For D.C. United opportunity lost


For D.C. United opportunity lost

After dominating the first half of their first playoff match in five years, D.C. United had nothing to show for it despite numerous first-half scoring chances, including a penalty kick awarded to captain Chris Pontius.  

Their persistence was finally rewarded in the 61st minute when Roy Miller’s attempt to clear a cross from Chris Korb to Nick DeLeon ended up in the back of his own net.  

“It was a great ball by Korb and Nick [DeLeon] put pressure on their defender to clear the ball,” said Pontius.  “We had so many great chances, something was bound to happen.”

Moments later D.C. United would even things up with their own own goal.  As Bill Hamid attempted to knock down a rebound from Thierry Henry’s corner kick, the netminder fell back into his own net.   Believing he had been fouled by New York’s Marcus Holgersson, Hamid chased the referee out to midfield in a moment of lost composure that would set the tone for DCU’s second half.

“I got bumped,” said Hamid.  “Watch the replay.  I got bumped.”

United’s frustration with the Red Bulls’ physical play and lack of referee calls finally boiled over in the 70th minute when Andy Najar was tagged with a yellow card for a slide tackle.  Clearly unhappy with the call, the defender threw the ball back at the referee, earning a second yellow card and automatic dejection from the game.  

“I’ve never seen that and for a fact I don’t think it was intentional,” said Dejan Jakovic of Najar’s outburst.  “He turned around and threw the ball --he didn’t see where he was throwing it-- and unfortunately it ended up hitting the ref.”

“It’s a playoff game and there are high emotions,” said Pontius.  “We gotta keep our heads a little bit better but this team has a lot of character and a lot of passion and I think you saw that tonight.”

DCU would be forced to play out the remainder of the match with a side of 10.   Despite their man advantage, the Red Bulls were unable to capitalize and failed to put a shot on goal.  

In 94 minutes of play, United’s defense held the Red Bulls, who boast two of the league’s top scorers, to just two shots on goal.  United put five shots on target, narrowly missed on a pair of goal mouth attemps from Branko Boskovic and DeLeon and still managed four strikes to New York's one after losing Najar, yet both teams exited the field in an unsatisfying 1-1 draw.  

“I think we played a great game.  Even when we went down a man we still had some chances,” said Jakovic.  “I don’t think a lot of calls went our way and obviously some frustration came into play but that’s part of the game.  We held our shape and kept them in front of us and the whole game I don’t think they were really dangerous at all.”

Najar will have to sit as the two-game series heads to New York on Wednesday, November 7 to determine who will advance to the Eastern Conference Championship.  

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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