Although D.C. owns the worst record in MLS, the club has turned in an impressive week as it tries to earn its first league road victory Saturday night against the Union.
Hackworth said that “you never know what’s going to happen when D.C. and Philly play” and that cliche may be appropriate this weekend even though United (3-15-4) has a league-worst 13 points and Philadelphia (9-7-7) is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 34.
The Union won 3-2 at D.C. on April 21 before United earned a 3-1 victory June 12 in the U.S. Open Cup - a competition in which the beleaguered club is shining.
D.C. could feel confident about improving upon a 0-7-3 road MLS mark after posting a 2-0 Open Cup victory at Chicago on Wednesday to advance to the final.
There are finally positives emerging during United’s terrible season, including a 3-1 victory over Montreal last Saturday.
“The last two games, we’ve looked like a team,” coach Ben Olsen said. “We’ve been able to understand this is extremely important. Our best shot at a trophy is in the Open Cup.”
United will face Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake in the final.
“It’s actually kind of crazy that the Open Cup final is literally the best team and the worst team in the league standings right now but that shows you how close the gap is between the two,” Hackworth said.
Hackworth has also emphasized to his team that D.C. “has nothing to lose” Saturday. The Union are eager to return to action after last Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to the Fire.
Jack McInerney, fourth in MLS with 10 goals, has now gone six straight league matches without a score.
“He’s a very confident man and knows what he wants in play,” Hackworth said. “He also understands how difficult it is.”
McInerney’s last goal in any game was in the Open Cup loss to D.C.
Dwayne De Rosario had a hat trick in that game for United, and has been the catalyst in the last two games for D.C. He scored the first goal Wednesday.
“His last two games he has played hungry and the guys are feeding off that,” Olsen said. “When Dwayne plays in that manner it is easy to get behind him and follow his lead.”
McInerney scored twice and Conor Casey had the other goal in the April meeting. Perry Kitchen and Lionard Pajoy scored the D.C. goals but Pajoy, a former Philadelphia forward, is out after hernia surgery.
United goalkeeper Bill Hamid will start for the first time since June 29 after being away from the club while he was with the United States national team.
D.C. midfielder Luis Silva, who has scored in three straight MLS matches, will be out if he does not pass a test for a concussion.
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