United ready to make friendly count

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United ready to make friendly count

The friendly with Paris St. Germain was fun, but D.C. United is hoping the 1-1 tie with the French league giant was also productive. The answer will play out in Saturday's home game against revitalized Eastern Conference rival Columbus Crew.

"I think by the way we played this is a boost of confidence," Dwayne De Rosario said after last Saturday's match. "If we can play with teams like PSG, then we can play with any team. We just have to show up and play with that same confidence."

United's play on the field has matched the uneven summer schedule. In five games over the last two months United managed only an uninspired 1-0 win against Philadelphia and a 3-0 win over Montreal. In July a ten-man United lost to Houston 4-0 and most recently in MLS play a 1-0 road loss to the Crew.

On the heels of the losses to the Dynamo and Crew, United's head coach Ben Olsen wanted the approach to PSG to be like a league match. United had lost its swagger. The rhythm and possession that led the Black and Red to the top of the Eastern Conference were missing. The game against PSG allowed United to play without the pressure of failure.

"I thought our possession was as good as it has been all year," Olsen noted. "It was because of the fact that we just played simple. We didn't complicate, we just got the ball to the next guy and gave the next guy more time on the ball. Everybody wanted the ball and we were confident."

The match against PSG comes with all kinds of qualifiers. It was only a friendly and PSG had only played a couple of pre-season games. Still PSG offered a side worth several hundred million dollars and after conceding an early goal to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, United not only responded but dictated much of the possession.

Against PSG United used the now familiar set up of Dwayne De Rosario playing below the striker and Branko Boskovic in the center of the midfield. Their ability to link together is a driving force in United's way of playing, but it is also critical for outside backs Danel Woolard and Chris Korb to be involved.

"The coaches want to play attacking, quality soccer," Korb said. "I think that comes into play with outside backs getting forward and I think that is why they like me in some games and some spots. That doesn't hurt me at all. I just want to get better going forward and get more assists and help the team win."

In his second year in MLS, Korb is starting at right back in place of Robbie Russell who is out with plantar fasciitis. Over the last season and a half Korb has found himself in the starting eleven twenty times and is growing in confidence. On the left side, with Marc Burch now in Seattle, Woolard has seized the opportunity and become a valuable and versatile defender.

On Saturday United will be looking to avenge its loss in Columbus two weeks ago. On the season the Crew's offense has been anemic with only 20 goals from 19 matches. There is hope for the Crew with the arrival of Jairo Arrieta from Saprissa in Costa Rica. In his third match with the Crew, Arrieta netted two goals in a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.

The Crew has played one fewer game, but is only five points behind United in the Eastern Conference standings. Like United, the Crew is also energized by success in a friendly, a 2-1 win over Stoke City. Both teams believe they are ready for the finals three months of the MLS season.

"It is our responsibility to win games at home," said Olsen. "Yes we have lost three of four games, but they are away games. You have to take care of home games and you will be okay in this league."

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.