WASHINGTON – Lloyd Sam was excited to experience his first victory in United colors as D.C. United defeated the Portland Timbers on Saturday, their first win in almost two months.
But the victory was short-lived, as focus quickly shifted toward their next matchup.
United meet Sam's old team, their bitter rivals the New York Red Bulls, Sunday at RFK Stadium for the first time since Sam’s July 7 trade (3 pm ET; ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada).
Though his teammates say he's been looking forward to this match, the winger maintains that he is more focused on improving his new team than burning his old one.
“I am well aware of next week,” Sam said this week. “I am just excited about the game. More than that, right now [United are] back above the red line. There are bigger fish to fry than the Red Bulls. We just need another three points.”
United currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind the third-place Red Bulls. Sunday’s game has significant playoff implications for both teams, but the mentality remained the same for Sam during this week’s training.
“It is more about how we need the three points,” Sam told media at training on Tuesday. “Closer to the time, it will be weird seeing [former teammates] on the opposite side, but right now we just need to beat whoever is in front of us. It just happens to be New York this week.”
United’s other midseason acquisition, former New York City FC and New England Revolution striker Patrick Mullins, has his own level of familiarity with RBNY, albeit different to that of Sam’s.
“It just seems like I am on teams that only don’t like the Red Bulls,” Mullins said on Tuesday. “It’s nothing new for me.”
Mullins has now played both with and against Sam and is happy to finally have him on his side.
“I am high on Lloyd,” Mullins said. “I am happy we are going to have him against the Red Bulls. I know it is about the three points for us, but I definitely want to get a win for [Sam]. I know it is against his former club and I know what that is like.”