Will DCU be without both captains in pivitol Game 2?

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Will DCU be without both captains in pivitol Game 2?

D.C. United knows exactly what they must do on Sunday. In order to keep their playoff hopes alive and advance to the Cup Finals, they must win by three goals.  

It isn't an impossible task. In fact, it's one that this club has managed three times already this season. This time, however, they may have to do so with the aid of their two leading goal scorers, who happened to play an integral role in each of the aforementioned victories.  

Chris Pontius, who left Game 1 in Houston on Sunday with a strained groin, may not be ready to go for the second crucial leg of the series.  Pontius, the club's most productive man on offense, has yet to practice with the club this week.

"[Pontius' injury] at this point looks a bit more severe than [Brandon McDonald and Marcelo Saragosa], but there's still a chance that he'll be OK as well."

Dwayne DeRosario, out since early September with a sprained MCL, is currently listed as probable on the MLS injury report.  At the time, the 2011 MLS MVP had notched seven goals on the season and ranked second in the league with 12 assists.  

"[De Rosario] looks good, energized, fresh," said teammate Nick DeLeon. "He looks like he's ready to play."

Olsen wouldn't confirm, but agreed that the chances of seeing De Rosario's return to the pitch this Sunday are good.  But ater missing more than two months, however, the midfielder will not likely be back to true form.

"He looks pretty good at training. The stamina side is different in the playoffs as opposed to a regular game, but that's coming along. We're not sure how many minutes he has in him really, but he certainly can score and change games so you might be able to see him on Sunday."

The team has had to find a way to scrap together wins throughout the season with various players going down and backups stepping in. Goal scoring is distributed fairly evenly on the stat sheet and United is no stranger to moving parts.   

"Someone who hasn't done anything special in one game, the next they're scoring the game-winning goal," said DeLeon. "I have no doubt that someone will step in and fill [Pontius'] role and do just as good or even better."

In desperate need of at least a two goal lead in regulation time in Game 2, Olsen will have to make tweaks to both his game plan and roster.  

"We're certainly going to have to be a little bit more aggressive but nothing really has to change. We've had success at home playing the way we play at home. It's not a thing where we need two goals in the first 20 minutes. If we're in good shape towards the end of this game with a lead, I like our chances. But we can't give one up, we can't be silly on set pieces that they have shown they're pretty darn good at.

"We know we have to be aggressive, we know we have to go after them, but we also have to be patient. It's that fine balance. We know they're not going to want to just sit back, they're going to want to attack as well. It's a little bit of a chess match in that sense."

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

As U.S. Women’s Soccer star Heather O’Reilly steps into international retirement Thursday night, her soon-to-be former teammates are jumping at the chance to honor O’Reilly one last time.

"She’s the best teammate I ever had,” said Ali Krieger, who has played alongside O’Reilly on the USWNT since 2008. “She’s such an inspiration for so many young athletes, but also for us – her current teammates and the players in the National Women’s Soccer League. She’s been a legend.”

O’Reilly will end her 15-year international career when the U.S. Women face Thailand in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday night.

“She’s motivated me and I know my teammates to want to better themselves every single day,” Krieger said of O’Reilly’s legacy on the national team. “That is something that she can leave us. I’m so happy for her, I’m really proud of her and she continued to inspire me every single day. I wish her all the best and I’m going to miss her like crazy.”

Of all O’Reilly’s teammates, few can appreciate the retiring legend quite like Krieger. The two often featured together on the right side of the U.S. formation, Krieger in defense and O’Reilly just ahead of her in midfield, resulting in a bond that will last beyond their playing days.

“We always say ‘right side – strong side’, so we’re going to hold on to that forever,” Krieger said with a smile. “She’s one of my best friends on the team and I support her decision.”

O’Reilly’s decision was likely made easier by the changing landscape of the national team. After seeing her minutes dwindle during last summer’s successful World Cup run, the 31-year-old veteran was left off the U.S. Olympic Team in August instead traveling to Brazil as an alternate.

Despite that, O’Reilly’s career compares favorably to pretty much every other U.S. international. O'Reilly made her senior international debut while still in high school, and her 230 appearances rank seventh all-time in U.S. Women’s National Team history. 

“It’s so much more than the player that she is and what she’s done for the national team,” said U.S. Women’s National Team forward Crystal Dunn. “It’s her – the person – that I’m going to miss seeing in camps and chatting it up.”

Though they didn’t overlap in Chapel Hill, both Dunn and O’Reilly played collegiately for North Carolina. Thanks to that Tar Heel connection, the duo trained together frequently even when not with the U.S. team.

“She was just one of those people that I looked up to,” Dunn added. “She would kick my butt every single day and I was so in awe that she would go out of her way to help make me better."

MORE SOCCER: STL: 'Tyrant'-like act by Spirit to stifle Rapinoe protest

Spirit players speak out against owner shutting down Rapinoe's protest

Spirit players speak out against owner shutting down Rapinoe's protest

Two days after the Washington Spirit organization changed the timing of their pregame routine in order to preempt Megan Rapinoe’s national anthem protest, Spirit players are speaking out against the team’s decision.

"We respect our owner’s freedom to share his views and we understand his intentions,” read a statement posted on the Spirit website. “But as a team we don’t necessarily agree with those opinions or the actions taken Wednesday evening.” 

The statement - signed ‘all of the players of the Washington Spirit’ - was also posted to Spirit captain, and longtime U.S. Women’s National Team star, Ali Krieger’s personal website. 

“As a team, we were disappointed we were not informed of the plans for the national anthem or given an opportunity to weigh in on the decision,” the statement continued.

The Washington Spirit and Rapinoe’s Seattle Reign FC were still in the locker rooms when the national anthem was played ahead of schedule at Wednesday’s National Women’s Soccer League match between the two teams. 

In an exclusive interview Tuesday afternoon, Rapinoe told CSN that she planned to kneel during the national anthem prior to Wednesday's game - as she did before Sunday's NWSL contest between Seattle and the Chicago Red Stars.