This week the Union (3-7-3) head down I-95 to face-off against D.C. United (6-3-4) on Saturday in Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on The Comcast Network.
What you need to know:
D.C. United are currently holding down the title of “Best in the Eastern Conference”, totaling 22 points from 13 games. They play a slightly unconventional style under head coach Ben Olsen, where they attempt to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes rather than beating them with blistering pace or fancy dribbling.
Although Olsen is a relatively young coach, he has shown an ability to coach through adversity. He joined the team as a coach after a long career with D.C. United as a player. Despite having one of the worst seasons ever in MLS history in 2013 (the team went 3-24-7), United won the 2013 U.S. Open Cup under Olsen and went on to go 17-9-8 in the 2014 season.
One of United’s greatest strengths is their ability to “plug and chug” their line-up with different players. Basically, they have a lot of talent that can come in off the bench and replace starters, or even start a game to give other players a rest. The backline of United with goalkeeper Bill Hamid, veterans Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin and young players in Kofi Opare and Taylor Kemp have helped to allow only 10 goals in 12 games so far this year.
On the offensive end, forwards Chris Rolfe and Jairo Arrieta constantly prowl their opponents defensive line in search of short through balls that can play them through. The midfield is held down by Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, and midfielder/forward Chris Pontius who pushes the team forward through the middle.
Players to watch out for:
Bill Hamid, Goalkeeper: Hamid has been playing like a man possessed so far this season. Starting and finishing 11 games this season, he has allowed only nine goals while managing 44 saves, posting a record of 5-3-3. An academy product, Hamid displays good patience and phenomenal reflexes, using all of his 6’3” frame to his advantage.
Chris Rolfe, Forward: Since coming over from the Chicago Fire in the early 2014 season, Rolfe has been one of the more consistent forces on this D.C. United team. Rolfe contributed six goals and six assists lastseason and has continued his trend of being involved in the United offense this year. Rolfe has been involved in six of the 14 goals United have scored this year.
Bobby Boswell, Defender: Boswell re-joined United last season after a six year spell with the Houston Dynamo. Since his arrival, Boswell has started every game United has played, giving a veteran’s guidance to the team. As the team captain, Boswell has had a great start to the season, boasting a tackle success rate of 87.5 percent and having over 42 headed clearances in the 13 games he has played.
Goalkeeper: Bill Hamid
Defenders (left to right): Taylor Kemp, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin
Midfielders (left to right): Chris Pontius, Markus Halsti, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon
Forward: Chris Rolfe, Jairo Arrieta
Facts and Figures:
The Union are 5-5-3 against D.C. United, with a 1-2-3 record against them at RFK Stadium. In their last match-up, May 17, 2015, the Union pulled off the upset win, beating United 1-0. Zach Pfeffer came in off the bench to score a dramatic goal to secure three points for the Union. This game will be United’s seventh in the month of May alone.
The Union are coming off a 2-0 win against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, while D.C. United are coming off a 1-0 loss against the Portland TImbers.