2
Oct

DC United upsets RSL, wins third Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

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DC United entered Tuesday’s night Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final at Real Salt Lake with a clear and concise game plan honed by heavy underdogs the world over.

Keep it tight. Prevent the opposition from playing. Wait for the right time to snatch the winner.

United — holder of three meager wins in MLS play this season and pursuer of a fourth in Open Cup competition on this night — executed Ben Olsen’s instructions doggedly and produced a resolute performance worthy of its 1-0 victory to complete the 100th edition of this competition.

Lewis Neal scored the winning goal shortly before the interval with a first-time effort, but the difference between failure and triumph on this evening hinged with United’s commitment to its defiant and organized work inside its own half.

Real Salt Lake enjoyed plenty of possession without testing United nearly often enough before the frantic late stages. United’s ability to retain its 4-4-2 shape against RSL’s extensive, if somewhat lackluster, work on the ball heaped pressure on the home side to engineer a breakthrough. RSL mined its preferred route between the center backs and the fullbacks — all in a bid to either create numbers out wide to play behind the fullbacks or use the fissures to slot players directly through the line — often enough in a bid to crack apart the United rearguard.

Olsen trusted his central core – defenders Dejan Jakovic and Ethan White, midfielders Perry Kitchen and John Thorrington — prevent RSL from combining deftly in the final third and producing chances in more dangerous areas. Those four players justified that faith and stymied RSL in the process. Their success in the middle of United’s two banks of four forced RSL’s fullbacks forward (they often join in support anyways) to provide hopeful service from the wide areas and left room for United to counter on those rare forays into opposition territory.

It only takes one goal to validate the thought process behind such a display. Neal (an astute selection in midfield in place of Luis Silva due to his considerable work rate) supplied the winner moments before the break after good work from Thorrington down the left created modest chaos inside the RSL penalty area. RSL couldn’t hack clear after shifting somewhat aggressively to halt Thorrington’s run and watched Neal slot home first time for the only goal of the game.

United conceded most of the play on the night and soaked up a furious late siege from RSL with help from Bill Hamid and the goal frame, but the final whistle made the toil worthwhile. United has endured a wretched season in league play. This achievement — fueled by grit and organization — at least provides some tangible relief ahead of the extensive rebuilding project ahead during the winter.

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Images: Jim Urquhart / USA Today Sports

25
Jul

MLS Club DC United Seals Deal On New Stadium

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(Images via HKS Architects)

For the last several years, D.C. United has been a club in limbo, with rumors consistently swirling about potential moves elsewhere within the Washington, D.C. area, or even Baltimore, Maryland. That shaky footing, however, seems to be a thing of the past, as DC United announced this morning an agreement with the city has been reached to construct a $300 million soccer-specific stadium.

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Since their inauguration, DC United have played in Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, more commonly known as RFK. While the stadium has a long history, it has also struggled to keep up with the now standard amenities offered in other stadiums around the country. As D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray recently said of RFK, the stadium ”was never suited well for soccer” and has ”become a real anachronism.”

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Based on recently released images of the design for the new stadium, that should no longer be a problem.

27
Apr

Columbus Crew scoreboard catches fire

The Columbus Crew was getting set to face D.C. United at home when their scoreboard started burning up.

Action was swift, and it only took about 30 minutes for the Columbus Fire Department to put the blaze out, but it certainly gave fans a memorable experience. No word yet on why the fire started.

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The game will continue after the heated delay. Never a dull moment!

UPDATE: Video of the fire as it smolders.

