DCU ready for second leg of playoff against New York Red Bulls

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DCU ready for second leg of playoff against New York Red Bulls

For tension and emotion, perhaps not soccer, the rivalry between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls did not disappoint in Saturday’s playoff opener at R.F.K. Stadium. A 1-1 result in that game has set the stage for a dramatic series finale Wednesday at Red Bull Arena.

In the regular season the two teams combined for 14 goals in three games, but in game one of their Eastern Conference semifinal United and the Red Bulls had to rely on own goals to secure a point. The game was also marked by Chris Pontius’ missed penalty kick and a red card to United defender Andy Najar. 

“We have no fear of going up to New York and playing them there,” said United president Kevin Payne. “We lost 3-2 to them this year. We played very poorly in the first half of that game, but we absolutely dominated them in the second half of that game. There is no question in the minds of anybody in this room that we can go up to New York and win the game.”

It will be difficult. The Red Bulls have been a hard side to figure out. Their second leading scorer Kenny Cooper did not play in the first match. It’s an example of the unpredictability of a team filled with quality that failed to win consecutive matches over the last two months of the season.

“We’ve been strong at home – we just only lost one game this season against Kansas City, otherwise we’ve been winning most of the games,” said Red Bulls’ head coach Hans Backe. “But I mean, it’s the playoffs now and it’ll probably be almost the same type of game, very even. It can end up the same way and go to penalty or shootout, whatever it is. But it will be tight.”

Confidence is clearly not in short supply in the Black and Red camp. With Saturday’s result United, although disappointed to not snare three points, is now unbeaten in its last eight games. That eight game run has come without Dwayne De Rosario because of a knee injury and now Najar’s red card will force more change.

“The way he (Najar) can attack from the right fullback position, he’s a threat all day long, so they of course will miss him,” Backe said. “It will help us for our defense, definitely, so we can look into that. Attacking-wise, I’m not sure, but definitely defensively.”

Although it has not been announced by head coach Ben Olsen, Robbie Russell is the likely choice to fill-in for Najar at right back. In 14 of his 16 starts this season, Russell played at right back. Russell’s season was derailed in mid-July by a foot injury. Russell, who won a title with Real Salt Lake, would give United much-needed playoff experience if he is called on.

“Every playoff team you play on is unique,” noted Russell. “This team is the epitome of team. On any given night someone else has stepped up for us big. I am looking forward to see who steps up big for us this coming game.”

In attack Lionard Pajoy has become more of a force for United and provided essential goals in a win over Philadelphia and a tie with Chicago in the regular season finale. Twice in the final seven games of the regular season Lewis Neal came off the bench to score game-winners. Branko Boskovic and Hamdi Salihi have also come off the bench to score and deliver three points to United.

“We have to match their intensity up there and we’ve got to play offensively up there like we did down here,” said Pontius.”It’s a ninety minute game out there and it would be even sweeter to take it from them at their home field.”

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Redskins do not have to pay Galette while on NFI list

Redskins do not have to pay Galette while on NFI list

RICHMOND—The Redskins do not have to pay Junior Galette this season after placing the outside linebacker on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list.

The NFI list is not the same as the injured reserve list. Players on that list sustained injuries while either playing in games or while practicing or working out at the team facility.

A player on injured reserve has to get paid per the CBA. He either gets his full salary or, if he signed a contract permitting it, a partial salary.

RELATED: REDSKINS TO LOOK FOR IN-HOUSE GALETTE REPLACEMENT

NFI pertains to injuries suffered while participating in anything else. A player could be on NFI after getting injured in a car accident or while playing basketball. Or, as was the case with Galette, working out on his own preparing for the season. Players injured under such circumstances do not have to be paid.

This can create a sticky situation.

In a circumstance where a player gets injured doing something dumb, like getting in a car wreck while speeding, you wouldn’t create any waves in the locker room by declining to pay that player. But the team encourages players to stay in shape during the break in between minicamp and training camp. If a team declines to pay a player injured while working out on his own, as Galette was, other players could get upset and concerned that the same thing could happen to them some day.

Galette’s one-year contract calls for him to get a $1 million salary in 2016.

There also were incentives that he will not earn. The Redskins could elect to pay him the entire $1 million this year, half of it, or any portion of it they might decide to pay him. We will find out a lot about how much the Redskins want to give Galette, out with an Achilles injury for the second straight season, another shot in 2017 by how they decide to proceed.

If they want to give him another shot they will pay him most or all of the $1 million.

If they are inclined to let him walk his salary could be on the lower end.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER

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Redskins place Doctson, four others on PUP list

Redskins place Doctson, four others on PUP list

RICHMOND—The Redskins have placed five players on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list as they get training camp started today.

