DCU begins road trip in San Jose


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.

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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