D.C. United happy to be at home

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer

D.C. United is anxious for a return to the comforting confines of RFK Stadium, where it is unbeaten in a franchise record 17 straight games (12-0-5) and hasn't lost since the season opener on March 10. The only team with a better home record is Houston (13-0-6). But even with a two-goal deficit heading into Sunday's second leg of the Eastern Conference finals, United will take its home advantage over the Dynamo's for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the width of the RFK field.

At 110 yards by 72 yards, it's two yards wider than BBVA Compass Stadium, where the Dynamo employ an MLS-mandated minimum width of 70 yards. An extra three feet -- 330 square yards total -- on either side make a difference.

"Staying out wide, you do have a few more yards of space," United rookie midfielder Nick DeLeon said. "Also when you come in, it leaves [outside backs] Robbie [Russell] or Andy [Najar] with loads of space out there."

Overlapping attacks have played a crucial role in United's success. In contrast, a narrow field limits available channels going forward, and defenders have less ground to cover. Plus, the Dynamo's field was chopped up and didn't match the pristine state of a new stadium.

"The Houston field, I felt like it was a college pitch," United defender Dejan Jakovic said. "I don't know why there was football lines and stuff. We've played some great games at home. The pitch is going to be a lot bigger. There's going to be a lot more room to play."

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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