WASHINGTON — For the third time this season, D.C. United are preparing for a second meeting against a club that dealt them a heavy loss earlier in the year.
Such is the case when United head to Red Bull Arena to take on archrivals New York on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), with memories of New York’s 4-0 romp at RFK Stadium in April still fresh in their players’ minds.
“It’s obviously a revenge game for us,” midfielder Chris Pontius said. “It’s a rivalry game, Eastern Conference opponent and they’re ahead of us in the standings.”
Despite the 4-0 score line this spring — which included two goals and an assist for New York forward Thierry Henry — United still took positives away from the match.
“I thought we put out some very good stuff in that game,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “It was an entertaining game — we turned off four or five plays and every time we turned off, they punished us.”
Coping with the formidable forward duo of Henry and Luke Rodgers was something they failed to do back and April, and it’s something they need to deal with this weekend. Both players scored in New York’s 5-0 romp over Toronto FC on Wednesday.
“When Thierry comes back into midfield and they have time to face you, they’re very, very dangerous,” Olsen said. “I think Rodgers changes them up, he’s a handful, and he’s a big piece of why they’ve been successful this year.”
Still, the fact that New York won so heavily and in such impressive fashion earlier this week doesn’t faze DC.
“It’s good to play a team coming off a win like that,” midfielder Clyde Simms said. “A lot of times they might think they’re a little bit better than they are, a little more confident than they normally would be.”
DC are also inspired by the fact they’ve been playing better since the loss back in April. Thought they’re winless in their last five, they’ve only lost once in that stretch.
“I think we’re a much better team,” Olsen said. “We’re much improved, we understand ourselves and how we approach games better and I think hopefully that’ll be enough to get some points.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.