Deal for Pajoy came just three days before crucial home match
The only thing certain about D.C. United hosting the Philadelphia Union three days after swapping forward Lionard Pajoy and midfielder Danny Cruz is that a strong dose of emotion will be added to what is already a crucial Eastern Conference clash.
Riding a two-game losing streak, the Union (7-12-2) are nearly out of chances to harbor playoff ambitions. D.C. United (11-8-3) has lost three of four, dropping into the East's fifth and final postseason spot after sitting in first at the start of summer.
|Union at D.C. United|
|When » Sunday, 5 p.m.|
|Where » RFK Stadium|
|TV » NBC Sports Network|
"Ultimately the trade wasn't about this weekend necessarily," United coach Ben Olsen said. "It's about us getting better. But I'm sure for the fans on both ends and the media, it adds a little bit of a wrinkle."
Pajoy could see time right away with Maicon Santos injured, Hamdi Salihi having played a midweek game in Europe for the Albanian national team and Long Tan struggling to score.
"It's sad to see Cruz go, but we're trying to get Pajoy integrated into the team as quick as possible," United forward Chris Pontius said.
Olsen also will have Dwayne De Rosario (five goals, 10 assists), who said he's fine after missing last weekend with a shoulder injury. The absence added to United's woes on the road, where it has lost four straight. Pontius scored the lone goal in United's previous meeting with the Union on June 16 at PPL Park, the last of United's three road victories.
"When we lose, we do it to ourselves," United defender Brandon McDonald said. "It's not like teams are scoring unbelievable goals. It's our mistakes positioning wise or giving up the ball with poor quality."
Meanwhile, United has won seven regular-season matches in a row at RFK Stadium, where former teenage star Freddy Adu (three goals, one assist) will play in an MLS game for the first time Sunday since signing with Philadelphia last summer.
"I think Freddy at times this year has been very good for them," Olsen said. "He's obviously a kid that we know and has special qualities on the ball and can produce some great plays."