Soccer

United has achieved despite adversity and injury

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United has achieved despite adversity and injury

Eight is more than great. DC United has a very real tradition of excellence, with a jammed trophy case to prove it, but by securing three points in Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium the Black and Red is off to the best start after eight games in club history.

Now with 17 points after eight matches, United is still in first place in the Eastern Conference along with the New England Revolution. United has played one fewer game that the Revs and has the highest points per game average in MLS at 2.13.  The impressive collection of points by United has been achieved despite adversity and injury.

United’s leading scorer in 2014 Fabian Espindola missed the first six games of the season because of suspension related to an incident in the playoffs last year. Luis Silva who combined so well with Espindola in 2014 started the season dealing with hamstring injury. Off season signing Markus Halsti has yet to play because of injury and center back Steve Birnbaum is recovering from an ankle injury.

Through it all United has persevered and is now undefeated in six matches.

Conclusions:

  1. Multiple options. For the second straight game Chris Rolfe partnered with striker Fabian Espindola as a forward. In reality Rolfe was more like an advanced midfielder. Regardless like it did in Vancouver, the combination clicked against the Crew. Rolfe assisted on Espindola’s first goal of the season. Rolfe has now had a goal or an assist in four straight games. As impressive as the Rolfe/Espindola partnership is, head coach Ben Olsen also has Luis Silva as an option off the bench. Silva replaced Rolfe in the second half and he and Espindiola provided some electrifying moments. There is a true chemistry and understanding between Silva and Espindola, but the same can now be said of Rolfe with Espindola. It’s a nice problem to have—finding playing time for everyone.
  2. Rock solid defense. Saturday’s performance against the Crew was a performance by United that reflected the team’s first place standing. United seized their chances and on defense shut down the Crew who entered the match as the highest scoring team in MLS. The Crew did not record a shot on goal until the 50th minute. Kei Kamara, with five goals on the season, barely had a quality touch. Bobby Boswell and Kofi Opare provided the steel at the back, but it was a collective defensive effort.

RELATED: [Espindola goal, assist sparks D.C. United's 2-0 win over Crew]

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.