D.C. United visits the West Coast for tonight’s match against Chivas USA (9:00 p.m. ET / Comcast SportsNet). Despite the two sides sitting last in their respective conferences, both teams are experiencing good runs of form as they head into the season’s closing months. United will look to bounce back from last week’s loss at New York and improve its 3-18-5 mark, but the Black-and-Red will have its hands full with a red-hot Chivas side that’s recently improved its own record to 5-15-7.
The Goats’ latest action came in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Seattle, with Lamar Neagle scoring the only goal of a tight game. But it was Chivas’ previous two matches that stole the national spotlight, starting with a 3-2 upset of the Red Bulls on Aug. 25. A week later, the Goats delivered one of their best displays of the season with a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Vancouver. One of the reasons for Chivas’ resurgence has been the stellar play of forward Erick “Cubo” Torres, who’s scored six goals in eight games since arriving on loan from Chivas de Guadalajara. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has also been vital in the Goats’ recent results and heads into the weekend with 91 saves on the season—the most in League play.
Compared to Chivas’ one-man offense, D.C. has benefited from a balanced attack in recent weeks. United’s previous three games have produced three different goal-scorers, including Nick DeLeon in last weekend’s 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls. DeLeons’s first League goal of the season was canceled out by strikes from Lloyd Sam and Tim Cahill, and the Black-and-Red couldn’t turn its majority of possession into an equalizer. Still, one of the highlights of the night was the return of midfielder Lewis Neal, who endured a five-month layoff due to injury. After going 67 minutes in the loss, the veteran will look to play a role in tonight’s game as well.
Several members of the squad have reiterated the importance of playing well in the remaining League games, especially with the U.S. Open Cup Final quickly approaching. Head coach Ben Olsen agreed, saying his side would be able to move on following the loss to New York.
“Players have short memories, we’ll bounce back. It’s a tough loss tonight; again, I feel like we deserved a little bit more but in a day or two they’ll be over and it we’ll get back to work. We go out West for a game and there is still a goal here, and it is to get better each week and obviously is to prepare ourselves for Salt Lake.”
Olsen also commented on what he sees in his current team, which is one of the youngest sides in the League.
“I like this team, I like the group I have right now, I like the future for D.C. United and I’m not blowing smoke," said Olsen. "You guys know me for a while; I do like a lot of what I see out of this team.”
The Black-and-Red returns home on Sep. 14 to host the Los Angeles Galaxy, a game during which D.C. United will formally induct Jaime Moreno into the Hall of Tradition. Buy your tickets here.