18
Nov

Five Points to Watch: MLS Conference Championships 2nd Leg

By: Kyle McCarthy

Two teams will book their places at MLS Cup by the end of Sunday. Houston and Los Angeles hold the advantage heading into the pair of second-leg affairs, but D.C. United and Seattle will hope to overturn their current deficits on home soil. Here are five points to watch ahead of the decisive affairs:

1. Health concerns create questions: A stretch of four or five games in the span of three weeks takes its toll. D.C. United is in the worst shape at the moment (Chris Pontius’ groin injury is a bitter blow, while Brandon McDonald and Marcelo Saragosa must also recuperate quickly), but there are also concerns in Houston (Calen Carr, Ricardo Clark, Adam Moffat and Jermaine Taylor), Los Angeles (Edson Buddle, A.J. DeLaGarza and Juninho) and Seattle (Leo Gonzalez and Mauro Rosales). A season-ending encounter isn’t the ideal time to test depth, but the circumstances afford few other choices at this juncture.

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10
Nov

Five Things to Watch: Eastern Conference Championship 1st Leg

By: Kyle McCarthy

D.C. United travels to Houston to kick off the two-legged Eastern Conference championship on Sunday afternoon. Here are five points to watch as the two sides prepare to duel at BBVA Compass Stadium:

1. Mitigating the damage: United suffered two defeats in the Oven this season. Ben Olsen and his players would probably take a repeat of the stadium-opening 1-0 setback on May 12, but they simply cannot afford another 4-0 thumping as they did on July 15 if they want to secure a berth in MLS Cup.

2. Maintaining the necessary energy: In order to avoid a repeat of that July debacle, United must somehow find a way to avoid the common second-half fade most teams suffer in Houston. This gritty group won’t back down (as evidenced by the ridiculousness in Harrison on Thursday night), but it must find some way to grind through a match that will prove even more difficult as it enters the late stages.

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8
Nov

Five things to watch: NY Red Bulls vs. DC United, RSL vs. Seattle Sounders

By Kyle McCarthy

The Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy booked their places in the conference finals on Wednesday, while two more teams will join them Thursday night. Here are five points to watch as DC United visits New York (series tied 1-1 on aggregate) and Real Salt Lake hosts Seattle (series tied 0-0 on aggregate):

1. Dealing with Athena’s remnants: Poor weather forced MLS to postpone Wednesday night’s match between DC United and New York. The conditions shouldn’t be an issue on Thursday, but the state of the field could pose significant problems for both teams. The surface at Red Bull Arena does not rank among the best in MLS in ideal circumstances. This scenario certainly does not fall under that heading.

2. Mental and physical hurdles: It isn’t easy to prepare for a match on consecutive days. Keep an eye on potential strains and tweaks as players work their way into the encounter. Also worth noting: United, in particular, wanted to play Wednesday night. Will the lag time diminish that ambition?

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4
Nov

In Saturday night’s Eastern conference semifinal between DC United and New York Red Bulls, 19-year-old Andy Najar did what can only be explained as self-destruction. The young DC United winger was shown a double yellow — resulting in a red card sending off.

As the video shows, Najar took down Joel Lindpere on the breakaway, and as he was shown a yellow for the tackle, turned and chucked the ball at the referee.

What was he thinking?! Surely, a moment of mental lapse and the added pressure of playoffs is to blame, but this mistake will cost him and DCU greatly: Najar will be out for the second leg of this series — possibly longer once the MLS Disciplinary Committee reviews the incident. A big blow for DCU’s playoffs hopes, especially after being held to a 1-1 draw in this match at home.

3
Nov

Five things to watch: DC United vs. New York Red Bulls

By Kyle McCarthy

New York visits DC United to kick off the first of two Eastern Conference semifinal series Saturday night. Here are five points to watch ahead of the first playoff match at RFK Stadium in five years:

1. Steady as she goes: United must calm the inevitable bout of nerves likely to sweep through the side before the opening whistle. No projected starter has played more than eight playoff games. United can’t afford to let its inexperience in these matters show or provide too much space to Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry in the early stages of this match.

2. De Ro or no?: Dwayne De Rosario rather surprisingly returned to training on Friday after missing a couple of months with a sprained left knee. It surely seems a bit too early for him to stake a claim for playing time, but his overall level of fitness (if his knee holds up) gives at least modest credence to the idea. United coach Ben Olsen must use De Rosario carefully to avoid placing the recently solid defensive work at risk.

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