D.C. United battles for 2nd place in the regular season finale

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D.C. United battles for 2nd place in the regular season finale

It’s probably a good thing that D.C. United is on the road for its regular season finale Saturday in Chicago. R.F.K. Stadium could use the extra time recover. The old building on East Captiol Street was rocked by United supporters like it was when the playoffs were a given for the Black and Red.

United’s 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew last Saturday secured the team’s first playoff berth since 2007. A tie would have sufficed, but would not have been reflective of United’s commitment. It is a team that believes it is capable of more even with Dwayne De Rosario sidelined with a knee injury.

“It was like the old days. I don’t like to bring up the old days very often, but the feeling in that building felt like the good old days here,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “I’d like to keep that around. We’re excited to continue to move on and have more moments like this. There is still work to be done.”

The pressure is on for United to wrap up second place in the Eastern Conference. A win or a tie against the Fire would accomplish that and give United a bye in the first round of the playoffs. A loss to the Fire could potentially push United down to fourth place and a one game play-in against the fifth place finisher on Wednesday.

“That four vs. five game is somewhere you don’t want to be. Being in that top three guarantees a home and away series and playing here is a fortress, so that only ups our chances. Being in the top three is huge for us,” said midfielder Nick DeLeon.

United is riding a six-game unbeaten streak that oddly coincides with De Rosario’s absence. The much talked about depth of the team is proving to be more than just talk. The game winning goal against the Crew was a perfect example with Branko Bosokovic and Lewis Neal coming off the bench to combine for the decisive moment.

 In addition United has demonstrated a maturity and ability to grind out results. Conceding two goals, like United did against Columbus, is not representative of how the team has been playing. In the previous five games during its unbeaten run, United had only given up two goals and recorded three shutouts.

“Our defense has been amazing,” said goalkeeper Bill Hamid.  “Our midfielders have been helping on the defensive end and our forwards have been tracking back at the top of our half. Defense wins championships and we have developed into a cohesive group.”

In the Chicago Fire, United will be facing a side in need of a win to land second place. In addition the Fire is trying to get its swagger back. The Fire has lost three of its last four matches including last week’s 1-0 defeat at New England.

The motivation for both teams to secure points sets up for another tense match. United seems more than ready. Over the journey of this season players have accepted new roles like Andy Najar at right back and Marcelo Saragosa playing alongside Perry Kitchen. There is even the possibility of De Rosario returning to the field this year.

“I would say there is probably a chance. I don’t know. And I don’t know if anybody knows right now where he’s at,” Olsen said.” He’s progressing quickly. I’ve told my trainers and doctors, ‘you tell me the day he is ready to go ‘cause I got a job to do and we can’t rely on that’, but it would sure be nice to see him back because that means we were very, very deep into the playoffs.”

It is a promising thought for United supporters, but there is still the regular season to complete.

Nike releases images of new U.S. Soccer jerseys, receives criticism of familiar design

Nike releases images of new U.S. Soccer jerseys, receives criticism of familiar design

The U.S. National Teams will rock a new look coming up soon. Instead of a blue and white color pallet on their existing jerseys, the new kit Nike unveiled today will be two shades of red. 

The U.S. men will first wear the red kits for their March 24th World Cup qualifying match against Honduras. The U.S. women will don them sooner, for the 2017 SheBelieves Cup from March 1 to 7. 

Similar to the previous designs, the new shirts will have color block sleeves with the words "1 Nation" and "1 Team" appearing on the inside hem. Men's team jerseys are crewneck, while womens are v-neck. 

Like all new uniforms, these have drawn some criticism, specifically for their resemblance to Portugal's 2016 home kit and England's 2016 away kit. 

What do you think; too similar or still too similar? Because it's hard to find the differences...

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It's official: U.S. Soccer hires Bruce Arena to replace Jurgen Klinsmann

It's official: U.S. Soccer hires Bruce Arena to replace Jurgen Klinsmann

NEW YORK – Bruce Arena is returning to coach the U.S. national soccer team, a decade after he was fired.

The winningest coach in American national team history, Arena took over Tuesday, one day after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. The 65-year-old Arena starts work Dec. 1.

With the U.S. 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, the U.S. Soccer Federation wants to spark a turnaround when the playoffs resume March 24 with a home game against Honduras.

"His experience at the international level, understanding of the requirements needed to lead a team through World Cup qualifying, and proven ability to build a successful team were all aspects we felt were vital for the next coach," USSF President Sunil Gulati, who fired Arena in 2006, said in a statement. "I know Bruce will be fully committed to preparing the players for the next eight qualifying games and earning a berth to an eighth straight FIFA World Cup."

Arena first took over as national team coach after the 1998 World Cup and led the U.S. to a 71-30-29 record.

"I'm looking forward to working with a strong group of players that understand the challenge in front of them after the first two games," Arena said in a statement. "Working as a team, I'm confident that we'll take the right steps forward to qualify"

A wisecracking Brooklynite known for blunt talk and sarcasm, he coached the University of Virginia from 1978-95, then led D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer's first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. He guided the Americans to the team's best World Cup finish since 1930, a 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2002 quarterfinals.

He was let go after the team's first-round elimination by Ghana in 2006. Arena coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to November 2007, then was hired the following August by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Arena was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010.

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