Soccer

Espindola's return leads United past Whitecaps

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Espindola's return leads United past Whitecaps

It made sense. Fabian Espindola returned to the DC United lineup from a six-game MLS suspension and the Black and Red crafted a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC that reflected his qualities.

With a mixture of resilience, skill, and determination United earned its first ever victory in Vancouver. Down 1-0 after just 70 seconds, United responded with a goal on header from Bobby Boswell in the 9th minute and a rocket from Chris Rolfe at the top of the penalty area in the 64th minute to secure the three points.

Already missing first choice goalkeeper Bill Hamid to a thigh contusion, United lost Andrew Dykstra in the second half to an apparent ankle injury.  Travis Worra played the final 32 minutes in goal, made one save, and organized a defense that was under siege from a Whitecaps team desperate to claim at least a point form the home match.

Conclusions

1.  Fabian Espindola doesn’t have to score to have an impact. Espindola’s presence on the field preoccupied the Whitecaps defense and opened up spaces for other players in United’s attack. Several times Espindola forced turnovers and unsettled situations that turned into goal scoring opportunities. In addition Espindola’s committed play forced Matias Laba into two first half yellow cards and reduced Vancouver to ten men for the final 48 minutes.

2. Chris Rolfe continues to impress. It could be argued that Rolfe has been United’s most consistently dangerous attacking player all season. On Saturday Rolfe’s game winner was a result of invention perseverance. Rolfe skillfully played a through ball to Chris Pontius at the top of the penalty area, but it was tackled away by the Whitecaps defender Steve Beitashour. Rolfe stayed with the play and blasted the loose ball home for his second goal in as many weeks. Rolfe can play wide and against the Whitecaps he was asked to play below Espindola in the middle.  It doesn’t matter where Rolfe plays, he makes a difference.

3. United has options in midfield. With Davy Arnaud sidelined by a groin injury Michael Farfan slotted in the center of the midfield next to Perry Kitchen. Farfan, who has started games on the flank, looked more than comfortable in the middle of the park. In addition to assisting on the first goal and providing probing passes, Farfan was also effective in disrupting Whitecaps counterattacks.

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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.