For DCU friendly is for real


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.

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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