The month of August will test D.C. United. Aiming to build on its four-game winning streak, the Black-and-Red faces a jam-packed schedule with seven games in 29 days.
“It’s always tough when you go into a stretch of a ton of games,” said Assistant Coach Chad Ashton. “But it will create opportunities for different players on our team, and hopefully everybody will continue to step up and help get us results.”
It all begins against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, Aug. 3, at BBVA Compass Stadium, a place D.C. United captain Bobby Boswell knows well.
“Now we have a tough game in Houston,” said Boswell after his squad’s 3-0 win over Toronto FC. “It’s a place that’s very tough to go and get a result, and to have three goals and some confidence to go in there is probably what we need.”
After visiting the Dynamo, United is on the road again against Real Salt Lake on Aug. 9. DCU then hosts the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 17, followed three days later by the opener of CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) against Jamaican side Waterhouse FC at RFK on Aug. 20. The stretch continues away from home, when the Black-and-Red visit Sporting Kansas City and the Los Angeles Galaxy on Aug. 23 and 27, respectively. A battle against historic rival New York Red Bulls tops off the last month of summer on Aug. 31 in D.C.
United’s coaching staff understands the heavy lift that CCL demands, as well as the importance of each and every MLS result. Currently just one point behind SKC in the Eastern Conference, complacency is a dirty word.
“It stems from the coaching staff,” Boswell said. “They’re not letting us get content. Practices are harder now than they’ve ever been. It’s a deep locker room; it’s a deep team. Guys are fighting for spots, and guys are having to earn it everyday in practice, and we play pretty tough against each other.”
Competing in training has helped the Black-and-Red carry momentum from game to game, creating the current streak. It’s also earned United points at home, which is crucial heading into the long spells away from Washington.
“That’s another thing that made this game [against Toronto] so important,” Ashton said. “You take care of your business at home and put yourself in a good position. That way if you start to have a little bit of trouble on the road, you are sitting in a very good position.”
“We’re going to rely on guys in the next month or two that haven’t seen a lot of minutes, so that’s a good thing,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “I’m looking forward to getting those guys in, to test them in real games and that might start with Houston.”