On the heels of Saturday’s playoff-clinching win over the Columbus Crew, D.C. United took to the training ground in high spirits under some unusual late October heat. The team is preparing for Saturday and the last game of the regular season against the third-place Chicago Fire (4pm ET, NBC Sports Network)
MOMENTUM ROLLING OVER
Needing only a draw on Saturday to claim a playoff spot for the first time since 2007, United definitively and dramatically registered a come-from-behind victory off of a Lewis Neal stoppage-time strike. Under some hot autumn sun, the players’ energy levels have seemingly not let up from the weekend as they recommenced their training regimen ahead of Saturday’s match.
Said United head coach Ben Olsen: “Now it’s back to work – today we had a good-spirited session and we’ll look to rev it up this week, taper and then try to get a result against a good Chicago team.”
TAKE BACK RFK? CHECK.
Regardless of how this week’s results shake out, United will end the season with more points earned at home (40) than any other club in the League. After falling 1-0 on opening night to Sporting Kansas City, back on March 10, the team reeled off a club record 16-game unbeaten streak at RFK, going 12-0-4.
Said United defender Robbie Russell: “It’s huge. It shows the fans how much they mean for us. They make the difference every time they’re in the stadium cheering us on, and it gives us heart. I hope the fans take that as a point for them because having RFK as the fortress that it is, is phenomenal.”
D.C.’s first pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Nick DeLeon, broke the club’s rookie goal-scoring record on Saturday when he tallied his sixth strike of the season. For DeLeon, the individual accomplishment paled in comparison to the win that the team pulled out over the weekend.
“It feels good, but what feels better is moving on to the playoffs. It’s a side award, yeah, it’s good for me, but a run in the playoffs is all that matters,” he said.
Previously, three United rookies had notched five goals in their inaugural seasons: Santino Quaranta (2001), Freddy Adu (2004) and former MLS Rookie of the Year winner Andy Najar (2010).