Following last week’s opening weekend loss to the Houston Dynamo, D.C. United will face off against Real Salt Lake. RSL, who like D.C. United, finished second in its conference, are coming off an impressive away win against the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend. Here are your VW keys to the match:
Home field advantage
D.C. United, and its fans – the best in Major League Soccer – need to continue to make RFK Stadium a fortress to play in. United went undefeated at home over 16 regular season games and 2 playoff games last year, a streak dating all the way back to almost a year ago to the day (3/30/12). Playing into the home field advantage, the Black-and-Red will look to extend RSL’s winless streak at RFK Stadium (0-4-3), a streak dating all the way back to 2005, the year RSL entered Major League Soccer.
United’s defenders will have to keep their heads on a swivel all night long, honing in on RSL goalscorer Álvaro Saborío. In last week’s season opener at San Jose, Saborío, a Costa Rican native, scored two goals in the final twenty minutes to solidify a 2-0 win for the visiting Real Salt Lake. Keeping Saborío off the board will be key to a great home opener.
Who wins the central midfield?
A large part of tonight’s game will hinge on the 90-minute battle taking place between the central midfielders – United’s Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa and Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman. The team that battles best through the central midfield, linking up defenders with playmakers while also providing support to both clubs’ back four, will definitely be in a prime position to get a result.