This week the Union (5-10-4) are host to D.C. United (10-5-5) on Tuesday at 7.p.m. in PPL Park. This game is each team’s second game in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup.
What you need to know:
D.C. United are currently holding down the title of “Best in the Eastern Conference”, totaling 35 points from 20 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 17 goals in 20 games so far this year.
The Union and D.C. United have quite the history in the Open Cup, despite the Union only being around since 2010. The teams played each other in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Open Cups, with D.C. winning in 2011 and 2013(2011 was decided by penalties). The Union and D.C. have yet to play an Open Cup game at PPL Park.
Last year, United failed to make it pass the fourth round of the Open Cup(the round in which MLS teams enter play) after being upset by the Rochester Rhinos 1-0.
Players to watch out for:
Bill Hamid, Goalkeeper: Hamid has been playing like a man possessed so far this season. Starting and finishing 16 games this season, he has allowed only 12 goals while managing 59 saves, posting a record of 8-4-4. An academy product, Hamid displays good patience and phenomenal reflexes, using all of his 6’3” frame to his advantage. Hamid most likely will not play in the when the team’s face each other on Tuesday, something that plays heavily into the Union’s favor.
Chris Rolfe, Forward: Since coming over from the Chicago Fire in the early 2014 season, Rolfe seems to have found the fountain of youth and has been one of the more consistent forces on this D.C. United team. Rolfe contributed six goals and six assists last season and has continued his trend of being involved in the United offense this year. Rolfe has been involved in nine of the 23 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 19 of the 20 games United have 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 90.91 percent and having over 55 headed clearances in the 20 games he has played.
Goalkeeper: Andrew Dykstra
Defenders (left to right): Taylor Kemp, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, Jalen Robinson
Midfielders (left to right): Chris Rolfe, Markus Halsti, Davy Arnaud, Nick DeLeon
Forward: Chris Pontius, Luis Silva
Facts and Figures:
The Union are 5-6-3 against D.C. United, with a 4-2-0 record against them at PPL Park. In their last match-up, May 30, 2015, United won on a late penalty by Chris Rolfe after Zach Pfeffer was given a hard call for a handball in the box.
The Union’s most recent Open Cup game was a 3-1 win in penalties against the Rochester Rhinos after both teams went scoreless for 120 minutes on June 16. D.C. United won their first Open Cup game on the year 3-1 in extra time against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on June 17.
Contact Union writer Kyle Basedow at email@example.com