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VW Keys to the Match: Sporting KC vs D.C. United

Filling in the gaps against an attacking style of play

Chris Pontius vs Sporting KC 2012

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Getty Images

After a bye week in Week 5 of the 2013 Major League Soccer season, D.C. United heads to Kansas City for a matchup between the Eastern Conference’s top two teams last year. With two weeks of preparation and Head Coach Ben Olsen’s squad getting back to the basics prior to Friday’s game, here are your VW Keys to the Match:

Be mindful of Sporting Kansas City’s 4-3-3

Sporting KC has played each game this year in its trademark 4-3-3 formation. With high pressure throughout the field and a home atmosphere that is one of the best in the League, D.C. United must be calm and collected on the ball to keep possession and create scoring opportunities at Sporting Park.

Watchful eyes on Zusi and Bieler

Sporting KC has scored a total of six goals this season and all but one have come from Graham Zusi and Designated Player Claudio Bieler. Zusi and Bieler have paired together as strikers in four of KC’s five games this season with Zusi missing only one game due to U.S. Men’s National Team duty. Zusi has also contributed two assists, so shutting down the two will go a long way in keeping SKC off the board.

Who will step up in DeLeon’s absence?

With Nick DeLeon out for about six weeks following a hamstring strain suffered against the Columbus Crew on March 23, the Black-and-Red will need a winger to step up in his absence. Kyle Porter, a rookie with D.C. United this year, did just that before having a goal called back in the game. With midfielder Marcos Sanchez returning from international duty with Panama, both Porter and Sanchez will be called upon to step up in DeLeon’s absence.

Next at home: Saturday, April 13 vs New York Red Bulls