United have to get creative against Dynamo

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United have to get creative against Dynamo

R.F.K Stadium is big, but on the field space will be at a premium for D.C United in Saturday's home match against the Houston Dynamo. An organized and disciplined Dynamo side has found a way to 8 points from 5 matches and will test United's six-game unbeaten run.

"They (Houston) know each other very well," said United head coach Ben Olsen. "You don't get a lot of chances against Houston, you never do. You have to take advantage of those few opportunities you have."

Olsen's standing desire to have his team switch the point of attack will be especially important against the Dynamo. An offense without invention or creativity will struggle against the Dynamo's defense that is particularly strong in the middle with central defenders Geoff Cameron and Bobby Boswell.

United's flank players, which likely again will include Danny Cruz and Nick De Leon, will be needed to help the stretch the field. In addition United could use its outside backs to help in the attack. That is not the strength of left back Daniel Woolard, but it's possible for right back Robbie Russell to pick his spots and go forward.

Heading into Saturday's match United's offense is showing plenty of signs of life. Now playing at forward, Chris Pontius had his first career hat trick in Sunday's 4-1 win over New York and was named the MLS Player-of-the-Week. United is averaging nearly 15 shots per contest, and that means goals -- United has 12 on the season, trailing only New York (17) and San Jose (13).

On defense, United worked extensively on set pieces this week. The Dynamo has only 5 goals on the season, but two have come off corner kicks. However United should be confident with only eight goals allowed this season compared to 19 goals conceded at the same time last year.

"It's been a good run but we have long way to go," Olsen said. "We are starting to become a group that is tough to play against and that is committed every time that we step on the field. Now the soccer part and all the intricacies need to get a little better and sharper and I think k that will come with time. We are still a group that is new."

The work rate of United forward Maicon Santos is proving to be a critical ingredient in the Black and Red's early success. Santos has 4 goals and 1 assist to lead the team, but his active play has led to other goals and scoring chances. At 6'1'' and 186 pounds Santos gives United a different dynamic.

"He (Santos) gives us that physical presence that we have been missing up there," Olsen added. "Guys are doing a good job of playing off of him and that's one side of it. The other side is he is putting the ball in the back of the net. On the defensive side, he is working hard to put their backs under pressure and create turnovers."

Along with drawing attention for their six game unbeaten run, United is raising eyebrows for accomplishing it without goals from reigning league MVP Dwayne De Rosario, who is operating out of the midfield and not at forward. Through eight matches this season only four players in MLS have taken more shots. Still despite having 26 shots De Rosario remains goalless.

"He is in a different spot," Olsen explained. "No doubt if you pout De Ro right around the goal for 90 minutes he is going to get his goals. Right now we need him in the midfield. We are looking for him to be our rhythm guy to get the ball and get us out of pressure and be a link guy and then came late to play in and around the goal."

Saturday is an important test for United. Next week United travels to San Jose on Wednesday and Toronto on Saturday. Then on May 12 United will be in Houston when the Dynamo opens its new stadium. Three points at home are vital for United in an Eastern Conference table that is crowded below first place Sporting Kansas City.

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]