Preview: D.C. United vs Philadelphia Union
MLS MATCHDAY 16
Philadelphia Union vs D.C. United
Saturday, June 16 - 7:00 PM ET
TV: Comcast SportsNet or Galavision
As different as rivals D.C. United and the PhiladelphiaUnion may try to be, there are some striking similarities in what the twoorganizations have gone through over the past couple of years.
After taking over for Curt Onalfo in early August of 2010,Ben Olsen and the Black-and-Red badly needed a win. On a rain-soaked afternoon later that month, D.C.’sthen-interim manager earned his first career triumph over an expansion Unionside.
On Saturday, against the backdrop of embattled coach PeterNowak’s mid-week dismissal, Philadelphia interim boss John Hackworth will tryto do the same.
“We understand that there is always an emotional responsewhen you have a new coach,” Olsen said on Thursday. “In particular with a coachthat I think the team is behind. It was going to be an emotional game regardless.”
While Philadelphia’s reasons for an uptick are obvious,Olsen’s group will offer its own emotional response on Saturday. After seeing his side eliminated fromOpen Cup by the Union last week, a disappointed Olsen vowed that both he andhis players would ‘certainly work harder’.
United’s second-year coach wasn’t bluffing.
“You can ask anybody out here and they’ll tell you yes,” Brandon McDonald replied when asked if Olsen had delivered on his post-gamepromise. “For him, having all thesuccess he had here as a player, losing that game was hard. I think we all realize that now. He came out here and made it a point: weneed to start lifting trophies.”
“We are past that,” Olsen said this week. “We had somewords, we had some meetings and I think we cleared the air. We understand when we are good and whenwe are not good and what makes us win games. A lot of times it’s not the X’s and O’s and the soccer side,it’s the commitment.”
Perhaps more so than simple revenge, United’s players willbe driven this weekend by the chance to improve the club’s record against itsclosest rival. D.C. has won justone of six all-time meetings with the Union, a fact that doesn’t sit well withthe Black-and-Red.
“Yeah it’s something we are aware of,” ChrisPontius said moments before boarding the team bus Friday afternoon. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a rivalry that everyone recognizesand there are going to be times in the game where emotions play a big part.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and will bebroadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. D.C. United play-by-play man Dave Johnson will be joined clublegend John Harkes on the call.
» ANALYSIS: Volkswagen keys to the match