For the Black-and-Red, defense is critical. With standout center backs Steven Birnbaum and Frédéric Brillant, MLS veteran goalkeepers Steve Clark and David Ousted, and United’s 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Kofi Opare at the heart of the back line, the Black-and-Red are well-versed in defending. Leidos—the presenting partner of D.C. United—provides systems, solutions, and services covering air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace for Defense and Intelligence customers worldwide. Sponsored by Leidos, this weekly feature delves into some of the defensive storylines for United.
Defender Steven Birnbaum is never one to make things easier for an opponent. Last weekend against Real Salt Lake, Birnbaum scored a late header to bring the Black-and-Red’s deficit to one goal, and made Salt Lake work to earn their three points.
The result wasn’t what he wanted, but Birnbaum knew that the team’s fighting spirit will payoff eventually.
“For being down a man for 70 minutes our second half was pretty good,” Birnbaum said. “Other than giving up a goal, I thought we did a better job of actually possessing the ball and I think that’s going to be a big thing for us going into these next games.”
For the second time this season, United had to play a man down after defender Joseph Mora earned a red card against Real Salt Lake. Despite the disadvantage, the Black-and-Red made it a fight and threatened to steal a point after Birnbaum’s late goal.
With a gruelling west coast swing still remaining on the schedule, Birnbaum focused on pulling positives out of last week’s defeat in Salt Lake City.
“We had chances to tie it up,” Birnbaum said. “It’s hard to come back being down a guy and giving up three goals, though, but there are some positives we are looking at this week in film sessions and we just have to look forward.”
As the team heads to San Jose to face the Earthquakes, the coaching staff has emphasized building upon the positives.
“[The Earthquakes] are pretty good on the attack and play with two strikers up top,” Birnbaum said. “That’s going to be important for us to track them both even if they go into the midfield.”
And after his first goal of the season, Birnbaum knows he can be ready to chip in, on either side of the ball, when the team needs him.
“If we’re down a goal I’ll run up there,” Birnbaum said. “Just to cause some chaos.”