Eddie Johnson 03-08-14 home opener
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Talking Strategy: D.C. United vs New York Red Bulls

It’s the oldest rivalry in MLS, and everyone here at D.C. United gets it.

“We’ve talked about it in team meetings,” said Preston Burpo. “This is a big deal for our club, this rivalry. This is the original rivalry of MLS. So, yeah that’s been discussed and guys are excited.”

In order to look forward to New York, we first have to look back at last weekend’s game against New England. Some things went well for the Black-and-Red and other things still need to improve.

“The mentality of the team was discussed early in the week. If we can bring that type of work rate to every game, we will give ourselves a chance to win games,” Burpo said. Not every play was perfect last week, but again, the mentality of defending as a team and getting forward as a team was there and good.”

Amidst improvement, the staff and team understand there is more work to be done.

“We are still working on offensive patterns and deciding when to keep the ball and when to counter attack. It’s still a work in progress,” Burpo commented.

Also a “work in progress,” is Fábian Espíndola and Eddie Johnson’s relationship; last weekend, they worked well off each other.

“They are coming along in terms of the understanding of where one is going to be and where the other is going.”

Adding others into the equation, midfielders and outside backs are filling in the space as well.

“There is still a ways to go. Timing of runs and balls played into Eddie and Espindola could be better. The timing of our midfielders and our outside backs getting forward because of Fábi and Nick [DeLeon's] running came together pretty well last weekend.”

Now let’s look ahead to New York. The Red Bulls are struggling to win games, but have found the back of the net 9 times so far.

“They’ve had really good periods, and they’ve had periods in games where they look like they have a ways to go,” Burpo explained.

When the Red Bulls look good, they’re offensive weapons are on point.

“[Thierry] Henry should be back. [Tim ]Cahill, there’s talk of him struggling still. Then, they have Wright-Phillips, who has some pace, and Péguy Luyindula who has gotten off to a good start. [Lloyd] Sam has been in decent form. They have players who can make plays. You bring Henry onto the field, and at any point, he can be magical.”

With plenty of star power on both sides of the ball, this will be a battle worthy of MLS’ oldest rivalry. United enters the match on an upswing after keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over the Revs. Additionally, it's a home game, on a big stage in front of the home fans.

“Winning helps a lot of things. Getting that first win of the year was a big deal. We’ll keep plugging away here, and it will be good to be home for one more Saturday night.”

Will you be there? Buy your tickets now.