Gerhard Struber acknowledged the “big rivalry” his New York Red Bulls have with D.C. United ahead of Saturday’s clash at Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls sit fifth in the Eastern Conference and are just four points off the summit, but have not won in four MLS games. The hosts have also not tasted victory on home soil in a league match since October, but Struber believes his side can build on their U.S. Open Cup win over Charlotte FC on Thursday.

“It’s a big rivalry for the clubs, on games for the two clubs and for us I think it’s huge, with the confidence from the last game,” Struber said. “We have the right result and we are in the quarterfinal of the U.S. Open Cup.

“We showed our identity and in some moments, players in the last few months who were struggling but we could see their big quality recently, it shows me a very good picture. This is helpful for the DC game, with players with high confidence. We have a really good feeling and the mood in the camp is good, this is a special dressing room, a special feeling.”

The Black and Red are three games without a win after a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC, leaving them 11th in the East, and Chad Ashton knows his side needs to improve.

“We have been naive, us not understanding what is dangerous and what’s not dangerous,” Ashton said. “Simple mistakes, we should keep the ball in front of us, we have just been young and naive. We need to do better, it’s tough (because) we put in a lot of work and we have got our rewards.

“It hurts. I hope it hurts all of us but we need to do better.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New York Red Bulls – Lewis Morgan

Scottish striker Morgan has been key for Struber this term, with his five goals topping the Red Bulls’ scoring charts.

D.C. United – Taxi Fountas

Fountas leads the way for the Black and Red this MLS campaign, having scored five times so far to tie Ola Kamara for the team lead.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– This will be the 98th meeting between the Red Bulls and D.C. United, the most played series in MLS history (including playoffs). New York is winless in its last three home matches against D.C. (D2 L1) after winning eight of the previous 10 meetings at Red Bull Arena (W8 D2, incl. playoffs).

– The Red Bulls return home following their first road loss of the season, a 2-0 defeat at Miami on Sunday. New York is winless in six home matches in 2022 (D2 L4) and is looking to avoid becoming the fourth team in MLS history to go winless in its first seven home matches of a season.

– After opening the season with two straight wins, D.C. United has recorded just two victories in its last 10 MLS matches (D2 L6). D.C. kept clean sheets in each of its first two matches, both wins, but has kept just one since, conceding multiple goals in eight of its last 10 matches.

– The Red Bulls have committed an MLS high 17.3 fouls per match this season, while their 36 cautions are tied for fourth most. D.C. United has committed 15.5 fouls per match, second in the league, though they’ve been cautioned just 28 times. Only eight teams have been booked less often.

– D.C. United has used an MLS-high 29 different players this season. Only five of those players have scored a goal, tied for the fewest in MLS in 2022.