United prepares for clash

United prepares for clash

There should be no reason for D.C. United to panic. Despite inconsistent form United is still in a playoff position. Furthermore the Black and Red has the confidence of not having lost at home since the opening game as it prepares for a massive clash Wednesday against the New York Red Bulls.
To describe the third meeting of the season against the Red Bulls as massive is probably not an exaggeration. Beyond the built-in rivalry and the Atlantic Cup trophy that is on the line, the Red Bulls are in second place five points ahead of United and only two points behind Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City.
United has played one fewer game than the Red Bulls, but it is more the teams quality in games than quantity of games played that is the concern. It has been a disruptive summer. In June and July United only had five leagues matches and now is trying to survive a stretch of five matches in 14 days.
The heavy schedule weighed heavily on head coach Ben Olsens mind as the team went into last Saturdays game in Montreal. Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario, who had a slight calf strain, were used as substitutes instead of starters. Nick De Leon was sidelined by an illness. A 3-0 loss to the Impact followed.
You cant play these guys every game, with two days rest in between three games, said Olsen said. I went out with a group that had some energy and overall they were pretty good. I didnt think we got two big calls that might get us out of here with the result.
It really could have been different. For all the possession the Impact had, they only had one shot in the first half. Still the Impact had the first goal. United is a perfect 7-0 this season when it scores first, but has struggled to a 1-7-2 mark when it concedes the first goal.
I think we just need to fight a little harder and work more for each other, De Rosario said. Every time a team scores against us, we put our heads down and think its the end. Then, we stop really pushing forward and we want to keep the ball. We are playing more reserved defensively; staying back, and then it creates a lot of space.
Whether it has been through injuries, suspensions, or fatigue, United has not been able to field a consistent lineup. The lineup changes may in part explain Uniteds unpredictability. The team no longer has the momentum that propelled it to the top of the table at mid-season. United has not won consecutive games since a four-game winning streak in late May that carried into June.
Its hard to put a finger on, said United defender Brandon McDonald. We have done well though bouncing back after a loss. We know what is at stake. We have done well at home. The fans are behind us and we feed off their energy. It is a whole different animal when we are here.
United does usually put on a show at R.F.K. Stadium. Multi-goal games are the norm. Since United lost 1-0 in the season opener to Sporting Kansas City, only twice in twelve matches has United failed to score more than one goal. In addition United has outscored opponents at home by a convincing 29-12 advantage.
Against the Red Bulls it will be interesting to see if United stays with the partnership of Marcelo Saragosa and Perry Kitchen. They have paired together in the center of the midfield in the last two games. Against Montreal Kitchen completed 34 of 42 passes and was more involved in the attack and against Chicago the formation was a resounding success in a 4-2 win.
The Red Bulls were able to earn a 1-1 draw on the road against Kansas City to stop a three-game losing streak away from home. To secure the point the Red Bulls needed an own goal, but they now possess a potentially lethal attack that produced five goals in the previous two home matches.
The Red Bulls forward combination of Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry has combined for 25 goals. In the midfield former Everton star and Australian international Tim Cahill already has a goal and two assists in just four matches. Add to the mix Sebastian Le Toux and Joel Lindpere and Uniteds defenders will have no shortage of responsibilities.

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.