It has been planes, trains and automobiles for DC United. Okay, no trains, the busses have been automobiles, but there have been a few planes and there is still a flight to catch after United’s U.S. Open fourth round match Tuesday in Philadelphia.
This whirlwind stretch of five games in less than two weeks will come to an end for United on Friday when it picks up its MLS schedule in Seattle. United will enter the month of July still on top of the Eastern Conference table and on a three-game unbeaten run including four points taken from its just completed road trip to Chicago and Toronto.
United head coach Ben Olsen is crafting a strong candidacy for MLS coach-of the-year with how he has managed his roster in multiple competitions. The skillful use of every healthy player on United’s books has the club still on course for its fourth Open Cup tile and first since 2013.
For the Union its journey in 2015 has been inconsistent. The Union advanced to the Open Cup with a win on penalty kicks over USL Pro Rochester Rhinos after a scoreless draw. In MLS play the Union has been harder to figure out. There was a recent 5-1 drubbing in Los Angles, but the Union is unbeaten in its last two league matches and is very much in the playoff picture.
- Keeps the rotation going. To be sure the stakes are higher now in the U.S. Open Cup, but so is the collective level of United’s play. Just in league play United has now used 19 different starting lineups in 20 matches. Last Wednesday when United defeated the Fire 1-0 in Chicago, it unveiled an impressive three-man central midfield with Luis Silva and Facundo Coria playing in front of Markus Halsti. Jairo Arrieta was the lone striker against Chicago. It is possible we could see a similar formation against Philadelphia. Conor Doyle who scored the goal against Chicago was not in the 18 on Saturday and is likely to be involved Tuesday against the Union. Doyle is having his best stretch in a United uniform since joining the team in 2013.
- Breaking down the Union. Like United, Tuesday’s match will be the Union’s third match in less than a week. Also like United it has been a good week for the Union with a 1-0 win over Seattle and a 2-2 draw with Montreal through the rain and wind of this past Saturday. Originally starting this season with the NASL Carolina Railhawks Brian Sylvestre has made a difference as the Union’s first choice goalkeeper. United witnessed Sylvestre’s talent in a 1-0 loss to the Union earlier this season at PPL Park. Maurice Edu remains an organizing force for the Union, but if United is able find joy on the flanks there will be opportunities.
The winner of Tuesday’s match will meet the winner of Round of 16 match between the New York Red Bulls and the NASL New York Cosnos.