United hopes to avoid trap against Toronto

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United hopes to avoid trap against Toronto

Two teams in very different places collide Saturday at R.F.K Stadium. D.C. United is tied for second place in the Eastern Conference and has not lost at home since the season opener. Toronto FC has yet to win this season and is coming off the cruelest of road ties.

Torontos last MLS match was the 2-0 loss at home to D.C. United on May 5. Since then Toronto has advanced to the Canadian Championship Final series, but in the opening leg ended up settling for a 1-1 tie on the road Wednesday against Vancouver. The Whitecaps tied the game in the 91st minute.

Eric Hasslis equalizer was a volley rocketed from 14-yards out and fit perfectly in Torontos MLS season of woe. In stumbling to a 0-8 record, Toronto has only led in a league match once and has twice given up goals in the opening ten minutes of matches and lost once in stoppage time.

Those are always tricky, United head coach Ben Olsen said of playing a winless team. They are a pretty desperate team. They are playing much better in the past couple of weeks and they have some keys guys back healthy. We have to be focused and expect a challenge, but we are at home and should take care of them.

Former German international and team captain Torsten Frings missed six games with a hamstring injury and then suffered another setback when he injured his shoulder against D.C. United. While TFC is waiting to get Frings back, it is encouraged that forward Danny Koevermans was healthy enough after a groin strain to be used as a substitute in Vancouver.

United knows all too well about dealing with injuries, but played through a crowded training room and turned in arguably its most complete performance of the season in a 2-0 win midweek against Colorado. Lewis Neal, Branko Boskovic, and Hamdi Salihi were pressed into starting roles and combined on the second goal.

I think we complicated some of the plays in the first half. Early it was sharp and moving, and then we started taking three instead of two touches and complicating the game. Overall, it was a pretty good performance. I was very happy with the depth from some of the guys that havent had 90 minutes. They did a good job.

With Chris Pontius and Maicon Santos out with injuries, Boskovic started in an attacking midfield role with Dwayne De Rosario pushed forward. For Boskovic it was his best game since coming to United in late 2010. He had three shots on target and his fourth shot led to Hamdi Salihis goal. On seven corner kicks, Boskovic also impressed.

Salihi is one of Uniteds three designated players now has three goals in his last four games. It was his first as a starter. Playing with De Rosario up top also allowed Salihi more space for his precise runs. With De Rosario drawing defenders, Salihi was in better position to finish. Neal answered Olsens challenge to be more of an offensive threat on the flank with more crosses.

Ive said from the first game that I like it when I come out here, because we have a clear idea of how we want to work, and we work this way every day, Salihi said. And now everybody can see that every day this is working better and better.

It would seem likely that Salihi would get another start Saturday, but after that Olsens lineup is less clear. It has been a congested schedule with five games in seventeen days and the injury list remains long. Central defenders Emiliano Dudar and Dejan Jakoic are sill nursing injuries and are only listed as probable. Fortunately Daniel Woolard has adjusted to a switch inside from outside back.

Daniel Woolard really seems to like center back, so now Ive got to deal with that, Olsen added. Its a nice problem to have because hes been really good in there, and Brandon McDonalds been a rock as of late. Hes physically been an ironman through this.

D.C. United is closing in on a two-week break after next Saturdays game against New England. They are close to being able to have a chance to heal physically. Mentally United seems to be together. Avoiding a stumble against Toronto will help keep it that way.

NWSL Highlights: Spirit catch Thorns atop standings in Week 13

NWSL Highlights: Spirit catch Thorns atop standings in Week 13

Week 13 in the National Women’s Soccer League saw the Washington Spirit finally catch the Portland Thorns atop the table, while the Houston Dash snapped a six-game losing streak.

Orlando and Chicago squared off in a game with huge playoff implications, and Sky Blue FC and Boston met for Northeast bragging rights.

NWSL Week 10 highlights include final games by USWNT members

NWSL Week 10 highlights include final games by USWNT members

Another week of NWSL action is in the books, but Week 10 was far from just another slate of games. We saw the Western New York Flash make league history in Rochester plus late drama in Orlando and Washington.

This was also the final weekend of NWSL play before members of the U.S. Women's National Team report for camp ahead of the Rio Olympics. 

With 1-0 loss to Colombia, US finishes 4th in Copa America

With 1-0 loss to Colombia, US finishes 4th in Copa America

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Carlos Bacca beat goalkeeper Tim Howard by sliding to poke in a headed cross in the 31st minute, and the United States finished fourth in the Copa America with a 1-0 defeat against Colombia on Saturday night.

After losing to Argentina 4-0 in the semifinals, the 31st-ranked U.S. was beaten by No. 3 Colombia for the second time in the 16-nation tournament.

Bobby Wood came closest to scoring for the U.S. when he hit a post in the 62nd, one minute after Colombia's Juan Cuadrado hit the underside of the crossbar.

The U.S. matched its previous best finish in the tournament, when it lost to Colombia in the 1995 fourth-place game at Uruguay.

After the Americans lost to Jamaica in the semifinals of last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and struggled in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping his team would rebound in the Copa, when right back DeAndre Yedlin, central defender John Brooks, midfielder Gyasi Zardes and forward Bobby Wood solidified their positions as regular starters.

Darlington Nagbe and 17-year-old Christian Pulisic again entered as second-half subs, two more players who could break through and replace veterans during the remaining 16 months of World Cup qualifying.

Colombia, which never has won the Copa America, finished third for fourth time but first since 1995. Argentina plays Chile for the title on Sunday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Both teams finished a man short, when American defender Michael Orozco and Colombian defender Santiago Arias were ejected for a confrontation in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Orozco is suspended the U.S.'s World Cup qualifier at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, and Arias for Colombia's qualifier against Venezuela.

Klinsmann inserted the 37-year-old Howard into his lineup in place of Brad Guzan, who had started the previous nine games. Matt Besler was in central defense instead of Brooks, who was bothered by knee inflammation, and Orozco was at left back because Fabian Johnson has a sore groin.

Midfielders Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya returned to the lineup along with Wood after the three served one-game suspensions.

Colombia scored after Juan Cuadrado, from along a flank, cut the ball back to James Rodriguez, just outside the penalty area. Arias made a run to get by Bedoya, and Rodriguez lofted a pass to Arias, who jumped at the edge of the 6-yard box and headed the ball across Howard's goal to Bacca. The forward slid ahead of Yedlin to nudge the ball in for his 13th international goal, his second of the tournament.

Clint Dempsey, who led the U.S. with three goals in the tournament, nearly scored on a free kick in the 51st minute. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina dived left and lifted his right arm to tip Dempsey's effort wide.