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10-man United give up late goal in 1-0 loss in Seattle

Seattle, Washington, July 3, 2015 – Tyrone Mears’ goal through traffic late in the game was the difference maker as Seattle Sounders FC down shorthanded D.C. United by a 1-0 score at Century Link Field.

United not only had to deal with this being the fourth game in ten days on the road, but they also had to deal with the expulsion of their top player in Fabian Espindola when he was shown a straight red card in the 27th minute. Easily the games biggest talking point, Espindola appeared to throw a forearm into the throat of defender Zack Scott, who just minutes before received a yellow card of his own for a nasty head-to-head challenge on Espindola. It seems that the lesson of a six-game suspension at the beginning of the season for losing his cool and shoving a referee’s assistant in the playoff loss to Red Bull hasn’t exactly sunk in properly. United is a limited team offensively to begin with and going down to ten men for a foolish retaliation play only served to do United no justice whatsoever.

Despite the man disadvantage and being completely out possessed for the entire game, United and their typical staunch defense made things very difficult for the Sounders as they also were shorthanded of sorts with missing their top two goal scorers in Clint Dempsey (Gold Cup duty) and Obefemi Martins (injury) as well as Guatemalan midfielder Marco Pappa (Gold Cup). The Sounders were left with essentially long-range attempts on Andrew Dykstra’s goal (Bill Hamid was a late scratch) that were saved rather comfortably. The closest the home side got to scoring was a free kick attempt by Lamar Neagle that beat the wall but just flashed outside the near post of the goal midway through the second half.

Even with the tempo going the Sounders way, United did manage to carve out more than their share of chances to take the lead. Taylor Kemp’s angled free kick late in the game skipped off the top of the crossbar and then substitute Jairo Arrieta spun defender Chad Marshall around at the top of the penalty area only to see his right-footed effort fly over the crossbar.

Just when it seemed that United would get out of the NorthWest with a valiant hard-earned 0-0 draw, Mears ended that notion with a well-struck blast in the 88th minute. United were fully in all-hands-on-deck defense mode when a cross from the left flank came into the penalty area. The ball flew over all challengers and bounced into the path of Mears heading into the penalty area from his right-back position. The Englishman didn’t hesitate and unleashed a classy angled shot that easily flew into the far side netting and breaking the spirit of a well-fought effort from United.

United however had one more chance to even things up in stoppage time when Nick DeLeon took down former United goalkeeper Troy Perkins’ punch attempt from a Kemp free kick. DeLeon pulled the ball down and slid inside of two Sounders defenders and unleashed a left-footed blast that beat everyone except the crossbar as it bounded out for a Sounders goal kick.

Although United came out of this game with a brutal loss and a suspension for their next match from Espindola, the team will finally get an extended rest as they don’t play another match until two weeks from now on July 18th in Dallas. United has played the most games (21) in the league this season to date and now have only 13 league matches to play over the next four months. Rest should not be an issue moving forward through the end of the season. Even with the loss, United maintains their 11-point lead in the East but now teams with multiple games in hand (some have 5 or 6 games in hand on United) will have an opportunity to cut into United’s wide gap over the next two weekends.

 

United draws Jamaican and Panamanian opposition again in Group H action in CCL

D.C. United received a favorable group draw for a second consecutive year as they learned their Group H opponents tonight during the Concacaf Champions League Draw in Miami, Florida.

United will face Montego Bay of Jamiaca and Arabe Unido of Panama and will begin play in August. United will face both teams home and away and will wrap up group play in October.  United cruised to an unblemished 4-0 mark last October when they downed FC Tauro of Panama and Waterhouse of Jamaica.

Just like last year, United avoided tough teams from Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the group play. U.S. and Mexican as the highest seeds can not face each other in group play. Other MLS teams in the draw weren’t so lucky. Seattle Sounders drew their Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps and the always difficult Olimpia of Honduras in Group F.

Real Salt Lake drew Municipal (Guatemala) and CCL newbies Santa Tecla (El Salvador) into a very tight Group G

The Los Angeles Galaxy seem to have drawn just as favorable a group as United where they will face Comunicaciones (Guatemala) and debutants Central (Trinidad & Tobago) in Group D action.

Each group winner will advance to the quarterfinal stage set to take place in February of 2016. Teams will be seeded based on their records in group play in the quarterfinals. D.C. United were the top seed heading into this past February’s quarterfinal stage by virtue of being the only team to take maximum points only to see them get drawn with the Costa Rican giants Alajuelense. United got waxed 5-2 in Alajuela in the first leg before returning home and winning 2-1 but falling 6-4 on aggregate goals.

D.C. United (1998) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (2000) are the only MLS teams to win a regional title, but that was before the creation of group play in the renamed Concacaf Champions League (CCL). The only MLS teams to make it to the finals of the rebranded CCL are Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact in this years competition that ended in April.

Jairo Arrieta

United salvages a point against undiscplined Revolution; remain top of the East

Foxborough, Massachusetts, May 23, 2015 – Jairo Arrieta’s 80th minute goal salvaged a precious point for D.C. United in their topsy-turvy 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution tonight.

New England (5-3-5, 20 points) had two men sent off within minutes of each other early in the second half but the Black-and-Red could only muster that lone goal despite parking their team in the Rev’s half of the field for the remaining 30 minutes after Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen were sent off in the 52nd and 58th minutes respectively. Tierney was shown a straight red for a studs up swipe on the shin bone of Chris Pontius. Six minutes later Lee Nguyen saw a second yellow card for a nasty elbow to Davy Arnaud. Don’t be surprised if Nguyen is suspended additional games for the intentional elbow.

