DC United vs. Seattle Sounders | MLS Match Preview

D.C. UNITED vs SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
June 28, 2014 (WEEK 16, MLS Game #141)
7 p.m. ET (CSN-MA; JOEtv)

MLS Free Stream of the Week 

It’s a top-of-the-table clash to resume action following the World Cup break as D.C. United play host to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. United have moved into top spot in the Eastern Conference for the first time in two years, following their 4-2 win at the Montreal Impact in their last league game. Sounders FC return to MLS activity after extending their lead atop the Western Conference and adding to their best overall record in the league, after a 3-2 win at the Chicago Fire in their last league game.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. AR1 (bench): Greg Barkey; AR2 (opposite): Matthew Nelson; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 82 games; FC/gm: 27.5; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 10; pens: 13

SUSPENDED: DC: Davy Arnaud (caution accumulation; through June 29); Fabian Espindola (through June 29) … SEA: Obafemi Martins (through June 29)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Fabian Espindola, Cristian Fernandez, Lewis Neal
DISABLED LIST: SEA: Damion Lowe; Kevin Parsemain
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: SEA: Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin (USA)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (8 meetings): United 2 wins, 9 goals … Sounders FC 4 wins, 14 goals … Ties 2
AT RFK STADIUM (4 meetings): United 1 wins, 3 goals … Sounders FC 2 wins, 4 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/3: SEA 2, DC 0 (Martins 19, 91+)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • United have not defeated Sounders FC in league play since May 4, 2011, when they claimed a 2-1 win at RFK Stadium ñ their only victory in four home matches vs. Seattle. Sounders FC have won two of the three meetings since, including a 2-0 win last year in Seattle in the only contest.
  • The clubs also met in the 2009 US Open Cup Final, won 2-1 by Seattle. Sounders FC won the Dewar Trophy three consecutive years from 2009-11; United are the current holders.
  • Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. DC: P32 W17 L10 T5 … Ben Olsen vs. SEA: P4 W1 L2 T1

D.C. UNITED
D.C. United extended their undefeated run to three matches overall, defeating the Montreal Impact 4-2 on June 11 at Stade Saputo. United moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with 25 points from 15 games.

LAST MATCH

  • United got off to a dream start. In the sixth minute, a quick combination in the middle between Chris Rolfe and Fabian Espindola released Luis Silva behind the Montreal defense, and he coolly finished low past Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
  • But the Impact pulled even in the 11th. A fantastic Hassoun Camara pass reached Jack McInerney, and with little to no angle, he beautifully placed the ball in the side netting at the far post for the equalizer.
  • The home side then took the lead in the 22nd minute. Starting on the left of United’s penalty area, Romero dribbled all the way to the other side, skipping through a tackle before unleashing a shot that deflected home. But a minute later terms were again level when Espindola placed a low cross from the left and Nick DeLeon timed his run perfectly, stabbing the ball into the goal.
  • United took the lead in the 39th minute. The ball came off Espindola in midfield and fell for Silva, and he hammered a long shot from distance that Perkins got a hand to but could not keep out of the goal.
  • The visitors put the game away in first half stoppage time. Rookie defender Steve Birnbaum was adjudged to have been grabbed by Camara in the box by referee Mark Kadlecik, and Sliva blasted in the resulting penalty kick to complete his hat trick.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with the Columbus Crew at FedEx Field. Andrew Dykstra came in between the posts in place of Bill Hamid, and Perry Kitchen returned from suspension in place of Eddie Johnson.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-1-3-2): Andrew Dykstra - Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Cristian Fernandez - Perry Kitchen - Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Chris Rolfe (Alex Caskey 90) - Fabian Espindola (Conor Doyle 46), Luis Silva (Lewis Neal 66).

TEAM NEWS

  • United have lost just once in their last seven league matches and now lead the Eastern Conference with 25 points – the first time since midway through the 2012 season they have been atop the division.
  • “It’s nice to look at that, and I’m sure for the guys, they’ll be extremely pleased to see their work being rewarded,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “But we’ve all been around this league for a while – these players and our staff. We understand that it’s a long season, and we have to keep continuing to do the things that we’ve done well, and more importantly, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to keep getting better and try to stay here and push the other teams in the Eastern Conference.”
  • Luis Silva scored his first career hat trick and netted his first three goals of the season. They were his first MLS goals since last Aug. 3 – when he also scored vs. Montreal – the last of three consecutive games where he hit the back of the net.
  • Silva was making his second consecutive start in the attacking midfield role, after missing 10 league matches after suffering an ankle injury during the March 29 match vs. Chicago.
  • “I think I had my spot at the beginning of the season, and it was obviously unfortunate that I got hurt,” Silva said. “For me, it was good to get this second start [after returning from injury] and it feels amazing to be able to score and help my teammates get to first place.”
  • Fabian Espindola assisted on the first three United goals, giving him eight assists for the season and moving him into a tie atop the league standings with Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri.
  • But there was an injury blow, as Espindola was injured in a tackle straight from the second-half kickoff and forced out with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, which will sideline him up to 6 weeks.
  • Nick DeLeon netted his first goal of the season, his first goal since last Oct. 12 when he scored vs. Philadelphia.
  • Andrew Dykstra returned between the posts for his first league start since April 19. Dykstra is undefeated in four starts with United this season, now with three wins and a draw.
  • “The second half became more cagey, and [Andrew] Dykstra bails us out there at 4-2 with the big save on the PK,” said Olsen. “But overall, I’m very pleased with the way the group has dealt with the first part of this season.”
  • Following the league match, United’s defense of their US Open Cup title was ended at the first hurdle, falling 1-0 to the Rochester Rhinos of USL PRO on the road in a fourth-round tie.
  • Here’s the United team: Andrew Dykstra; Taylor Kemp, Steve Birnbaum, Nana Attakora, Jalen Robinson (Michael Seaton - 56); Lewis Neal (Bobby Boswell - 61), Jared Jeffrey, Alex Caskey (Chris Rolfe - 76), Colin Martin; Conor Doyle, Kyle Porter

