Preview | Week 23

D.C. United welcome Real Salt Lake to RFK Stadium for the final time on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 7 PM.

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Historically, the Black-and-Red have matched up evenly with RSL, sharing a 7-7-5 record against each other since Salt Lake’s addition to the league back in 2005. But when Kyle Beckerman and company travel to RFK, they have flown back to Utah with six losses, three draws and, most importantly, no wins.

The last time the two sides met at RFK, the Black-and-Red earned a 6-4 comeback win, setting a record for the most goals scored at an RFK MLS match. Despite going into halftime down 2-1 thanks to goals from Beckerman and Joao Plata, United went on to score five goals in the second half. The final goal, which sealed the victory and put the game out of reach for Salt Lake, came from United player Nick DeLeon, a curling left-footed effort from outside the penalty area.

But Mike Petke’s team are coming off a fairly successful July. In their first two games of the month, Real scored ten goals in road wins over the L.A. Galaxy (6-2) and Portland Timbers (4-1). However, they will feel they left points on the board after draws at home against Kansas City (1-1), Columbus (2-2) and Houston last weekend (0-0).

Salt Lake’s offensive engine is led Slovakian midfielder Albert Rusnák. Since moving to Real from Dutch side FC Groningen in January, Rusnák has compiled five goals and seven assists in 19 starts. Ecuadorian forward Joao Plata, meanwhile, leads the team in scoring with six goals, four of them coming in Real’s last five games. On the defensive side, veterans Kyle Beckerman and keeper Nick Rimando’s wealth of experience control the back line. Despite their experience, Real has struggled to defend away from home, giving up 31 goals on the road.  

And now, in the midst of a significant stretch of home matches for United (next weekend in Colorado is their only away match in August), the Black-and-Red are looking to build on their draw against Toronto FC last weekend. “Everyone fought for each other and even though it’s not three, it’s a point and we can definitely build off this performance," said defender Kofi Opare, who scored United’s goal. And with a revamping of the lineup in store following United's blockbuster MLS Transfer Deadline Day, momentum is on the Black-and-Red's side. Pre-game coverage starts on NewsChannel 8, CW Richmond and live on Facebook at 6:30 PM.