Soccer

5 D.C. United players who have a case for USMNT

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5 D.C. United players who have a case for USMNT

D.C. United have occupied first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference since last summer. The Black-and-Red haven’t been dominant, but they’ve been really good for a really long time.  

And yet as the U.S. Men’s National Team congregates in Washington D.C. this week for a friendly against Peru, United won’t be represented on the American roster. It’s not as big a snub as the absence of D.C. players at the MLS All-Star Game this summer, but there’s certainly a national team case to be made for a few of Ben Olsen’s key contributors.

Bill Hamid

At some point you ask what more Hamid must do to break back into the national team. Minor injuries have been largely responsible for his lack of U.S. run since late last year, but Hamid's performance in MLS has more than earned him a spot among America’s top three goalies. Hamid’s resume doesn’t match Brad Guzan or Tim Howard's, but the 24-year-old is far more accomplished than Sean Johnson or William Yarborough - the presumed third goalies for this camp.

RELATED: U.S. Soccer releases roster for game at RFK

Perry Kitchen

After a career-season in 2014, Kitchen broke into the national team picture with a pair of appearances earlier this year. His central midfield position is a crowded one, but time is certainly on the 23-year-old’s side. Critics knock the lack of offense in Kitchen’s game (three goals and one assist in 28 appearances this season for United), but that’s not really his priority.  

Steve Birnbaum

The second-year pro has battled some injuries this season, but he’s been solid when healthy. Birnbaum, who made his national team debut against Chile in January, is as aggressive in the air as you’ll find in MLS - and can be a real threat in the opponent’s penalty area. Central defense has been a disaster zone for the United States since last summer’s World Cup, so the 24-year-old is in a prime spot to earn more opportunities.

Taylor Kemp

There may be aspects of his game that aren’t yet ready for international play, but Kemp delivers some of the best left-footed service in all of MLS. In fact, Columbus’ Waylon Francis is the only MLS defender with more assists this season than Kemp’s five. Outside back isn’t exactly the most-settled position on the U.S. roster either - evidenced by DaMarcus Beasley’s continual retirement/unretirement - so the University of Maryland product my not have to leapfrog many others end up in Jurgen Klinsmann's plans.

Chris Rolfe

Yes - Rolfe has had a shot at the national team, but the 32-year-old is arguably having the best season of a very-distinguished career. He’s already tied a personal-best in goals (9) with six matches still to play. Rolfe also provides something that doesn’t grow on trees in American soccer: Explosive playmaking ability. He can set up those around him, beat defenders one-on-one, and hit one of the best distance shots in Major League Soccer.

MORE D.C. UNITED: Red Bulls beat D.C. United 3-0, pull within two points of first

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

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USA Today Sports Images

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

The Washington Spirit, one of nine teams in the National Women's Soccer League, will pay a visit to Audi Field later this summer.

The game versus the Portland Thorns FC is scheduled for August 25 at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster and start at $31, but will also be available at the door. 

If you're looking for where to watch the Spirit take on the Thorns from the comfort of your own couch, the game will be broadcast on ESPNews starting at 7:38 pm. Dalen Cuff is set to host the pregame show, with USA Women's National Team alumnus Aly Wagner commentating alongside Jenn Hildreth, in her second season of NWSL coverage.

Considering the recent addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney and their move to the new facility, DC United has a lot to celebrate.

Audi Field, which opened in Washington D.C.'s Buzzard Point on July 9, seats 20,000 spectators. For DC United, who previously played at RFK Stadium, the capacity is a step down from the almost 46,000 seats at RFK. But for the Spirit, who call Germantown's Maryland Soccerplex their home, the audience will hopefully far outnumber the Plex's usual 3,000 to 4,000 spectators.

The Spirit have struggled this season, with an unusually high amound of draws and more losses than wins. Though fan favorite and star forward Mallory Pugh is still sidelined with a PCL sprain, the team hopes to improve their ability to close one-goal deficits and gain a sustained offensive advantage. 

Aside from the Audi Field game, the Spirit will host two more home games this season. Utah Royals FC will visit the Soccerplex on Wednesday, August 22, and Sky Blue FC will close out the Spirit's home season on Saturday, September 1. Tickets for either game at their usual field can be purchased through the Washington Spirit's website or upon entry. 

If you haven't paid attention to women's soccer since the USWNT's 2015 World Cup victory, no worries. There's no better time than the present to support women's pro sports. Regardless of the end result, Portland vs. Washington will be a great match-up to watch, and the event has already made DC sports history.

MORE DC SPORTS NEWS:

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Washington Dulles International Airport was flooded by soccer fans alike Thursday afternoon awaiting the arrival of one specific person inside the international arrivals terminal: England's all-time goalscorer Wayne Rooney. 

Over 100 fans packed the halls as the 32-year-old made his way out of the airport while posing for pictures and signing autographs. 

Rooney penned a two-and-a-half year guaranteed contract worth about $13 million, which makes him the highest-paid player in D.C. United history. 

He officially becomes available to play for the club beginning July 10, after the transfer window opens. This means his first game could potentially be against Vancouver inside the brand new Audi Field July 10. 

After greeting fans at the airport, Rooney and his camp piled into two blacks SUVs en route to Northeast D.C. 

Little did World Cup fans taking in the England-Belgium match at Wunder Garten know that they were about to be surprised by Wayne Rooney himself. 

In an appearance that lasted just over seven minutes and included a slew of selfies, short conversations and one television interview, Rooney's presence dazzled fans and left others stunned. 

One England native who is now a D.C. resident told me: "We grew up watching him (Rooney) score in the World Cup and that was really important to us. It's hard to believe he just walked through here."

As you would imagine, management at Wunder Garten was thrilled, too.  

"It was great for us because it put us on the map. For someone as famous as Wayne Rooney to come through our establishment, shake hands and hang out, that means a lot. We loved having him here and would love to have him back," said Michael Keller, a member of the bar's management staff. 

 The Englishman will have his hands full as he attempts to put D.C. United back on the map this season. 

Follow Rooney on Twitter and Instagram @WayneRooney.