Soccer

Smart-spending United face off against big-money New York

usatsi_7854142.jpg

Smart-spending United face off against big-money New York

D.C. United Midfielder Chris Rolfe is saying aloud what everyone else around Major League Soccer already knows:  

"There are some teams in this league that have more money."

The Black-and-Red aren’t a big-budget club - not by a long shot. According to figures released by the MLS Players Union, D.C. ranks 16th out of the 20 MLS teams in spending this year.  

But with only nine games left in their season, United sit atop the Supporters’ Shield race AND enjoy a comfortable lead in the Eastern Conference standings.

"Our General Manager [Dave Kasper] and coaching staff have done a great job brining in guys that are somewhat affordable and guys that are good in this league," said United's Chris Rolfe, who was acquired for allocation money in a trade last April.  "You can see our team can kind of grind out results like we did in Montreal because we have experience in MLS."

It’s easy to paint D.C. as the have-nots of Major League Soccer.  The team still plays at RFK Stadium, has no marquee superstars and - depending on your perspective and tastes - can at times be accused of ‘winning ugly’. 

The same cannot be said for United’s next opponent.  

If expansion side New York City F.C. aren’t the ‘haves' of MLS - the league has none.  The New York Yankee/Manchester City-backed project is as well-funded as they come.  

Consider this, D.C. United’s total salary for 2015 - for all 27 rostered players - comes out to approximately $4.34 million.  NYCFC spent just under $14 million on David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo alone.  

"It's great for the league that we get these guys, but it's no secret we're not the [team] going out to get them," D.C. defender Taylor Kemp acknowledged.  "I think we take a lot of pride saying we can win without them.  It's fun to kind of play that role."

While United are proving you can indeed win without superstars, New York City are finding that box office draw doesn't equal on-field success.  The first-year squad sit eighth in the Eastern Conference - a full twenty points back of the Black-and-Red.

"A team like [NYCFC], they go in and spend a lot of money on a couple guys that aren’t quite where they were a few years ago - athletically in particular - and that’s going to hurt them," added Rolfe.

"We're happy with the team we've got," said second-year center back Steve Birnbaum.  "We love to play with the guys on our team. We're a blue-collar team and we've got a lot of experience and it shows with our results." 

D.C. United and NYCFC play Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.  Kickoff is scheduled for shortly after 7:00 P.M.

MORE DCU: D.C. United players look ahead to matchup with NYFC

The Washington Spirit are hitting the road to face off against Utah Royals FC on Saturday

The Washington Spirit are hitting the road to face off against Utah Royals FC on Saturday

The Washington Spirit are hitting the road as they prepare to face off against the Utah Royals FC on Saturday at 9 p.m. 

Utah is hosting Washington in their home opener of the season at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. 

The Spirit are coming off of a victory over Sky Blue FC 2-0. The win moving the Spirit to the top of the NWSL rankings. 

It was a big night for the Spirit’s new additions.

During Saturday’s game against Sky Blue FC Spirit rookie defender Sam Staab scored a corner kick during the 59th minute giving the Spirit a 1-0 lead. Washington’s Megan Crosson also scored her first goal two minutes into the second half-stoppage time, sealing the win.

This will be the first game of the season for Utah. Utah finished the 2018 season with a record of 9-7-8, falling two points short of the playoffs. 

New Utah Royals FC midfielder Veronica “Vero" Boquete is expected to be a major contribution to Utah this season. Boquete is a Spanish Women’s National Team veteran midfielder who was captain of Spain’s first-ever World Cup in 2015. Bouquet was named NWSL Best XI after winning league Player of the Week three times. 

The last time the Washington played Utah, Washington lost 0-1. 

MORE SPIRIT NEWS:

Washington Spirit home opener on Saturday

Washington Spirit home opener on Saturday

The Washington Spirit will kick off their first game of the 2019 NWSL season on Saturday, April 13th at 7:00p.m. The Spirit will host the Sky Blue FC at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Washington finished the 2018 season in eighth place with a 2-17-5 record and 35 goals. However, with some new additions to the roster they are expected to make major improvements in the 2019 season.  

During the off-season the Spirit announced former professional soccer player Richie Burke as the new head coach and signed all five of their 2018 NWSL College Draft picks, including first-round picks Jordan DiBiasi, Sam Staab, Tegan McGrady and Dorian Bailey, and second-round pick Bayley Feist. The Spirit also added two new international players in midfielders Amy Harrison and Chloe Logarzo of Australia. 

USWNT trio Andi Sullivan, Mallory Pugh and Rose Lavelle and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe will return to the team. 

In 2018 Bledsoe and Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridanboth led the league in saves with 108, setting a new NWSL record. 

The last time the two teams met they played to a 1-1 draw. Sky Blue FC midfielder Sarah Killion tied the game in the 87th minute after Spirit forward Arielle Ship put the Spirit in the lead during the 71st minute. 

Tickets can be purchased here