MLS: D.C. United looking to build momentum vs. Red Bulls

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D.C. United will aim to build on their best performance of the season Wednesday when they host a New York Red Bulls side trying to prove their Eastern Conference contender credentials.

Christian Benteke scored his second hat trick of the season to lift D.C. (4-3-5, 17 points) to a 3-2 victory at Atlanta United on Saturday night.

Benteke pulled into a three-way tie for the MLS goal-scoring lead with his ninth, 10th and 11th goals of the campaign.

Jared Stroud set up Benteke’s first two goals to reach a new career high with seven assists.

And manager Troy Lesesne was even more pleased that his side finally turned a statistically superior performance into a winning one after yielding only two shots on target. Atlanta scored from the penalty spot and through an own goal.

“I think we’ve been having these kinds of performances for large parts of the first 12 matches, and finally I think we really realized a full 90 minutes,” Lesesne said. “We really limited a talented, well-coached Atlanta team. And then we were really dangerous ourselves.”

The Red Bulls (5-2-5, 20 points) have had less difficulty turning chances into goals this season and snapped a four-match winless run with a 4-2 home win over the struggling New England Revolution on Saturday night.

Lewis Morgan opened the scoring six minutes in with his eighth goal of the season, and three other players found the net in New York’s seventh multi-goal performance of the campaign.

But manager Sandro Schwarz believes the best he’s seen his team play came early in a 6-2 defeat the weekend before to Lionel Messi and Inter Miami, the current Supporters’ Shield leaders.

The Red Bulls were dominant in the opening 45 minutes and entered the break with a 1-0 advantage before Messi and the Herons erupted in the second.

“The best way is to play like the first half in Inter Miami, to be honest,” Schwarz said. “We have to defend very well. I expect a high-intensity game from both teams.”

–Field Level Media

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