Soccer

Previewing the CONCACAF Champions League

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Previewing the CONCACAF Champions League

Here it comes, just as the tension and pressure ratchets up in Major League Soccer, the magical mystery tour that is the CONCACAF Champions League starts for DC United with a road test on Wednesday in Panama against Arabe Unido. 

The Champions League is a benefit of success and in United’s mission statement it mentions winning trophies, but make no mistake the club’s priorities are the Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup. Still the match in Panama will offer opportunity for United to integrate players who for whatever reason have been limited in minutes.

For United this might be the perfect match for Chris Pontius to continue his recovery from injury. Pontius has only logged 22 minutes in two matches for United since May 30 and his leadership qualities will also be needed to deal with the unpredictability of life on the road in the Champions League.

Arabe Unido is the reigning champion in Panama and is currently in first place in the league. This past weekend Arabe Unido enjoyed a 2-1 win on the road against Sporting San Miguelito. The Expreso Azul, as Arbae Unido is known has already started play in the CCL with a 3-0 win over Montego Bay United.

The challenge:

  1. The balancing act.  Results on the road for United have been disappointing recently, including last Thursday’s 3-1 loss to New York City FC, and that only amplifies the importance of Saturday’s home match in MLS play against San Jose.  In the last two matches on the road United has been outshot 42-7. United is not expected to field its first choice starting eleven.  As mentioned Wednesday would be a great opportunity for Pontius and it might provide a platform for Facundo Coria who has only featured in seven matches for a total of 138 minutes.  Coria can help United keep possession and link the midfield to the forward.  We have seen flashes of his quality and he assisted in his debut on the tying goal in the 1-1 draw with New England back in May.  In midfield Markus Halsti’s experience and his ability to keep possession will help United stay organized against a very athletic Arabe Unido side. Look for rookies Luke Mishu and Miguel Aguilar to contribute and both have already proven they can thrive under pressure.
  2. Arabe Unido.  Panama is no longer an afterthought in the CONCACAF region. The United States was cruelly reminded of that fact when it lost to Panama in the third place game at this year’s Gold Cup. As recently as 2011 Arabe Unido made the quarterfinals of the CCL.  In midfield Jose Gonzalez is a player United will have to focus on and forwards Armando Polo and Renan Addles area threat. Also of concern in attack is Abdiel Arroyo who featured for Panama in the Gold Cup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Taste Test: Washington Spirit Aussies serve up Vegemite

Australian Taste Test: Washington Spirit Aussies serve up Vegemite

Washington Spirit Aussies Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison have NBC Sports Washington’s Anna Witte try Australian staples Vegemite and Bundaberg ginger beer.

According to Logarzo, before each game with the Australian National team, all of the players would eat vegemite on toast with poached eggs and avocado. 

Witte rated the Vegemite a four out of ten, her immediate response was that it tastes "Super salty."

"Not awful, but I don't think I would buy it for myself....it's awful."

Both Logarzo and Harrison joined the Spirit this season. Harrison has appeared in ten games for the Australian national team and Logarzo has appeared in 37. 

After two straight wins the Washington Spirit are looking to continue their winning streak this weekend against the Chicago Red Stars.

Washington will face off against Chicago at the SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois on Sunday, March 26 at 6 p.m.

In the NWSL standings, the Red Stars are in first place with a 3-1-2 record and the Spirit are in fourth with a 3-1-1 record. In 2018, Chicago took the series over Washington with two wins and a draw.

Despite missing U.S. National players Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh, the Spirit defeated Portland Thorns FC last weekend 3-1. 

Amy Harrison scored the first goal during the 16th minute followed by Portland scoring on their own goal in the 47th minute to put Washington ahead 2-0. Finally, in the 71st minute, Jordan Diabasi scored an olimpico. 

Spirit Midfielder Jordan DiBiasi won the NWSL Goal of the Week for her goal against the Portland Thorns last weekend. 

Spirit Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe continues to lead the NWSL with 19 saves. 

 

 

 

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.