WASHINGTON — Life on the road has been a pleasant surprise for D.C. United this year as the club has already picked up 12 points in nine games away from RFK. They’ll look to keep that trend going this weekend when they travel to the Bay Area to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday (10:30 pm EST; watch LIVE online).
“Every time you go over to the West Coast, it’s always a tough battle, let alone San Jose,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s a small field, always a physical game. Just like every other away game, we need to make sure we’re very sharp defensively, and ready for a real battle.”
Along with being a critical road battle, it’ll also mark the return to San Jose for United defender Brandon McDonald. The 25-year-old spent his entire MLS career on the opposite side of the country, including the last three years with the Earthquakes, before moving to DC in late June.
“It’ll be fun,” McDonald said. “Good to see my old friends, old teammates, chat it up, see how everything is going. It’ll be fun to get back there and see everybody.”
The game will also be a chance to grab some revenge against the Earthquakes, who beat United 4-2 at RFK Stadium in mid-June.
With McDonald on board, the defense has been shored up, conceding only one goal in the last three games. The back line must now look to shutdown reigning Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski. The Quakes' pesky targetman Steven Lenhart, who scored a hat trick against DC when the two team’s last met, might miss out because of injury.
Another big challenge for DC will be handling the smaller confines presented by Buck Shaw Stadium’s field.
“We never really build our teams to be a route one, smash-mouth team that can go in those places and always succeed,” Olsen said. “Saying that, we’ve been able to adapt a little bit better this year, so hopefully we’ll have the right mentality going in there.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.
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