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Simple formula for DC against Portland: attack

United want to take the game to visiting Timbers at RFK

WASHINGTON – The formula for D.C. United in their must-win game against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night (8 pm ET, MatchDay Live) is simple: Attack, and do so from the opening whistle.

The two teams were originally scheduled to play at RFK back on Aug. 27, but because of the looming threat of Hurricane Irene, the match was rescheduled for the final week of the season. And with both clubs’ playoff fortunes at stake, the match is taking on added significance.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a real defensive game,” D.C. head coach Ben Olsen said. “People are going to score goals. It should be an exciting game, a game that is high energy and high stakes.”

United enter Wednesday’s match on a four-game losing streak. A loss or a draw to Portland will eliminate them from playoff contention, and scoring early would do wonders to kickstart an offense that has struggled over 90 minutes during their slide.

“For us, we’re going to have to step the tempo up, press the game a bit and hopefully get after them,” forward Josh Wolff said. “That’s something we’ve got to be prepared for front to back and I think the result’s there.”

Portland, though not eliminated with a loss, are also in a precarious playoff situation and will in all likelihood be pressing the attack.

“They’re desperate for points as well,” Wolff said. “It’s not a game where they’re just going to sit back and wait to the game to come to them, I don’t think.”

D.C. are coming off a devastating 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire in which they gave up two goals deep into stoppage time. A similar defensive collapse on Wednesday will end United’s season.

“We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re we have five and six guys forward, leaving everybody at the back just to fend for themselves,” midfielder Santino Quaranta said.

“We still want to play a balanced game,” Quaranta added, “but you have to attack and score goals.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.