Waylon Francis, Lloyd Sam - Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United - fight for a ball

D.C. United midfielder Lloyd Sam will face off against his former team for the first time on Sunay, when D.C. hosts the New York Red Bulls in a nationally-televised encounter at RFK Stadium (3 pm ET; ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada).


The match holds big implications in the Eastern Conference standings, as sixth-place United will be looking to shore up their spot above the red line with a win against the third-place Red Bulls. According to D.C.’s Steve Birnbaum, it’ll be about far more than that for Sam, who was acquired by D.C. in an emotional trade from New York on July 7.


“He’s been talking about it for a while,” Birnbaum told ESPN FC’s Over The Ball podcast. "He’s excited to play them. Especially because we’re at home. We should have the fans and RFK rocking. He’s excited and everyone’s excited with the team. We’re ready to go for sure.”


Sam has played four league games since being acquired by United, starting four of the team’s last five matches. He’s recorded two assists during his time in D.C., recording a helper on Birnbaum’s opening goal in United’s 2-0 home win against Portland on Saturday.


The former Leeds United winger initially signed with New York in 2012, recording 20 goals and 22 assists in 106 regular season appearances with the club before being sent to D.C. on July 9.


“Him and Sean Franklin on that right side seem to have a good partnership and chemistry going since the first game,” Birnbaum said. “He’s been great for us. He’s great on the ball and he works defensively also. So a great addition, him and some other guys we picked up.”


Birnbaum also spoke about the continued rumors linking him to Europe, chatting with Over The Ball host Kevin Flynn about how he deals with the transfer talk and the prospect of playing overseas. Listen to those answers, and the rest of Birnbaum’s interview, here