First place United look for more against the Union

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First place United look for more against the Union

D.C. United is well aware of the calendar. It is June and thats not when trophies are handed out. United has every reason to be proud of winning four of six matches in May and grabbing first place in the Eastern Conference, but there is more work to do.

It is not about where we are, it is about the next game, Uniteds head coach Ben Olsen emphasized. Now that we are in first place we have a bigger target on our back and we can expect teams to fight harder against us. We have a full squad for the first time, so that is a good thing.

With a healthy team Olsen has plenty of options as United prepares to jump back into MLS play after a 22-day break with a road game Saturday against Philadelphia. It is the Union that spoiled Uniteds break from league play by knocking them out of the Open Cup in a round-of-sixteen match last week.

The loss to the Union in Open Cup play was jarring to United. Olsen called the defeat to the Union a wakeup call that served notice that his team might not be as good as they think they are. Olsens belief in the team is still as strong as ever, but he is hoping out of the disappointment of the Union loss a new resolve will emerge.

I would like to see us play with more anger, added Olsen. Successful clubs often play with chips on their shoulders and take on a real us against them mentality. We should have that anger against Philadelphia because they took what we wanted. They were hungrier.

There are definitely some hurt feelings, added defender Robbie Russell. Theres definitely some bitterness. Losing in the Open Cup like that and then playing that same team the first game back, theres going to be some emotion left over.

There will probably be a lot of emotion to go around. The Union has had a turbulent week. Peter Nowak was dismissed as head coach on Wednesday and Saturday will be interim head coach John Hackworths first game in charge. Hackworth was Nowaks assistant and the two had been together since the launch of the franchise in 2010.

Under Nowak, who led United to a MLS Cup title in 2004, the Union went 21-30-24. In the Unions second season there were signs of progress culminating in a playoff appearance. Since then the team has changed dramatically with goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, defender Dan Califf and forward Sebastian Le Toux and Danny Mwanga among the players to leave the Union.

The win over United in the Open Cup has been by far the highlight of the Unions season. Only Toronto FC has been worse in MLS play. In fact the Unions last MLS game was a 1-0 loss to Toronto. The Union has only two wins in eleven matches and has managed only eight goals, but in sports a team playing its first game for a new coach, even an interim one, is often dangerous.

Back to United and its desire to play with a new focus and yes even a new anger in an effort to maintain the first place standing it worked so hard to achieve. It will be up to Olsen to find the right mix among his now healthy and rested arsenal of players.

Midfielder Dwayne DeRosario and defender Dejan Jakavic were away with the Canadian Mens National Team for World Cup qualifying. Only De Rosario played in Tuesdays 0-0 draw with Honduras, but he should be ready to go for Saturday. De Rosario is two goals shy of 100 career MLS goals.

Regardless of who plays, Olsen has made it clear how he wants United to play. It is not just about channeling emotion, but also maturing as a team and becoming one that can manage prosperity. The Black and Red have come a long way since its low point in 2010 and is dictating the flow of games.

Its a concentration issue, Olsen said of Uniteds need to improve. We start to move it around and get some joy on the ball and that is okay, but we have been getting complacent. Against New England it was like we had a two-goal lead and thought that the job was done. We have been grinding it out for the last month.

With a first place target on its back United will try to do more than just grind it out in Saturdays rematch against the Union.

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

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AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

On Monday afternoon, Chelsea and Tottenham F.C. played to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, meaning Leicester City clinched the Barclays Premier League championship. 

While Leicester City still has a few games left, they have already clinched an outright title thanks to 77 points and a 22-11-3 record and the mantle of greatest underdog season in sports history.

Yes, sports history. All of it.

 The Foxes were promoted to the Premier League after winning the Football League Championship in 2014. Imagine a baseball team being called up to join the AL East and in just the second season, they clinched the pennant after leading the entire season.

Leicester City's estimated payroll for the 2015-16 season is 48.2 million pounds, which is good enough for 17th place, with Chelsea (215.6 million), Manchester United (203 million), Manchester City (193.8 million), Arsenal (192 million) and Liverpool (152 million) firmly cemented at the top.

Unlike a majority of American sports, there are no salary caps in international club football. A player can be bought by another team at any time during the transfer window. The teams at the top of the league, the traditional powers, are typically able to buy the best players because they have more money at their disposal. Since the formation of the English premier League in 1992, only one team outside the traditional powers has claimed the championship — the Blackburn Rovers in 1993.

Leicester City is now the second.

Leicester City had  5000-to-1 odds to win the championship at the beginning of the season. Think about this: Indiana, Illinois, and Colorado have 2000-to-1 odds to win the College Football Playoff championship this season. 

The Foxes were led by Jamie Vardy, who set an EPL record for consecutive games with a goal scored in with 11. Vardy has scored 22 goals in 34 appearances this season and is behind just Tottenham's Harry Kane (24) and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (23) in the league's scoring table. Aguero's salary calls for nearly 220-thousand pounds a week. Vardy makes roughly 45-thousand a week.

In clinching the championship, Leicester City has clinched a spot in the UEFA Champion's league, the top club competition in Europe., the first time in club history. The club was founded in 1884, 24 years before the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series. Not only has Leicester City never qualified for the UEFA Champion's League, but they have never qualified for the UEFA Europa League, the international competition for the teams that just miss out on the Champion's League.

Leicester City winning the Barclays Premier League makes what George Mason did in the 2006 NCAA Tournament look like a regular season MLB series in May.

Simply put, this is the most unthinkable and unexpected championship season in sports history.

 

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

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USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lamar Neagle scored on a penalty kick in the first half and D.C. United added two late goals to beat the New England Revolution 3-0 on Saturday.

Neagle converted from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute with a low shot into the left corner. Marcelo Sarvas drew the penalty on a run up the right side where Je-Vaughn Watson's foul occurred just inside the area.

Luciano Acosta scored his first MLS goal in the 86th minute on 20-yard chip shot that glanced in underneath the crossbar. Alvaro Saborio capped the scoring for D.C. United (2-3-3) with a breakaway goal in the 90th.

Revolution (1-2-5) defender Chris Tierney and United forward Fabian Espindola left the game before halftime with leg injuries.

United coach Ben Olsen served a one-game suspension for stepping on the field last Saturday. Assistant coach Chad Ashton oversaw the team in Olsen's absence.

Toronto ends winless-streak against United

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Toronto ends winless-streak against United

Sebastian Giovinco's goal in the first minute stood up in Toronto FC's 1-0 victory over DC United on Saturday.

Jozy Altidore got to the ball inside the box to the right of goalkeeper Travis Worra and rolled a cross that a sliding Marco Delgado reached and redirected a bit to his left and Giovinco was on the spot to tap it in for his fourth goal of the season.

That was enough for Toronto (2-2-2) to end a three-match winless streak as goalkeeper Clint Irwin made three saves. The toughest save came in the 30th minute when he got a hand on a tight shot by Patrick Nyarko out of traffic in front of the net.

DC (1-3-3) had 18 attempts but 10 were off target.

Toronto playing its sixth straight game on the road to open the season, had 10 shots, three on Worra.

[RELATED: Espindola, Saborio score twice as United tops Whitecaps 4-0]