IMAGE: DeLeon v NY

Defense looks to use home-pitch advantage, stifle NY

For the Black-and-Red, defense is critical. With captain and U.S. Men’s National Team defender Steve Birnbaum and MLS veterans Sean Franklin and Chris Korb at the heart of the back line, 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.

When United play host to the Red Bulls for the final time at RFK Stadium on Sunday, they will look to use their home-field advantage to shut down New York, as they've done so many times before at the fortress. In their 37 regular-season trips to RFK, the MetroStars/Red Bulls have left the District with only 10 wins, their last dating back to 2013. 

Whether it's the intensity of the rivalry or the energy from the Black-and-Red fans, United always show up to play come Red Bulls matchday at home. While Ben Olsen's squad conceded two goals in New Jersey in April's loss, they rallied to earn a 3-3 draw last month, and now look to progress one step further to earn three points and secure the Atlantic Cup in their RFK finale. 

The Black-and-Red have not conceded more than two regular-season goals to New York at RFK since 2012. In their 22-year matchup history, United have dominated in goal differential at RFK, scoring 76 times against the Red Bulls but only conceding 55 goals. With their last home match resulting in an emphatic 4-0 victory, D.C. will attempt to replicate that kind of performance on Sunday, feeding off the passion of the fans to shut down New York.

The night will be particularly special for veteran United defenders Nick DeLeon and Chris Korb, who have each been a part of United history on East Capitol Street.

DeLeon is the second-longest tenured player on the roster, having tallied 164 appearances for D.C. since 2012. As the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year runner-up and a playoff starter for United in four seasons, DeLeon has won over the hearts of the RFK faithful. The veteran has also scored twice and notched an assist against the Red Bulls at home. 

Like DeLeon, Korb has spent his entire MLS career with the Black-and-Red and at RFK. After a 2016 season plagued by injury, the defender returned as a trialist and ultimately re-signed with the club this May, making Sunday's finale all the more special for the Black-and-Red regular. While the weekend marks a bittersweet end of an era, players will surely show up eager to dismantle New York in front of an energized crowd.