D.C. United ready for home stretch, beginning with Orlando City
Field Level Mediaon
D.C. United enters Sunday night's game with visiting Orlando City SC in last place in the Eastern Conference but with key re-enforcements and a favorable schedule on the way.
The Black and Red (4-9-6, 18 points) played 12 of their first 14 games on the road while the finishing touches on Audi Field were being done. Now, with five games still in hand on many teams above them, they play five of their next six matches on their new pitch including three in a row over the next eight days.
Despite the slow start, D.C. United entered the weekend just 11 points behind the Montreal Impact and New England Revolution, both of whom play on Saturday night, for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
D.C. United also arguably upgraded its team the best in the MLS by the end of Wednesday's secondary transfer window, adding homegrown product Bill Hamid, the 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, on loan from Danish squad FC Midtjylland as well as left-back Vytautas "Vytas" Andriuskevicius from the Portland Timbers to help solidify a defense that has allowed 36 goals, sixth most in the East. Prior to that, they added longtime Manchester United and Everton star Wayne Rooney, who has a goal, an assist and a broken nose in five games.
"They've got capable players going forward," Orlando City coach James O'Connor told MLSsoccer.com. "Obviously, they signed Wayne Rooney, his career speaks for itself."
Said D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said: "Every game will be a little different and we'll be tweaking it, trying to maximize as many points as possible over the next couple of games. Everybody's going to play a part in this, too. ... Everybody's going to have to play their role if we're going to get there in the short term and to get to the playoffs."
Orlando City (7-14-2, 23 points) comes in off a dramatic 3-3 tie with New England last Saturday, snapping a three-game losing streak. The Lions trailed 2-0 after 18 minutes and tied it in the third minute of stoppage time on a goal by Scott Sutter off a crossing pass by Yoshimar Yotin.
Yotin tied Kaka's single-game team record with three assists in the comeback but also picked up a red card shortly after the tying goal for violent conduct during a scrum with New England defender Jalil Anibaba and will miss the next two games.
Orlando City, which has allowed a league high 54 goals in 23 games and has not won a road game since 2-1 victory on April 29 at Colorado, is led in scoring by Dom Dwyer, who has 10 goals in 16 games. The two teams have played twice this year, including once in the Open Cup, with both matches ending in 1-1 draws.