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Solid defense key component of United's winning formula against expansion teams

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.

On Saturday, July 29 at 8 PM EST, the Black-and-Red travel to Minneapolis to play Minnesota United FC for the first time. United has an excellent track record against expansion teams, posting a 21-9-3 record against them in their first seasons. Part of that success has been defensive dominance, particularly in the wins of the past three years.

2017: Atlanta United- April 30 (3-1) and June 21 (2-1)

In United’s first game against Atlanta, the Black-and-Red quieted a raucous home crowd of 46,000 with a 3-1 victory. Despite Atlanta maintaining possession for nearly 75 percent of the game, Tata Martino’s side couldn’t put the points on the board they needed. When the teams met again in June, United’s defense broke early to give Atlanta the lead, but held fast for the rest of the game as goals from Luciano Acosta and Patrick Nyarko gave United a second win over the Peach State side. The pair will meet again on August 23 at RFK Stadium.

2015: Orlando City- April 3 (1-0), May 13 (2-1)

Orlando City first met United goalkeeper Bill Hamid on April 3, whose five saves helped the Black-and-Red pitch a shutout against Kaká and the Lions. United eventually won on a stoppage time goal from Luis Silva. In their second meeting, United went down in the 11th minute, but once again Hamid and company stood strong. Defender Kofi Opare opened the scoring for United in the 70th minute, with eventually sealing the win in the 79th minute.

2015: New York City FC- October 2 (2-1)

Despite losing the first game against NYCFC 1-3, and giving up a goal to Frank Lampard off saved shot from David Villa 46 seconds into the game, United’s defense rallied. The Black-and-Red didn’t allow a shot on goal the rest of the game and won in stoppage time, clinching a postseason berth for the second consecutive season.

The United back line will be key on Saturday night, as they hope to extend Minnesota’s three game scoreless streak to four.