MLS Countdown: Birnbaum back for long road slog

A four-game road trip starts Friday for D.C. United and the return of defender Steve Birnbaum and health of keeper Bill Hamid lend hope of improving the team’s ability to get points away from RFK Stadium, where it is 4-4-1 this season.

United is 1-2-4 on the road so far this season and starts off against Real Salt Lake. It plays at Philadelphia, Columbus and Toronto leading up to the All-Star Game, and next plays at RFK July 31 against Montreal. RSL is bolstered by the return of midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who was a Birnbaum teammate during the Centenario.

“It’s nothing to fear,” said D.C. head coach Ben Olsen to the Washington Post. “It’s more about going after that challenge and seeing if we can’t come out of this month still moving up the table.”

The Post reported that defender Steve Birnbaum, who played two games for the U.S. at the Centenario, suffered a minor hip injury in training but is expected to travel with the team to face RSL. Bobby Boswell served a one-game suspension last weekend, so Olsen paired Kofi Opare in central defense with first-time starter Jalen Robinson in a 2-0 defeat of New England.

United has posted three shutouts with Hamid in the nets. He returned in late May after sitting out more than five months to rehabilitate a knee injury suffered while on duty at a U.S. training camp in January and has made 17 saves in his first four games of 2016.

MLS, Week 17:
Friday, July 1
8:00 pm Chicago vs. San Jose UniMas
10:30 pm Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United UniMas
Saturday, July 2
7:30 pm Toronto FC vs. Seattle
5:30 pm Montreal vs. New England
9 pm Houston vs. Philadelphia
Sunday, July 3
12:00 pm New York City vs. NY Red Bulls ESPN, ESPN Deportes
7:00 pm Sporting KC vs. Columbus FS1, Fox Deportes
MLS Standings:
26 Philadelphia 7-5-5 29/25
24 New York City 6-5-6 27/31
23 NY Red Bulls 7-8-2 28/23
21 Montreal 5-4-6 24/22
20 D.C. United 5-6-5 16/16
20 Orlando City 4-3-8 28/25
19 Toronto FC 5-6-4 17/18
19 New England 4-5-7 21/28
16 Columbus 3-5-7 19/22
11 Chicago 2-7-5 14/20

32 Colorado 9-2-5 19/11
31 FC Dallas 9-5-4 26/24
27 Real Salt Lake 8-5-3 27/26
24 Vancouver 7-7-3 27/29
23 Portland 6-6-5 28/29
23 LA Galaxy 5-3-8 28/18
22 Sporting KC 6-8-4 18/20
22 San Jose 5-4-7 19/19
16 Seattle 5-9-1 13/19
14 Houston 3-8-5 22/25

Leading Scorers:
11 David Villa (New York City)
9 Fanendo Adi (Portland)
9 Bradley Wright-Phillips (NY Red Bulls)
9 Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
8 Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
8 Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC)
7 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
8 Cyle Larin (Orlando City)
7 Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
Kevin Molino (Orlando City)
Pedro Morales (Vancouver)
Chris Pontius (Philadelphia)
Mike Grella (NY Red Bulls)
Yura Movsisyan (Real Salt Lake)   

MLS, Week 18:
Monday, July 4
9 pm FC Dallas vs. Orlando City
9 pm Colorado vs. Portland
10:30 pm LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver
Wednesday, July 6
7:30 pm New England vs. New York City
Friday, July 8
8 pm Orlando City vs. Houston UniMas
10:30 pm San Jose vs. FC Dallas UniMas
Saturday, July 9
3 pm Seattle vs. LA Galaxy ESPN, ESPN Deportes
7 pm Philadelphia vs. D.C. United
7:30 pm Toronto FC vs. Chicago
7:30 pm New England vs. Columbus
10 pm Vancouver vs. Colorado
10 pm Real Salt Lake vs. Montreal
Sunday, July 10
6 pm NY Red Bulls vs. Portland ESPN, ESPN Deportes
8 pm Sporting KC vs. New York City FS1, Fox Deportes

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