three games," Olsen said. "I went out with a group that had some energy and overall they were pretty good."
D.C. holds the fifth and final playoff spot in the East with 40 points - one more than the expansion Impact, who have played three more games. United trail the Red Bulls by five.
"We are playing New York on Wednesday, it's going to be a massive game," De Rosario said. "Hopefully, we'll be coming with the right mentality."
Backe has to decide whether to give Sebastien Le Toux another start. Le Toux scored in his Red Bulls debut July 15 two days after being acquired from Vancouver, but the striker has come up empty in his last seven starts.
Kenny Cooper, tied for second in MLS with 14 goals, has come off the bench in two of his last four games.
This is the first meeting between these teams since New York added Le Toux and Australian midfielder Tim Cahill, who made his club debut Aug. 3 after coming over from Everton of the English Premier League.
Updated August 28, 2012