DC United

New York Red Bulls top D.C. United to snap four-game winless streak

New York Red Bulls top D.C. United to snap four-game winless streak

HARRISON, N.J. -- Alex Muyl and Bradley Wright-Phillips scored, Luis Robles had his third shutout of the season and the New York Red Bulls beat D.C. United 2-0 on Saturday night to end a four-game winless streak.

Muyl opened the scoring just seconds into the second half, heading home a corner kick by Sacha Kljestan from the top of the 6-yard box. It was the first goal of the season for the 21-year-old homegrown player and the third of his MLS career. Wright-Phillips perfectly timed his run, took a pass from Felipe Martins near the right corner of the 6-yard box and fired it through the legs of Bill Hamid into the net in the 62nd minute.

Robles, who led MLS last season with 11 shutouts, had three saves -- including a diving stop on Lamar Neagle's shot in the 86th.

United (2-3-1) had its two-game winning streak snapped.

The Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last 17 regular-season matches at home, including 11 shutouts.

A guide to D.C. United's season opener vs. Colorado Rapids

A guide to D.C. United's season opener vs. Colorado Rapids

DC United kicks off the 2020 season on Saturday at Audi Field with a matchup against a Colorado Rapids club that finished ninth in the Western Conference a season ago. 

Following a heartbreaking first-round playoff loss to Toronto, DC will look to bounce back in a big way with a new-look roster. There's no more Wayne Rooney and Paul Arriola is out for a while recovering from a torn ACL, but DC still has a ton of talent all over the field with new additions Julian Gressel, Edison Flores and Yamil Asad. 

If you're planning on heading down to Audi Field, here's everything you need to know on how to get there, buy tickets and who to look out for on the pitch. 

When/Where

When: Saturday, February 29 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: Audi Field, 100 Potomac Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

How to get there

You can always drive to Audi Field or use one of the ride-sharing apps to get you there, but you can always use public transportation. 

If you take the metro, you have two options. Take the green line to the Navy Yard-Ballpark stop or jump off the train at the Waterfront stop and walk to Audi Field. Neither walk is bad, though the trek from Waterfront is closer to the stadium. 

Then there's the bus. Metrobus Route 74 has stops along P Street SW at 3rd and 4th Streets SW, O Street SW at 1st Street SW and Half Street SW at O Street SW. It’s about three-to-five blocks from the bus stops to Audi Field.

Tickets

There are about a million ticket websites you can use, but to simplify that process for you, here's the link to the team's ticket sales page

You could also just go to the box office when you get there and buy tickets on-site. 

Players to watch

Like we said before, Rooney is gone and Arriola is hurt, while there are a lot of new faces on this club. Edison Flores was acquired via transfer by DC United, who paid a record-breaking transfer fee to acquire the Peruvian midfielder. Flores is under contract with DC for the next five years, so you'd better get used to seeing him out there. 

Julian Gressel, who was acquired via transfer from Atlanta United, is one of the better playmakers in the MLS. Since he was drafted in 2017, Gressel has accumulated the most assists in the league during that span (32). 

Ola Kamara has 51 goals to his name so far in his career and has scored at least 14 in each of the last three seasons. Playing alongside a playmaker like Gressel, DC could have a very dangerous attack on their hands. 

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5 things to know before D.C. United's season opener

5 things to know before D.C. United's season opener

After losing in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in a 5-1 loss to eventual runner ups Toronto FC in a scoreline that was far closer than a first glance would indicate (Toronto scored four extra-time goals with United chasing the game) , D.C. United is roaring to get back to MLS action Saturday. 

It's a new-look team with some major losses and key additions that will be on full display during United's season-opening match against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. 

With that contest being five days away, here are the top five things to know for the 2020/2021 season. 

1. Wayne Rooney is no longer on the team

Unless you hadn't heard, Rooney's two-year stint with D.C. ended after the expiration of his contract last season when he opted to go back to England and become a player-manager for Championship side Derby on an 18-month deal. Rooney was masterful during his United (no, not Manchester) tenure and produced some of the most epic moments the club has ever seen. 

Anytime your then-33-year-old striker can hustle back some 40 yards, earn the ball back from a desperate slide tackle, and then loft a signature ball to the back post for the game-winner, you know you've got a special player on your hands. Rooney cemented himself as one of the most graceful players to play in Major League Soccer. The all-time leader of goals for the England national team notched 23 goals and another 15 assists, leaving a giant hole in the playmaking department. 

