Washington, D.C. – D.C. United and Real Salt Lake opened their respective 2013 seasons last week on the road with very different results.
United came away from BBVA Compass Stadium with a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo, a score that could have been inflated further had it not been for the superb play of Bill Hamid in net.
Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, held little possession and created few scoring chances but still managed a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The two sides will meet at RFK Stadium on Saturday, and in the absence of the suspended Dwayne De Rosario, United will be looking to get second-year standout Nick DeLeon involved more.
"I'm a guy that likes to get a lot of touches on the ball, so when I don't do it, it's hard to stay interjected in the game," said De Leon. "I felt like I could have gotten on the ball. Personally, for me, I will be looking to do that more here Saturday at RFK."
DeLeon, Lionard Pajoy and Chris Pontius will be hopeful of breaking down a Real Salt Lake defense that kept a clean sheet against the Earthquakes, who produced a league-high 72 goals last term.
Salt Lake has retooled its back line during the offseason, overcoming Jamison Olave's departure with the additions of Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson- Siriboe.
"I am really, really proud of my guys effort," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "My main focus was really if we could out compete a team that is known to be one of the best competitors in the league. I thought our guys found ways to weather some storms because San Jose is very dangerous for 10-15 minute periods and will always be dangerous with players like [Chris] Wondolowski."
On the offensive side of the ball, the Claret and Cobalt rode Alvaro Saborio's brace to all three points in San Jose, but it was the play of Robbie Findley and Joao Plata, two new additions to the team, that earned rave reviews.
"We didn't have that speedy guy up top to relieve pressure and we don't miss a beat with him," Nick Rimando said of Findley. "He's back and knows the system and, being able to hit the ball without even looking up front and know he's going to chase it down and get us that offensive threat up top, it feels good."
Plata entered the match as a substitute with 25 minutes to go and picked up right where Findley left off.
"[Plata] came on the field and made a terrific pass for Sabo to score the goal," Kreis said. "In that essence, he did unlock things for us and I think contributed in some defensive ways as well. [I'm] really pleased with his addition and we need to continue to develop him going forward."