Soccer

D.C. United wants to be more than opening act

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D.C. United wants to be more than opening act

It doesnt matter that perhaps more than any other MLS franchise D.C. United can appreciate the hard work needed to secure a new stadium. Uniteds goal is to spoil to party and grab three points Saturday in Houston against the Dynamo in the first-ever game at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Its brilliant for the team in orange that it joins now a long list of American professional soccer teams with their own stadium. By all accounts from its location downtown to its layout on the inside, 22,000- seat BBVA Compass Stadium is destined to be a winner. The fanfare surrounding its opening will only add to Uniteds challenge.

In six trips to Houston the Black and Red have never won. Over the years players have changed for the Dynamo, but the head coach Dominic Kinnear has maintained a remarkable consistency. It is a team that won MLS Cups with Dwayne De Rosario and was still competing for one last November without him.

De Rosario is now the central figure both in position and in leadership for United. De Rosario scored 16 goals to win Golden Boot and MVP last year and helped put United back in the conversation for playoffs. With a league-leading 7 assists, De Rosario has helped United to within three points of first place Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference.

Winning against former teams has become something of a specialty for De Rosario. That trend was interrupted ten days ago in a 5-3 loss to the Earthquakes against San Jose. It then made Uniteds response against Toronto FC, another former De Rosario club, even more impressive.

United blanked Toronto FC 2-0.

We were not happy with the five goals we gave up in San Jose and even the two we gave up against Houston the game before that, said Uniteds Chris Pontius. We went in there with a mindset that we were going to get a shutout no matter what and then we would let the offense take care of itself.

Pontius was right. He opened the scoring against Toronto with a left-footed rocket in the 55th minute. Pontius goal broke a scoreless tie against a desperate winless team. With a midweek game and a nightmarish travel experience getting from San Jose to Toronto, this was a trap game for United. They survived and did so with a make shift back line.

Defense will again be a focal point for United. Central defenders Dejan Jakovic and Emiliano Dudar are making progress in their recovery from injuries, but are not expected to be involved on Saturday. Robbie Russell is expected back from a one-game absence because of a hamstring injury and he could slot in the middle next to Brandon McDonald.

With Russells return, Daniel Woolard could switch back from central defense to outside back on the left. Andy Najar might again be the first choice option at right back. That would allow former Dynamo player Danny Cruz to remain in the starting eleven in midfield where he has been for seven of the last eight games.

Najar has excelled in his brief time in the position, although it has now been revealed he played right back for D.C Uniteds academy team. In fact, Najar never actually played his current position until he joined Uniteds senior team. Najars ability to defend and yet go forward adds to an attack that is gaining in confidence and goals.

D.C. United comes into Saturdays game having scored 20 goals through 11 games. With one more tally, the club will match its 2010 goal total, when the team scored 21 goals in 30 games. At the moment, the Black-and-Red are on pace to beat the 2011 mark of 49 goals in 34 games and it all seems to start with leading scorer Maicon Santos.

First and foremost Maicon is giving us a real presence that certainly we lacked last year and the first couple of games this year, said veteran forward Josh Wolff. He has given us a point of reference to play off of and hold balls. Whether it is Pontius or Hamdi (Salihi) with him, it allows those guys to get turned and face goal a bit more. It is big part of the reason we are having success

Head coach Ben Olsen does have options among the front five in Uniteds attack. Rookie Nick De Leon was given a break against Toronto FC, but he has proven himself to be more than capable at left flank. Pontius can play up top or on the flank and now Salihi looks confident after netting two goals in only 50 minutes of playing time last week.

Were starting to see what he (Salihi) is all about, Olsen said. He doesnt need many opportunities to score goals. Forwards are streaky and they go through runs. Theyre human; they go through confidence issues. He wants more. He wants to play more, and I dont blame him.

Though United scored three goals in their victory over the Dynamo two weeks ago at R.F.K. Stadium, chances are likely to limited. The Dynamo is a disciplined team that has survived playing its first seven games on the road while BBVA Compass Stadium was completed and sill managed 8 points and a record of 2-3-2.

