DC United looking for one more at home


DC United looking for one more at home

D.C. United is so close. For the first time in almost three years United has chance to slip into first place with a win Saturday at home against New England. The top spot in the Eastern Conference would be a welcome reward for United ahead of a 21-day break from league play.

A victory over the Revolution would also extend Uniteds unbeaten streak at R.F.K. Stadium to eight games. United has not lost at home since the 1-0 season-opening defeat to Sporting Kansas City. Since then United has survived injuries to multiple players and thrived with its depth from goalkeeper to forward.

I hate to say it, but it has been a blessing in a lot of ways that we have had some minor injuries throughout this stretch, said United head coach Ben Olsen. Guys have had to come in and do their part. Now going through this middle part of the season hopefully we will continue to find a rhythm and trust our depth and continue with wins.

It was June of 2009 when United used goals from Jamie Moreno and Christian Gomez to capture a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire and a first place standing. It has been an interesting ride since, but this is now a club that appears to being moving from strength to strength. Adversity has been turned into opportunity and United is after its first three-game winning streak since 2008.

We are in no position to be complacent, Olsen added. We havent made the playoffs in a few years. We are doing in my mind what D.C. United should do and those are win games, put teams on their heels, and entertain the fans.

Through 14 games this year United is 7-4-3 with 24 points. Only in four other years did United rack up points at a better pace. Three of those seasons, 1997, 1998, 1999, United made it all the way to MLS Cup and in 2006 captured the Supporters Shield. United is trending positive and after not recording back-to-back victories in 89 games has done it twice in less than a month.

Wins over Colorado and Toronto FC highlighted Uniteds versatility and resourcefulness. Dwayne De Rosario earned MLS Player-of-the-Week with three goals at both striker and attacking midfielder. Branko Boskovic started both games and was an attacking midfielder, left-sided midfielder, and alongside Perry Kitchen in the middle.

Hes a rhythm player, and he needs these games, said Olsen of Boskovic. He needs more games, and hes only going to improve. Weve done him a little bit of an injustice in that he hasnt played a lot of minutes. Hes been 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there, filling rolls for us, and thats no way to get a rhythm. Its not an easy way to play.

When Danny Cruz suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-1 over Toronto FC, Andy Najar shifted from right back to right midfield and then assisted on Hamdi Salihis goal. For most of his pro career Najar has been known as a midfielder, but now has started twice and appeared in two other games at right back.

Hes (Najar) playing hungry, like hes got something to prove, Olsen said Were, just in fact, really seeing Andy consistently playing with the hunger, I see that in him. Competition will do that sometimes. He played right back, Im asking him to do that, and the plays he was making on their defenders was pretty fun to watch.

Despite Cruz injury that could coast him four weeks, there is encouraging news out of Uniteds training room. Defender Emiliano Dudar and midfielder Nick De Leon were back in the mix at practice after battling hamstring injuries in recent weeks. Leading scorers Chris Pontius and Maicon Santos are eager to get back in the side.

Santos and Pontius have both missed the last two games with injuries and are listed as probable for Saturday. The emergence Salihi with four goals in the last five games has helped United navigate through the absence of Santos and Pontius. United now has 16 players who have either scored or have an assist, or both.

Saturday United will face a Revolution side that is playing with more confidence and is averaging 2.25 goals per game in May after being shutout in four of their first seven games. The Revs have conceded five goals on set-piece situations to tie Toronto for most in MLS.

Regardless of the opponent United has been playing with a swagger not seen in years. A win on Saturday will give United a first place position to match that swagger.

Green scores again, US settles for 1-1 draw vs New Zealand

Green scores again, US settles for 1-1 draw vs New Zealand

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Julian Green scored his second goal in two matches, before Monty Patterson's equalizer forced the United States to settle for a 1-1 draw in an exhibition against New Zealand on Tuesday night.

Lynden Gooch made his U.S. debut as a second-half substitute in a match played exactly a month before the Americans face Mexico to open their final round of World Cup qualifying.

Goalkeeper William Yarbrough kept New Zealand scoreless over 45 minutes in his first international start and third overall appearance.

David Bingham couldn't do the same in the second half, though he could hardly be blamed for Patterson's strike.

After U.S. forward Jozy Altidore failed to clear a corner kick aimed at New Zealand's Michael Boxhall, Patterson popped up to thump the loose ball into the net from about 5 yards out.

The 21-year-old Green scored his third career goal for the U.S. despite being only on the fringes of the team over the past two years.

Green has made just five appearances since his first goal for the U.S., which came very late in overtime of a 2-1 second-round loss to Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

But he earned an invite from coach Jurgen Klinsmann to camp after repeatedly making the 18-man roster for German power Bayern Munich.

After scoring the second goal in a 2-0 exhibition win at Cuba on Friday, Green put the U.S. ahead Tuesday in the 27th minute when he reached Altidore's knock-down header on the left flank.

Green dribbled to goal while defender Liam Graham retreated, cut to his right, and then fired a low, 18-yard shot that snuck between wrong-footed goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and the left post.

Gooch, a 20-year-old who has appeared seven times this season for Sunderland of England's Premier League, came on in the 59th minute.

The California native - whose Irish mother and English father give him three international options - created several lively sequences on the right, drawing chants of ''Gooooch!'' from the announced crowd of 9,012 at RFK Stadium.

In the 64th minute, his cross found Green, who lofted a shot well high of the goal. And in the 89th, his corner found Omar Gonzalez, whose header also soared above the crossbar.

The U.S. continued to press, with Michael Bradley denied by Marinovic's diving stop in the 90th minute, and Gonzalez missing wide on another header in stoppage time.

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

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."

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