DC look for progress against MLS Cup champions

WASHINGTON — When D.C. United take the field against the Colorado Rapids Saturday evening (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live), it’s a huge opportunity for a young, rebuilding club to take another step forward.

Last week, the team picked up four points in two home games, and a win against the defending champions would be another positive step.

“It’s huge for us,” forward Charlie Davies said. “We have to continue to keep playing well. The past two games we’ve done a good job, and we’ve been solid in the back, and I think it’s important for us to continue if we want to be the team we strive to be, which is a playoff team.”

Added head coach Ben Olsen, “It’s important to be consistent. That’s the challenge we have, and hopefully we can put a third game that’s a fairly good outing in a row.”

Saturday is an opportunity to do that, against a Colorado team coming off a scoreless tie in New England last weekend. It’s also a game that can give DC a lift in the Eastern Conference standings.

Another strong defensive performance will be crucial to shutting down Colorado. The last time the two sides met back in April, the Rapids won 4-1 — although it featured a makeshift United defense because of the absences of Perry Kitchen and Dejan Jakovic.

Last week, a back line that included Jakovic partnered with Ethan White in the middle, and Daniel Woolard and Kitchen on the left side and right side respectively, conceded just one goal in 180 minutes. It’s certainly feasible that those four could start together for the third straight game.

“The defense has been a big positive for the past two games, they’re really starting to come together as a unit,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “It always helps when you can get some consistency along the back line when you have the same four.”