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MLS Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 (All times Eastern)

Columbus (8-7-4) at D.C. United (10-7-3), 7:30 p.m.

Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) - D.C. United once appeared as virtual lock to finish to in the top-three of the Eastern Conference, but a recent slide, paired with some impressive play from other clubs, has seen the storied MLS side fall from its comfortable perch.

That has turned United's meeting with the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium on Saturday into a real "six-pointer."

D.C. sits just five points ahead of Columbus in the East, but if current form is any indication, that gap could be overturned quickly.

While United has lost two straight by a combined score of 5-0, the Crew have won two straight, one of which included a 1-0 defeat of D.C. at Crew Stadium.

In its last outing, Columbus claimed a shock 2-1 victory at Sporting Kansas City thanks to a brace from Jairo Arrieta in just his third match for the club. That performance was enough to garner Player of the Week honors for the Costa Rican.

New acquisitions usually take time to gel with their new teammates and become acclimated with their new surroundings, but Arrieta revealed that he benefited from training with Columbus and featuring in a reserve match in June before returning home for 10 days to bring his family back to Ohio full-time the last week of the month.

"It helped a lot," he told through an interpreter. "It allowed me to know the league and the speed of play and get to know my teammates and how they play. When I went back to Costa Rica, I focused on the fitness part and come back here and blended in right away."

Columbus attacker Dilly Duka underlined the importance of fixtures against Eastern Conference clubs battling for position in the table, including Saturday's meeting with United.

"Our mentality has been different," Duka told the club's official website. "We're in a situation where we need every point to make it to the post season. [Kansas City and D.C.] have more points than us, so these have been key games to take points away from.

"Two weeks ago, we came out and knew [D.C.] was a good team," the winger continued. "We knew we had to battle from the first minute to the last. We definitely jumped on them early. We were hungry. We needed the three points."

08/03 13:31:02 ET

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