For the final time in RFK Stadium, two of Major League Soccer’s founding members and most historically successful clubs, D.C. United and the LA Galaxy, go head-to-head on Saturday. With their third match in eight days and approximately 7,000 miles traveled in that time, the Black-and-Red return home to fight for three points and upward mobility in the Eastern Conference standings.
It’s been more than a year since United last faced the Galaxy, with the sides’ previous matchup coming on March 6, 2016, in the Galaxy’s home opener. Lamar Neagle put the Black-and-Red on the board first with a 5th-minute goal after a failed LA clearance, and United were inches away from doubling their lead a number of times throughout the first 45, but a second-half LA rally resulted in the Galaxy stealing the victory.
United have bolstered their squad since last facing their West Coast rivals, though. Since the March 6 match, the Black-and-Red have added forwards Patrick Mullins, Sébastien Le Toux, and José Ortiz; midfielders Lloyd Sam and Ian Harkes; and defenders Chris Korb and Chris Odoi-Atsem to the roster. While Ben Olsen’s side is more well-rounded and depthful than it was last spring, the Galaxy have also added talent—midfielders Jermaine Jones, Romain Alessandrini, and João Pedro have headlined LA’s acquisitions since then.
The Galaxy’s looming attack will be one of the biggest concerns for United on Saturday, as numerous attacking options have helped them to three straight victories (all on the road) and five unbeaten matches. Mexican forward Giovani dos Santos (six goals, one assist) and Frenchman Romain Alessandrini (six goals, six assists) have troubled opponents throughout the season with their pace and dribbling ability, as well as their vision in distributing. The Black-and-Red back line, coupled with the ever-present heroics of Bill Hamid in goal, will have their work cut out for them against the Californians.
But while LA’s front line is threatening, the Galaxy have still been shut out three times on the season. United Homegrown Hamid has been an absolute force in the net for United, and will look for his third career shutout against the Galaxy on Saturday. Last weekend, the back line, comprised of Taylor Kemp, Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum and Chris Korb, held Vancouver scoreless, while rookie Chris Odoi-Atsem had a standout debut in Wednesday night's match at Orlando and Opare was named United's Man of the Match. Regardless of lineup, the back line will look to create further defensive momentum against LA.
Up top, United’s dynamic rotation continues to show signs of last year’s attacking efficiency, but has not yet reached the same levels of production. Six members of the Black-and-Red have now found the back of the net so far this season after Lamar Neagle’s penalty last weekend, and that balanced attack will look to unsettle the Galaxy's defensive unit.
Following tonight’s match, the Black-and-Red head to BMO Field to take on Toronto on Saturday, June 17, before returning to RFK to host Atlanta United on Wednesday, June 21. Saturday's match is United’s lone regular-season meeting with the Galaxy.