United begins four-game road stretch in Chicago

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United begins four-game road stretch in Chicago

Summer is here and DC United is hitting the road.

The Black and Red will not return home to what has been the very friendly confines of RFK Stadium until July 26 and begins a stretch of four road games in two weeks Wednesday in Chicago.

With its win on Sunday against New England, United enjoys a seven-point cushion on the second place Revolution. The secure standing at the top of the Eastern Conference is even though United, through injury and schedule management, has used 17 different starting lineups in 18 league games.

Included in United’s latest congested stretch is a round of 16 U.S. Open Cup match at Philadelphia on June 30. After Wednesday’s game in Chicago, United will travel to a match on Saturday in Toronto. It will briefly come home for its Cup meeting with the Union before having to head west and face Seattle on July 3.

Chicago is in last place in the Eastern Conference on 14 points and is trying to end a three-game losing streak. At the end of May the Fire crafted an impressive 3-0 shutout of Montreal, but its current slide started with a 3-1 loss to United at RFK, continued when it blew a lead in 3-2 loss to Orlando, and bottomed out in 2-0 shutout loss to New England. 

The challenge:

  1. Better start. DC United has become the master escape artist of MLS with a 5-4-1 record when it concedes the first goal. Without question it is a positive that United has been able to wiggle out of so many jams and still get points, but the challenge of playing from behind will be greater on the road especially against a Chicago team desperate for points.
  2. A goal for Nick De Leon. It is fair to say United is a better team when Nick De Leon is in the lineup. It was great to see him score in the Open Cup last week in Pittsburgh, but he has not scored in league play since last July. On Sunday, De Leon earned his third assist of the season when he connected with Fabian Espindola who provided the cross on Chris Rolfe’s goal. De Leon’s work rate is exceptional and now he just needs the reward of a goal.
  3. The Halsti impact. Look for Finnish international Markus Halsti to start in the center of midfield with Davy Arnaud sidelined by yellow card accumulation. In his time so far with United he has displayed vision on offense and steel on defense that will be needed against Chicago.
  4. Beware of the wounded Fire. It is a positive for Chicago that Mike Magee is back after missing nine months with hip and knee injuries. On the negative side, a back injury likely will keep midfielder Shaun Maloney out for two to three weeks and David Accam is dealing with a slight hamstring injury. Maloney and Accam have given life to the Fire’s offense and will be missed. Still Magee is back in the equation and Kennedy Igboananike and Harrison Shipp remain attacking threats.

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

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AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

On Monday afternoon, Chelsea and Tottenham F.C. played to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, meaning Leicester City clinched the Barclays Premier League championship. 

While Leicester City still has a few games left, they have already clinched an outright title thanks to 77 points and a 22-11-3 record and the mantle of greatest underdog season in sports history.

Yes, sports history. All of it.

 The Foxes were promoted to the Premier League after winning the Football League Championship in 2014. Imagine a baseball team being called up to join the AL East and in just the second season, they clinched the pennant after leading the entire season.

Leicester City's estimated payroll for the 2015-16 season is 48.2 million pounds, which is good enough for 17th place, with Chelsea (215.6 million), Manchester United (203 million), Manchester City (193.8 million), Arsenal (192 million) and Liverpool (152 million) firmly cemented at the top.

Unlike a majority of American sports, there are no salary caps in international club football. A player can be bought by another team at any time during the transfer window. The teams at the top of the league, the traditional powers, are typically able to buy the best players because they have more money at their disposal. Since the formation of the English premier League in 1992, only one team outside the traditional powers has claimed the championship — the Blackburn Rovers in 1993.

Leicester City is now the second.

Leicester City had  5000-to-1 odds to win the championship at the beginning of the season. Think about this: Indiana, Illinois, and Colorado have 2000-to-1 odds to win the College Football Playoff championship this season. 

The Foxes were led by Jamie Vardy, who set an EPL record for consecutive games with a goal scored in with 11. Vardy has scored 22 goals in 34 appearances this season and is behind just Tottenham's Harry Kane (24) and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (23) in the league's scoring table. Aguero's salary calls for nearly 220-thousand pounds a week. Vardy makes roughly 45-thousand a week.

In clinching the championship, Leicester City has clinched a spot in the UEFA Champion's league, the top club competition in Europe., the first time in club history. The club was founded in 1884, 24 years before the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series. Not only has Leicester City never qualified for the UEFA Champion's League, but they have never qualified for the UEFA Europa League, the international competition for the teams that just miss out on the Champion's League.

Leicester City winning the Barclays Premier League makes what George Mason did in the 2006 NCAA Tournament look like a regular season MLB series in May.

Simply put, this is the most unthinkable and unexpected championship season in sports history.

 

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

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USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lamar Neagle scored on a penalty kick in the first half and D.C. United added two late goals to beat the New England Revolution 3-0 on Saturday.

Neagle converted from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute with a low shot into the left corner. Marcelo Sarvas drew the penalty on a run up the right side where Je-Vaughn Watson's foul occurred just inside the area.

Luciano Acosta scored his first MLS goal in the 86th minute on 20-yard chip shot that glanced in underneath the crossbar. Alvaro Saborio capped the scoring for D.C. United (2-3-3) with a breakaway goal in the 90th.

Revolution (1-2-5) defender Chris Tierney and United forward Fabian Espindola left the game before halftime with leg injuries.

United coach Ben Olsen served a one-game suspension for stepping on the field last Saturday. Assistant coach Chad Ashton oversaw the team in Olsen's absence.

Toronto ends winless-streak against United

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Toronto ends winless-streak against United

Sebastian Giovinco's goal in the first minute stood up in Toronto FC's 1-0 victory over DC United on Saturday.

Jozy Altidore got to the ball inside the box to the right of goalkeeper Travis Worra and rolled a cross that a sliding Marco Delgado reached and redirected a bit to his left and Giovinco was on the spot to tap it in for his fourth goal of the season.

That was enough for Toronto (2-2-2) to end a three-match winless streak as goalkeeper Clint Irwin made three saves. The toughest save came in the 30th minute when he got a hand on a tight shot by Patrick Nyarko out of traffic in front of the net.

DC (1-3-3) had 18 attempts but 10 were off target.

Toronto playing its sixth straight game on the road to open the season, had 10 shots, three on Worra.

[RELATED: Espindola, Saborio score twice as United tops Whitecaps 4-0]