Chester, PA (Sports Network) - D.C. United will try to keep its run of good
form rolling on Saturday when the club heads to PPL Park to face the
United's poor play in MLS action this season has seen the club bottom the
Eastern Conference for the majority of the campaign - Ben Olsen's men enter
the weekend in last place with just 13 points.
But things could be on the up-and-up as D.C. has strung together two straight
wins across all competitions. United managed to produce an impressive 3-1 home
win over the Montreal Impact in league play last weekend and followed the
victory with a 2-0 defeat of the Chicago Fire on Wednesday to reach the U.S.
Open Cup final.
"It's been such a struggle in the league that I think after we got to the
quarters there was a real focus on our part to understand that this was
extremely important and if we're going to have a chance to win anything this
year our best shot is the Open Cup," Olsen said after the defeat of Chicago.
"What I'm encouraged about is that the last two games we look like a team. We
have actually played some good stuff and we look like we have some rhythm and
our attack is more dangerous. Part of that is we are getting guys fit and
getting guys rhythm. (Luis) Silva is a huge piece that has changed the way we
can play. (Conor) Doyle, (Jared) Jeffery, these guys are all now guys that are
helping out on the bench and there is just a different feel about the group as
well. It's a little late from a league standpoint, and that's disappointing,
but if you are going to be in a situation that we are in the league, it's nice
to be in the finals."
United will face Real Salt Lake in the Open Cup finale, a matchup that Union
head coach John Hackworth sees as evidence to underline the parity in MLS.
"I think it just shows that D.C. is in good form right now," Hackworth said.
"They had a really good result last week beating Montreal, then they turned it
around in a short amount of time and went to Chicago and got a great result.
"I think it just shows how much parity this league actually has. It's actually
kind of crazy that the Open Cup final has literally the best team vs. the
worst team in the league as far as the league standings right now. But that
shows you how close the gap is between the two. If you look at our standings
right now, we're two points from second, we're four from first, but depending
on how it goes over the next 11 games we could be in a spot we don't want to
be in. It just puts that much more emphasis on how close this league is and in
particular how crazy this year has been for all of the teams."
And the next stretch of games is crucial for the Union. Beginning Saturday,
the next four matches will pit Philadelphia against Eastern Conference
opposition. And after Saturday's meeting with United, each opponent over that
stretch has a realistic shot of the playoffs, making each contest a virtual
Philadelphia has struggled to find consistency of late, posting a 2-2-2 record
over its last six matches. Kicking off that vital stretch with a win over D.C.
could prove to be crucial to the Union's playoff hopes.
The Sports Network