Soccer

Pontius, Olsen, DeLeon nominated for MLS awards

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Pontius, Olsen, DeLeon nominated for MLS awards

Three of United's finest were listed as finalists today for Major League Soccer's 2012 year-end awards.  DCU head coach Ben Olsen is up for Coach of the Year, captain Chris Pontius is up for Comeback Player of the Year and, as expected, midfielder Nick DeLeon is a finalist for Rookie of the Year.  

DeLeon is the fourth consecutive Rookie of the Year finalist for United, joining teammates Chris Pontius (2009), Andy Najar (2010 winner) and Perry Kitchen (2011). In addition to Najar, United vets Santino Quaranta (2001) and Freddy Adu (2004) also share the honor, each scoring five goals in their rookie seasons to win over voters.

This season, DeLeon notched six goals, which set a new goal-scoring franchise record and has played an integral role in each of United's tallies in the postseason.  DeLeon is up against former college teammate, Austin Berry (Chicago Fire) and Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps FC). 

The 2012 Rookie of the Year will be announced on Nov. 17.  

In only his second full season as head coach of the Black and Red, Ben Olsen has pulled DCU from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings to a second-place finish (17-10-7) and the club's first playoff berth in five years. Olsen's competition for Coach of the Year includes Peter Vermes (Sporting Kansas City) and Frank Yallop (San Jose Earthquakes).

After back to back seasons derailed by injury in 2010 and 2011, Pontius, the club's longest-tenured player, rebounded this year to record his best career season.  Pontius led United with 12 goals and set personal highs in games played (31) minutes (2,339) and shots on goal (29). He became the club's captain in September when Dwayne De Rosario was sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes) and Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC) are also finalists for Comeback Player of the Year.

The Coach of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year awards will be announced on Nov. 27. 

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.