Soccer

Espindola gives United surge in win vs Fire

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Espindola gives United surge in win vs Fire

Fabian Espindola makes a difference. Back from a six-game suspension because of injury, Espindola played the final 45 minutes and sparked DC United to a 3-1win over the Chicago Fire Wednesday at RFK Stadium.

The win extended the Black and Red’s home unbeaten streak across all competitions to a new franchise record of 20 games. Of note United can claim 16 wins and four ties in its run of success on East Capitol Street.

While United struggled to connect and threaten in the first half, the Fire seized a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute on a finish from David Accam after wonderful combination play from Harry Shipp and Quincy Amerikwa.

United head coach Ben Olsen probably would have waited to insert Espindola into the match, but instead turned to Espindola to start the second half after a tepid opening 45 minutes and the one-goal deficit. Espindola replaced Miguel Aguilar, who started the game on the right flank. Aguilar was active and provided some moments, but United needed something else.

Espindola changed the tone of the game and had two assists. Jairo Arrieta scored two goals and Conor Doyle scored for the first time since August of 2013 to complete the comeback.

Conclusions:
1. The Espindola difference. In some ways it is amazing that United is securely in first place in the Eastern Conference and Fabian Esopindola has only appeared in three matches because of injury and suspension. Clearly United knows how to win without him, but on Wednesday when Espindola teamed with Jairo Arrieta in the second half they immediately put pressure on the Fire’s center backs. Espindola navigated into channels, pressed high, and as a consequence opened up the field for more sustained pressure from United. Espindola’s entrance into the game also pushed Conor Doyle to the midfield where he found more joy and eventually a goal.

2. Dykstra to the rescue. With Bill Hamid resting some nagging ailments, Andrew Dykstra started and impressed. In the first half Dykstra saved a penalty and then in the second half preserved a 2-1 lead when he denied a point blank shot from Quincy Amerikwa with an amazing reaction save.

3. Welcome home Halsti. For United off-season signing Markus Halsti Wednesday marked his home debut in a United uniform. As was the case in his previous two appearances in road matches Halsti provided glue to United’s midfield. Halsti disrupts on defense and provides vision on offense.

4. Team is resilient. United’s strength in numbers is a very real concept. In 15 matches, United has 12 different starting lineups. Of 27 players on United’s roster, twenty four have now appeared in league games. Only Jalen Robinson, Collin Martin (injury) and Michael Seaton (on loan in Sweden) have not played this season.

[RELATED VIDEO: DCU player trolls Chicago after on-field collision

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.