D.C. United's Josh Wolff against the Columbus Crew, March 19, 2011.
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DC United hunting for first goal against New York

WASHINGTON – If there’s one thing D.C. United’s young team has learned already this season, it’s the need to start strong. After all, United are 2-0 in games in which they have scored first. They are 0-2-1 when their opponent strikes first.

One of those wins came last week in Toronto, where DC scored twice in the first 10 minutes en route to a 3-0 win at BMO Field. Heading into Thursday night’s match against the New York Red Bulls (8 pm ET, ESPN2/Deportes), United are looking for a similar performance.

“We want to come out again and put our stamp on the game early," veteran striker Josh Wolff said. "Put them under pressure, try to [force] mistakes, shorten the field for ourselves and try to get on the board first. The first goal is critical in these games.”

[inline_node:333420]The Red Bulls boast some of the most dangerous attacking pieces in MLS, such as Thierry Henry, Dwayne De Rosario and Dane Richards. They are also coming off a 3-0 win of their own, at home against San Jose.

Wolff, along with Charlie Davies, who currently leads the league in scoring, will be involved in what is probably the game’s most crucial matchup: the battle between United’s forwards and New York center backs Rafa Márquez and Tim Ream.

Both defenders are very good on the ball and in their defensive positioning, but the speed and energy of Wolff and Davies could present an opportunity.

“You have guys that sometimes take an extra second on the ball where we can get there because we’re quick enough, and they’re not expecting our anticipation,” Davies said. “We have to make sure we take full advantage of that.”