D.C. United currently sit in the seventh place position in the Eastern Conference table and will take on Atlantic Cup rivals the New York Red Bulls this Sunday, Sept. 16 in pursuit of three points to continue their ascension toward a playoff spot. Kickoff is slated for 1 PM ET from Audi Field, with coverage on ESPN.
Sunday's clash is United's second of their seven game homestand—in their first match of the home stretch on Wednesday, the Black-and-Red defeated Minnesota United with a 2-1 come-from-behind win thanks to goals from Ulises Segura and Darren Mattocks.
With heavy defensive attention paid to the highly-productive pairing of Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta, Segura and Mattocks seized their opportunities in front of net when they arose. Wednesday’s win marked the team’s first win since July 14, the inaugural match at Audi Field, in which neither Rooney nor Acosta found the back of the net.
The Red Bulls enter Sunday’s match following a 15-day break, with their last game resulting in a 3-0 loss to the Montreal Impact on September 1. Despite the loss and their extended break, New York still sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 55 points and a playoff spot clinched.
In a rivalry that always seems to produce drama and fireworks on the pitch, the Black-and-Red will look to avenge their two earlier season losses to the Red Bulls, including the first of their only only two losses at Audi Field. In the foes' first meeting at Audi Field, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in the second minute of the match, allowing the Red Bulls to bunker down and hold on for the 1-0 victory.
The Atlantic Cup’s second matchup of 2018 yielded the same result as New York defeated D.C. United 1-0 at Red Bull Arena. Alejandro “Kaku” Romero’s 56th-minute goal from outside the 18-foot box clinched the 2018 Atlantic Cup for the Red Bulls.
Now, returning to Audi Field, where the Black-and-Red have generated more than two goals per match, D.C. United aim to score on Luis Robles for the first time this season. To challenge Robles, the Black-and-Red attack will need to overcome a New York defensive unit that ranks second in MLS for fewest goals allowed.
In each of the previous matchups against the Red Bulls, the Black-and-Red’s defense limited scoring chances to a minimum, as shown by the one-goal results. The challenge has been in turn finding a way to get on the scoresheet, and ultimately outscore, New York's stingy defense. On Sunday, United will need to contain New York’s leading goal scorer, Wright-Phillips, who is tied for second in MLS for goals with 16, while also generating more creativity on the attack and increasing their level of efficiency in the final third.
Help the Black-and-Red defend Audi Field this Sunday as their push for the playoffs continues in one of Major League Soccer's oldest and most storied rivalries.