Feature photo courtesy of Tony Quinn.
Yet another trip up I-95 for D.C. United as they take on the Philadelphia Union for the second time this season.
United lost the last match between its rivals in Philly in May. Richie Marquez scored the game’s only goal for the Union in the 91st minute.
“It is always a big game against Philadelphia,” United goalkeeper Bill Hamid said at training last week. “It is always a lot of energy and a lot of passion from both teams.”
A lot has changed for the team in the months since its last match against Philadelphia. Going into the first game in May, United was struggling to find consistency. In its last two matches, the team switched to the more offensive 4-1-4-1 formation.
The change produced a 2-0 win at home against the Revolution and a 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake off of a late Jared Jeffrey goal.
“You have to change your formation at times,” Hamid said. “When we can adjust our formation, depending on the team we are playing against, I think it only helps us and it throws off the other team.”
The new formation allows United to overload the midfield and keep a steady back line. Despite its recent consistent performance, the team’s back four defenders have changed. With Steven Birnbaum returning from national team duty, United has four formidable options at center back. The options include a young Jalen Robinson who made MLS Team of the Week in his first starting appearance for United.
“It is difficult because we have four very different center backs: one national team player, one very young in terms of MLS experience, very energetic and youthful which is positive, Kofi [Opare] is experienced, Bobby [Boswell] is experienced,” Hamid said. “When one guy goes down it’s the other guy’s opportunity to step up. When that guy comes back there is a decision that has to be made. Whoever is on the field has to work for it.”
D.C. United (5-6-6) look to continue to collect road points against the Philadelphia Union (7-6-5) and stay securely in playoff position as they enter the second half of the MLS season. Game time is set for 7 P.M. ET on NewsChannel8.
“I think the bigger picture helps us move forward and progress,” Hamid said. “I think that mentality is going to help us down the road continuing to push forward even when we aren’t having the best game and continuing to try to get results in tough places.”
United acquired midfielder Lloyd Sam from rivals New York Red Bulls. He will join the team in training next week.
— D.C. United (@dcunited) July 9, 2016
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