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Rooney expected back as D.C. United take on Fire

(Image: Twitter/@dcunited)

Wins have been relatively hard to come by for D.C. United over the past two months, but its current state remains better than that of the struggling Chicago Fire.

As D.C. looks to close out a three-match MLS road stretch in winning form, the Fire try to keep their winless rut from reaching five consecutive games Saturday night in Bridgeview, Ill.

Though D.C. United remains in playoff position in the Eastern Conference, (9-6-8, 35 points), it is amid a 2-3-6 stretch. United’s most recent victory came 4-1 at FC Cincinnati on July 18, but the team lost 2-0 three days later at Atlanta United FC.

D.C. coach Ben Olsen rested star Wayne Rooney (team-high 11 goals) for that match. Rooney, nagged by shoulder and groin injuries, is expected back as United looks to avoid back-to-back league losses for the first time in 2019. D.C. has failed to score in its past two trips to the Chicago area, and is 0-1-3 there since a road victory over the Fire in 2015.

“We’ll be able to get chances if we do it in the right way,” Olsen told D.C. United’s official website. “But, it’s never an easy place to play, just like every other place in this league. It’s tough. It will take everybody to show up and play at a certain level to get something out of it.”

Chicago (5-10-8, 23 points) is 0-3-1 since a 5-1 home rout of Atlanta on July 3. The Fire were blanked 2-0 at Philadelphia last weekend and are 1-6-4 in their past 11 games.

The Fire were without key midfielders Dax McCarty and Nico Gaitan for that match, but both could return Saturday. However, with the team struggling and coach Veljko Paunovic frustrated, it will be interesting to see who makes his starting XI.

“We will (play) the guys we believe are ready and we believe can get us a victory,” Paunovic told the Fire’s official website.

Chicago and D.C. played to a wild 3-3 draw on May 29. Goals by CJ Sapong and Djordje Mihailovic gave the Fire a 2-0 lead within 14 minutes. However, a brace from Ulises Segura leveled the match at just over the hour mark. D.C. went ahead on a Luciano Acosta goal in the 81st, but Francisco Calvo equalized in the second minute of stoppage time.

Sapong has a team-high nine goals.

REUTERS/Field Level Media

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