Soccer

DC United tops Pittsburgh in US Open Cup

olsen.png

DC United tops Pittsburgh in US Open Cup

DC United built its roster for success in multiple competitions and wanted to prove it in a fourth round U.S. Open Cup match on the road against the USL Pro Pittsburgh Riverhounds. United will have a chance to continue its Cup journey, but only after surviving for a 3-1 victory in extra time.

After an even second half that included several quality chances for the Riverhounds, United was able to break through just 1:54 into the extra time on a Kofi Opare goal. From the right flank Jared Jeffrey delivered a perfect cross to Opare who skied in the middle of the penalty area and scored on a powerful header.

As the first extra time came to a close Leroy DeLeon gave United some breathing room when he also scored on a header.  With his back to the goal Jairo Arrieta masterfully secured possession and then played a ball across the face of the goal for DeLeon.

DC United wanted to avoid déjà-vu all over again.  A season ago United was pushed out of the U.S. Open Cup in the fourth round with a loss on the road to the USL Pro’s Rochester Rhinos.

MORE UNITED: DC ANNOUNCES NEW STADIUM AGREEMENT

From the opening kick it was clear DC United was committed to try and make quick work of the third division Riverhounds. In the 8th minute Facundo Coria scored on a well taken corner by Jairo Arrieta that was flicked-on at the near post by Luis Silva.

The dream start for United faded in the 23rd minute when Opare, was whistled for a foul in the penalty area on Kevin Kerr. Riverhounds leading scorer Rob Vincent converted the penalty kick. With the score tied the Riverhounds confidence grew and the match could have gone either way in regulation.

Conclusions:

  1. Mission accomplished. The game was in doubt until extra time, but United secured passage to the round of 16 with a lineup that only featured one starter, Jairo Arrieta, from Sunday’s match in Orlando. United started Andrew Dykstra in goal with Jalen Robinson, Kofi Opare, Markus Halsti, and Luke Mishu on defense. Miguel Aguilar, Conor Doyle, Luis Silva and Jared Jeffrey formed the midfield with Luis Silva and Arrieta at forwards. In short United was able to win and manage its roster for Sunday’s match against New England.

2. Growing soccer nation. Major League Soccer understandably grabs most of the American soccer spotlight, but the growth of the professional game in this country has not been limited to the top of the pyramid. The second division North American Soccer League has 11 clubs and is averaging close to 7,000 fans per game. The third division USL Pro has 24 teams that thrive on delivering upsets in the Open Cup.  The Riverhounds offered United stiff competition before a sellout crowd in a soccer-specific stadium. A fan club called the Steel Army added to the atmosphere with its drums and constant chants.

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

audi-field-silhouette.jpg
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.