Also featured in that miraculous last-gasp winner was the scorer - Luciano "Lucho" Acosta. The Argentine forward was heartbroken a midseason transfer to Paris Saint-Germain didn't pan out, and moved to Mexican Liga MX team Atlas after the expiration of his contract. He bagged 24 goals and 35 assists in four seasons in the nation's capital. 

2. It's a team with talent all over the field

Despite losing the club's two most marketable players, D.C. United maintains a balanced squad all over the pitch following a fruitful offseason that saw the club acquire Edison Flores, Yamil Asad and Atlanta United's Julian Gressel. Asad spent some time with D.C. United on loan before going Atlanta United on a separate loan deal, and will now terrorize opposing fullbacks as a permanent member of D.C. The Buenos Aires product produced 16 goals and 21 assists over the course of those two stints. 

Gressel will bring a playmaking ability that will unlock defenses, having garnered 32 assists since being drafted in 2017 -- the most during that span. The 26-year-old German drives in the final third with the kind of force that gives fits to defenders, and can also be deployed at right back if necessary. He could be an even more influential signing than Flores, but more on him later. 

Ola Kamara is a proven No. 9 and can bag goals in bunches. The Norweigan striker has got 51 MLS goals to his name, and his left boot has produced at least 14 goals in each of his previous three full seasons with the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy, respectively. After making the move back to MLS from the Chinese Super League, Kamara will be a menace up top. 

The midfield group of Felipe Martins, Junior Moreno, and Russell Canouse is solid. Emmanuel Boateng is a speedy option off the bench, and Gressel's arrival will help put coach Ben Olsen's mind at ease with the Paul Arriola injury news. 

In defense, the backline is headlined by veteran center back Steve Birnbaum. Frederic Brillant and University of Maryland product Donovan Pines will also help protect goalkeeper Bill Hamid's goal, which was a fortress last season in securing 14 clean sheets. Hamid is among the best keepers in the league, and climbed into the top-10 shutout leaders in league history this past season. United made his loan move from Danish side FC Midtjylland permanent this offseason. 

3. Paul Arriola's knee injury is a big blow

Arriola has been a menace down the right wing for D.C. and the USMNT, and was pegged as the leading figure after Rooney and Acosta's departures. But a Feb. 15 partially torn ACL injury dealt both the team and Arriola a huge blow heading into the season. 

Arriola, 25, was signed for a then-club record fee of $3 million to pry his rights away from the Galaxy upon his departure from Club Tijuana. The versatile winger has 33 international caps to his name, and has been deployed at right back for both club and country. While Gressel softens the blow, Arriola's potential late-season return could be a huge boost come postseason time. 

4. The club's record signing has some boots to fill

D.C. United's decision to splash the cash to secure the services of one Edison Flores showed the overall league's trend of getting away from the big-name Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Rooney's of the world that were closer to the retirement horizon and more towards younger players with something more to prove. 

In Flores, D.C. United get a No. 10 ready to put his imprint on this team with a low center of gravity equipped for dazzling dribbling skills and a powerful left foot. The Peruvian international has risen to perform at the biggest stage during the 2018 World Cup, scoring a counter-attack goal to help seal the first victory for his country after being absent from the World Cup for 36 years. 

Expect him to play underneath Kamara, linking up often with the target man to put the finishing touches on attacks. He can also play on the wings while interchanging with the other forwards. 

The Black-and-Red paid a reported $5 million to land Flores on a five-year deal, according to the Washington Post's Steve Goff. He's the gritty, passionate, and fiesty type of player you'd expect from a South American product. In placing the designated player tag on Flores, D.C. still has one more to fill to address any other needs that could arise. 

5. Ben Olsen brings a decade worth of experience 

Head coach Ben Olsen is entering his 10th season at the helm of D.C. United and doesn't have all that much to show for it. He hasn't led his United outfit past the quarterfinal round of the MLS Cup or above a 4th-placed regular-season finish since winning Coach of the Year award in 2014 - when he led the biggest turnaround in league history when United finished first in the Eastern Conference. 

Now, despite having the respect of the team ownership with 11 years and over 200 appearances made as a player before becoming the manager in the middle of the 2010 season, Olsen might see some pressure starting to mount if D.C. fails to get out to a good start to the season. He was the youngest coach to ever get 100 MLS wins at 41 last season and is United's longest-tenured coach.

Yet, without major silverware since winning the MLS Cup in 2004, Olsen might have to scrape together a magical season. He certainly has talent on the team to make a push further in the playoffs. 

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