D.C. United is set to play host to the New York Red Bulls for the second leg of the 2013 Atlantic Cup on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; Romantica 900 AM / MLS Direct Kick Package). This marks the first match back at home for United after having its club record-breaking home-unbeaten streak (19) snapped in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew on March 23. And the Black-and-Red will also be looking to bounce back from a 1-0 road loss to Sporting Kansas City last Friday, April 5 with a win at RFK Stadium.
Since drawing 0-0 with New York at Red Bull Arena on March 16, United has continued to struggle to find three points. However, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid put in a remarkable performance against the Red Bulls in Week 3 of the MLS regular-season, making a single-game season-high seven saves and earning MLS Player of the Week.
“They haven’t been doing well at all,” Hamid said about the New York Red Bulls. “So it’s really a chance for us to go out and jump on them and use that as a tool to break them down.”
New York is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference Standings and is 1-3-2 on the season. Additionally, the side has not won a match on the road (0-3-1), only able to grab a point when they opened the 2013 season at JELD-WEN Field against the Portland Timbers on March 3.
The Black-and-Red has played 60 League matches against the Red Bulls since the League’s inception in 1996, more than any other club in MLS. And United has the clear upper hand, boasting a 31-20-9 regular-season record against New York. Not only has the Black-and-Red captured 31 total regular-season wins over the Red Bulls, but the club has lifted the Atlantic Cup nine times since the series’ inception in 2002.
“New York’s a good team, but we want to win,” said Hamid. “This is the Atlantic Cup. And whatever trophies we can bring in, we want to bring them in. Period.”
There’s a lot of history with this match-up and last season was no exception, seeing two United players reach personal milestones against New York. On April 22, 2012, United thumped the Red Bulls 4-1, with midfielder Chris Pontius netting three to record his first-ever MLS hat trick. Pontius struck again in the teams’ next match-up on June 24, scoring twice – his first setting the club-record for the quickest goal, coming just 31 seconds after the whistle for kick-off. In the teams’ final regular-season clash on August 29, 2012, Black-and-Red captain Dwayne De Rosario recorded his 100th career MLS goal, becoming only the seventh person in League history to hit the century mark.
De Rosario will be looking to take the pitch against his former club after being taken off of the Injury Report for Saturday’s match-up and says he is looking to make the most of his opportunities, create chances, and help get the team back in attacking form with United’s “proven goal-scorers.”
“In every game that we’ve played we’ve had one – a lot of them we had two – chances that really could have changed the outcome,” De Rosario said. “So, right now, it’s all about capitalizing on our chances and really limiting the chances on the other side.”
Looking at how both sides measure up, Head Coach Ben Olsen says he’s seen plenty of trends change throughout the history of the teams, both as a player an a coach, but it’s never meant as much as it does at this point in time.
“The match-up has always been interesting,” said Olsen about the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls rivalry. “The last two years have been interesting in that both teams have been competing [to be] the top team in the East [Conference] and we really want to have the same type of success that we did last year. And hopefully we find that.”
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