D.C. United might be playing its best soccer of the season as it fights for a spot in the playoffs, with the latest challenge coming Thursday when it travels to Yankee Stadium for a crucial match with New York City FC.
D.C United comes into the match on a six-game undefeated streak that was punctuated with a 6-2 victory on Aug. 27 at home over Chicago behind a Patrick Mullins' first professional hat trick and three-assist performance from Luciano Acosta.
D.C. United (7-8-11, 32 points in 26 matches) is a point ahead of Orlando City SC for the sixth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We're a tough team to beat," D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said. "But now we've got to be a team that can go on the road and get three points."
New York City FC (11-8-8, 41 points in 27 games) returns to Yankee Stadium, where it has won its last four games and is 4-1-1 in its last six in the Bronx. NYCFC had its four-game undefeated streak end Aug. 28, losing for the first time in more than a month at Orlando City SC.
New York City is second in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Toronto FC but just one point ahead of the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union. David Villa leads New York City FC with 16 goals, which is tied for the league lead.
Thanks to the hat trick, Mullins paces D.C. United with just five goals, but Fabian Espndola, Alvaro Saborio, Patrick Nyarko and Lamar Neagle have four each.
The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Villa and Khiry Shelton scored goals four minutes apart early in the second half as NYCFC claimed a 2-0 victory on May 8 at RFK Stadium.
Both teams are at break-even in goal differential, with New York City scoring 45 and allowing the same and D.C. United scoring 33 and conceding 33.
© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.