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Talking Strategy: D.C. United vs Chivas USA

Goalkeeping Coach Preston Burpo gives us the gameplan for Sunday

Luis Silva goal celebration with Davy Arnaud at Montreal - 2014

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

D.C. United hosts a Chivas USA side currently undefeated in five matches. The Black-and-Red, sitting in second in the Eastern Conference, has a streak of its own—winning three road games in a row. Despite the success on the road, United hasn’t earned three points at home since May 31 against Sporting Kansas City, most recently falling to Seattle Sounders FC on June 28.

“It was just a weird night where we weren’t able to finish them off,” Goalkeeping Coach Preston Burpo said. “They get few real chances, then a great header by Chad Barret to go up 1-0. It was definitely frustrating on the night.”

Now facing Chivas at home, United needs to get three points at RFK.

“Heading into Sunday, we need to keep our aggression in terms of defending, just like in San Jose,” Burpo said. “We said, ‘yeah we’re on the road, but if you try to play out of the back, we will pressure you.’ Even more so at home, we need to do that against Chivas.”

While defending as a unit is the entire team’s job, D.C. United’s back line will have their hands full with Erick Torres, currently third in the League in goals (13), and the midfield will be focused on Maura Rosales, currently tied for second in the League in assists with eight.

“[Torres is] not overly involved in the run of play, but finds the ball in and around the box,” explained Burpo. “His movement is fantastic. Our center backs need to make sure we know where he is. They also have Rosales, who is one of the best guys on the ball; he creates a lot of great chances for them.”

There is no shortage of talented forwards in MLS, so dealing with Torres, Rosales and company shouldn’t be a problem for the organized team defending DCU has been impressing with week in and week out. For Burpo, the key will be capitalizing on opportunities.

“In terms of finishing off chances, Eddie Johnson has been looking sharp over the last few weeks in training. He gets that PK, which is good to get goals,” he said. “[Chris] Rolfe, [Nick] DeLeon and [Luis] Silva have all been very sharp. It’s just a matter of making sure we create chances and finish them.”

D.C. United kicks off against Chivas USA on Sunday, July 20 at 8 p.m. Buy your tickets now