First place United look for more against the Union


First place United look for more against the Union

D.C. United is well aware of the calendar. It is June and thats not when trophies are handed out. United has every reason to be proud of winning four of six matches in May and grabbing first place in the Eastern Conference, but there is more work to do.

It is not about where we are, it is about the next game, Uniteds head coach Ben Olsen emphasized. Now that we are in first place we have a bigger target on our back and we can expect teams to fight harder against us. We have a full squad for the first time, so that is a good thing.

With a healthy team Olsen has plenty of options as United prepares to jump back into MLS play after a 22-day break with a road game Saturday against Philadelphia. It is the Union that spoiled Uniteds break from league play by knocking them out of the Open Cup in a round-of-sixteen match last week.

The loss to the Union in Open Cup play was jarring to United. Olsen called the defeat to the Union a wakeup call that served notice that his team might not be as good as they think they are. Olsens belief in the team is still as strong as ever, but he is hoping out of the disappointment of the Union loss a new resolve will emerge.

I would like to see us play with more anger, added Olsen. Successful clubs often play with chips on their shoulders and take on a real us against them mentality. We should have that anger against Philadelphia because they took what we wanted. They were hungrier.

There are definitely some hurt feelings, added defender Robbie Russell. Theres definitely some bitterness. Losing in the Open Cup like that and then playing that same team the first game back, theres going to be some emotion left over.

There will probably be a lot of emotion to go around. The Union has had a turbulent week. Peter Nowak was dismissed as head coach on Wednesday and Saturday will be interim head coach John Hackworths first game in charge. Hackworth was Nowaks assistant and the two had been together since the launch of the franchise in 2010.

Under Nowak, who led United to a MLS Cup title in 2004, the Union went 21-30-24. In the Unions second season there were signs of progress culminating in a playoff appearance. Since then the team has changed dramatically with goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, defender Dan Califf and forward Sebastian Le Toux and Danny Mwanga among the players to leave the Union.

The win over United in the Open Cup has been by far the highlight of the Unions season. Only Toronto FC has been worse in MLS play. In fact the Unions last MLS game was a 1-0 loss to Toronto. The Union has only two wins in eleven matches and has managed only eight goals, but in sports a team playing its first game for a new coach, even an interim one, is often dangerous.

Back to United and its desire to play with a new focus and yes even a new anger in an effort to maintain the first place standing it worked so hard to achieve. It will be up to Olsen to find the right mix among his now healthy and rested arsenal of players.

Midfielder Dwayne DeRosario and defender Dejan Jakavic were away with the Canadian Mens National Team for World Cup qualifying. Only De Rosario played in Tuesdays 0-0 draw with Honduras, but he should be ready to go for Saturday. De Rosario is two goals shy of 100 career MLS goals.

Regardless of who plays, Olsen has made it clear how he wants United to play. It is not just about channeling emotion, but also maturing as a team and becoming one that can manage prosperity. The Black and Red have come a long way since its low point in 2010 and is dictating the flow of games.

Its a concentration issue, Olsen said of Uniteds need to improve. We start to move it around and get some joy on the ball and that is okay, but we have been getting complacent. Against New England it was like we had a two-goal lead and thought that the job was done. We have been grinding it out for the last month.

With a first place target on its back United will try to do more than just grind it out in Saturdays rematch against the Union.

D.C. United edges Vancouver on controversial penalty

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D.C. United edges Vancouver on controversial penalty

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Lamar Neagle scored on a penalty kick in the 61st minute and D.C. United beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 on Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak.

The penalty was awarded after defender Kendall Waston was called for hauling down Jose Ortiz in the box. The B.C. Place Stadium fans voiced their displeasure when replays showed Waston barely touched Ortiz.

Neagle sent the ball into the top corner for his sixth goal of the season. United improved to 4-6-2.

The Whitecaps (5-6-1) had a chance to tie it in extra time. Vancouver was awarded a penalty kick following a collision between United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and Vancouver's Brek Shea. Cristian Techera took the shot, but hit the post.

Barron Trump plays soccer with D.C. United players at Easter Egg Roll

Barron Trump plays soccer with D.C. United players at Easter Egg Roll

D.C. United participated at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday at the invite of event organizers.

Throughout the day, the select players on hand played soccer with the children present.

And one of them was Barron Trump, the 11-year-old son of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

While there, United forward Patrick Mullins and midfielders Julian Buescher and Marcelo Sarvas all received an unscheduled invitation to meet Barron in the White House, where they talked soccer and even kicked around the ball. Sarvas' eldest son, who is around Barron's age, and Talon, the United mascot, also played.

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“He was very knowledgeable about soccer, knew about D.C. United and was interested to know more,” Mullins told the Washington Post. “Little kid to have a passion for the game and to be knowledgeable and have a conversation with us, it makes me feel good about kids growing up playing the game.”

At some point during the day, 94.7 Fresh FM’s Dana McKay tweeted a photo of Barron outside the White House playing soccer in an Arsenal jersey.

According to the Post, Barron received a D.C. United soccer ball that was signed by the players and personalized with a message welcoming him to Washington. He also has an open invitation from the team to visit with them.

Barron currently lives in New York City with his mother.