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SOCCER

Union, D.C. United renew rivalry at RFK

A pair of fierce Eastern Conference rivals clash on Sunday as the Philadelphia Union battle I-95 foes D.C. United at RFK Stadium.

Through six games this season, D.C. United is on the bottom of the East with four points and has not won since a 1-0 decision over Real Salt Lake back on March 9.

Last time out, D.C. United struggled mightily, getting just three shots on target, in a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at home. The Red Bulls dominated play the first time the teams met on March 16, but came away disappointed with a 0-0 draw.

But it took New York just 29 minutes to find the back of net last week as Thierry Henry ripped a well-struck, right-footed shot into the bottom right corner past the outstretch arm of United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

New York made it 2-0 seven minutes later when Jamison Olave redirected a headed pass from Brandon Barklage past Hamid for his third goal of the campaign.

"I would say what ails most teams that go through this type of period, is not being able to score, an attack that's pretty poor, and also lapses of concentration," D.C. head coach Ben Olsen said of his team's struggles. "We had more of the ball tonight. We looked good at times in the midfield and we moved the ball around, but that's because it was 2-0. We have to get back to having teams earn goals. And that's not a knock on the Red Bulls. They were good tonight."

United has scored just two goals this campaign while conceding seven.

"We're easy to play against," Olsen continued. "We're easy to play against from a defensive side and an offensive side. We're not dynamic enough. We're pretty predictable in the way we go about things. That's who we are right now. We have to stay together and dig our way out of it. That's what we need to be focused on right now."

Philadelphia, meanwhile, enters Sunday's clash coming off a frustrating 1-1 home draw against Toronto FC.

The Union fell behind in the 72nd minute against Toronto thanks to a cheeky strike from Robert Earnshaw, but Philadelphia put relentless pressure on the Toronto net after the goal.

The hosts forced TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik to make nine saves in total, but finally got one past him in the second minute of stoppage time to come away with a point.

But it was a game Philadelphia felt it should have won.

"I don't think we played our best today," Union striker Jack McInerney said. "I think we definitely could have played better. That's something we'll have to continue to work on."

Another intriguing aspect to this growing rivalry is the familiarity both teams have with each other.

Union midfielder Danny Cruz joined the club last season in a trade from D.C. United in exchange for forward Lionard Pajoy. Additionally, former Union striker Carlos Ruiz has resurfaced with D.C. United after a sabbatical from Major League Soccer.

In nine all-time meetings, D.C. United holds a slim 4-3-2 edge and went 2-0-1 in three league meetings last season.