DC United has had quite a few days off since their season opening win against Montreal, two weeks off to be exact. Their opponents on Sunday are in a similar situation as it’s been two weeks since their first game of the season as well.
Any team would be rearing and ready to go after that much time off, factor in that the first game back from the layoff is against a rival and that feeling is ratcheted up a notch or two. The home team leaves the area tomorrow to make it’s trip up to New York for Sunday’s game against the Red Bulls. This is the first time the two teams have played since last year’s playoffs when New York eschewed United out of the post season. Which only adds to an already boiling rivalry between two good teams.
The Red Bulls, like United, have only played one game this season. They scored first against Sporting Kansas City only to surrender a goal in the second half, they left the game with a draw. Unfortunately they will be without their starting left back in Roy Miller, their starting centre back is listed day-to-day.
Still, that won’t weaken them too much. New York has one of the better midfields in the league in Martins, Dax, Sam, and Kljestan. Steven Birnbaum had this to say about Kljestan’s impact on the Red Bulls, “He’s great, I think we heard a stat that he touched the ball the most out of any player in the first week. We know he’s going to be on the ball and it’s just recognizing how to deal with it.” The Black-and- Red certainly respect the midfield of the Red Bulls, as Coach Olsen and several players commented on that position by naming those players.
That’s where the game will be won or lost, in the middle of the field. Which team’s midfield will dictate the terms and tempo of which the game is played?
Even with their strong midfield, DC should be able to generate scoring chances if they come out with the same intensity they did in the first game of the season. United created several scoring chances throughout that contest. If Jairo Arrieta is able to occupy centre backs and make plays for his attacking teammates, then United will put themselves in a great position to leave the game with a great result.
The back line of the Black-and-Red will play a big role in Sunday’s game, especially having to deal with that talented midfield of New York’s. They can ill afford to miscommunicate or flat out miss assignments, as the Red Bulls certainly have the talent to take advantage of any momentary lapses.
Keys to Victory
- Boswell, Birnbaum ability to keep everything in front of them and keep everyone on the same page in terms of marking
- Winning the battle of midfield, primarily limiting Kljestan’s touches as he’s the key
- Keep track of Wright-Phillips from start to finish
- Help Arrieta up front, get players forward making runs to create and finish scoring chances
- Close out on shooters, give Hamid clean views of all shots. Similar to the first game in which he had a clean sheet