Altidore scores twice as US routs St. Vincent 6-1


Altidore scores twice as US routs St. Vincent 6-1

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Entering on its first three-game home losing streak since 1997, the United States stumbled at the start of its first qualifier for the 2018 World Cup when St. Vincent and the Grenadines went ahead in the fifth minute.

"You thought it was going to be `Here we go again,'" Jozy Altidore admitted.

Altidore and an evolving U.S. lineup made sure that did not happen.

Altidore scored twice and the Americans rolled to a 6-1 victory Friday night over 129th-ranked St. Vincent.

Bobby Wood tied the score in the 11th, Fabian Johnson put the 33rd-ranked Americans ahead in the 29th and Altidore scored two minutes later. Geoff Cameron and Gyasi Zardes boosted the lead to 5-1 early in the second half, and Altidore added his second goal in the 74th.

"We responded really well and we neutralized them," Altidore said after increasing his total to 31 international goals and moving ahead of Brian McBride into fourth place in the U.S. career scoring list.

Oalex Anderson, a member of the third-division Seattle Sounders 2 who turned 20 on Wednesday, took advantage of defensive confusion by Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin to put the visitors in front. Not exactly that start needed following a month of criticism of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

"We knew that team, actually that player, was a good player," Zardes said. "You know you have to get right back in the game. It's very crucial."

The Americans are unbeaten in 10 straight World Cup qualifying openers (5-0-5) and unbeaten in 28 home qualifiers (26-0-2) since 2001.

"We didn't look past them," said defender Tim Ream, a St. Louis native who started at left back. "But it was good to see our reaction, and really pour it on."

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Ream, Wood, Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin started their first qualifiers.

Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe and New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga made their national team debuts in the 64th. Nagbe, 25, was born in Liberia and became a U.S. citizen in September. Miazga, 20, also was eligible to play for Poland before Friday.

"I always knew I was going hopefully one day play for the U.S.," Miazga said. "It was a great moment. A little bit of nerves, but that's normal."

There was a moment of silence for the victims of attacks in Paris earlier Friday. The game drew a near-sellout crowd of 43,433 with temperatures in the 50s for the national team's first game in St. Louis since 1997.

The road to Russia 2018 will be long -- of the 11 starters in the opening qualifier of the last cycle, only Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey were on the roster in Brazil last year. The top two teams in this semifinal group, which also includes Guatemala, advance to the six-nation regional final round.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan needed to make only one save. Klinsmann said Howard is likely to start Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago, which figures to provide a tougher test.

After St. Vincent went ahead on a move that began with a long ball over the American defense, three of the first four U.S. goals came from restarts. Wood scored his fourth goal this year, his first as a starter, on a 6-yard header following a cross from Yedlin, and Johnson gained the lead with a goal from a free kick. Altidore's first goal came on another set play, with Jones at the near post battling to head Fabian Johnson's corner kick, which went off a defender to the far post. Altidore ran into the net to lose his markers, popped out and had an open header.

Wood set up Cameron's third international goal on a looping header in the 51st minute following a corner kick, Zardes ran in alone to beat goalkeeper Kenyan Desmond in the 58th minute off Altidore's pass, and Altidore scored the final goal with a left-footed shot following Jones' pass.

Jones came off in the 84th after grabbing the back of his left leg, then re-entered and finished the match.

"Hopefully not pulled," Klinsmann said. "We're positive that he's going to be available on Tuesday."

NOTES: Trinidad won 2-1 at Guatemala, getting goals from Khaleem Hyland in the 67th and Kenwyn Jones in the 80th. Carlos Mejia scored for the hosts in the 90th. ... In Group A, Mexico won 3-0 at home against El Salvador on goals by Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera and Carlos Vela, and Canada beat visiting Honduras 1-0 on a 38th-minute goal by Orlando City's Cyle Larin, the MLS Rookie of the Year. ... In Group B, Panama won 2-0 at Jamaica as Armando Cooper and Alberto Quintero scored, and Costa Rica defeated visiting Haiti 1-0 on Cristian Gamboa's 29th-minute goal.

MORE SOCCER: Upon further review: United's season-ending loss to the Red Bulls

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

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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.


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.