What's next for D.C. United?

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What's next for D.C. United?

What’s next? That has to be the question D.C. United and it supporters or asking after the Black and Red navigated through two games, two red cards, one hurricane, and one snow storm to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Houston Dynamo.

“This has been a long week and a half, this series seems like it was such a grueling time period,” said United’ head coach Ben Olsen. “There was just so much going on, but I believe in these guys. They gelled and they believed and sometimes belief is enough.”

United will be forced to make adjustments when it starts the series on Sunday in Houston. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was red-carded in the decisive game two semi-final victory over the New York Red Bulls and Andy Najar, who was red-carded in game one of the series, has been hit with an additional two-game suspension.

Najar’s extra penalty was issued by MLS because it said, “Najar’s conduct put the league in disrepute.” Najar had thrown the ball at referee Jair Marrufo after being issued a yellow card.  To be sure United could use Najar’s solid defending and clever runs on the right flank, but the team’s depth has prevailed to this point.

Robbie Russell’s season was sidetracked by injury in mid-July, but he looked fully fit as Najar’s replacement on Thursday night. For United it made for a nice finishing touch to the script against the Red Bulls that Russell played the ball to Nick DeLeon for the game-winning goal in the 88th minute.

“I said I didn’t know he (Russell) had an assist in him,” said United midfielder Chris Pontius. “It was a beautiful ball and what a finish by Nick [DeLeon], especially in the 88th minute.”

It all goes back to January when head coach Ben Olsen expressed confidence in the depth his team. Olsen continues to be proven right especially in dealing with his back line. Starting left back Chris Korb missed Wednesday’s game with a hamstring injury, but natural midfielder Lewis Neal filled in at that position.

With Hamid out, Joe Willis will start in goal for United. On Thursday Willis stepped in after Hamid’s red card and saved Kenny Cooper’s penalty kick. Confidence in Willis has been high since his United debut in August of last season when he recorded a 4-0 shutout against Vancouver.

Willis went on to record two more shutouts in 2011 and emerged as the clear second-choice goalkeeper ahead of veteran Steve Cronin. Early this season Willis was called on when Bill Hamid was away for U.S. Olympic team duty. In nine starts Willis only lost twice and helped United launch into the season.

It is still hoped that maybe midfielder Dwayne De Rosario could factor for United in this series. United‘s unbeaten run is now nine games since De Rosario was forced to the sideline with a knee injury. For De Rosario it is more likely he could be a possible option for game two of the series against his old team.

De Rosario helped the Dynamo capture two MLS Cups including the 2007 final at R.F.K. Stadium. The Dynamo under head coach Dominic Kinnear has been an amazing franchise.  Players like De Rosario, Geoff Cameron, and Stuart Holden have come and gone, but Sunday will mark the fifth time in the Dynamo’s seven year history that it will play in the Eastern Conference final.

Under Kinnear’s direction, the Dynamo is a disciplined team that has also had a knack for developing talent. Will Bruin is having a career year with 12 goals in the regular season and now three goals and one assist in the post-season. On defense the Dynamo are particularly difficult to break down in the tight confines of BBVA Compass Stadium.

Even though it is the Dynamo’s own soccer specific stadium, Houston has kept the dimensions of its field similar to its old home Robertson Stadium.  The field at BBVA Compass is only 115 yards long and 70 yards wide. United has never won in Houston and the Dynamo has yet to lose at BBVA Compass in MLS play with a record of 12-0-6.

Maybe the Dynamo’s home record sets up well for United. The Black and Red is getting use to beating the odds.

 

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.

RELATED: Protestors unveil huge 'Impeach Trump' banner at Nationals Park following Opening Day

“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.

RELATED: NEW YORK RED BULLS TOP D.C. UNITED TO SNAP FOUR-GAME WINLESS STREAK

United have now won back-to-back games after slow start to the season

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United have now won back-to-back games after slow start to the season

WASHINGTON -- Lloyd Sam and Luciano Acosta scored in the second half in D.C. United's 2-1 victory over NYCFC on Saturday.

After going scoreless in the first three matches of the season, D.C. United (2-2-1) has scored two goals in each of the last two.

In the 53rd minute, Lloyd stole the ball from defender Frederic Brillant deep in NYCFC's half and fired the ball from near the penalty spot past the sliding Johnson. Sam's first goal this season came in his 100th MLS start.

Acosta scored his second goal this season in the 73rd minute via a rebound. He passed to Sam, whose shot was blocked by Johnson back to Acosta for an easy score.

Bill Hamid made a terrific double-save for United in the 82nd minute, but two minutes later, NYCFC's Thomas McNamara sent a cross to David Villa, who scored his third of the season.

NYCFC (2-2-1) dominated possession and outshot United 15-12, with both teams putting six shots on target. NYCFC beat United 4-0 on March 12.