Match Preview: Union vs. D.C. United

The Union square off against its I-95 foe Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2)

 

Philadelphia Union at D.C. United

When: Sunday, 5 p.m.; Where: RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.

TV: ESPN2, Univision; Radio: None; Online: Watch via MLS Live: mlssoccer.com/live

Referees: Hilario Grajeda (field) Bill Dittmar, Kevin Klinger, Sorin Stoica

 

There are no secrets.

Both D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union know each others’ tendencies. They know each others' strengths and weaknesses. They know virtually everything.

Despite the scouting reports, these matches are still played. Once the sides walk onto the pitch, anything can happen.

Read: Scouting Report: D.C. United

The latest version in this rivalry will take place Sunday night at RFK Stadium.

“We concentrate on the things we work on in training, we concentrate on our game plan and what we need to focus on to be successful versus D.C.,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We know each other really well. They’re a team that’s having a tough time right now but is much better than their record shows. We know how tough this is going to be. From the outside they might not be getting respect but we’re giving them a lot of respect.”

D.C. United (1-4-1) is tied with Chicago for last place in the Eastern Conference while the Union are 2-2-2 and tied with New York for fifth place in the East. It’s likely to be an emotional match.

“There’s a lot of emotion around it,” Hackworth said. “You have to remind guys to keep that in check and use it in a positive way. We try to treat this like any other game. We have an opponent and we want to prepare for that opponent, and we’ll wait a little while longer before we let the emotions play into it.”

In their last three matches, the Union are 0-1-2. Their most recent match was a frustrating 1-1 draw against Toronto FC.

Read: Series history: Union-D.C. United

All week, the Union have been looking ahead while not forgetting the past.

“Any time you have a game like the one against Toronto, the first thing you think of is who’s next,” Hackworth said. “How can we rectify what we didn’t do well today? When’s our next chance to play? When you let points slip away, you have to get some back, you have to do that in this league. You’re going to lose some points when you don’t think you will and you have to find some when it’s not in your advantage to do so.”

Make no mistake, both clubs will be amped for this match Sunday. There are three huge points to be plucked.

“They don’t like us and we don’t like them,” Union defender Sheanon Williams said. “Obviously, you get a little bit more excited for these games. Also, it’s an Eastern Conference game, so any time you can try to grab points from somebody else and put yourself in a better position in the rankings, it’s definitely important.”

Toss the records out the window.

Whether D.C. United or the Union are in first place or toward the bottom, this match will be fierce.

“We’re not even looking at their record right now,” Williams said of D.C. United. “It’s early in the season and it looks like they’re a little slow out of the gates. But they’re definitely a good team. We know what they’re all about. We play them three times a year. They’re a team that if we take them for granted then they can come out and do some damage. Us knowing them so well, we know they’re a good team and we expect their best. They’re definitely going to be hungry for points.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com