(Photo credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
Unbeaten in their last three league matches, Charlotte FC will continue their hunt for the MLS playoffs on Saturday when they host D.C. United.
Well rested, Charlotte (7-9-10, 31 points) hasn't played since Sept. 2, when it drew 1-1 with Nashville SC thanks to a goal in the 93rd minute from Scott Arfield.
Acquired from Scottish club Rangers FC in June, Arfield has appeared in 11 matches for Charlotte across all competitions, scoring three times. His strike against Nashville was his second goal in MLS play.
D.C. United (9-12-7, 34 points) are just above the playoff line at ninth place in the Eastern Conference, with Charlotte and Chicago (32 points) looming within striking distance. The Black and Red are unbeaten in their last two matches, most recently playing the San Jose Earthquakes to a 0-0 draw last weekend.
A win for Charlotte in this match would move it into a tie with D.C. United with seven matches left to play in the regular season. D.C., meanwhile, has just five matches left in the regular season after Saturday, leaving it less time to make up ground in the playoff race.
"It's a huge match and I know we've opened up the top bowl. So, hopefully (Charlotte fans) come out in their numbers," Charlotte captain Ashley Westwood said this week. "It's going to give us a great chance if we win on Saturday to really push for playoffs."
While D.C. United are also jockeying for playoff positioning, they are also grappling with rumors that coach Wayne Rooney might not be long for the job. A recent report in the Guardian suggested that second-tier English side Birmingham City is targeting Rooney to be their next manager. Rooney's contract with D.C. United expires in December.
"Contract situation, it is what it is, and that can wait till the end of the season," Rooney told the Washington Post. "Unfortunately, I can't stop speculation."
Christian Benteke leads D.C. United into this matchup as the club's leading scorer with 10 goals and four assists. Karol Swiderski continues to be the leading creator for Charlotte, tallying seven goals and three assists.
--Field Level Media