Brian Carroll has witnessed the venom between the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United.
Neither club likes the other one.
It’s a natural I-95 rivalry and one that has been heated since the Union joined MLS in 2010.
Never was it more antagonistic than Aug. 19, 2012 at RFK Stadium, a game in which Carroll scored for the Union in a 1-1 draw. There were red cards, a litany of fouls and aggressive play which led to angry words.
Even in this year’s preseason, the two sides had a dust-up.
Now the Union’s captain, Carroll has an expanded role as these two clubs meet again in a huge early season matchup Sunday night back at RFK Stadium.
“I think whether it’s here or there, it has gotten very heated and very emotional,” Carroll said. “There have been ejections there, lots of yellow cards, lots of fouls and lots of physical play. It’s up to all of us, but at the same time, I will have to recognize when to put more of an influence or vocally on the run if we need the play to keep us going in the right direction.”
Carroll played for D.C. United from 2003-07 and he has been with the Union since ’11.
The Union-D.C. United rivalry has morphed into one of the biggest in the league.
“At first, I would have said it’s coincidence, but now I think it’s proximity and an Eastern Conference foe,” Carroll said. “We know each other, we’re nearby each other, we’re somewhat evenly matched. Just don’t like each other, I guess.”
No, they don’t.
A big challenge will be channeling that energy and intensity since three huge points are up for grabs.
“They’re going to be fighting and scrapping for everything they can but our games with D.C. recently have been very competitive, win lose or draw, and I expect nothing less going down to their place,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be an incredible battle and we’re going to have to match or exceed their intensity not only with the ball but without the ball.”
Despite the daunting task of winning at RFK Stadium, Carroll is embracing the whole situation.
Actually, he revels in playing on his former home field.
“Having played on both sides home and away at that stadium, I enjoy playing there,” Carroll said. “It’s a great atmosphere even though it’s a huge baseball-football type of stadium. The fans there are passionate and are knowledgeable and create a good atmosphere in playing there. I just like playing on that grass in that situation and it just feels like it brings the best from us a little bit like here.
“It’s a big open field and their grass just allows the ball to roll a little bit quicker. Just looking forward to it, I’m excited about it hopefully we’re able to play well and get something out of it.”
Getting three points will mean executing the gameplan. On the road, that’s never easy and Carroll knows it.
“Give nothing up defensively and when you get your chances which are few and far between against a team like DC, you have to execute,” Carroll said. “It’s just that everything becomes more exaggerated and more extreme. When you get your opportunity you have to take them and hopefully we’re able to do that at their place.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org