For the Black-and-Red, defense is critical. With captain and U.S. Men’s National Team defender Steve Birnbaum and MLS veteran Bobby Boswell at the heart of the defense alongside United's first-ever Homegrown Player Bill Hamid providing cover in goal, the Black-and-Red are well-versed in defending. Leidos, the presenting partner of D.C. United, is a global science and technology leader in defense. Whether it's air, land, sea, space, or cyberspace, Leidos meets challenges and provides solutions. Sponsored by Leidos, this weekly feature delves into some of the defensive storylines for United's next match.
With last week's FIFA international break complete, the Black-and-Red prepare to head to BMO Field to take on Toronto for the first time this season on Saturday at 8PM. While the Reds boast the best record and goal differential in Major League Soccer, United's back line has bunkered down over their last three MLS matches, shutting out Vancouver on the road and the Galaxy at home.
Ben Olsen has fielded a variety of defensive lineups thanks to the squad's depth in the back, with different lineups contributing to United's most recent shutouts. Taylor Kemp, Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum, and Chris Korb anchored the back line in Vancouver, while Homegrown Jalen Robinson earned a starting spot against LA. Bobby Boswell and Chris Odoi-Atsem are also available, leaving Olsen with plenty of options at BMO Field.
Last season, United's defense held the dangerous Reds to only one goal in two of their three matches—once at home and once on the road. In fact, since 2014, the Black-and-Red have only conceded more than one goal to Toronto in two of their eight matches. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid has also found success against the Reds—in his 12 games played versus Toronto, Hamid has posted five shutouts, allowed only seven total goals, and earned a record of 7-2-3.
The Black-and-Red will look to continue their victorious ways in The Six on Saturday night. Since their first match at BMO Field in 2007, United are 8-5-1 in the Reds' home, and picked up three points in their last trip to Toronto in October of 2016.