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D.C. United looks to bounce back against Sporting Kansas City

Mar 24, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon (14) cuts inside Columbus Crew SC defender Milton Valenzuela (19) at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United is among five other MLS teams still searching for a win in the fifth week of league play. United’s last win was Sept. 23, 2017 against the San Jose Earthquakes.

“I am not concerned about last year,” coach Ben Olsen said. “Last year is last year. It is a whole new group here. There isn’t that baggage for the new player.”

After falling to the top Eastern Conference team in Columbus last week, United travels to Children’s Mercy Park to face the top Western Conference team on a goal-scoring frenzy. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EST.

“It is going to take each player getting better for this weekend,” Olsen said. “Overall, we are looking to bounce back and get our first win in a tough place to get a win.”

Sporting Kansas City has collectively scored nine goals in four matches this season. On the other side, they have also allowed nine goals. United has allowed nine goals, but has only scored five times.

“There is a little frustration, obviously, but I think we do a good job at reminding ourselves that it is going to be a tough stretch and a mental grind,” defender Nick DeLeon said. “We can’t get too low and we definitely can’t get too high at points. It is all about finding that balance.”

With Audi Field more than three months from opening, United has to continue to learn quickly from mistakes and move on to the next road trip.

“It’s not easy or ideal,” DeLeon said. “It is what it is and there is a light at the end of the tunnel with Audi Field coming. We just have to keep grinding.”

D.C. United hit the road again in match at Sporting Kansas City

Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas

When: Saturday, March 31 at 8:30 pm ET

Watch: NewsChannel8, MLS LIVE

Predicted Starting XI: David Ousted; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Nick DeLeon; Yamil Asad, Chris Durkin, Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola; Darren Mattocks

A welcome end to the international break

Five players, including two previous starters, return to D.C. United this week after representing their respective countries’ national teams. Midfielder Zoltán Stieber, Ulises Segura, forward Dane Kelly, defender Oniel Fisher and midfielder Bruno Miranda all returned this week.

Slowly but surely working back from injury

Defender Taylor Kemp (hernia), midfielder Junior Moreno (hamstring) and Russell Canouse (knee) trained this week, but will not be ready for selection this weekend.

“Slowly but surely they are all working their way back,” Olsen said. “[Canouse] and Moreno are closer than [Kemp]. In the next week or two we should see those guys back in the mix, which will help.”

Kemp and Canouse have yet to play minutes this season. For Canouse, the injury was sudden and disappointing after a preseason US men’s national team camp call up.

“For me personally, it’s very frustrating because I came off a high with the national team, had a good camp, made the roster for the game,” Canouse said. “I felt confident coming off of that.”

The midfielder is less than a month away from returning to eligibility for the game day roster, barring any setbacks.

“I finally feel like I am turning the corner,” Canouse said. “In the coming weeks I will be ready to train with the team. It obviously depends on how the progression goes. It is looking very positive.”

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