DCU faces must win vs. Toronto FC

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DCU faces must win vs. Toronto FC

The Major League Soccer league table suggests D.C. United is in a good position to secure three points Saturday in Toronto. Recent history suggests that predicting results in MLS is not that easy.

United has every reason to be confident. The team is riding a four-game unbeaten streak and suddenly showing more resolve on the road. In Uniteds last three matches away from RFK Stadium they have snared four points including last Saturdays 1-1 draw in Portland.

We have to find ways now to kill games off, said United head coach Ben Olsen. We've done a pretty good job of that as of late, but it will help if we can find a way now to get the second goal when we do have the lead and teams are pushing.

United also has reasons to be concerned. The pain of missing the playoffs the last four seasons is real. On the last day of the regular season in both 2008 and 2009 United had its playoffs dreams squashed. Last year United unraveled over the final month of the season with Chris Pontius sidelined by a broken leg.

More recently United has witnessed Chicago, Houston, and Columbus fall to teams below them in the standings. Indeed this playoff push is not for the faint of heart. Only first place Kansas City has clinched a playoff spot in the east and only five points separate second place New York from sixth place Columbus.

In short Saturdays game against Toronto FC is not without anxiety for the Black and Red. Toronto FC is winless in its last eleven games and is starving for success. TFC should also be angry with four goals conceded in each of its last two games to add to league-high total of 59 goals against for the season.

While it is reasonable to assume that Toronto is due for some measure of happiness in front of its passionate and knowledgeable supporters, it seldom has gone that way. Two years ago United added to Torontos legacy of woe when Julius James scored in a 1-0 win that triggered a chorus of the Twisted Sister song Were Not Going To take It from fans at BMO Field.

Thats history and United has to be concerned with the present. The eerie timing of Dwayne De Rosarios season ending injury, similar to when Pontius was lost last year, unsettled supporters afraid of a similar ending, but the United is demonstrating a resolve made possible by its depth and versatility.

In its last two road matches United has gone with a 4-5-1 formation with Lionard Pajoy as the lone forward up top. Reserve midfielder Lewis Neal is starting to take a more prominent role. He has been used on the flank and as a holding midfielder. Against Portland Chris Pontius shifted into a withdrawn striker role behind Pajoy.

With all its possibilities on the team sheet, United can also take confidence in the possibilities should this tight Eastern Conference come down to a tiebreaker. The first two tiebreakers are total goals scored and goal differential. Only New York has scored more goals than United and only New York and Kansas City has a better goal differential.

I have been here since the 2009 season and we have yet to make the playoffs, said United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. When I was a kid coming to the games, they (United) were always in the playoffs. I want to do my part to make it happen again.

NWSL Highlights: Spirit catch Thorns atop standings in Week 13

NWSL Highlights: Spirit catch Thorns atop standings in Week 13

Week 13 in the National Women’s Soccer League saw the Washington Spirit finally catch the Portland Thorns atop the table, while the Houston Dash snapped a six-game losing streak.

Orlando and Chicago squared off in a game with huge playoff implications, and Sky Blue FC and Boston met for Northeast bragging rights.

NWSL Week 10 highlights include final games by USWNT members

NWSL Week 10 highlights include final games by USWNT members

Another week of NWSL action is in the books, but Week 10 was far from just another slate of games. We saw the Western New York Flash make league history in Rochester plus late drama in Orlando and Washington.

This was also the final weekend of NWSL play before members of the U.S. Women's National Team report for camp ahead of the Rio Olympics. 

With 1-0 loss to Colombia, US finishes 4th in Copa America

With 1-0 loss to Colombia, US finishes 4th in Copa America

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Carlos Bacca beat goalkeeper Tim Howard by sliding to poke in a headed cross in the 31st minute, and the United States finished fourth in the Copa America with a 1-0 defeat against Colombia on Saturday night.

After losing to Argentina 4-0 in the semifinals, the 31st-ranked U.S. was beaten by No. 3 Colombia for the second time in the 16-nation tournament.

Bobby Wood came closest to scoring for the U.S. when he hit a post in the 62nd, one minute after Colombia's Juan Cuadrado hit the underside of the crossbar.

The U.S. matched its previous best finish in the tournament, when it lost to Colombia in the 1995 fourth-place game at Uruguay.

After the Americans lost to Jamaica in the semifinals of last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and struggled in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping his team would rebound in the Copa, when right back DeAndre Yedlin, central defender John Brooks, midfielder Gyasi Zardes and forward Bobby Wood solidified their positions as regular starters.

Darlington Nagbe and 17-year-old Christian Pulisic again entered as second-half subs, two more players who could break through and replace veterans during the remaining 16 months of World Cup qualifying.

Colombia, which never has won the Copa America, finished third for fourth time but first since 1995. Argentina plays Chile for the title on Sunday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Both teams finished a man short, when American defender Michael Orozco and Colombian defender Santiago Arias were ejected for a confrontation in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Orozco is suspended the U.S.'s World Cup qualifier at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, and Arias for Colombia's qualifier against Venezuela.

Klinsmann inserted the 37-year-old Howard into his lineup in place of Brad Guzan, who had started the previous nine games. Matt Besler was in central defense instead of Brooks, who was bothered by knee inflammation, and Orozco was at left back because Fabian Johnson has a sore groin.

Midfielders Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya returned to the lineup along with Wood after the three served one-game suspensions.

Colombia scored after Juan Cuadrado, from along a flank, cut the ball back to James Rodriguez, just outside the penalty area. Arias made a run to get by Bedoya, and Rodriguez lofted a pass to Arias, who jumped at the edge of the 6-yard box and headed the ball across Howard's goal to Bacca. The forward slid ahead of Yedlin to nudge the ball in for his 13th international goal, his second of the tournament.

Clint Dempsey, who led the U.S. with three goals in the tournament, nearly scored on a free kick in the 51st minute. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina dived left and lifted his right arm to tip Dempsey's effort wide.