The following players are on the PUP list:

  • TE Derek Carrier
  • WR Reggie Diggs
  • WR Josh Doctson
  • G Shawn Lauvao
  • LB Perry Riley Jr.

The inclusion of Carrier on PUP has long been anticipated. He suffered a torn ACL in a December game in Chicago. His recovery is on schedule but he still has some work to do before he will be able to get on the field.

The name that Redskins fans did not want to see on this list was that of Doctson, the team’s first-round draft pick this year. He missed most of the offseason program with an Achilles injury and apparently it is still an issue.

Riley was a starting inside linebacker last year until he suffered a broken foot and missed the last six games of the season. He was expected to be back for the offseason program but he was seen on the sideline wearing a boot on the injured foot.

Lauvao suffered foot and ankle injuries in Week 3 last year and missed the entire season. He was seen using a scooter to get around Redskins Park in January so it’s not surprising that he isn’t ready to go. Jay Gruden said yesterday he believed that Lauvao would be ready soon.

Diggs’ injury is not known; Gruden will add some clarity to his and the other injuries when he meets with the press before practice this afternoon.

In addition, the team put OLB Junior Galette on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. He tore an Achilles' tendon working out on his own on Sunday.

The move takes Galette off of the team’s 90-man roster. The PUP list players continue to count against the limit.

MORE REDSKINS: GRUDEN SAYS FOCUS IS ON FOOTBALL, NOT CONTRACTS, WITH KIRK COUSINS

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Nats Stock Watch: When will Bryce Harper break out his funk?

Nats Stock Watch: When will Bryce Harper break out his funk?

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see which player's stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 2-4

Team slash: .240/.307/.410

Team ERA: 4.56

Runs per game: 4.1

 

STOCK UP

Trea Turner, 2B/CF: .320 AVG, 4 RBI, 4 XBH, 4 SB, 5 R

It’s going to be hard for Dusty Baker to keep Turner out of the lineup, isn’t it?

In a short period of time, the recently-promoted 23-year-old infield prospect has already shown he deserves to be the Nats’ leadoff man for the foreseeable future. In the last nine days alone, the speedster notched three triples (two away from tying the team lead), two doubles and five stolen bases. That’s the kind of production Washington has sorely missed atop the lineup.

When the Nats played at Progressive Field in Cleveland, an American League ballpark, they had the luxury of playing Turner in center field, putting Ben Revere in left and making Jayson Werth the designated hitter. But when they begin their upcoming series in San Francisco, they’ll lose the DH, essentially forcing Baker to choose between Turner and Revere.

Are the Nats ready to make Turner the everyday center fielder over Revere?

Wilson Ramos, C: .478 AVG, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1.346 OPS

For those who thought Ramos might come back to earth after the all-star break, think again. The 28-year-old catcher’s career year rolled on with another big week, raising his average to .336 — second-best in the NL to teammate Daniel Murphy.

Ramos now leads all big-league catchers in average, RBI, OPS and is tied for the top spot in home runs. Not too shabby.  

 

STOCK DOWN

Bryce Harper, RF: .050 AVG, 7 K, .180 OPS

At what point does an extended slump simply become a down season? Because after nearly three months of under performance, that appears to be where the Nats are with the reigning NL MVP.  

It's hard to explain why Harper hasn't quite looked like himself for so long — have pitchers found a weakness in his swing? Is he dealing with an unknown injury? Something else entirely?—but the 23-year-old phenom hasn't given any indication that he's going to get out of his funk anytime soon. He has just seven hits in his last 54 at-bats and a paltry .491 OPS over that span, which has dropped his average below .238 for the first time this year. For context, he's never finished below .270 for a season. 

So how do the Nats handle this? They've already tried moving Harper to the cleanup spot, and later bumped him up to the two-hole. Neither move has worked so far. So it looks like all they can do is keep putting him in the lineup and hope that his bat can somehow reignite during the stretch run.   

Jonathan Papelbon, RP: 4 GP, 2.2 IP, 1-2, 6 ER, BS

It seems fairly obvious that the Nats might have second thoughts about their closer. That’ll happen after someone allows the game-winning runs to score in consecutive losses, as Papelbon did earlier this week.

But even if the Nats openly admit they have an issue at the back end of the bullpen, then what?  

Well, in a weird way, Papelbon’s struggles have actually come at a fortuitous time. With the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching, the Nats still have time to acquire an additional ninth-inning option. The problem is that the top arms that are available like New York Yankees setup man Andrew Miller or Kansas City Royals closer Wade Davis will cost prospects that the Nats are unlikely willing to part with. 

In the meantime, the club still needs Papelbon to rebound down the stretch — whether that's in the closer role or not.