D.C. United battles for 2nd place in the regular season finale

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D.C. United battles for 2nd place in the regular season finale

It’s probably a good thing that D.C. United is on the road for its regular season finale Saturday in Chicago. R.F.K. Stadium could use the extra time recover. The old building on East Captiol Street was rocked by United supporters like it was when the playoffs were a given for the Black and Red.

United’s 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew last Saturday secured the team’s first playoff berth since 2007. A tie would have sufficed, but would not have been reflective of United’s commitment. It is a team that believes it is capable of more even with Dwayne De Rosario sidelined with a knee injury.

“It was like the old days. I don’t like to bring up the old days very often, but the feeling in that building felt like the good old days here,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “I’d like to keep that around. We’re excited to continue to move on and have more moments like this. There is still work to be done.”

The pressure is on for United to wrap up second place in the Eastern Conference. A win or a tie against the Fire would accomplish that and give United a bye in the first round of the playoffs. A loss to the Fire could potentially push United down to fourth place and a one game play-in against the fifth place finisher on Wednesday.

“That four vs. five game is somewhere you don’t want to be. Being in that top three guarantees a home and away series and playing here is a fortress, so that only ups our chances. Being in the top three is huge for us,” said midfielder Nick DeLeon.

United is riding a six-game unbeaten streak that oddly coincides with De Rosario’s absence. The much talked about depth of the team is proving to be more than just talk. The game winning goal against the Crew was a perfect example with Branko Bosokovic and Lewis Neal coming off the bench to combine for the decisive moment.

 In addition United has demonstrated a maturity and ability to grind out results. Conceding two goals, like United did against Columbus, is not representative of how the team has been playing. In the previous five games during its unbeaten run, United had only given up two goals and recorded three shutouts.

“Our defense has been amazing,” said goalkeeper Bill Hamid.  “Our midfielders have been helping on the defensive end and our forwards have been tracking back at the top of our half. Defense wins championships and we have developed into a cohesive group.”

In the Chicago Fire, United will be facing a side in need of a win to land second place. In addition the Fire is trying to get its swagger back. The Fire has lost three of its last four matches including last week’s 1-0 defeat at New England.

The motivation for both teams to secure points sets up for another tense match. United seems more than ready. Over the journey of this season players have accepted new roles like Andy Najar at right back and Marcelo Saragosa playing alongside Perry Kitchen. There is even the possibility of De Rosario returning to the field this year.

“I would say there is probably a chance. I don’t know. And I don’t know if anybody knows right now where he’s at,” Olsen said.” He’s progressing quickly. I’ve told my trainers and doctors, ‘you tell me the day he is ready to go ‘cause I got a job to do and we can’t rely on that’, but it would sure be nice to see him back because that means we were very, very deep into the playoffs.”

It is a promising thought for United supporters, but there is still the regular season to complete.

NWSL Highlights: Spirit catch Thorns atop standings in Week 13

NWSL Highlights: Spirit catch Thorns atop standings in Week 13

Week 13 in the National Women’s Soccer League saw the Washington Spirit finally catch the Portland Thorns atop the table, while the Houston Dash snapped a six-game losing streak.

Orlando and Chicago squared off in a game with huge playoff implications, and Sky Blue FC and Boston met for Northeast bragging rights.

NWSL Week 10 highlights include final games by USWNT members

NWSL Week 10 highlights include final games by USWNT members

Another week of NWSL action is in the books, but Week 10 was far from just another slate of games. We saw the Western New York Flash make league history in Rochester plus late drama in Orlando and Washington.

This was also the final weekend of NWSL play before members of the U.S. Women's National Team report for camp ahead of the Rio Olympics. 

With 1-0 loss to Colombia, US finishes 4th in Copa America

With 1-0 loss to Colombia, US finishes 4th in Copa America

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Carlos Bacca beat goalkeeper Tim Howard by sliding to poke in a headed cross in the 31st minute, and the United States finished fourth in the Copa America with a 1-0 defeat against Colombia on Saturday night.

After losing to Argentina 4-0 in the semifinals, the 31st-ranked U.S. was beaten by No. 3 Colombia for the second time in the 16-nation tournament.

Bobby Wood came closest to scoring for the U.S. when he hit a post in the 62nd, one minute after Colombia's Juan Cuadrado hit the underside of the crossbar.

The U.S. matched its previous best finish in the tournament, when it lost to Colombia in the 1995 fourth-place game at Uruguay.

After the Americans lost to Jamaica in the semifinals of last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and struggled in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping his team would rebound in the Copa, when right back DeAndre Yedlin, central defender John Brooks, midfielder Gyasi Zardes and forward Bobby Wood solidified their positions as regular starters.

Darlington Nagbe and 17-year-old Christian Pulisic again entered as second-half subs, two more players who could break through and replace veterans during the remaining 16 months of World Cup qualifying.

Colombia, which never has won the Copa America, finished third for fourth time but first since 1995. Argentina plays Chile for the title on Sunday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Both teams finished a man short, when American defender Michael Orozco and Colombian defender Santiago Arias were ejected for a confrontation in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Orozco is suspended the U.S.'s World Cup qualifier at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, and Arias for Colombia's qualifier against Venezuela.

Klinsmann inserted the 37-year-old Howard into his lineup in place of Brad Guzan, who had started the previous nine games. Matt Besler was in central defense instead of Brooks, who was bothered by knee inflammation, and Orozco was at left back because Fabian Johnson has a sore groin.

Midfielders Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya returned to the lineup along with Wood after the three served one-game suspensions.

Colombia scored after Juan Cuadrado, from along a flank, cut the ball back to James Rodriguez, just outside the penalty area. Arias made a run to get by Bedoya, and Rodriguez lofted a pass to Arias, who jumped at the edge of the 6-yard box and headed the ball across Howard's goal to Bacca. The forward slid ahead of Yedlin to nudge the ball in for his 13th international goal, his second of the tournament.

Clint Dempsey, who led the U.S. with three goals in the tournament, nearly scored on a free kick in the 51st minute. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina dived left and lifted his right arm to tip Dempsey's effort wide.