Feature photo courtesy of DCUproductions.
Less than a month after a painful 4-0 loss at Yankee Stadium, D.C. United hosts New York City FC Saturday with renewed confidence.
“Obviously it was a bad game for us a month ago,” midfielder Jared Jeffrey said. “We are all looking forward to righting that wrong. It’s a big opportunity for us to get to play against them so soon.”
United is (1-2-1) after the first four games of the 2017 season. The club got a much-needed win last Saturday against the Philadelphia Union and ended its early scoring drought. Luciano Acosta converted a penalty kick, and United-newcomer José Guillermo Ortiz got his first goal for the Black-and-Red in the game against the Union.
Ortiz stepped up in the absence of forward Patrick Mullins. Mullins is projected to miss the next few games with a hamstring injury, including Saturday’s match against his former NYCFC club.
“A lot of that stuff we didn’t read too much into,” Jeffrey said. “I think everyone in our locker room is confident that we are going to score a lot of goals this year. Having said that, [Acosta] and [Ortiz] scoring last week obviously helps their confidence and the team’s.”
But the win came at a cost. During the course of the game, veteran midfielder Marcelo Sarvas received a yellow card for unsportsmanlike behavior against the Union’s Derrick Jones. After further review, the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Sarvas for one game and “issued an undisclosed fine for serious foul play that endangered the safety of an opposing player,” according the the D.C. United release.
Without Sarvas, and his typical replacement Rob Vincent who is recovering from knee surgery, Jeffrey is likely to fill the hole. There won’t be a big shift in the midfield, but there will be a slight juggle of players inserted into the current formation.
“Personally, my role will be a lot different, but that [position] is something I have done before and I am comfortable doing again,” Jeffrey said. “As for the team, Marcello is a big part. I think it will be a little bit different with me in there but it will be the same kind of system.”
United look to learn from their early season mishap in New York and get a winning streak going early.
“There is a lot that you can take from that game against [NYCFC],” Jeffrey said. “We know at least what not to do now.”
Playing soccer in Yankee Stadium presents challenges due to wonky dimensions. A wacky weather week in D.C. means that field conditions have not improved at RFK Stadium. Despite the poor conditions, United must build off last week’s home win if they want to put together a winning streak.
“I think we need to do a better job at picking up all the points here,” Jeffrey said. “With the field, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it is. The weather has been hit or miss, but we are comfortable playing here.”
United host NYCFC Saturday, April 8 at 4 p.m. Catch the game on UniMas or live on Facebook.
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