A win at home before the bags are packed again is the goal for DC United. On Saturday the Black and Red hosts a highly motivated Real Salt Lake team at RFK Stadium before stepping away again for three straight road matches.
DC United just returned home last Sunday after five straight games away from RFK, including a U.S. Open Cup match, and managed to craft a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union. After Saturday’s game against RSL, United travels to Montreal and New York City FC for league play and then goes to Panama to play Arabe Unido in its CONCACAF Champions League opener.
After a demoralizing 3-1 loss in Colorado, Real Salt Lake is energized after consecutive home wins. The defeat to the Rapids was followed by a 2-0 shutout of Houston and a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. The wins provided much needed points and lifted RSL to within three points of the final playoff position in the Western Conference.
- For starters a better start. Sure United was able to battle back and get all three points last Sunday against Philadelphia, but the method to the Black and Red’s madness in the 3-2 win left much to be desired. The Union scored twice in the first four minutes of the match and now six times in 2015 United has conceded at least one goal in the first 15 minutes of matches. “It left a little sour taste. We didn’t have a few guys physically or mentally ready to start the game,” said head coach Ben Olsen after the match. “It’s easy to play 2-0 down. There is nothing to lose. It takes men to play from the start of the game.” United will need a strong mentality from the start against a Real Salt Lake team desperate to scratch into playoff position.
- Building consistency. After using 22 different starting lineups in 23 games, it is possible United could use the same first eleven in consecutive games for the first time since the opening two weeks of the season. It is likely that Alvaro Saborio, who scored in his DC United debut against Philadelphia, will again partner in attack with Fabian Espindola. There will be extra incentive for Saborio and Espindola who were a successful partnership during their time with RSL. On the flank Nick De Leon scored his first goal in over a year last week and will look to build on his strong summer.
- Dealing with RSL’s numbers. Real Salt Lake operates out of a 4-3-3 formation and can attack in waves. Luis Gil and Javier Morales are creative forces while Luke Mulholland provides a steadying presence in midfield. Up top it will be important for United to try and disrupt and occupy RSL forward Joao Plata.
- The Rimando factor. RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella earned save of the week honors for his work against Sporting Kansas City, but Nick Rimando might return to the starting lineup for the first time since June 27. Rimando had been with USMNT at the Gold Cup. In Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game Rimando made three amazing saves in the first half of the 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur. In short Rimando not only makes saves, but can save games only added to the pressure on United to get it right on offense.