The mission is always the same for the Black-and-Red—3 points, nothing less.
But this weekend’s match is a little different. 26 years of rivalry sets the backdrop as D.C. United travel to Harrison, New Jersey for what will be their 98th all-time meeting with the Red Bulls.
The trip comes a week after a 90th-minute equalizer from Toronto FC saw 2 points slip away from D.C. United. With a 3-week long international break looming, replacing the bad taste of opportunity missed with the taste of 3 points against the club’s biggest rival is top priority.
“You want to go into this break on a high,” interim head coach Chad Ashton said ahead of the match. “All that psychological stuff is real. The season is long, and you need to put yourself in good positions at the right times. And this is obviously a big time to get a result and feel good about where we’re at.”
Kickoff at Red Bull Arena is set for 7:08 p.m. ET, with pre-match coverage on NBC Sports Washington and dcunited.com starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.
New York (5-5-3, W-D-L) return to Red Bull Arena following their first road loss of the season, an uncharacteristic performance which saw their defense get picked apart by Inter Miami CF.
Red Bulls are now 5-1-1 on the road after little to no success in their first 6 home matches. After falling 2-0 on Sunday, they bounced Charlotte FC from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 in what was an ugly and, at times, chippy match at Montclair State in New Jersey—home of New York Red Bulls II.
It took less than 2 minutes for Red Bulls’ Patryk Klimala to bundle a corner kick into the net. But six minutes later, the shaky defense that cost them three points in Miami returned and Charlotte equalized. Ultimately, as the match became a little more scrappy and physical, Red Bulls put away two goals in the second half to secure their spot in the Open Cup quarterfinals.
In his pre-match press conference, Chad Ashton gave his assessment of Saturday’s opponent. “They play the way they play,” Ashton said. “They want to press you. They want to force mistakes. So, we have to have a good balance. We have to understand when it’s time to play soccer and understand when it’s time to earn the right to play soccer.”
Last Time Out
Saturday’s match will conclude a busy month of May for the Black-and-Red. They’ve come away with 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses–including an Open Cup defeat to Red Bulls in the Round of 32.
Despite some unfavorable results, the Black-and-Red looked dangerous on the attack for the vast majority of those matches.
The last time out, the Black-and-Red got off to a strong start against Toronto FC. Edison Flores found the first goal of the game and his first on the season in the 7th minute, after Michael Estrada whipped in a ball in-behind the Toronto backline.
After a couple mistakes in D.C.’s half the visitors notched things at 1-1 before the half. Estrada turned from provider to goalscorer in the 56th minute to put the Black-and-Red back on top. But another defensive lapse in the 89th minute spoiled what was otherwise a great performance for D.C.
“It’s a maturity thing for me, in terms of understanding when those moments are super, super dangerous and understanding those dangerous moments and staying away from those. And then on the other side of it, taking advantage of when we do cause turnovers, when we do create transition for ourselves.”
Those moments of transition are likely to come against Red Bulls on Saturday. The key, Ashton said, is to stick those chances and put out fires with safe choices before they hurt them.
“If we add those things to the bulk of what we’ve done, then we will start to become a very dangerous team.”
Primeblue Jersey Debut
D.C. United will debut the 2022 adidas Primeblue Jersey against New York Red Bulls on Saturday. Fans can purchase the jersey made from recycled material and Parley Ocean Plastic here.