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.

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

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AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

On Monday afternoon, Chelsea and Tottenham F.C. played to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, meaning Leicester City clinched the Barclays Premier League championship. 

While Leicester City still has a few games left, they have already clinched an outright title thanks to 77 points and a 22-11-3 record and the mantle of greatest underdog season in sports history.

Yes, sports history. All of it.

 The Foxes were promoted to the Premier League after winning the Football League Championship in 2014. Imagine a baseball team being called up to join the AL East and in just the second season, they clinched the pennant after leading the entire season.

Leicester City's estimated payroll for the 2015-16 season is 48.2 million pounds, which is good enough for 17th place, with Chelsea (215.6 million), Manchester United (203 million), Manchester City (193.8 million), Arsenal (192 million) and Liverpool (152 million) firmly cemented at the top.

Unlike a majority of American sports, there are no salary caps in international club football. A player can be bought by another team at any time during the transfer window. The teams at the top of the league, the traditional powers, are typically able to buy the best players because they have more money at their disposal. Since the formation of the English premier League in 1992, only one team outside the traditional powers has claimed the championship — the Blackburn Rovers in 1993.

Leicester City is now the second.

Leicester City had  5000-to-1 odds to win the championship at the beginning of the season. Think about this: Indiana, Illinois, and Colorado have 2000-to-1 odds to win the College Football Playoff championship this season. 

The Foxes were led by Jamie Vardy, who set an EPL record for consecutive games with a goal scored in with 11. Vardy has scored 22 goals in 34 appearances this season and is behind just Tottenham's Harry Kane (24) and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (23) in the league's scoring table. Aguero's salary calls for nearly 220-thousand pounds a week. Vardy makes roughly 45-thousand a week.

In clinching the championship, Leicester City has clinched a spot in the UEFA Champion's league, the top club competition in Europe., the first time in club history. The club was founded in 1884, 24 years before the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series. Not only has Leicester City never qualified for the UEFA Champion's League, but they have never qualified for the UEFA Europa League, the international competition for the teams that just miss out on the Champion's League.

Leicester City winning the Barclays Premier League makes what George Mason did in the 2006 NCAA Tournament look like a regular season MLB series in May.

Simply put, this is the most unthinkable and unexpected championship season in sports history.

 

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

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USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lamar Neagle scored on a penalty kick in the first half and D.C. United added two late goals to beat the New England Revolution 3-0 on Saturday.

Neagle converted from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute with a low shot into the left corner. Marcelo Sarvas drew the penalty on a run up the right side where Je-Vaughn Watson's foul occurred just inside the area.

Luciano Acosta scored his first MLS goal in the 86th minute on 20-yard chip shot that glanced in underneath the crossbar. Alvaro Saborio capped the scoring for D.C. United (2-3-3) with a breakaway goal in the 90th.

Revolution (1-2-5) defender Chris Tierney and United forward Fabian Espindola left the game before halftime with leg injuries.

United coach Ben Olsen served a one-game suspension for stepping on the field last Saturday. Assistant coach Chad Ashton oversaw the team in Olsen's absence.

Toronto ends winless-streak against United

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Toronto ends winless-streak against United

Sebastian Giovinco's goal in the first minute stood up in Toronto FC's 1-0 victory over DC United on Saturday.

Jozy Altidore got to the ball inside the box to the right of goalkeeper Travis Worra and rolled a cross that a sliding Marco Delgado reached and redirected a bit to his left and Giovinco was on the spot to tap it in for his fourth goal of the season.

That was enough for Toronto (2-2-2) to end a three-match winless streak as goalkeeper Clint Irwin made three saves. The toughest save came in the 30th minute when he got a hand on a tight shot by Patrick Nyarko out of traffic in front of the net.

DC (1-3-3) had 18 attempts but 10 were off target.

Toronto playing its sixth straight game on the road to open the season, had 10 shots, three on Worra.

[RELATED: Espindola, Saborio score twice as United tops Whitecaps 4-0]