Defense has been the calling card for both Real Salt Lake and D.C. United early in this new season, and both clubs will be looking to stay solid when RSL visit D.C. on Saturday.
D.C. United are the only team in MLS yet to surrender a goal this season, after posting clean sheets in each of the first two games — a 2-0 win over Atlanta United in the opening match, and then a 0-0 draw at New York City FC last Sunday.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid credited “a good chemistry about us” within D.C. United’s back line, and took particular satisfaction in keeping the clean sheet in a tough road environment in New York.
“For us to keep a shutout against a team like this, I think it shows our ability in the back,” Hamid said. “We have to keep it going, we have to continue this very, very complete defensive performance that we’re putting together.”
Salt Lake allowed just a single on-target shot in its season opening match against the Houston Dynamo, though it was a costly one, as Houston converted that lone chance to record a 1-1 result.
Against Vancouver last Saturday, however, RSL tightened things up for a 1-0 victory, with goalkeeper Nick Rimando making three saves.
“I thought in the first half, all-around complete control of the game from us,” Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke said of the Vancouver game. “Defensively we were extremely sound. … From a defensive standpoint, it was a good performance.”
Real Salt Lake now face another big challenge in traveling to what has quickly become one of Major League Soccer’s toughest venues. D.C. United have a 13-2-1 record in regular-season MLS play since Audi Field opened on July 14.
That dominance at home has helped fuel D.C. United’s unbeaten record (8-0-4) over its last 12 MLS regular-season games, dating back to last year.
Striker Joao Plata missed RSL’s last game with an ankle injury, and is questionable for Saturday.
–Field Level Media