After an extended road trip, the Black-and-Red return to Audi Field to take on the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
The gravity of the match needs no explanation. D.C. United look to set things straight after a disappointing performance in the reverse fixture.
The Black-and-Red are coming off two narrow away defeats against the Revolution and LAFC, but Wayne Rooney said he saw improvements in key areas from individuals and the collective that he hopes can translate into results in the remaining nine games of the season.
Kickoff at Audi Field is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, with live coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington, TeleXitos, and dcunited.com.
Last Time Out
Speaking to club media ahead of Saturday’s match, Wayne Rooney said there were positives to take away from the 1-0 defeat against LAFC.
“Ultimately, we lost the game, and I don’t like losing. But on the flip side to that, there’s positives in the performance,” he said. “I think we were braver than we have been in previous games and that’s something we need every game.”
Following the match, Rooney acknowledged that with new players coming into the fold and established players learning a new system, it will take time for the team to gel. In the interim, however, that bravery will be a fundamental ingredient to turn good performances into good results.
Goalkeeper David Ochoa became the latest signing to debut for the club on Tuesday. He, like Rooney, said he can already see the pieces coming together in his first weeks in D.C.
“To travel across the country and play the best team in the league on paper, I thought we held our own and defended really well,” he said after the match.
D.C. United started strong against the top team in the West, going toe-to-toe until Steven Birnbaum received his first career red card in the 60th minute. LA scored soon after, but for the remainder of the match, the Black-and-Red continued to look dangerous despite being a man down.
“We need to have that belief in each other—that bravery to go and play, but also to go and press in the right areas” Rooney said. “If we do that, then I think we’ll have a good chance of winning.”
This will be Wayne Rooney’s first-time facing Philadelphia as a head coach, but the former D.C. United striker has plenty of experience to draw from his playing days.
“I don’t think they’ve changed that much from how they played when I was a player—very hard to beat, very disciplined,” he said.
On Tuesday, his side showed they could defend well against one of the most lethal offenses in the league. But Philadelphia have risen to the top of the Eastern Conference, first and foremost, with rock solid defensive play. They’ve conceded the fewest goals in MLS this season (20), and breaking them down will be no easy feat.
D.C. will need a top performance from their attacking core, but all around, the focus will be starting the match on the front foot.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” Rooney said, “but we’ve prepared well, we’re ready for the game, and we’ll do everything we can to try and capitalize on mistakes they make, but also take the game to them and get 3 points.”
In the Concourse
Serve Your City
Join Serve Your City and the D.C. United Foundation as they gear up for the Back to School Bash on August 27th. Located near Gate A, fans can stop by Serve Your City’s table to donate and support the purchase of school supplies as well as learn more about how they can get involved.
Ticket + Beer + Tee + VIP
There’s still time to purchase your tickets and receive a beer, t-shirt and VIP access to the Heineken Rooftop before the match from 6-7PM!