The Dynamo lost on Wednesday 1-0 to the Red Bulls. Midfielder Brad Davis is back from a calf strain injury that reduced to a substitutes role in the 3-2, loss to United. Operating from the left flank Davis is still the trigger point for the Dynamo offense and he is particularly dangerous on set pieces.

Washington Spirit and Australian national players try American treats for first time

Washington Spirit and Australian national players try American treats for first time

Washington Spirit and Australian national players Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison sat down with NBC Sports Washington to taste test a few American favorites and rate the treats. For the first time ever, Aussies Logarzo and Harrison each tried a Twinkie and took a sip of Coke.  

For Harrison, the initial comment after taking a bite was disgust, "Ew."  

However, Logarzo gave the twinkie a 10 out of 10, "if I was seven years old." 

Both players enjoyed the Coke and had tasted it before. 

The Washington Spirit are returning home to their stomping grounds to host Portland Thorns FC at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 17.

Both the Spirit and Thorns are coming off wins from last weekend, with the Spirit defeating Sky Blue FC 3-2 and the Thorns beating the Orlando Pride 3-1. This weekend is a chance for both teams to move up in the NWSL standings. The Spirit currently sits in 6th place (2-1-1), just one spot behind the Thorns in 5th place (2-0-2).

If the Spirit secure a win against the Thorns they could move up as high as second place in the NWSL table, their highest ranking since 2016.

Both the Spirit and the Thorns will be missing a few contributors to their rosters who are currently preparing with the U.S. Women’s National team for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Spirit forward Mallory Pugh and midfielder Rose Lavelle will be absent and Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, midfielders Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan, forward Christine Sinclair and defender Emily Sonnett will be absent as well.

This has been a big week for the Spirit. Both defender Cheyna Matthews and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe received accolades for their contributions in the league.

During the 22nd and 68th minutes of last weeks game against Sky Blue FC, Matthews scored to put Washington ahead. Matthews was nominated for the NWSL’s week five Goal of the Week.

In addition, Bledsoe was named the Westfield W-League’s goalkeeper of the year after helping Sydney FC claim the 2019 W-League title. Bledsoe is only the third American goalkeeper to receive this award.

Spirit vs. Thorns FC takes place at the Maryland SoccerPlex, on the team's first annual Armed Forces Night. The Spirit will show appreciation to veterans and active duty service members at halftime and provide discounted priced tickets to the game.

Crystal Palace vs. AFC Bournemouth Premier League Championship Sunday: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Associated Press Images

Crystal Palace vs. AFC Bournemouth Premier League Championship Sunday: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

After successfully avoiding relegation from the Premier League once again, Crystal Palace and AFC Bournemouth square off on Championship Sunday at Selhurst Park on  NBC Sports Washington. 

Both clubs are heading into the final day with some momentum, Crystal Palace winning two of their last three matches and Bournemouth coming off a 1-0 victory over Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday. 

While both clubs have secured safety, Crystal Palace will be looking to avenge a 2-1 loss in October, when a late Junior Stanislas penalty gave Bournemouth all three points. 

Want to watch Crystal Palace vs. AFC Bournemouth on NBC Sports Washington? Here are all the details:

Crystal Palace vs. AFC Bournemouth How to Watch

What: Crystal Palace vs. AFC Bournemouth, English Premier League Matchday 38

Where: Selhurst Park, London, UK

When: 10:00 a.m. ET Sunday, May 12

TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington

Stream: NBCSports.com/Live or the NBC Sports app. 

Crystal Palace vs. AFC Bournemouth Preview

Record: Crystal Palace (13-7-17, 46 points), AFC Bournemouth (13-6-18, 45 points)

Last Game: 3-2 win at Cardiff City, 5/4 (Crystal Palace), 1-0 win vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 5/4 (AFC Bournemouth) 

Last Head-to-Head Matchup: AFC Bournemouth 2-1 win on 10/1/2018

Top Scorers: Luka Milivojevic, 12 goals (Crystal Palace), Callum Wilson, 14 goals (AFC Bournemouth)