New on Sports Illustrated: D.C. United-Union Preview

August 29, 2020 at 06:12AM

Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin likes all types of victories, but he especially enjoys those of the 1-0 variety. His team looks to deliver another such performance Saturday night when they host D.C. United.

The Union (3-1-3) are unbeaten in their last six regular-season matches and carry a 200-minute shutout streak into this contest after fending off the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Wednesday night. Kacper Przybylko accounted for the lone goal on 31 minutes, while Andre Blake notched his fourth shutout in all competitions and second straight by making three saves.

Of Philaldelphia's five overall wins, three have come by a 1-0 scoreline.

"I think it's clear I like 1-0 wins because that means we were organized, tough to play through," Curtin said. "We got our goal, defended well as a team. Another clean sheet for Andre [Blake], but our team shares in it. When our team is cohesive and together, we're very difficult to break down. It's a group now that has confidence no matter who is on the field."

In the eight matches since resuming play when including the MLS Is Back tournament, Philadelphia has conceded just five goals and gone 5-1-2 in that stretch. Blake, the No. 1 for Jamaica, has already exceeded his shutout total for all of 2019 when he had only three clean sheets in 28 starts.

Blake did not record a clean sheet in either regular-season matchup with D.C. United last year, but it did not matter because the Union racked up eight goals in the two victories as they extended their winning streak in league meetings to six. The Union also have reeled off six straight regular-season home wins over the Black-and-Red by a combined 12-3 scoreline.

Three goals in any single contest would qualify as an offensive outburst for Ben Olsen's team, which enters the contest with seven in as many league matches. D.C. (1-3-3) did end a 270-minute goalless drought Tuesday versus New England through Ola Kamara' penalty on 72 minutes, but it was not enough to prevent a 2-1 loss to the Revolution.

"From a soccer side, from a tactical side, from an identifying-who-we-are standpoint, that's getting better," Olsen said. "Every game it's getting better, but what needs to be enhanced right now is our ability to win."

United have struggled to find any sort of finishing in the final third, with supersub Federico Higuain accounting for their only two goals in the run of play through 630 minutes. Two have come via penalty and three via set piece as the Black-and-Red struggle without top playmaker and U.S. international Paul Arriola.

To compound matters further, midfielder Edison Flores is expected to be sidelined at least a month after undergoing surgery to repair multiple facial fractures suffered in a collision in Tuesday's defeat. Fellow midfielder Russell Canouse will also miss out due to a leg injury, and defender Frederic Brillant is a match-time decision due to an undisclosed injury.

Przybylko scored goals in both wins over D.C. United last year and had two assists in the 3-1 victory in Philadelphia.

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