The Philadelphia Union is improving and will bring a two-game winning streak to RFK Stadium for Saturday’s match against D.C. United (Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on CSN). The Black and Red is still in first place in the Eastern Conference, but recently has been less than convincing and lost to the Union two weeks ago in Philadelphia.
For DC United the meeting with the Union will be third game in the club’s wild stretch of five games in fourteen days. It is comforting for United that the game is at RFK Stadium where United has not lost since last June, but the team also realizes it can’t just rely on the game’s location to secure three points.
The Union was the better side when the two teams met on May 17 and was able to escape with a win on a stoppage time goal from Zach Pfeffer. Last week on the road against the Red Bulls, the Union proved its win over United was no fluke with a 2-0 shutout despite only having 34 percent of the possession.
- Build on positives. While United has struggled in its last three games with only one shot on target and three corners, the quality is there even with Fabian Espindola sidelined by a knee injury the last five games. In the 1-0 loss to Portland showed plenty of heart and desire, but needs to be more precise in the final third. An attack partnership of Chirs Rolfe and Jairo Arrieta can be dangerous. Markus Halsti and Facundo Coria provide options, either starting or off the bench, to help with distribution and creativity in the midfield. The defense, with Bill Hamid as the anchor in goal, has been solid and now Steve Birnbaum is a healthy option again in the back four. Injuries and schedule have not been kind, but United still has what it takes to get three points at home.
- Not the same Philadelphia. Just two weeks ago the Union was dealing with a four-game losing streak, but now is trying to make it three wins in a row. The Union is getting healthy and leading scorer Fernando Aristeguita is back after being cut from Venezuela’s Copa American roster. The defense has strengthened with consecutive shutouts and outside back Fabinho is especially dangerous going forward with assists in the last two games.
Bottom line: At home United needs to dictate play, but be aware of Union’s ability to counter.
And it is not a challenge, but what it is all about…
DC United has signed 17-year old Francis Wesley from Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and according to the club “will figure prominently in the team’s plans for its May 30 match vs. the Philadelphia Union at RFK Stadium.” Wesley is battling blood cancer and has always dreamed of being a professional soccer player.