United look to build off Red Bulls win
WASHINGTON -- In the wake of a truly memorable victory over the rival New York Red Bulls last Sunday, D.C. United return to RFK Stadium this weekend intent on guarding their own home turf as FC Dallas travel to the nation's capital for the second time in 10 days.The 3-2 comeback road win over New York was as sweet as they come for United, but it proved hard-earned. Many of those involved in the end-to-end match have faced a painful recovery this week as Giants Stadium's unseasonably warm temperatures and hard, hot artificial surface took a toll."We're pretty beat up physically from that game," said D.C. coach Tom Soehn. "I think we've had to take an extra day of recovery, trying to get guys where they need to be. But we don't have to focus on the mental recovery like New York does, because coming off a game like that and losing in the last couple of minutes is really hard to get over."For United, the result also marked a breakthrough in their away form, having not won a road match over an 11-game stretch dating back to Aug. 16 of last year. But this week the Black-and-Red will concentrate on picking up maximum points at their home ground, an old habit they'd like to resume, having been frustrated by two draws earlier this season."We still need to keep that tradition alive, of keeping RFK a sacred place and having teams that come in here know that they're in for a difficult match," said defender Bryan Namoff.He and his teammates are optimistic about the prospects of building their first winning streak of the season on Saturday, when FCD follows up last Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup play-in match with a league visit that is sure to feature more familiar faces on both sides. Despite the fact that star striker Kenny Cooper missed a penalty kick in the dying moments of that game, Soehn's words leave little doubt that he views the U.S. international as FCD's primary attacking threat."They rested a lot of guys [last week]. Obviously Cooper's going to be back, and they're going to put more of their starters on, as probably we will," said the third-year boss. "So I think it's going to be a different game. They're in a different situation, too. They're desperate for a win, so they're going to come out very hungry."Dallas flew directly from D.C. to Los Angeles, where they lost 2-0 to Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on Saturday, leaving them tied for last place in the Western Conference standings with just one victory and one draw to their credit this year.After a long and distinguished stint at NCAA powerhouse Southern Methodist University, FCD coach Schellas Hyndman moved north to take charge at Pizza Hut Park in midseason of last year and he continues to experiment with his lineups and personnel, even tweaking his roster in the short interval since his team's 2-0 loss at RFK. This week defender Aaron Pitchkolan was traded to San Jose as FCD acquired U.S. youth international Kyle Davies from Real Salt Lake."Unfortunately, it happens for coaches, too, understanding what type of player and systems work in our league," said Soehn of the MLS learning curve. "It's not an easy league to adapt to."For his part, Soehn will likely be able to call upon playmaker Christian Gomez on Saturday, as the Argentinean has healed swiftly following a hamstring tweak two weeks ago. Strikers Jaime Moreno and Ange N'Silu are also close to full health after Achilles and hip flexor injuries, respectively, and may be available for selection.Dallas actually owns the upper hand in the clubs' history of head-to-head league meetings with a 15-12-5 record, and Hyndman's squad notched a well-earned 2-2 draw in their last regular-season visit to RFK on Sept. 13.