DCMatchPreview

Last time out, the Verde & Black earned a gritty 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC, courtesy of a second goal in as many games from in-form striker Maxi Urruti. Head Coach Josh Wolff’s side will now look to build on the strength of that performance when it visits D.C. United on Saturday, April 16 (6:30 p.m. CT).

Austin FC has never faced United, one of Major League Soccer’s original clubs, but will take heart from its 2-0-0 record against Eastern Conference opponents thus far this season, a pair of matches which saw ATXFC score 10 goals and allow only one.

Austin FC Outlook

With six matches played, Austin FC has amassed 11 points, good for fourth place in the Western Conference and fifth in the overall MLS standings. While the Verde & Black’s opening two wins showed the team’s ability to overwhelm opponents with offensive firepower, Sunday’s victory showcased something equally important - the ability to grind out a result.

ATXFC became the first team this season to hold Minnesota scoreless, limiting the Loons to 0.51 expected goals from three shots on target. Urruti’s fine finish made the difference on the scoreboard, but the game’s unsung hero might have been midfielder Dani Pereira, whose quality on the ball helped Austin maintain control of the match.

Pereira attempted 80 passes, the most of any Austin FC player in a single match so far this season. He completed 69 of those (86 percent), including 34 in the final third. Against D.C. United, another team which is comfortable allowing its opponents to have the majority of possession, the Verde & Black will look to Pereira for a similarly strong performance during their first-ever match in the Eastern time zone.

Urruti could be in line for another solid outing as well. The Argentine has four goals in seven career matches against D.C., and if he were to add to that tally on Saturday, he'd become the first player in Austin FC's short history to score in three consecutive matches.

D.C. United Outlook

United started its campaign with wins over Charlotte FC and FC Cincinnati, but has been on a three-game losing streak since then. It’s a spell that includes two losses at the club’s home ground of Audi Field, and D.C. was held scoreless in both those matches. Nevertheless, United are an aggressive and difficult opponent to beat under Head Coach Hernán Losada. It will also be a well-rested side, having played only one game in the last three weeks.

The team’s spine comprises players with plenty of MLS experience, with goalkeeper Bill Hamid, defender Steve Birnbaum and midfielder Russell Canouse all having been with D.C. for multiple seasons. Up front, Ola Kamara - whose 19 goals last season were joint-most in MLS - and Edison Flores form a dangerous duo.

Two question marks for D.C. ahead of ATXFC's visit are the respective statuses of attackers Michael Estrada, who has two goals in three matches this season but has not played in a month, and Taxi Fountas, a Greek international and Designated Player who signed for United in March and arrived in the nation's capital earlier this week.

Probable D.C. United Lineup

(3-4-2-1, R-L) - GK: Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Steve Birnbaum, Brendan Hines-Ike; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin, Brad Smith; Ola Kamara, Edison Flores; Nigel Robertha