Soccer

United look to impose its will on Crew

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United look to impose its will on Crew

DC United is very much, well united. Heading into Saturday’s home match again the Columbus Crew (Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on CSN), the Black and Red has had many observers scratching their heads. The team doesn’t score much, often doesn’t dominate games, but is sitting on top of the Eastern Conference.

Through seven games United has collected 14 points or two points per game which is the highest average in Major League Soccer. The impressive point total was gathered even while leading scorer Fabian Espindola served a six-game suspension. Espindola’s suspension in part might explain the light goal total with only eight tallies from seven matches.

Espindola was back this past Saturday and, while he didn’t score, he energized, created, and overall brightened United’s attack. In the 2-1 win over the Vancouver, it is no coincidence for only the second time this season United scored two goals with Espindola back occupying opposing defenders.

There are no off nights in MLS. Since a 1-0 win over expansion Orlando City, United has had to deal with the New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, and Vancouver Whitecaps and each brought confidence and conviction to matches against United. The same can be said of the Columbus Crew with an unbeaten string of four matches that has produced nine goals.

The challenge

  1. Build with Espindola. As we noted Espindola immediately made a difference in his MLS season debut against Vancouver.  Now against Columbus United has a chance to develop a true offensive rhythm with Espindola set to start his second game of the season. What is clear is that United has a strong spine up the middle. Espindola sets the tone at the top, Perry Kitchen provides the glue in midfield, and Bobby Boswell has been a rock at the back. Kofi Opare has stepped in for Steve Birnbaum and has been a perfect partner for Boswell in the center of the defense. Last week Chris Rolfe, after playing the first six games on the flank, started with Espindola at forward. Where ever he plays Rolfe has been a difference maker. In short United has been winning games as a collective unit and now can look to impose its will more with Espindola back in the side.
  2. Break up the Crew. When given time and space the Crew can be a real menace on offense. The seven goals over the last weeks were against strugglers Orlando and Philadelphia, but that does diminish the danger factor offered by Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay. Kamara has bagged five goals and United will have to respect his speed and clever runs. Finlay can finish and score, but provides excellent service form the right flank.

RELATED: [Espindola's return leads United past Whitecaps]

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.