New York Red Bulls vs. DC United: Players to Keep an Eye On in MLS Playoff Clash

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New York Red Bulls vs. DC United: Players to Keep an Eye On in MLS Playoff Clash
Ned Dishman/Getty Images

DC United and the New York Red Bulls will be battling for their playoff lives on Wednesday inside Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, site of the second leg of the two teams' Eastern Conference semifinal matchup.

Saturday's first leg in DC ended in a 1-1 draw, with both sides surrendering own goals in the second half. With both squads looking inseparable after leg No. 1, Wednesday's pivotal clash will require the two teams' top stars to be at their best. 

Let's take a look at a trio of players that MLS fans should keep an eye out for in this epic playoff showdown.

 

Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ

When: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Start Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

 

Players to Watch

Chris Pontius, DC United, Forward

Ned Dishman/Getty Images

DC United's Chris Pontius is a fan favorite around Washington, and for good reason. The 25-year-old has netted 12 goals this season for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed. 

Although he failed to get on the board in the first leg against New York last Saturday, Pontius did fire three shots, two of which tested Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. Surprisingly, Pontius hasn't scored for United since late September. Perhaps Wednesday will be the night he finally ends his drought.

The MLS All-Star Game MVP is one of the league's can't-miss rising talents, and win or lose, Pontius is sure to have a massive impact on the result for DC United.

 

Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls, Forward

Nick Laham/Getty Images

The former Arsenal striker had a helping hand in DC United's own goal in the second half of the two teams' first leg in the nation's capital on November 3. Henry's corner proved tricky, ultimately resulting in an own goal put in by goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

The 35-year-old had five shots for New York in the first leg and has scored 15 goals in 26 appearances for the club this season.

Premier League fans know just how deadly Henry can be with the ball at his feet. There's no reason Henry won't be the man making plays at the net for the Red Bulls on Wednesday. After all, only Kenny Cooper has more goals for New York than Henry in 2012.

 

Dwayne De Rosario, DC United, Midfielder

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Dwayne De Rosario has been an explosive playmaker for DC United this season, scoring eight goals and tallying nine assists in 27 appearances, which include 26 starts.

He's not a guarantee to play on Wednesday, but there's a real chance he could see some playing time if United find themselves trailing or in need of a goal late. The 34-year-old Canadian midfielder leads the club in assists in 2012 and is arguably the squad's No. 1 creator. No other United player has attempted as many shots as De Rosario this year.

If Ben Olsen substitutes De Rosario into the game, you'll want to be on the lookout for No. 7 and the impact he can have on United's pace and ability to mount a threatening attack.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.

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