Soccer

Upon further review: United's season-ending loss to the Red Bulls

usatsi_8912735.jpg

Upon further review: United's season-ending loss to the Red Bulls

Down a goal and facing elimination in its Eastern Conference semifinal series against the New York Red Bulls, DC United had the determination needed to keep its season alive. Sadly the Black and Red did not have the goals and were eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs with a 1-0 loss. 

The score line matched the final from the series opener at RFK Stadium, but this time the Red Bulls needed a goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 93rd minute to securely settle matters. United was effective at disrupting the Red Bulls free flowing attack and until Wright-Phillips scored were probing to at least force extra time.

In game one of the aggregate-goal series United failed to put a shot on target. It was better on Sunday for United with two of its ten shots finding the frame. Statistically that’s an improvement, but it is not good enough for a team with title aspirations. Only four teams scored fewer goals than United in the regular season and they all failed to make the playoffs.

United should be given credit for having the right response. The Red Bulls were the league’s highest scoring team during the regular season, including seven goals in three meetings with United, but managed only two goals across two games in the semifinal series. Organized and efficient United were, but inventive on offense the Black and Red were not.

Ben Olsen:

“I didn't think we created enough in the first game, but again I think this game here is just a matter of a little bit of quality in that final third and making the play that matters whether it's on a set piece or a few times or maybe it's not shooting, maybe it's even the extra pass, but again, overall, extremely proud of the way they - that's as good as we've played here and again I thought it was a good night, it's just we fell short with the goal.”

 

Conclusions:

  1. All is not lost.  It’s hard for United fans not to be disappointed with a season that offered so much more including a realistic shot at the Supporter’s Shield. There has to be disappointment, but also the knowledge that the proper culture has been created by head coach Ben Olsen.  There is a core group of players that United can continue to build around.
  2. Bill Hamid is the best in MLS. Hamid continues to get better and it is refreshing to see him called into the U.S. Men’s National Team for World Cup qualifying.  A big reason why United held on to first place for so long can be attributed to Hamid and his many game-saving moments.
  3. Chris Rolfe is the team’s MVP. Not only was Rolfe United’s leading scorer, but he excelled at every position he was asked to play. From on the flank in the midfield to center forward, Rolfe had a career year and United’s fortunes started to change for the better when he arrived early in the 2014 season.

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

audi-field-silhouette.jpg
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.