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC won their second game in a row and extended their undefeated run to four matches, defeating the Chicago Fire 3-2 on June 7 at Toyota Park. Sounders FC are in first place in the Western Conference and the MLS overall table with 32 points from 15 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC took the lead in the 31st minute when Obafemi Martins controlled, turned and finished at the near post to convert a deflected cross from Brad Evans. Then just six minutes later Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was shown a straight red card by referee Chris Penso for a dangerous two-footed lunge on Martins inside the box, and Martins sent goalkeeper Sean Johnson the wrong way from the spot, slotting low to the right for a 2-0 lead.
  • The Fire pulled back a goal in the 41st minute through a moment of magic by Harry Shipp, who took possession and weaved his way through the Seattle defense before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed shot past Stefan Frei. Then barely a minute later Sounders FC were reduced in numbers when Martins was shown a straight red card.
  • But it was Sounders FC who added a third when substitute Kenny Cooper headed on a cross from the right wing and Lamar Neagle drove a shot past Johnson in the 78th minute.
  • Shipp set up a tantalizing finish when he drove home a thundering shot from the edge of the box with his right foot for his second goal of the night after being teed up by Quincy Amarikwa with eight minutes remaining, but the Fire could get no closer.
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made one change to the team that rolled to a 4-0 victory against at CenturyLink Field. Jalil Anibaba came into central defense in place of Zach Scott.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Stefan Frei - Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba, Leo Gonzalez - Lamar Neagle (Zach Scott 90), Gonzalo Pineda, Osvaldo Alonso, Marco Pappa (Michael Azira 79) - Chad Barrett (Kenny Cooper 66), Obafemi Martins (ejected 42).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sounders FC won their eighth match in the last 10 league games – consolidating their lead in the Western Conference ñ as they stretched their league unbeaten run in the win at Chicago.
  • “I thought we made the game harder than we needed to make it,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously we are in a good position with a two-goal lead playing a man up, and then we get a man thrown out."
  • Obafemi Martins netted his third and fourth goals over the last four games – before being sent off before the halftime interval, which will put him out of the D.C. United match. Seven of Martins’ eight goals this season have come over the recent 10-game Sounders FC run.
  • Martins is now tied for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot standings – along with teammate Clint Dempsey – three goals before leaders Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York).
  • Lamar Neagle scored his first goal since May 7, netting his fifth goal of the league campaign.
  • “I am pretty happy with the group. We were good. We played a strong game,” said midfielder Marco Pappa. “Red cards and many fouls but at the end of the day we have the three points. We are pretty happy about that.”
  • Following the league match, Sounders FC have reached the quarterfinal stage of the US Open Cup. In the fifth round on June 24, Sounders FC defeated San Jose on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw. Kenny Cooper scored the lone Seattle goal; Marcus Hahnemann saved a penalty in the shootout decider.
  • Here’s the Seattle team: Marcus Hahnemann; Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez; Lamar Neagle, Micheal Azira, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa; Kenny Cooper (Chad Barrett 78), Cam Weaver (Jalil Anibaba 99).
  • In the fourth round, Sounders FC defeated amateur side PSA Elite 5-0. Cooper scored twice, along with goals from Brad Evans, Zach Scott and Sean Okoli.
  • Here’s the Sounders FC side: Marcus Hahnemann, David Estrada, Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez (Lamar Neagle 88'), Sean Okoli, Micheal Azira, Brad Evans (Fabio Pereira 63'), Aaron Kovar, Cam Weaver (Chad Barrett 80'), Kenny Cooper.
  • Marcus Hahnemann has been in goal for both Open Cup matches, after Stefan Frei has been ever-present between the posts in league play.
  • “We told Marcus we were going to give him the Open Cup,” Schmid said. “We expect his experience will be able to help carry us in those games. It’s something I know he’s looking forward to and we’re looking forward to as well. We have two quality goalkeepers, so it’s good for him to get this opportunity.”
  • Sounders FC will now face the Portland Timbers in the quarterfinals on July 9, the first time the rivals have met in the Open Cup since Portland became an MLS squad in 2011.