HARRISON, N.J. (AP) -- Defender Brandon Barklage knocked in the first two goals of his MLS career Sunday night, leading the New York Red Bulls into a first-place tie with D.C. United with a 3-2 win before a franchise record crowd of 25,187. Barklage, waived by United after the 2011 season and picked up by New York shortly thereafter, put the Red Bulls up 2-1 in the second minute of first-half stoppage time with his second goal of the half. Lurking on the right side, Barklage put in a one-time volley after Rafa Marquez's free kick. D.C.'s Robbie Russell had brought down Mehdi Ballouchy just outside the box, and Marquez's resulting kick caromed off the wall for Barklage to put home. D.C. forward Chris Pontius scored the fastest goal in team history 31 seconds into the match off a header past a leaping Ryan Meara. Midfielder Danny Cruz had fed him from the right side after working a give-and-go with Dwayne De Rosario to set up Cruz's pass in front of the net. The goal was the second-fastest scored against New York next to one at 19 seconds from New England's Jose Cancela in 2005. Pontius had two goals, the second coming in the 66th minute, and it followed his first professional hat trick, scored against New York in a 4-1 victory April 22. He has five goals against the Red Bulls in 2012. The victory gave the Red Bulls (9-4-3) 30 points, tying them for the Eastern Division lead. United fell to 9-5-3. Barklage opened the Red Bulls' scoring in the 21st minute when he flashed across the goalmouth to get his left foot on Joel Lindpere's low corner kick and put it past keeper Bill Hamid. Dax McCarty had clanged a hard shot off the crossbar in the third minute, and Hamid made a diving, fingertip save on Ballouchy's low header in the 12th. Midfielder Jan Gunnar Soli gave the winners a cushion with his first goal as a Red Bull in the 55th minute, putting in his own rebound of a shot off Lindpere's feed.
As U.S. Women’s Soccer star Heather O’Reilly steps into international retirement Thursday night, her soon-to-be former teammates are jumping at the chance to honor O’Reilly one last time.
"She’s the best teammate I ever had,” said Ali Krieger, who has played alongside O’Reilly on the USWNT since 2008. “She’s such an inspiration for so many young athletes, but also for us – her current teammates and the players in the National Women’s Soccer League. She’s been a legend.”
O’Reilly will end her 15-year international career when the U.S. Women face Thailand in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday night.
“She’s motivated me and I know my teammates to want to better themselves every single day,” Krieger said of O’Reilly’s legacy on the national team. “That is something that she can leave us. I’m so happy for her, I’m really proud of her and she continued to inspire me every single day. I wish her all the best and I’m going to miss her like crazy.”
Of all O’Reilly’s teammates, few can appreciate the retiring legend quite like Krieger. The two often featured together on the right side of the U.S. formation, Krieger in defense and O’Reilly just ahead of her in midfield, resulting in a bond that will last beyond their playing days.
“We always say ‘right side – strong side’, so we’re going to hold on to that forever,” Krieger said with a smile. “She’s one of my best friends on the team and I support her decision.”
O’Reilly’s decision was likely made easier by the changing landscape of the national team. After seeing her minutes dwindle during last summer’s successful World Cup run, the 31-year-old veteran was left off the U.S. Olympic Team in August instead traveling to Brazil as an alternate.
Despite that, O’Reilly’s career compares favorably to pretty much every other U.S. international. O'Reilly made her senior international debut while still in high school, and her 230 appearances rank seventh all-time in U.S. Women’s National Team history.
“It’s so much more than the player that she is and what she’s done for the national team,” said U.S. Women’s National Team forward Crystal Dunn. “It’s her – the person – that I’m going to miss seeing in camps and chatting it up.”
Though they didn’t overlap in Chapel Hill, both Dunn and O’Reilly played collegiately for North Carolina. Thanks to that Tar Heel connection, the duo trained together frequently even when not with the U.S. team.
“She was just one of those people that I looked up to,” Dunn added. “She would kick my butt every single day and I was so in awe that she would go out of her way to help make me better."
Two days after the Washington Spirit organization changed the timing of their pregame routine in order to preempt Megan Rapinoe’s national anthem protest, Spirit players are speaking out against the team’s decision.
"We respect our owner’s freedom to share his views and we understand his intentions,” read a statement posted on the Spirit website. “But as a team we don’t necessarily agree with those opinions or the actions taken Wednesday evening.”
The statement - signed ‘all of the players of the Washington Spirit’ - was also posted to Spirit captain, and longtime U.S. Women’s National Team star, Ali Krieger’s personal website.
“As a team, we were disappointed we were not informed of the plans for the national anthem or given an opportunity to weigh in on the decision,” the statement continued.
The Washington Spirit and Rapinoe’s Seattle Reign FC were still in the locker rooms when the national anthem was played ahead of schedule at Wednesday’s National Women’s Soccer League match between the two teams.
In an exclusive interview Tuesday afternoon, Rapinoe told CSN that she planned to kneel during the national anthem prior to Wednesday's game - as she did before Sunday's NWSL contest between Seattle and the Chicago Red Stars.