United-Rapids Preview

Following a season-worst losing streak, the Colorado Rapids are

on the verge of their longest winning streak in two seasons.

D.C. United, meanwhile, are simply searching for their first

road win.

The resurgent Rapids appear to have a decent chance to win three

in a row for the first time since July 29-Aug. 13, 2011 as they

host MLS-worst D.C. United on Sunday night.

Colorado went 0-4-1 across all competitions during a recent

five-game stretch – including three straight league losses – before

handing Eastern Conference-leading Montreal its first home loss

June 29 with a 4-3 victory.

The Rapids (7-7-5) built off that performance in their return

home as Nathan Sturgis and Deshorn Brown provided the goals and

goalkeeper Clint Irwin got his sixth shutout in a 2-0 win over New

York on Thursday.

With regular center back Shane O’Neill moving to the right

flank, Colorado showed signs of improvement defensively by allowing

fewer than two goals for the first time in seven matches across all

competitions.

“There are a bunch of little things that are getting better,”

Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told the team’s official website.

“The young boys are maturing. We expect progression from

there.”

Brown, tied for the team lead with five goals, has stepped up on

the attack of late with three goals in his last four games.

Sturgis may also be coming into his own, scoring four times in

his last eight matches. He had scored once in 82 career MLS

appearances entering this season.

The Rapids, tied for fifth in the West with 26 points, have

totaled six goals in their last two matches after scoring five

during their five-game winless streak in all competitions.

They’ve also outscored D.C. 22-7 while going 9-1-2 in the last

12 home meetings.

United (2-13-3), 0-6-3 on the road in all competitions, haven’t

won away from home since Nov. 8, 2012.

While D.C. advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup with

a 3-1 win over New England on June 26, they remain last in the East

with nine points.

Colorado may be able continue to tighten things up defensively

against United, who have managed a league-worst eight goals and

been shut out 11 times following a 2-0 loss at Seattle on

Wednesday.

United have only one goal in eight road matches and have a

316-minute scoreless streak outside RFK Stadium in league play

since Dwayne DeRosario scored in the 44th minute of a 2-1 loss at

FC Dallas on May 11.

“It’s still the final ball,” midfielder Chris Pontius said.

“It’s all about once we cross it or take a player one-on-one, our

decision making in the final third (is lacking). We do well to get

in positions like that, but we have to be a lot better.”

De Rosario had the go-ahead goal in a 2-0 home win over Colorado

last season, though he may not be available because of a hip

injury.