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Johnson: D.C. United Impresses But Settles for Draw

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Johnson: D.C. United Impresses But Settles for Draw

Saturday, June 5, 2010, 10:20pm By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comWashington----DC United was able to earn its first shutout of the season and stop Real Salt Lakes five- game winning streak, but failed to earn the full three points in a 0-0 draw before 15,328 fans on a steamy night at RFK Stadium.I am guy who looks at the glass half full, said United head coach Curt Onalfo I am disappointed in not getting the three points. We played well enough and I think everyone in the stadium saw that including their coaching staff who said we should have had three-points.
United had the commitment to match the heat and dictated play from the opening kickoff. Just a little over two minutes in to the match 17-year old midfielder Andy Najar was able to draw three defenders into the middle and play the ball to an open Jordan Graye on the right flank.Graye, who had pushed forward from his right back position, delivered a perfect cross that skimmed across the six-yard boss and was deflected out of play by Real defender Nat Borchers. Grayes cross just needed a United forward to make a run and poke it home. It was a sign of things to come for United. The home team enjoyed the better of the chances and finished with a 5-1 advantage in shots on goal. Midfielder Stephen King delivered two of those United shots on goal and had two others that had potential to settle the match.In the 15th minute King slalomed forward from his holding midfield position and blasted a shot from the top of the box that RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando could only punch away. Najar chest-trapped Rimandos save just out side the box and managed to flick it back up to his chest as he danced forward into the area. Najar then had two RSL defenders on their heels before Borchers finally cleared for a throw-in.Just before half- time Kings work rate paid dividends when he drilled a shot from ten yards out that was saved from Rimando. Kings pressure on RSLs Collen Warner in the defensive third led to a bad pass that set up the opportunity.Warners pass under pressure from King, was intercepted by Chris Pontius at the top of the area. Pontius then poked it to Santino Quaranta who one-touched it to a charging King for the shot.There was every reason to believe United would be able to find a way to win. Uniteds play resembled the friendly win over AC Milan, MLS victory over Chivas USA, and US Open Cup success against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.King and Clyde Simms continued to form a successful duo in the center of the midfield, while Pontius and Najar showed the flair on the flank. On defense, United reacted to the loss of left back Rodney Wallace to a bone bruise in the first half by bringing on Devon McTavish and then switching Graye to the left.In the second half Kings night of what could have been continued. In the 52nd minute Quaranta back-heeled a pass to King 15 yards from goal. King was a little bit too anxious, and instead of using the time to put the ball on his right foot, blasted a left-footed shot wide.Five minutes later it would be more frustration for King. Najar slipped behind the defense on the right flank and then used two cut-back moves to get space in the box. Najar then crossed a ball that pin-balled to King who put a shot from 12-yards over the crossbar.We had some clear chances we should have put away, Onalfo noted. When we missed that second one in the second half, I thought oh no this is one of those games. But our guys persevered and did not let anything bad happen at the other end.Indeed United did notlet the frustration of failing to score a goal lead to a lapse on defense and the conceding of a goal. That pattern played out all too often in Uniteds eight losses this season, but on this night the resolve was there and at least one point.Jamie Moreno, who was not available for game selection, spent the match chanting and beating a drum with the La Barra Brava supporters' group.

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Devante Smith-Pelly named a starter in return to Chicago after ugly racial taunts

Devante Smith-Pelly named a starter in return to Chicago after ugly racial taunts

The top line for the Capitals on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks is Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, but the starting lineup is Ovechkin, Backstrom and Devante Smith-Pelly. Why the change?

It all has to do with the last time the Caps visited Chicago nearly a year ago.

On Feb. 17, 2018, Washington went into the United Center and were obliterated by the Blackhawks 7-1. But that wasn’t the ugliest thing to happen that night.

While sitting in the penalty box, Devante Smith-Pelly faced racial taunts from some Chicago fans who began chanting “basketball, basketball” at him.

In the wake of the incident, Smith-Pelly handled himself about as gracefully as one could. So, in the team’s return to Chicago Sunday, head coach Todd Reirden felt he should be on the ice for the national anthem.

According to Pierre McGuire during the game broadcast, the idea came from Oshie himself, who advocated that Smith-Pelly start in his place.

The starters traditionally stand on the ice for the anthem while the rest of the players stand at the bench.

Smith-Pelly has remained active against racism in the sport. He and teammate John Carlson invited a youth hockey team whose lone African-American player had faced racial taunts during a game to the Caps’ game on Monday.

Sunday’s move by Reirden is a classy tribute to Smith-Pelly who handled an ugly situation about as well as one could. 

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The Wizards refuse to tank, so be skeptical of those Bradley Beal trade rumors

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The Wizards refuse to tank, so be skeptical of those Bradley Beal trade rumors

Apparently Wizards owner Ted Leonsis could have been even more clear when he delivered the edict last week that his team will "never, ever tank."

Despite publicly stating the Wizards would not go through a rebuild, the trade rumors surrounding All-Star guard Bradley Beal have persisted. Bleacher Report created some buzz on Saturday with an extensive look at Beal's trade value and there will likely be many more stories written in the next several weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 7.

What Leonsis said, however, should change how any rumors are viewed. He expressed firmly what team officials have been indicating for weeks, that if they are active at the trade deadline, it won't be with deals involving their main guys.

That means Beal is highly unlikely to be dealt. Otto Porter Jr. can be considered similarly and John Wall should go without saying given his current injury status and hefty trade kicker.

All of that doesn't mean the Wizards won't get calls. There are reasons why people are connecting the dots on Beal and Porter. The Wizards have underperformed this season and they are good, veteran players. That is generally the most basic formula for trade speculation.

Leonsis, though, made it clear that he doesn't want to go through a rebuild anytime soon and trading Beal would signify a reset. If the Wizards want to make the playoffs this season, as Leonsis said, they have a much better shot with Beal in the mix than without him.

So, for the Wizards to trade Beal, that would require a serious change of face and in a short period of time. Or, it would require someone in the organization with a differing opinion to overrule the owner. Neither scenario sounds realistic.

If the goal is to build on what they have rather than tear it down and start over, you could argue they would be crazy to trade Beal. He is 25, an All-Star who is still improving and he's under contract two more years. The roughly $56 million he's owed through 2020-21 is a relative bargain in this era of supermax contracts.

The Wizards can't 100 percent rule out a trade of any player, of course. No front office really can, with rare exceptions like MVPs or all-time greats in their prime. Generally, everyone has a price.

Nothing can be taken as a guarantee in these situations. But Leonsis' comments have made it about as clear as possible that Beal isn't going anywhere. Just keep that in mind when the rumors inevitably crop up in the next few weeks.

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