While D.C. United is making some interesting personnel news off the pitch, it's trying to string together some victories on it.
United looks to win consecutive matches for the first time in more than three months Saturday night when they visit the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Reports continue to pop up that D.C. United (10-7-9) is interested in Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil and former Premier League star Daniel Sturridge. While that's something for MLS fans to keep an eye on, the immediate concern for United is to stay in the mix for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
D.C. is currently third in the East, three points back of second-place Atlanta and six off Philadelphia's lead. And while the club should be looking for help with it looking more and more like big names Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta will not return in 2020, it's the present that matters most.
An illness kept Rooney (11 goals) out of Sunday's home match against the Galaxy and Acosta stayed on the bench. However, it did not keep D.C. from winning 2-1. Paul Arriola scored his fifth of the season in the 28th minute and Lucas Rodriguez added the go-ahead score in the 73rd as United rebounded from a rough 5-1 loss to Philadelphia and ended an 0-2-1 rut.
"The effort and commitment from that group was terrific," coach Ben Olsen told United's official website. "It was good a group effort as we've had all year. And sometimes that's enough. Looking forward, to again, putting the best group out there this weekend."
Rooney is likely to be available Saturday as United begins a stretch where it will play four of five on the road. D.C. has won four in a row against Vancouver, but hasn't posted back-to-back victories overall since May 4 and 12.
The Whitecaps (5-12-9) sit last in the Western Conference, but took four points in consecutive road games versus Minnesota and FC Cincinnati before falling 3-1 at Portland last Saturday. Theo Bair's highlight-reel goal equalized for Vancouver in the 38th minute, but it could not keep the host Timbers from scoring twice in the second half.
"(We'll) build on the record of the last three games," coach Marc Dos Santos told the Whitecaps' official website. "We just felt disappointed at Portland because at halftime we were feeling very good about ourselves ... (There are) a lot of good things happening right now and it's good to see the mentality from the guys that when even in a tough spot, the locker room is a locker room that is never going to give up until the end."