DCU begins road trip in San Jose

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DCU begins road trip in San Jose

They have new found swagger and they have unbeaten streaks. The San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United were both spectators in the playoffs last season, but ahead of their Wednesday meeting they are Major League Soccers hottest teams.

For United the match against the Earthquakes will be the first of three straight games on the road and the Black and Red begins its journey with a league-high seven game unbeaten streak punctuated by consecutive wins for the first time since 2009. The Earthquakes have not lost in six matches.

Oh and the swagger is there and was on display for United and the Earthquakes in their most recent matches. Steven Lenhart scored two goals including the game winner in the 93rd minute to life the Quakes to a 2-1 win in Philadelphia. At home United navigated through a disciplined Houston team to win 3-2 on the strength of two Maicon Santos goals.

Theres something to this team, theyve got a little bit of chutzpah, United head coach Ben Olsen said after Saturdays victory over the Dynamo. We had a couple plays when we fouled up, and Houston capitalized and we had guys bail them out. Thats part of being a team.

Now the trick is for United to survive and excel away from home while dealing with the loss of Emiliano Dudar on defense. Dudar is now sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered against the Dynamo. A hamstring injury forced Dudar to miss two games in April. When healthy Dudar has arguably been Uniteds best defender with a precise ability to distribute from the back.

We have some options, Olsen said of Uniteds need to replace Dudar in the first eleven. Perrys (Kitchen) played there before; Robbies (Russell) played there; Daniel Woolards played there. Its not ideal because Dudars been a stud, and well be missing him.

Olsen is confident that United will weather Dudars loss and noted, theres some spirit to this team, and a little adversity isnt going to scare them. Uniteds adversity includes the absence of defender Dejan Jakovic who is recovering from an ankle sprain. Brandon McDonald has been the constant in the middle of Uniteds defense and has only missed one game because of suspension.

With Dudar and Jakovic missing, its hard not to envision Perry Kitchen moving back to the back line from defensive midfield. Kitchen moved to right back when Dudar was injured and then Robbie Russell slotted in next to McDonald. Marcelo Saragosa is back from Brazil after the death of his father and can again be the top choice at defensive midfielder.

United has plenty of healthy options in attack. Up front a connection is being made between Chris Pontius and Maicon Santos. Over the last four games Santos and Pontius have combined to score eight of Uniteds ten goals. Each has found the net four times and Pontius with his runs is drawing defenders and opening space for Santos.

Maicon is a big boy and willing to do a lot of the work as far as holding the balls up and fighting, said Olsen. Chris is very mobile underneath and behind. He plays off Maicon very well. For now, its a good partnership.

The Earthquakes also boast impressive offensive options. Chris Wondolowski has scored 42 goals since the start of the 2010 MLS season, including eight this year. He was shutout last week against Philadelphia, but Lenharts two goals delivered San Joses first win without a Wondolowski goal since last June.

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.