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Talking Strategy: D.C. United vs Chicago

A tactical breakdown with Goalkeeping Coach Preston Burpo

As we look ahead to Chicago, Preston Burpo helps us take a look at three things that are top of mind this week for D.C. United.

First: We need to score goals.

The coaching staff and players have been working hard the past few weeks to rectify the offensive woes. The Black-and-Red has made progress from week one to week three.

“We have been working through offensive patterns and then incorporating the backs, getting our outside backs forward,” Burpo explained. “At some point, some of the work we’re doing turns into positives, and we get more shots on goal, and we get a couple more crosses in the box that Eddie, Fabián and some late runners can get their heads on.”

After this week of training, Burpo is confident in his squad—he believes it’s coming.

“It’s really right around the corner; it takes one goal and this thing could start flowing.”

Second: Dealing with Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa, Alex and company is no little task—but we're ready.

Chicago is still searching for its first win of 2014 as well. Their offensive weapons have combined for four goals in three games thus far.

“The fact is they have Amarikwa who runs around and causes havoc the whole game,” Burpo explained. “Then you have Magee who is a player that drifts. Sometimes he is in the middle, sometimes he is out wide. Chris Rolfe is a crafty player also. He pops up in different spots. But [Harrison] Shipp, who has been playing there, is similar where he will drift into the middle or he will stay out wide, he is a crafty little player.”

But we have a veteran back line and a midfield who gets good pressure on the ball and forces opponents to make quick decisions and mistakes.

“The understanding of Magee is there. We have two center backs who know every player in the League. They understand who he [Magee] is; they understand who Amarikwa is,” he explained. “It’s an understanding from our center backs; can they pass a player off to one of the midfielders if he floats into the midfield? Do they pass him on to an outside back if he goes out wide?”

The overall tactic remains the same though.

“We’re at home. We want to put pressure on these guys when they have the ball, force them backwards. We want to win the ball in good spots and keep pressuring them consistently throughout the game.”

Third: Patience, Grasshopper.

We’ve heard this sentiment the past few weeks. I’m not going to editorialize this one. Burpo’s made it clear.

“I know there’s been a lot of talk in the press and from our staff and our players that it’s going take time. The fact is we have, what is it , 7 out of 10 field players who are new? The fact is, it’s going to take time. Everyone understands that you need to win games throughout the season, even early, you need to win games so you can start getting in to a groove— confidence comes, momentum builds. Everyone understands that. Fans understand that, you understand that, the coaches understand that, the players understand that. But it does. That’s just the facts of piecing a new team together.”

D.C. United takes on the Chicago Fire Saturday, March 29 at 4 pm. Come support the Black-and-Red. Buy tickets now.