It’s been over a month through five games and two competitions, but DC United is finally back at home. The Black and Red is hoping home is where the offense is when it plays host to the Philadelphia Union Sunday at RFK Stadium.
In a season when United is in contention for first place in the Eastern Conference and the Supporter’s Shield, the team’s offense has struggled. From 24 matches United has only collected 22 goals. In its just completed stretch of five straight road games, including a loss to Philadelphia in the U.S. Open Cup, United only scored three times including a 1-0 result at Chicago.
Still United is having a good season and wants to take full advantage of it. To that end United traded Luis Silva to Real Salt Lake for Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio. In 127 matches with RSL Saborio found the back of the net 63 times and has 35 goals in 102 matches with the Costa Rican national Team.
Philadelphia is coming off what head coach Jim Curtin calls “the most important win in club history.” On Tuesday the Union down to ten men eliminated the New York Red Bulls from the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup after a dramatic penalty kick shootout. The Union had reached the quarterfinals by rallying to beat United 2-1 while also reduced to ten men.
The Union appears to be on the rise. After a demoralizing 5-1 loss to the Galaxy in Los Angeles, the Union enjoyed a three-game unbeaten run before a 2-1 road loss to Toronto.
- 1. Reuniting Saborio and Espindola. The addition of Alvaro Saborio not only gives United a proven goal scorer, but it reunites him with Fabian Espindola. With RSL Saborio and Espindola combined for 65 goals and 21 assists from 2010-2012. Saborio has also had experience with Jairo Arrita when the two have cross paths for national team duty with Costa Rica’s national team. United can be dangerous, but has lacked the proverbial bite in the attacking third. Espindola and Saborio should add a fresh dynamic and free up Chris Rolfe and Nick De Leon to create havoc on the flanks.
- 2. Control the middle against the Union. When the Union’s central midfield trio of Brian Carroll, Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira have time and space to dictate possession, it allows outside backs Raymon Gaidds and Fabinho to get involved in the attack. United needs to do what it can to disrupt the Union’s midfield to limit the effectiveness of Gaddis and Fabinho going forward. It is a Union team that collectively believes. The Union’s last seven goals have been provided by seven different players.