For the third time this year—first in the MLS regular season—D.C. United is set to face off against I-95 rival the Philadelphia Union this Sunday, April 21 at RFK Stadium (5 p.m.; ESPN2). The Black-and-Red is in search of both its 300th win and its somewhat elusive offensive rhythm. Wouldn’t it be all the sweeter to get that 300th victory and hit that scoring stride against a bitter rival?
Here are your VW Keys to the Match:
Shoot and Score
With the United offense struggling in recent games, it will be important to set an aggressive attacking tone. The Black-and-Red has been without playmaker Dwayne De Rosario and right midfielder Nick DeLeon—two key parts of the offense. But with De Rosario healthy and with more MLS games under the belts of wingers Kyle Porter and Marcos Sanchez, the usual goalscorers, Lionard Pajoy and Chris Pontius, should be looking to get forward with urgency and fire off shots on goal early and often. The Union has never shut out United, and the Black-and-Red intends to keep this streak alive, having focused heavily on the offensive side at training this week.
Keep the “Good Vibes” Coming
Knowing that the offense hasn’t quite fully gelled yet, United will need to keep its cool. Head Coach Ben Olsen said today that “the vibes are fairly good right now.” There is a mix of positivity and urgency, understanding that things need to turn around quickly. United can’t let offensive frustrations affect its game, so the offense has to keep calm on the ball in order to create opportunities and take some pressure off of the defense and goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Battle Hard, Play Smart
Over seven regular-season matches, the two rivals have accumulated 166 fouls, 22 yellow cards and four red cards. Players and coaches from both sides have acknowledged that games tend to get physical and chippy between the teams. Having already seen four ejections over just seven games, a crucial element of this match will be starting and ending with eleven United players on the pitch.