United look to continue home dominance

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United look to continue home dominance

Goal-difference allowed D.C. United to maintain possession of first place after Sundays loss to the New York Red Bulls. Keeping possession of the ball is now of more concern for United as it looks to extends its home unbeaten string Saturday against Montreal.

United is 6-0-2 at RFK Stadium since losing its season opener to Sporting Kansas City on March 10. What has transpired over the last three months is the development of United into a legitimate MLS Cup contender, but one that as head coach Ben Olsen always stresses, has plenty of work to do.

In the last two games on the road United struggled to seize control against both Philadelphia and New York. In fact the Union were the better team, but United found a way to a 1-0 win. Against the Red Bulls, United was overwhelmed in the first half and its chase of the game ended up short in a 3-2 loss.

We didnt figure out how to deal with some of the numbers they (Red Bulls) were throwing forward after we scored an early goal, Olsen noted. And, you know much like Philly we adjusted at halftime and I thought things went well from there. It was almost the opposite of the first half, and it was a little unlucky that we didnt finish a couple of pretty good chances there down the stretch.

It's been clear that Branko Boskovic has helped steady the midfield when he was brought on as a second half substitute in the last two games. Beyond his ability to deliver razor sharp set pieces, he has helped United wrestle back control of the matches against the Union and Red Bulls.

I thought overall I saw some really good attacking stuff, and Branko was a part of a lot of them," Olsen said after the loss to the Red Bulls. He came in and slowed the game down for us and gave us some real possession. Dwayne (De Rosario) going up a little bit I thought helped give us a little something.

Boskovic, who has three assists in the last four matches, was rewarded with a new contract this week. Back in 2010 Boskovic was signed as a designated player, but has spent much of his United career struggling with health and fitness. When healthy, Boskovic has displayed the quality that has made him the central figure on Montenegros national team.

Going into Saturdays game against the expansion Impact, Olsen has the luxury of managing a Black and Red side that is essentially at full fitness. Among Olsens options would be to do what he did in the second half of the Red Bulls game, and start Boskovic in the middle and push De Rosario higher below the striker.

If that happens then Olsen must figure out how to play forwards Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius and Hamdi Salihi. The three attackers are playing at a high level and since returning from an injured glut muscle Pontius has netted three goals in two games. With his 8 goals, Pontius is now one ahead of Santos for the teams goal scoring lead.

If Boskovic does get the nod in midfield, Olsen could return Pontius to a familiar position on the left side of midfield. If that happens, Olsen will then have to decide whether to open the game with Santos or Salihi up top with De Rosario. Regardless of whom starts it is clear United has the depth in midfield they will need with Andy Najar set to depart for Olympic duty with Honduras on Monday.

United is all too aware of the dangers of facing the expansion Impact. In their last meeting at RFK Stadium, the Impact earned a 1-1 draw. In fact the Impact opened the season 1-5-2, but since their match against United, they have gone 4-3-1. Like expansion teams often are, the Impact have been wildly inconsistent.

The Impact scored four goals each in two straight home games, before falling to Toronto FC 3-0 on Wednesday night at Stade Saputo. The Impact hardly looked like the side that enjoyed a 4-1 win over Seattle and a 4-2 win over Houston. The match ended with midfielder Patrice Bernier earning a league suspension for a reckless challenge, and he will not play against United.

The Impact have been getting it done it on offense by committee. Eight players have scored at least two goals. That could change with the addition of former Italian international Marco Di Vaio, who made his club debut against Toronto. Di Vaio is one of the greatest goal scorers in Serie A history with 142 goals in 342 games.

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.