For DCU friendly is for real

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For DCU friendly is for real

There have been times when the addition of an international friendly to D.C. Uniteds schedule has added chaos to an already crowded calendar. The summer of 2012 is not one of those times. United is looking forward to Saturdays visit of Paris St. Germain to R.F.K. Stadium.

We absolutely need it, said United head coach Ben Olsen of the game against PSG. We have to go after this and use this as a real game and an exercise to get us better. The summer has been a little slow for us and this is a chance to go against what I look at from pre-season one of the best teams in the world right now.

PSG is going through a major transformation. Last season they finished second to surprise champions Montpellier in Frances Ligue One. Now even more is expected of side coached by former Chelsea FC manager Carlo Ancelotti. In the last two years PSG has spent 243 million dollars buying players.

PSGs shopping spree includes Swedish International Zlatan Ibrahimovic who now holds the record as the worlds most expensive footballer. Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in 32 games last year for AC Milan and moved to Paris on a transfer fee estimated at 22 million dollars. In his career clubs have spent close to 170 million dollars on Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic was only a part of PSGs hot summer. Defender Thiago Silva also moved from Milan to Paris and many considered the Brazilian center back to be the best at his position in the world. In addition flank player Ezequiel Lavezzi, who helped script Napolis success in Serie A and Champions League, joined PSG.

I think they are set to be one of the worlds top clubs, said Uniteds Chris Pontius. I expect PSG to challenge for the Champions League trophy next year especially with all the acquisitions they have made. You look at them against Chelsea and there were very, very good.

Pontius scored the goal that tied the game at two in the Major League All Stars 3-2 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday. The assist on the goal was from teammate Dwayne De Rosario and led to Pontius being named MVP of the All Star game. It was another triumphant example of Pontius recovery from a broken leg last September.

If you would told me coming out of high school in California that I would be playing against Chelsea and PSG in the same week I would have said you were crazy, said Pontius. We had success at the All Star game and I am hoping for the same against PSG.

We have to be organized and pick our moments when to go, added Pontius. They (PSG) have some players that can hurt you and we have to limit our mistakes They are going to chances and they are going to get their looks.

United is set to face PSG at a time when they seem out of rhythm. In its last five matches the Black and Red has only managed wins against Philadelphia and Montreal and has been shutout in recent defeats to Columbus and Houston. Through the summer slump Pontius has still prevailed and scored four of the teams last six goals.

You want to see with guys that do well in the MLS is how they perform when they play with better players, Olsen said. The other night (All Star game) was a pretty big step for him (Pontius). I know the game had opened up, but the stage was big and he did well. I think it will help Chris move forward and continue on the run he has been on.

Now it is about getting the rest of United moving in a forward direction again. Olsen does not believe his team is that far away from getting back to its winning ways. Olsen has dismissed the 4-0 loss to Houston when United was reduced to ten men and doesnt think the 1-0 loss to Columbus was as bad as he first thought.

We need games, Olsen said of United. You can train and play 11-v-11, but it is not the same. We need to get in that mode of playing each week. We need to improve against PSG so we can get set for a big game at home against Columbus.

Imagine that, PSG is being used as a tune-up for Columbus. It is the stark reality for a United side that has only played five league matches in two months. For Olsen it will be his second test in four days against a European power after serving as head coach of the All-Star team.

And all I can think about is Columbus, Olsen said with a laugh. Thats the crazy thing about this, but thats where the job takes you. My focus is on our group and how we go about making the playoffs. Still I try to enjoy it. I really enjoyed it the other night, but I probably will enjoy it (PSG) less because it is my group and it is an important game for us.

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.