Dykstra and Chaco

Know Your Opponent: Union to meet United for fourth time in 2015

This weekend, the Union (6-11-4) head down I-95 to visit D.C. United (10-7-5) in their third and final MLS regular season meeting of 2015. The game is on Sunday at 5.p.m. in RFK Stadium and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

What you need to know

After 22 games played, D.C. United still hold a five point lead in the standings to keep them on top of the leaderboard in the Eastern Conference while being tied with FC Dallas in the race for the Supporters Shield. United have managed 35 points through 22 games which whittles down to 1.59 points per game, third best in the league.

Much of their success is due to their head coach Ben Olsen. Though 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 U.S. Open Cup the same year under Olsen and went on to go 17-9-8 the following 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 20 goals in 22 games so far this year.

The Union and D.C. United have already played three times this season, twice in regular season play and once in the U.S. Open Cup. The Union won the first meeting and the third meeting, both at PPL Park, while United won their second meeting at RFK Stadium on May 30.

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 his entire 6-foot-3 frame to his advantage. However, Hamid will not play in the game on Sunday after having surgery on both his right knee and his hand earlier this month. His absence from the team has been felt as United have lost their last two games. Andrew Dykstra is likely to start in his place.

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 24 goals United have scored this year will look to break his three-game scoring drought this weekend.

Bobby Boswell, Defender: Boswell re-joined United last season after a six year spell with the Houston Dynamo. Since his arrival, Boswell has started 21 of the 22 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 91.67 percent and having over 59 headed clearances in the 22 games he has played.

Probable line-up

Goalkeeper: Andrew Dykstra
Defenders (left to right): Taylor Kemp, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, Chris Korb
Midfielders (left to right): Conor Doyle, Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, Nick DeLeon
Forward: Chris Pontius, Jairo Arrieta

Facts and Figures

The Union are 5-6-3 against D.C. United, with a 1-3-3 record against them in their last match-up, June 30, 2015, the Union beat United in the U.S. Open Cup round of 16 2-1 after going down a man in the first half. Eric Ayuk and Fabinho scored to give the Union the come from behind win.

Both the Union and United are coming off MLS losses with the Union losing 2-1 against Toronto FC on Saturday and D.C. United losing 2-1 against FC Dallas on Saturday.

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