Dynamo beat United 3-1 in first leg of East final

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Dynamo beat United 3-1 in first leg of East final

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Dynamo are 90 minutes away from their fourth MLS Cup final since 2006.

Andre Hainault, Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie each scored second-half goals to give the Houston Dynamo a 3-1 win over D.C. United on Sunday in the first leg of the Eastern Conference finals.

The win gives Houston a two-goal aggregate lead heading into next Sunday's decisive match at RFK Stadium in Washington.

"We played a wonderful second half," said Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear. "That just shows the great character we have to score three in the second half after being down 1-0 early."

The Dynamo extended their home unbeaten streak to 30 games in all competitions, dating to June 18, 2011, when they lost to Columbus. Houston is four wins or ties shy of matching Real Salt Lake's league-record 34-game home unbeaten streak.

Nick DeLeon scored for United in the 27th minute.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Dynamo tied it in the 51st minute when Hainault one-timed a pass from Boniek Garcia high into the net. It was Hainault's first goal of these playoffs and third of his career.

Houston defender Bobby Boswell made the save of the match in the 66th when he stopped a point-blank shot by Lionard Pajoy on the goal line with Dynamo keeper Tally Hall just out of position.

That set up Bruin's go-ahead goal one-minute later. Sarkodie got his first MLS goal in the 80th minute to seal it for the Dynamo, who are in their fifth conference final in seven seasons.

"The stop by Bobby really changed the game for us," said Bruin, who has scored six goals in seven career matches against United. "That was good awareness, and he is a smart player. It is the little things like that that really have made a difference for our team all year."

DeLeon scored when he put a rebound past Hall. After Lionard Pajoy bounced a shot off the far post, the rebound came back to DeLeon, who fired a shot into the net off Hainault.

Backup goalkeeper Joe Willis made four saves for D.C., while Hall had two for Houston.

"At the half, the mood in the locker was normal, I will say," said Kinnear. "There was no panic, our heads were not down. The guys were a little disappointed to be down 1-0, but by no means were we frustrated."

D.C. captain Chris Pontius left the game in the 12th minute with a left groin strain. Lewis Neal replaced the United striker and recorded the first shot of the game in the 17th.

In the 23rd, Houston fanned on its first legitimate chance of the match. Boniek Garcia sent a free kick into the middle of the box to a wide-open Hainault, but his header was wide.

Houston took the regular season series 2-1, but United won the only game at RFK Stadium back in May. Houston outscored D.C. 7-3 in three games during the regular season and is 9-2-4 all-time against United.

The Dynamo played without several starters due to injury. Jermaine Taylor and Calen Carr sat with left knee and left hamstring injuries, respectively, and Ricardo Clark did not play because of an adductor injury.

"The weeklong break will be good for us," said Kinnear. "It will be a time to heal and get ready for what will no doubt be a hard-fought finish to this series."

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.