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Scouting the Competition: DC United

We’re here to break down our matchup with DC tomorrow.

Colorado Rapids v DC United Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Boys in Blue return home to Yankee Stadium this Sunday to face Eastern Conference foes DC United at 2PM . NYC FC will want to put their disappointing result against Orlando in past by taking it to a strong DC United squad. Here’s what you need to know.

Last Time We Played

DC United and NYC FC met on the second to last matchday of the year in 2016 with DC pulling out a much-needed 3-1 victory. While NYC FC had taken both of the previous contests handily, DC outplayed and outworked New York all afternoon, scoring three times in 18 minutes through Patrick Mullins, Bobby Boswell, and Rob Vincent to put the game out of reach early. David Villa had NYC FC’s lone goal, a penalty he converted late in the game.

What’s Happened Since

DC punched their ticket to the MLS Playoffs following their win against our boys, having won four straight following the match. Finishing fourth in the table, United drew Montreal in the Wildcard game where the team went down 4-0 before scoring twice in the final minutes to make the result look respectable.

Looking to build off the success United had in the back half of the 2016 campaign, Coach Ben Olsen retained the core of his team and added depth to a roster he believes should make a run at the MLS Cup. The team retained USMNT keeper Bill Hamid and bought dynamic Argentine midfielder Luciano Acosta out of his loan deal. The team signed defender Steve Birnbaum and old buddy Patrick Mullins to extensions, and brought in MLS veterans Sebastian Le Toux and Maxim Tissot.

On opening weekend, DC played to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Sporting Kansas City. United had a penalty attempt saved and two would-be goals cleared off the line.

How They Play

Like he was as a player, Ben Olsen’s teams have cultivated a tough and gritty identity built around stopping their opponents. Olsen’s preferred two-banks-of-four formation is excellent at stymieing scoring opportunities for the opposition, but at times has drawn heat for being too defensive. The team has had issues in the past playing through a focal point in the midfield and creating a fluid attack.

Above all else, Olsen is a result-getter, and while his overall record and his 36% win rate don’t jump off the page, Olsen has done more with less several times in his tenure. This year, the pressure is on Olsen to take DC deeper in the MLS Playoffs.

Player to Watch

Fortunate for New York, DC will be without Luciano Acosta for the match Sunday, so we’ll key in on Acosta’s replacement, 23 year-old Julian Buescher. Buescher is in his second season in MLS, having been drafted 11th overall in the Superdraft. The young German was considered by many to be a box-to-box midfielder, but has been tapped by Olsen to play a more attacking midfield role.

Buescher managed just 3 starts in 2016, but made 18 appearances as subs, scoring 3 times and assisting on 1 goal. Who Scored gave Buescher a 6.48 average match rating in his appearances last season, and the scouting report on Buescher is that he’s an excellent passer with great vision that can be inconsistent at times.

DC Fun Facts

  • DC Played in the inaugural MLS game on April 6th, 1996
  • The match was against the San Jose Clash
  • Bolivian Jamie Moreno is the all-time leading scorer (131)

Predictions from HRB

On a chilly afternoon in Yankee Stadium, NYC FC bounces back from their poor showing against Orlando, scoring trice en route to a 3-1 victory. Villa comes away with a brace and Rodney Wallace gets his first in an NYC shirt.

Here’s what our staff had to say:

“2-2 draw, NYC comes out nervy and the team is still looking to jell” - Raf Noboa y Rivera

“2-1 City” - Charles Dunst

“2-1 NYC FC” - Calvin Daniel

“2-0 NYC, just like our home opener in 2015” - Sam Dunn

“A scrappy 2-1 win, early home games are unpredictable” - Christian Smith

There you have it, HRB is leaning towards an NYC FC win. Have your own take on it? Let us know in the comments section!