DC United begins Cup quest on the road

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DC United begins Cup quest on the road

D.C. United did it. The Black and Red survived seven MLS matches in the month of May and made it to the top of the Eastern Conference. A break is needed, but there is still work to be done with Tuesdays U.S, Open Cup match on the road against the Richmond Kickers.

Forget a trip to Disney World; United has to wait to fully exhale. United has won two Open Cups and would like to get back to the business of adding to the trophy cabinet. Their opponent the Richmond Kickers made it all the way to the semi-finals of last years competition and beat two MLS team on the road in the process.

You can hear in my voice, a fatigued Dwayne De Rosario said after Saturdays 3-2 win over New England. I am absolutely tired. Its been a lot of games in a short period of time. We withstand the demand that was put on us, and thankfully we have the depth of every guy that is ready to step in and make a difference.

United earned its first three game winning streak since 2008 on the strength of two goals from defenders Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic. Against the Revolution United did squander a two-goal lead, but then was bailed out by Maicon Santos who returned from a calf injury and scored the winning goal to add to his team-leading tally of 8 goals for the season.

I thought we needed to get hold of the ball a little more, said United head coach Ben Olsen. Im looking to get Maicon in the game for the reasons we saw. The guy can score goals and he can hold the ball up. So now you have Maicon holding balls up, making it difficult for their center backs, and you have Dwayne De Rosario in the midfield who always helps us with possessions.

The return of Santos to Uniteds rotation was encouraging with managing injuries the focus for United. Jakovic also was back from an ankle injury and scored his first career MLS goal. Rookie midfielder Nick De Leon also returned from a hamstring injury to give United the strength in numbers in necessary to get through Tuesday.

United goes into this Open Cup match with confidence. Over the last month midfielder Branko Boskovic has unveiled the form that made him a designated player in the first place before being slowed by injuries. Fellow DP Hamdi Salihi has also begun to deliver as advertised with four goals.

Its unbelievable, said Boskovic. My two seasons here, and every time was up and down, and now its the first time we look like a real team. We have a good group and good atmosphere, but we need to continue to win.

It is not a United team that is complacent or claiming league title in May. The 3-2 win over the Revolution on Saturday was a nice reward for a lot of hard work, but it also highlighted the word that still needs to be done. There is a story developing with United, but whether through injuries or inexperience the picture is far from complete.

I want to play a different way, and I wish we wouldve been a little sharper, but again, Im looking at the body of three wins at home, which we havent done at this club since June 2008, Olsen added after Saturdays win This is positive stuff, and Im not downplaying that. Again, Im maybe just being a little negative; Im a little unfulfilled with that game.

The translation of Olsens post-match comments demonstrates how much he believes in this team. Olsen was confident back in January that he had the players to work with. Three months into a MLS campaign Olsens belief has been confirmed. This United team has talent and perhaps of more importance is able to adapt.

Now United will have to adapt one more time before truly getting a break. The Kickers pride themselves on begin giant-killers and are 4-4-1 al time against United. In their last meeting with meaning, United emerged with a 2-0 win over the Kickers in the 2010 U.S. Open Cup.

The current Kickers team is in sixth place in the 11-team USL Pro table. In midfield the Kickers feature David Bulow who last year notched his 14th goal in U.S. Open Cup history against Sporting Kansas City in 2011 to become the tournaments all-time leading scorer. Christopher Agorsor notched four goals last week including two in their U.S. Open Cup second round over Aegean Hawks.

Hope Solo criticizes 'cowardly' Swedish team following Olympic loss

Hope Solo criticizes 'cowardly' Swedish team following Olympic loss

The U.S. Women's Soccer Team was bounced from the Olympic Tournament on Friday following a shocking 1-1 shootout loss to Sweden.

The USWNT had to once again rally back from 1-0 — as they did against Colombia — with Alex Morgan scoring an equalizer in the 78th minute.

After 30 minutes fo scoreless extra time, the game went to penalty kicks. Morgan and Christen Press missed their attempts, and Hope Solo was unable to stop Lisa Dahlkvist's attempt, snapping the USWNT's 14-game Olympic win streak. It was also the first time the USWNT did not advance to the Olympic gold medal games.

Solo, who has been the focal point of the USWNT's time in Rio due to the chants of "Zika" lobbed her way in the tournament opener, along with her subpar performance in the 2-2 draw against Colombia, once again made headlines following the shocking loss.

While Solo was lauded for the poise she showed following the major gaffe in the Colombia game, she had some choice words for the Swedish team following the loss on Friday.

Solo has never been one to mince words.  

While it was not particularly clear that the Swedish side was playing dirty, Sweden did have 15 penalties to the United States too. The United States outshot Sweden 27-6 and had six shots on goal to Sweden's two. But despite the stat discrepancy, Sweden packed their defense in, forcing the United States to take an increased number of shots from outside. Sweden also did a tremendous job of counter-attacking with deep balls, which the side — coached by former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage — a bevy of uneven scoring chances.

