Soccer

Early All-Star selections leave D.C. United in the dark

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Early All-Star selections leave D.C. United in the dark

BY SEBASTIAN SALAZAR

When Major League Soccer announced its first thirteen All Star selections Monday night, there were more than a few surprises.

The league’s top two scorers, Kei Kamara and Sebastian Giovinco, were not among those chosen to represent MLS against English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur later this month.  Meanwhile, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard - two guys who have yet to play a minute of competitive action in MLS - each made the list.

The surprises didn’t end there either. No player from first-place D.C. United was chosen.

"Everyone is kind of wondering how we don’t have anybody in that group,” admitted United attacker Chris Rolfe. 

Rolfe, who leads United with six goals this season, may have the best case to be included in the upcoming festivities in Denver - but he’s not the only one.  Perry Kitchen has been a steady presence in the midfield, while becoming more and more of an offensive threat.  Bobby Boswell has been the one steady presence on a backline besieged by injuries. Bill Hamid was only getting better before surgeries to his hand and knee sidelined the 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.

"We all noticed it but no one said anything,” noted defender Steve Birnbaum.  “We’re in first place and we’re going to try and carry the run of games that we had and go into this next stretch.  We don’t really care as long as we keep winning."

“We don’t have any superstars, or anybody that maybe the league wants to promote and that kind of bites us,” Rolfe added.

Despite the perceived slight, there could be a benefit to being left out of the All-Star action.

“We don’t have anybody in the Gold Cup either and that’s great for us,” said Rolfe.  “Other teams have lost a couple guys throughout the summer and now it’s a month where basically we have our full roster.”

The league is set to announce the full 22-man All-Star roster tomorrow.

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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.

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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.