The visiting Union try for a season-high third consecutive victory while looking to complete a league season sweep of lowly United on Saturday night.
Consecutive 1-0 victories over Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC have helped Philadelphia (12-10-9) bounce back from an 0-3-2 stretch and lay claim to the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining.
The Union appeared headed for a scoreless draw last Saturday until Jose Kleberson’s goal off a free kick in stoppage time gave them a 1-0 victory over Toronto.
“(It was) enough to keep ourselves in the race and to keep ourselves above the red line,” coach John Hackworth said.
Though Philadelphia has three goals in its last seven MLS matches, it is in position to shut out three straight league opponents for the first time since March 31-April 21, 2012.
The Union have outscored league-worst United 5-2 while winning both previous MLS matches this season, but lost 3-1 at D.C. during U.S. Open Cup play June 12.
“All of our games against D.C. are always tough, physical battles,” goalkeeper Zac MacMath told the Union’s official website. “Especially going into RFK, we have to be prepared mentally and physically.”
Though United (3-22-6) have dropped three straight matches during an 0-7-2 skid in league play that dates to a 3-1 victory over Montreal on Aug. 3, there is plenty for the club to play for in the final three matches.
D.C, which lost 3-0 at home to Chicago last Friday three days after beating Real Salt Lake 1-0 to win the U.S. Open Cup, has already set a franchise record for losses in a season. It is still in danger of matching the MLS single-season record of 25 set by the MetroStars in 1999.
If United go winless the rest of the way, they also would break the league mark for fewest victories (four) set by Chivas USA in 2005.
“We don’t want to talk about that too much, but it’s real,” coach Ben Olsen told MLS’ official website. “We don’t want to be that team. That’s part of this equation. … We want to get out of this funk that we’re in, in the league. It’s not a healthy way to continue with all these losses.”
Philadelphia’s Conor Casey has one goal in seven matches since scoring twice in a 2-0 home victory over D.C. on Aug. 10. Three of his 10 goals this season have come against United.
Jack McInerney is tied with Casey for the team lead in goals and has three in the overall season competition versus D.C., but has none in his last 14 MLS matches.
Rosario had a hat trick in the U.S. Open Cup victory over Philadelphia.