Soccer

D.C. United looks to turn around road woes in Montreal

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D.C. United looks to turn around road woes in Montreal

The buzz about D.C. United’s 6-4 win over Real Salt Lake last Saturday has lasted all week. It makes sense for a game that delivered cracking goals and even dramatic saves. The buzz is nice, but now the sobering challenge for United is finding success on the road.

United begins a week of road games in Major League Soccer Saturday in Montreal. On Thursday United will play New York City FC for the first time at Yankees Stadium. Heading into MLS’s 23rd week, the Black and Red is in first place in the Eastern Conference and tops the race for the Supporter’s Shield despite serious struggles away from RFK Stadium.

In eleven road matches United has managed only a 2-7-2 record and has not won since a 1-0 result in late June at Chicago. Of particular concern has been United’s offense on the road, which in eleven matches has only generated six goals and been shutout six times. A team’s mentality might be different on the road, but its results should not be the polar opposite from success at home.

The Montreal Impact is starting to make an impact. On Wednesday the team managed a 1-1 tie at home against the New York Red Bulls and is now unbeaten in its last three matches. Because the Impact this past spring advanced to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League, they have only played 20 matches, but still have 28 points and are very much in playoff contention. 

The challenge:

  1. Yes a good start. Don’t stop me if you have heard this before, because you have, but United needs to avoid conceding an early goal against the Impact. In seven matches this season United has given up at least a goal in the first 15 minutes including the recent wins over Philadelphia and Real Salt Lake. There is no other way to say it, but United has to be mentally ready to play.
  2. Build on the Saborio effect. It is not a coincidence that United has scored nine goals in its two games with Saborio in the lineup. Okay I didn’t see six goals coming in one game, but Saborio is occupying opposing defenders and that is opening up space on offense. Of the nine goals scored over the last two games Saborio only has one, but the opportunities are falling for others especially Nick De Leon. After not scoring in a league match for over a year, De Leon has scored in each of the last two games.
  3. Muting the Impact. Montreal is on the rise and the fan base has been further energized by the signing of scoring legend Didier Drogba. In 254 appearances with Chelsea Drogba bagged 104 goals, but has not played since late May. Drogba did take part in the Impact’s full practice on Thursday, but it is not clear if he will be in head coach Frank Klopas’ plans for Saturday. Regardless United will have to deal with the speed up top of forward Dominc Oduro and then craft and vision from midfield of Ignacio Piatti. The Impact will be missing its best defender after Laurent Ciman was issued a red card Wednesday against the Red Bulls 

MORE D.C. UNITED: International soccer star could debut Saturday on CSN

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.