DCU's eastern push continues in Montreal

DCU's eastern push continues in Montreal

D.C. United heads into Saturdays match in Montreal against the suddenly surging Impact reassured of its standing as a legitimate playoff contender in 2012. In addition the true depth of its much heralded depth has also been reaffirmed.

United delivered a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday with defender Emiliano Dudar and midfielder Branko Boskovic suspended on red cards. Starting outside backs Robbie Russell and Daniel Woolard also remained sidelined by injuries. The absences forced changes, but failed to deter United from responding to Sundays disappointing draw with Philadelphia.

While Dudar and Boskovic are available for the Montreal match, it will be interesting to see if head coach Ben Olsen stays with the formation that brought success against the Fire. For the first time this season Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Sargosa started next to each other in the center of the midfield.

The partnership allowed Kitchen to pick his spots and get involved in the attack. Going forward is not typically Kitchens role, but he was effective. Saragosas work rate helped United seize more possession and disrupt on defense. There were also times when Saragosa provided a surprise element coming out of the midfield and into the attacking third.

"On paper it has always made sense, Olsen said after the game. If their spacing is right, they can coexist. Sometimes when you have two like-minded guys in the same spot, you worry about them both doing that holding midfield role and not being able to push out. I'll tell you what they did it very well tonight and I was very pleased. It's an option now going forward for sure."

Wednesday also saw Andy Najar reprise his role as a right back. It was his third start of the season in that position and he excelled. Najars athleticism and defensive skills helped keep the speedy Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko in check and his explosive runs up the flank helped trigger the offense including an assist on Lionard Pajoys first goal with United.

He (Najar) has these unique qualities and they all lend itself to the modern right back, noted Olsen. You look at soccer now and the outside backs have to be good on the ball and dynamic, they have to have great engines to get up and down the field and they have to be brave in their defending.

United is also in a better emotional state. The 1-1 tie against Philadelphia ended in chaos. Along with the red cards to Dudar and Boskovic anger and frustration boiled over to a point where teammates Brandon McDonald and Chris Korb were shouting at each other. Against Chicago Korb assisted on McDonalds goal.

Captain Dwayne De Rosario, who also missed a penalty kick in the closing moments against the Philadelphia, raised his game. Along with opening the scoring against the Fire with his 99th career goal, De Rosario provided the threat and invention that has made him a league MVP. With Saragosa and Kitchen behind him he was able to keep the pressure on Chicago.

It's a long season and this is crunch time where every team is picking it up a gear and we need to do the same, especially me, De Rosario said. Im one of the main leaders of this team. It's going to take that same mental toughness, that same focus going into Montreal. We're going up against another team that has been doing well, but if we play our game, we should be fine."

The Impact has found its legs in its maiden MLS season. Last week at Stade Saputo the Impact surprised 3-1 for its fourth consecutive win. The Impact has played two more games than any team in the Eastern Conference, but is now in sixth place with 36 points from 27 matches.

Former Italian international Marco Di Vaio is settling in as the Impacts striker and has two goals and one assist during Montreals current four-game winning streak. At the back former United backstop Troy Perkins has provided a steadying influence to the Impact since being acquired in a deal that sent Donovan Ricketts to Portland.

USWNT routed by France in SheBelieves Cup

USWNT routed by France in SheBelieves Cup

WASHINGTON -- Camille Abily scored two goals, Eugenie Le Sommer added another and France beat the United States 3-0 on a rainy Tuesday night to win the SheBelieves Cup at RFK Stadium.

France scored two goals in the first nine minutes and cruised.

Le Sommer got behind the defense for a through ball and was tripped in the box by goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Abily calmly rolled the penalty kick up the middle in the eighth minute as Naeher dove to her left.

Le Sommer made it 2-0 one minute later after racing past the defense again to be first to Wendie Renard's long ball. She took a touch in the box to split two defenders and slotted it near post.

In the 63rd minute, Eve Perisset was left open down the right side and she played it across goal for an Abily touch.

The US had some good scoring chances. Tobin Heath dribbled down the left sideline in the 26th minute, took four touches along the 18-yard box and sent a shot just wide. In the 48th, Crystal Dunn had a close-range redirection saved by Meline Gerard.

Alex Morgan entered as a substitute in the 70th minute and she was just off on a header in the 82nd.

RELATED: D.C. United, Sporting KC play to scoreless tie in final RFK Stadium opener

D.C. United, Sporting KC play to scoreless tie in final RFK Stadium opener

D.C. United, Sporting KC play to scoreless tie in final RFK Stadium opener

WASHINGTON -- Bill Hamid made five saves, including one late against Dom Dwyer, to help D.C. United tie Sporting Kansas City 0-0 on Saturday night in the team's last Major League Soccer home opener at RFK Stadium.

Dwyer spun a defender in the midfield and fired a shot that Hamid knocked away in the 78th minute. Dwyer returned from ankle surgery in November, and has 50 in goals in three seasons.

In the first half, Hamid jumped to punch away Benny Feihaber's free kick over the crossbar in the 14th minute, and Dwyer's header shot from close range sailed over the crossbar in the ninth.

Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia dove to his right to block Marcelo Sarvas's penalty kick in the 17th, and then got up to save Patrick Mullins shot off the rebound. Melia also made five saves.

The United have played at RFK since their debut in 1996. The team will play at Audi Field next season.