Following a season-worst losing streak, the Colorado Rapids are on the verge of their longest winning streak in two seasons.
D.C. United, meanwhile, are simply searching for their first road win.
The resurgent Rapids appear to have a decent chance to win three in a row for the first time since July 29-Aug. 13, 2011 as they host MLS-worst D.C. United on Sunday night.
Colorado went 0-4-1 across all competitions during a recent five-game stretch - including three straight league losses - before handing Eastern Conference-leading Montreal its first home loss June 29 with a 4-3 victory.
The Rapids (7-7-5) built off that performance in their return home as Nathan Sturgis and Deshorn Brown provided the goals and goalkeeper Clint Irwin got his sixth shutout in a 2-0 win over New York on Thursday.
With regular center back Shane O’Neill moving to the right flank, Colorado showed signs of improvement defensively by allowing fewer than two goals for the first time in seven matches across all competitions.
“There are a bunch of little things that are getting better,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told the team’s official website. “The young boys are maturing. We expect progression from there.”
Brown, tied for the team lead with five goals, has stepped up on the attack of late with three goals in his last four games.
Sturgis may also be coming into his own, scoring four times in his last eight matches. He had scored once in 82 career MLS appearances entering this season.
The Rapids, tied for fifth in the West with 26 points, have totaled six goals in their last two matches after scoring five during their five-game winless streak in all competitions.
They’ve also outscored D.C. 22-7 while going 9-1-2 in the last 12 home meetings.
United (2-13-3), 0-6-3 on the road in all competitions, haven’t won away from home since Nov. 8, 2012.
While D.C. advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-1 win over New England on June 26, they remain last in the East with nine points.
Colorado may be able continue to tighten things up defensively against United, who have managed a league-worst eight goals and been shut out 11 times following a 2-0 loss at Seattle on Wednesday.
United have only one goal in eight road matches and have a 316-minute scoreless streak outside RFK Stadium in league play since Dwayne DeRosario scored in the 44th minute of a 2-1 loss at FC Dallas on May 11.
“It’s still the final ball,” midfielder Chris Pontius said. “It’s all about once we cross it or take a player one-on-one, our decision making in the final third (is lacking). We do well to get in positions like that, but we have to be a lot better.”
De Rosario had the go-ahead goal in a 2-0 home win over Colorado last season, though he may not be available because of a hip injury.
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