Lofty expectations came with his draft position, and Steven Birnbaum has responded. Making 15 consecutive starts at center back might not have been the original plan when he was an injury replacement for his MLS debut in June, but the 23-year-old has hardly missed a beat since and has emerged as a key to one of the best defenses in Major League Soccer.
D.C. United has returned to Washington with the Atlantic Cup back in its possession despite Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls. Since the inception of trophy for the winner of the season series between United and the Red Bulls, D.C. United has owned the rivalry. With its most recent claim, the Black-and-Red has won 10 Atlantic Cup titles to its name, while the Red Bulls have a mere three.
D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen
On the Red Card:
I got to look at it again, but to me it’s a soccer play that happens all the time where you go in – and Fabian plays with this heart – he goes in for a challenge. It’s just poor. And again, I haven’t seen it again, but it’s just poor, and then it just ruins the game; it’s so disappointing. It’s just a shame. To me it’s just a shame the game had to play out that way.
A heroic performance from Bill Hamid
With a five-point cushion at the top spot in the Eastern Conference, D.C. United (14-8-5) faces a New York Red Bulls (8-8-10) side sitting two points below the playoff line and under increasing pressure to claw its way back into the postseason picture.
Having beaten New York twice already to secure the 2014 Atlantic Cup—1-0 on April 12 and 2-0 on Aug 31—the Black-and-Red are prepared for a midweek meeting with a familiar foe desperate to avoid a season sweep.
Chris Pontius is back in the eighteen for the first time in 2014 since undergoing hamstring surgery in April. As D.C. United's longest tenured player, the California native never took a break from being a leader on the squad as he battled through his rehab. His teammates of new and old took notice of his commitment to remain positive, to regain fitness and to improve his ping pong game.
What has Chris been like around the locker room this year?
D.C. United and its non-profit arm, United for D.C., is set to kick-off of the Fall season of its United Soccer Club program. In partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and the U.S. Department of Justice, the program teaches soccer and the importance of focusing on a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and proper nutrition to youth.