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Talking Strategy: D.C. United vs New England

A tactical breakdown with Goalkeeping Coach Preston Burpo

As we look towards tomorrow’s match against New England, Goalkeeping Coach Preston Burpo discusses the positive steps United has taken and how the club is working to continue improving.

Dealing with the Revs’ attack
The New England Revolution, like United, found its first goals of 2014 last weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes. The first came on an own goal and the second from Lee Nguyen in stoppage time

"New England has some crafty players. They have Nguyen running around in there, they have [Diego] Fagundez and [Saër] Sene coming in from the wide spots and [Daigo] Kobayashi was in there last weekend against San Jose, and he looked active,” explained Burpo. “Our midfield and defenders are going to have to deal with those guys because cause they pop into different spots. So we need to keep things tight there."

Additionally, after last weekend, the Black-and-Red is focusing on staying plugged in on set pieces.

"We have to do better. [Jhon Kennedy] Hurtado got free a little last week, and we were disappointed with that, but we’ve talked about it and hopefully there won’t be any lapses on defensive set pieces for us."

Reinforcing the positives
There was progression last Saturday against the Chicago Fire. For starters, Fabián Espíndola and Perry Kitchen opened D.C.’s scoring for the 2014 season. Additionally, there was creativity, cohesiveness and improvement.

"We had success getting our wide backs forward because we have one of the best headers in the box in the league in Eddie Johnson,” Burpo said. “So, we felt happy about that from last week’s game. We’ve continued to work on that. Then, we had Espíndola who pops up in different parts on the field and making sure guys understand that when he pops up on one side of the field, they can move into a different spot and make sure we have support for Eddie in the middle."

Fixable issues
DCU has let in six goals in three games, but the mistakes and issues leading to these goals are fixable ones. One of the remedied has been echoed by all since the beginning of preseason; it’s going to take time.

"There’s been discussion over the past two weeks trying to make sure the back four are on the same page—when they’re stepping, when they’re dropping. This past weekend, there were mistakes on the first goal, and Hurtado does well to win it. The second one, there’s a mistake, but then [Quincy] Amarikwa gets free in the box. There’s been discussion throughout the team to try to solve those issues. There are still points on the play where other guys can help out. You hope that we make fewer and fewer mistakes and players start getting used to playing with each other."

Burpo continues.

“It’s frustrating from a player standpoint, a fan standpoint, and a club standpoint. Everyone wants to win now. The sad reality is it actually does take time. As you can see from last week, things are coming around. You hope that individual mistakes are few and we plug away on the offensive stuff and get some goals.” 

D.C. United takes on the New England Revolution on Saturday, April 5 at 7 p.m. Buy your tickets now!