D.C. United hope to continue their dominant run as the home team while making an unfamiliar trip to Landover, Maryland.
In their first MLS regular-season game at FedEx Field, United seek their sixth win in seven home games Saturday night when they take on a Columbus Crew team that is expected to be without top scorer Federico Higuain.
Following a season-opening 3-0 home loss to Columbus, United (6-4-3) have taken care of business at RFK Stadium with a 5-0-2 record.
Fabian Espindola scored his team-leading seventh goal – fifth at home – last Saturday as D.C. pulled out a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City. The Argentine forward has scored in three straight matches overall.
United have been particularly solid defensively at home, allowing two goals in their last six games there. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid has posted shutouts in his last two home starts.
Now they’ll try to continue that success in a home match at FedEx Field as part of a Road to Brazil doubleheader event with Spain playing El Salvador in the opener.
Second in the Eastern Conference with 21 points, D.C. hopes to break through with a win in its third matchup of the year with Columbus (4-5-5). After the Crew’s early season road victory, Espindola gave visiting United a first-half lead April 19 before Hector Jimenez scored in the 90th minute for Columbus to force a 1-all draw.
That dropped D.C. to 0-3-1 in the series since beating the Crew 3-2 in 2012 to clinch its last playoff berth.
"We obviously know what they’re about. They obviously know what we’re about," United midfielder Lewis Neal said. "We just need to go out there and put our game into practice."
Higuain, who leads Columbus with six goals and five assists, has been a difficult matchup for D.C. with three goals in the last three meetings. But he’s likely to be out after suffering a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s 1-all draw with visiting Real Salt Lake.
Captain Wil Trapp is also doubtful due to a right knee sprain, and it’s uncertain if Alvaro Rey will be available after he was acquired from Toronto for Dominic Oduro on Friday. The Spanish winger hasn’t scored in seven matches this season.
Ethan Finlay has stepped up for Columbus, scoring three goals in the past four games.
"We’ve played (D.C.) twice already," Crew midfielder Bernardo Anor told the team’s official website. "We know how they play and we just have to keep doing our thing."
Though the Crew are within four points of United in the East, they’ve gone 1-5-5 since winning three straight to open the season. Columbus is 0-3-2 in road games after winning at D.C. and Seattle in their first two.