Union-United Preview

D.C. United were on top of the Eastern Conference two months ago

following a victory at Philadelphia.

Perhaps Thursday’s acquisition of Lionard Pajoy from the Union

for midfielder Danny Cruz will help United move back up the


Pajoy will likely debut for his new team against his old one

Sunday, when D.C. looks to match a franchise record with an eighth

consecutive home win while the Union try to avoid a season

high-tying third straight defeat.

Less than two weeks after losing 2-1 to the Union in a U.S. Open

Cup match, United (11-8-3) won 1-0 at Philadelphia on June 16.

Chris Pontius’ second-half goal ruined John Hackworth’s coaching

debut for the Union (7-12-2), and it gave D.C. a four-point edge

over New York for the conference lead.

“I think we were lucky to get out of there with a 1-0 win,” said

Pontius, United’s leader with 10 goals. “They took it to us most of

the game. This is huge for us.”

It was D.C.’s season-best fourth consecutive victory, but

they’ve since gone 2-4-0 to fall to fifth place in the East.

“It’s not like teams are scoring unbelievable goals, it’s our

mistakes in positioning or giving up the ball,” defender Brandon

McDonald told United’s official website following a 2-1 loss at

East-leading Kansas City last Saturday.

“If we can eliminate those errors, the sky is the limit.”

Pajoy, who was tied with Gabriel Gomez for the Union lead with

five goals, feels United can still be the team to beat in the


“The expectations here are much higher than in Philadelphia,”

said Pajoy, who joins a team that has scored twice in four matches.

“That’s the reason I’m here – to win a title.”

Philadelphia has similar goals, but its immediate concern is

preventing United from winning eight straight at home for the first

time since March 21-May 23, 1998.

“When you have that feeling that we had, the feeling that D.C.

stole three points from us, we want to go and make sure we give

them a taste of their own medicine,” Hackworth told the Union’s

official website. “I’m sure it will make the bulletin board in the

D.C. United locker room.”

There’s already been talk on the D.C. side regarding

Philadelphia’s Freddy Adu playing his first league match at RFK

Stadium since he was traded from United to Real Salt Lake in 2006.

Chosen first overall by D.C. in the 2004 SuperDraft as a

14-year-old, Adu had 11 goals and 18 assists during his time in the

nation’s capital.

“He’s obviously a kid that we know has special qualities on the

ball and produces some great plays,” said D.C. coach Ben Olsen, who

played for United during Adu’s three seasons with the club. “You

make sure you don’t give him a lot of freedom and time to do what

he wants to do.”

D.C. will also have to keep an eye on Gomez (national team duty)

and Jack McInerney (red-card suspension) as they return for the

Union after missing last Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Chicago.

United are 8-0-2 at home since a 1-0 loss to Sporting KC on

March 10.