D.C. United looks past record, focuses on Toronto FC


D.C. United looks past record, focuses on Toronto FC

Record set, but job is not done.

After Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Chicago, DC United is now sporting a new record with a 20-game home unbeaten run across all competitions. That’s nice, but United is focused on a successful conclusion to its stretch of five games in fourteen days.

The Black and Red is home Saturday to face Toronto FC and despite the congested schedule and injuries to key players is securely in first place in the Eastern Conference with 28 points from 15 matches. United’s success is a credit to the team’s depth and head coach Ben Olsen’s roster management.

On the season United has used 12 different starting lineups. Over the last four matches 18 different players have featured in United’s first eleven including two goalkeepers. Fabian Espindola is now back from a six-game absence because of injury and after playing the final 45 minutes Wednesday showed he is ready to return to the starting lineup.

Toronto FC is the only MLS team to have never qualified for the playoffs even though the Reds joined the league back in 2007. Because of stadium construction Toronto opened with a heavy road schedule and lost four of its first five games, but in its last six league games has four wins, one tie, and only one loss.

The challenge:
1. A complete game: United has developed a bad habit of slow starts. In each of the last four games United has conceded the first goal including twice in the first five minutes of a match. United has not played with a lead since May 9th, but even then it was only for three minutes in a 1-1 tie with Sporting Kansas City. Head coach Ben Olsen mentioned the team’s inconsistency after the win over the Fire: “The tale-of-two-halves stuff is getting old. We’ve gotten away with it the last two games, and you are not always going to get away with it, but we have been.”

2. Dealing with Toronto FC. Toronto will be missing USMNT players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. Bradley is with the United States for its friendlies against Netherlands and Germany. Altidore has had a terrific season with five goals, but is sidelined by a hamstring injury. Sebastian Giovinco has delivered the quality and he will challenge United’s center backs. In addition to Giovinco’s ability to finish, he had two assists in last week’s 3-1 win over San Jose.

[MORE D.C. UNITED Espindola gives United surge in win vs Fire

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.