For the Black-and-Red, defense is critical. With captain and U.S. Men’s National Team defender Steve Birnbaum and MLS veteran Sean Franklin 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.
Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes will be United’s second-to-last game at RFK Stadium, which bodes well for the Black-and-Red, who have allowed just four goals in their last five games at home.
United have defended RFK admirably during the final stretch of games at the historic venue, registering 13 combined shot blocks and 69 interceptions in that span. The competition has not been easy either, as three of the Black-and-Red’s past five home opponents are currently in playoff position, including Toronto and their league-leading offense.
The five-game stretch includes two shutouts, giving United goaltender Bill Hamid six clean sheets on the season and leaving the Virginia native one short of 50 for his career.
United’s feat is even more impressive considering defender Taylor Kemp played in only one of the past five home matches, against Toronto Aug. 5, before sitting out because of injury.
In contrast, San Jose has played subpar defense on the road and has not been able to make up for their defensive lapses with scoring. The Earthquakes have been outscored 14-3 in their previous five MLS away matches, with all three goals coming in a single match, dating back to July 23.
In four of their last five road matches, San Jose have been shutout and allowed an average of 20 shots per game to their counterparts. The Earthquakes also have conceded 48 goals in 29 games this season, with 34 coming on the road.
The Earthquakes currently sit in fifth in the Western Conference standings, but could have a hard time maintaining that position when they visit RFK and United’s potent attack and formidable backline Saturday.