When asked about her "coward" comment, Solo provided clearer detail.

"Sweden dropped off," she said to reporters after the game. "They didn't want to play. They didn't want to pass the ball. They didn't want to play great soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what their game plan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn't try and press. They didn't want to open the game. We had that style of play when Pia was our coach. i don't think they're going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly.

"But they won. They're moving on, and we're going home."

Solo then took to Twitter to clarify her comments.

But the outcome remains the same: A stunning loss before the medal round, and to make matters worse, the result will be overshadowed by critical comments.

RELATED: WOULD THIS TEAM OF MARYLAND NATIVES WIN OLYMPIC GOLD?

U.S. women suffer shocking Olympic elimination in shootout loss to Sweden

U.S. women suffer shocking Olympic elimination in shootout loss to Sweden

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — The three-time defending champion U.S. women's national team will miss the Olympic final for the first time after being ousted by Sweden on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Tied after three rounds in the shootout, Sweden captain Caroline Seger beat Hope Solo and Christen Press' attempt against Hedvig Lindhal went over the net. With the next kick, Lisa Dahlkvist beat an outstretched Solo for the win.

RELATED: HOPE SOLO CRITICIZES "COWARDLY" SWEDISH TEAM AFTER LOSS

As Sweden celebrated, U.S. captain Carli Lloyd crouched on the field at Mane Garrincha Stadium. It was the first time that an Olympic women's match had gone to penalties.

It was the earliest the United States had ever been eliminated from the Olympics since women's soccer became a sport in 1996.

After a scoreless first half, Stina Blackstenius scored in the 61st minute to give Sweden a 1-0 lead.

Alex Morgan scored the equalizer in the 78th and the match went to extra time. Lloyd had a header called back for offside in the 115th minute, and Lotta Schelin was offside on her attempt against Solo a minute later -- although replays appeared to show otherwise.

The reigning World Cup champions, who are also four-time Olympic champions, had not dropped a match this year. But it Sweden that will play either Australia or host Brazil in the semifinals.

Blackstenius, who came in as a substitute in the first half, broke away and shook off defender Julie Johnston to beat Solo and give Sweden the lead. It was just her second international goal.

Sweden's coach, Pia Sundhage, high-fived her assistants on the bench. Sundhage coached the U.S. team for five years and led the squad to gold medals in both Beijing and London.

The United States got the equalizer with Morgan's shot that bounced off a Sweden defender. It was Morgan's team-leading 13th goal of the year. Lloyd nearly put the United States ahead in the 85th but her kick to the far corner went just wide.

The Americans won their first two matches in Brazil before a surprising 2-2 draw in Manaus against Colombia, which had already been eliminated.

Johnston returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a groin injury and coach Jill Ellis played all her regular starters after rotating and resting many against Colombia in the heat and humidity of the Amazon. Megan Rapinoe, who started against Colombia after missing more than eight months after right knee surgery, was on the bench but came on as a substitute in the second half.

Press replaced Rapinoe in the extra period.

Sweden had won only five matches against the United States. The two teams played to a scoreless draw at last year's World Cup. The last time the two teams met in the Olympics was at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Sundhage was a player on the Sweden team that fell 2-1 to the Americans.

Ranked sixth in the world, Sweden had struggled in its Olympic group with a 5-1 loss to host Brazil and finished 1-1-1.

Lloyd buried her head in her hands early in the second half after her free kick was off the mark. Just moments later, she had another that was off-target, too. The United States struggled to finish throughout the match.

The crowd at Mane Garrincha Stadium in was sparse at the start of the match and never extended much past the lower bowl of the massive 72,000-seat stadium that was reconstructed and expanded for the men's 2014 World Cup.

The fans that were there continued to jeer Solo with shouts of "Zika!" everytime she touched the ball. The fans have taunted her since the opening match in Brazil because of her posts on social media about the virus.

Field condition concerning ahead of USWNT quarterfinal match with Sweden

Field condition concerning ahead of USWNT quarterfinal match with Sweden

The United States is set to play Sweden on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the women’s soccer tournament at the Rio Olympics. The U.S. – fresh off winning their group – is one victory away from advancing to the medal round.

The match will be played at noon ET on NBCSN and while both teams hope to be prepared for Friday’s win-or-go-home affair, the field at Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha does not appear to be ready for the rigors of elimination soccer.

Friday’s game will be the ninth Olympic match played at Brasilia’s primary stadium. The stadium, named after Brazilian soccer legend Garrincha, hosted a men’s soccer doubleheader (Mexico-South Korea and Argentina-Honduras) on Wednesday night. 

According to a report in the Brazilian publication oLiberal, ‘emergency’ work was done on the field in the three weeks leading up to the Olympics. The Brazilian men’s team opener their Olympic campaign in Brasilia with a scoreless draw against South Africa. 

A men’s quarterfinal between Portugal and Germany is scheduled for Saturday at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the U.S. vs. Sweden women’s game.