Talking Strategy: D.C. United vs Portland Timbers

"If we go in there and play like we have been playing, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

As D.C. United heads to Portland, Goalkeeping Coach Preston Burpo explains that the mentality and game plan remain consistent: Stay organized, and play our game.

“Portland needs a win, especially being at home,” said Burpo. “For us, it’s going back to defending as a group, starting with the guys up top. Making sure we’re keeping track of their talented players. If the mentality that we’ve had since the beginning of the season is there, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

Communication and organization from the backline has been a recurring theme each week, specifically, dealing with that second forward or attacking midfielder who runs between the lines.

“Dallas had [Mauro] Diaz. He’s become a player that makes a real difference,” Burpo explained. “You see what he does to us on the goal. His movement, slipping away from our center midfielders was very good. [Portland’s Diego] Valeri is capable of that too.”

With veterans like Bobby Boswell and Jeff Parke in the back and Davy Arnaud and Perry Kitchen in the midfield, Burpo is confident we will solve those issues.

“Over the last few weeks, there’s been a point of emphasis on players like Diaz, [Federico] Higuain and Valeri. We’re telling the guys there will be times the backs have to deal with him, there will be times the midfielders will. Some of that will just have to be dealt with through communication; some of it is just players having to react to certain situations,” Burpo stated.

Valeri isn’t the only Timber with the ability to cause problems. They have Maximiliano Urruti, Gaston Fernandez, and Darlington Nagbe who can all change a game. Again, if United brings its current confidence and mentality to Portland, the streak could continue to six games unbeaten.

“Getting the win now would mean a lot in and of itself for the three points—keep this streak going,” Burpo said. “To win in Portland, with their crowd, would be a huge deal. If we go in there and play like we have been playing, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”