United look to keep rolling vs. SKC

841941.png

United look to keep rolling vs. SKC

It's been a good week for Sporting Kansas City. After snaring there points on the road against New England, SKC returned home and worked 120 minutes and won the U.S. Open Cup.

In short, D.C. United is looking to spoil the party.

"The confidence is high on this team right now," said United leading scorer Chris Pontius. "We believe we can go in there and do something special."

United goes into tonight's match at Livestrong Sporting Park on the heels of Saturday's 1-0 home result against Columbus. In that game Pontius continued his magnificent 2012 with his tenth goal, but Dwayne De Rosario suffered a sore shoulder and is now listed as doubtful to play against Kansas City.

De Rosario has played in all 21 of United's matches this season and he would be missed if he is forced to the bench. Still United has proven to be resilient with their depth and versatility. For example, both De Rosario and Pontius have succeeded in forward and midfield roles.

De Rosario and newcomer Long Tan has been the first choice tandem up top for United. Tan is likely to continue in his role. He has impressed with his runs off the ball and ability to get into scoring position. Tan's lone MLS goal was last year against United when he played for Vancouver.

De Rosario did train on Thursday and United's need for him to play is heightened by a shortage of healthy forwards. Head coach Ben Olsen's other favored forward options Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi are out. Salihi has a toe injury and Santos is dealing with a stomach virus.

United also knows it will have to go without Robbie Russell again at right back where Chris Korb has served as a more than a capable fill-in. Daniel Woolard, who was having his best professional season, is now also on the sideline with concussion symptoms and that presents an opening at left back.

On the plus side Andy Najar is back with the United after playing for Honduras at the Olympics where Los Catrachos reached the quarterfinals. Najar rejoins a team that has been getting inspired play from its flanks with Pontius and more recently rookie Nick De Leon. Najar will have to again compete for his spot if there is not room in the starting eleven because of injury.

"I talked to Andy to make sure he understands it's D.C. United time," Olsen said. "I have been through that and whether you do well or not it is intense being apart of the Olympics. Doing well may be even is more taxing. He didnt play the last game and he didnt have 90-minute games before that."

On Wednesday Sporting Kansas City claimed its second U.S. Open Cup title, but it took penalty kicks to decide it after the match with the Seattle Sounders finished 1-1 through 120 minutes. The match marked the return of Roger Espinoza from playing with Najar for Honduras at the Olympics.

"Kansas City not an easy place to play," said Pontius. "Hopefully we can catch them on a little bit of tired legs and then make them pay. They are very athletic, very organized and they have Espinoza back and that will be a plus for them."

Sporting head coach Peter Vermes might have to adjust his lineup given the minutes his charges have been put through. It is possible that C.J. Sapong, who is from Manassas, could factor in the game after missing the last two matches with a hip injury. Sapong has five goals and is second to Kei Kamara, who has eight goals, on the SKC scoring chart.

"Regardless of what they (SKC) put out there, it's still a philosophy that's the same," noted Olsen. "The way we want to go about them is not going to change. They have a good team speed about them, they like to pressure high and get you in bad spots."

Sporting does not give up much on defense. In the last six matches SKC has recorded four clean sheets. The 1-0 win over New England was the 10th shutout of the season for goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, keeping him in a tie for the league lead with Houston's Tally Hall.

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.