The 2021 MLS season shows no signs of slowing down and next up for New York City FC is a home match against D.C. United.
For this edition of ‘The Away End' we spoke to soccer writer Charles Boehm.
Hi Charles, thanks so much for speaking with us, how long have you been covering D.C. United?
Hi Kris, I'm more nationally focused over the past few years but keep a keen eye on D.C. as I've lived in the DMV area since 2003 and covered DCU as a beat writer from 2004-10.
What’s been your favorite moment covering the team?
In my very first year as a pro soccer journo, I had the good fortune to cover United's run to the 2004 MLS Cup championship. The final at the then-Home Depot Center was memorable, and the epic DC-Revs Eastern Conference Championship at RFK was even more so.
Looking at the 2021 season, our first game was against D.C. United. Now that Hernán Losada has had some time in the job, how do you evaluate his start?
He and his squad have done pretty well considering the absurd injury outbreak at the start, and the change in style and ethos from the previous regime. He's a bold, somewhat brash young manager who has not hesitated to shake things up and speak his mind.
Interestingly, the team had not drawn a single game until midweek when they tied CF Montreal 0-0. Do you think that is a consequence of Losada’s style?
Possibly, although I suspect it's more a case of coincidence. Losada definitely isn't the sort to park the bus and play negatively for a point, though.
As we move into the next phase of the season, what do you think D.C. United need to do to make the next step?
Their chance creation has generally been good; now they need Ola Kamara, Edison Flores (when he returns to health) and the rest of their frontline to finish reliably. And there are real questions about their ability to sustain the breakneck, crash-bang pressing system through the dog days of a sweaty DC summer, especially with a congested schedule.
What strengths should Ronny Deila and his team be wary of heading into the game?
The new DC United are very much a Red Bull-esque experience, perhaps with a tad more tactical versatility. They want to press high, provoke and win duels and profit off turnovers and other transition moments. With quality players like Arriola, Gressel and - increasingly - teenage homegrown Kevin Paredes executing it at a high level, it can wreak havoc on anyone in MLS.
Are there any weaknesses you think NYCFC can exploit?
NYCFC have so much individual quality to bring to bear here, probably a good deal more than DC, pound for pound. Get the main characters like Maxi and Taty clicking and pass through the pressure, and the chances will come. Expose United's back three and force Bill Hamid to stand on his head.
If you were to identify the team’s danger-man, who would that be?
Arriola brings the touch of class in the buildups and deliveries, and Kamara is the matador. Disrupt either or both and your odds improve.
And finally, for any fans thinking of making the trip to Washington D.C. in the future, are there any particular attractions you’d suggest checking out?
The DMV has generally embraced vaccinations and other COVID-19 mitigation methods and is nearly back to normal in terms of openings and socializing. The H Street and U Street corridors are great and the Washington Post's Going Out Guide always has a good rundown of the current happenings from day to day.
Besides the usual DC sights and 'hoods, the SE/SW waterfront areas near Audi Field are increasingly packed with good eating and drinking options, many outdoors, like Rasa, Dacha, TaKorean, Bardo, Atlas Brew Works, and many more. Try Whiskey Charlie or other rooftop settings for panoramic views of the city and beyond.
Next up for New York City FC is a meeting with D.C. United at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, June 27 with kickoff scheduled for 6:00PM ET (YES Network/NYCFC.com/Radio).