United (6-2-4, 22 points) had it all to do with the two-man advantage but first had to overturn their 1-0 deficit courtesy of Charlie Davies first half stoppage-time goal to stake the home side to a deserved 1-0 lead. The Revolution dominated United in the first forty-five minutes before the Davies tap-in after a spectacular save from Bill Hamid on a Juan Agudelo header from a corner kick. United’s defense were slow in reacting to Davies, the former United man who scored 11 goals for the team in 2011.

United offered very little going forward in the first half as head coach Ben Olsen once again made numerous changes to his lineup as the team was playing their 5th match in 21 days. As was the case this past Sunday night in Philadelphia, United were lethargic and disconnected in the final third of the field. Add in the numerous injuries that have cropped up over the past few weeks and it was surprising to see them chasing a quality side like New England on their terrible Field Turf surface.

However, all that changed in the second half with the quite frankly boneheaded decision making by the Revolution with the sending offs of two of their top players in Tierney and Nguyen. Forced to scramble to cover for the ejections, Jay Heap’s team had no choice but to batten down the hatches and hope United’s futility in front of goal continued. Up to the point of the second sending off, United had gone 150 minutes without even registering a shot on goal going back to Sunday night.

United did persevere and gained the equalizer thanks once again to some astute substitutions from Olsen. Chris Korb had started at left back mostly to combat the dangerous Teal Bunbury on the the Revs right flank. However, once the home side were down to ten men, the efficiency and dangerous quality of Taylor Kemp’s cultured left foot was the way to go and Olsen made the move. Just a few minutes later he gave a United debut to another left-footer Facundo Coria, acquired just a few days earlier from Argentinos Juniors.

In the 80th minute both of those moves paid off in a big way. Davy Arnaud began the play by scooping a loose ball up out of midfield and quickly shifted it to his left to Coria. Coria then sent Kemp down the left flank and as the former University of Maryland defender approached the bi-line, he squared a pass across the goal mouth where Arrieta easily ghosted in behind Revolution defender Andrew Farrell and tapped the ball in near side for his third goal of the season.

United still had to time to grab the game-winner but their overall quality was lacking in getting that final ball in a game-winning position. This was not surprising consider the number of games they are currently forced to play and also the number of different players and combinations that have taken the field for United over the past three weeks. Up next for United it doesn’t get any easier as they now have to travel 3,000 plus miles to the North West to take on the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night. That match will be shown live on CSN at 10:30pm EST

 

United's Markus Halsti finally in uniform

United unbeaten run ends in ugly fashion after giving up stoppage-time winner in Philly

Chester, Pennsylvania, May 17, 2015  – Even before Philadelphia Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer’s 93rd minute game-winning goal, D.C. United were playing a dangerous game all night long and they were made to pay dearly in their 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union tonight at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

United were in a defensive posture from the very first minute and their calculated gamble blew up in their faces as they allowed the Union to capture only their second win of the season. Despite the loss that snapped an 8-game unbeaten run, United remains atop the Eastern Conference over the New England Revolution whom they face this upcoming Saturday night in Foxborough, Massachussetts.

Head coach Ben Olsen gave season debuts to midfielders Markus Halsti and rookie Miguel Aguilar among the five changes he made after Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Orlando SC. Playing three games in eight days necessitated the changes but Olsen will be the first to tell you that the teams effort this evening was well below acceptable. The match very much took on the tone of a few of United’s games from earlier this season when they managed to drag out a result. This one however fell the other way and United were complicit in their own undoing.

United offered very little offensively not even registering a shot on goal through the entire match. The closest they came to scoring is when Aguilar took on three Union defenders and his left-footed blast rang off the far post and out of danger. That was basically it for the night for United but the home side certainly put in a much more determined effort and were rewarded in the 93rd minute when Zach Pfeffer’s left-footed blast beat Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare and Bill Hamid. United were forced down to ten men for all of stoppage time as it seemed that Luis Silva re-aggravated his hamstring injury that kept him out for the first 5 matches of the season.

In a game that is not going to the MLS league vault anytime soon for dexterity, it was the home side that got things started. Philadelphia had a goal called back in the 17th minute when Conor Casey was judged to have brought down a Sebastian Le Toux cross with his hand before burying the shot underneath Hamid. Hamid was easily the busier of the two goalkeepers as MLS pool goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre had very little to do on the evening. Philadelphia came into the match on a four-game losing streak and only winning 1 of their first 11 matches.

Needless to say, this was a very bad result for a team that was just starting to make believers out of everyone that they were Supporters Shield contenders. While this loss doesn’t change anything as United still are atop MLS at the moment, it’s a bit discouraging to put forth such a tame effort against a side that was clearly struggling and desperate. This match should have been handled comfortably by United but their lack of urgency moving forward cost them in the end.

Up next for the Black-and-Red is a visit to New England. The Revs trail United by two points in the standings and can overtake United with a win on the plastic turf at Gillete Stadium. This match will be televised on CSNWashington at 7pm

D.C. United holds off shorthanded Whitecaps for first-ever win in Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, April 26, 2015 – Chris Rolfe’s second-half goal was the difference as D.C. United won their first-ever game at B.C. Place over the Vancouver Whitecaps in their 2-1 win last night.

United (4-1-2, 14 points) extended their unbeaten run to five matches and also matched their best-ever start to a season through seven matches (2006) and maintain their top of the East standing with New England. Vancouver (5-3-1, 16 points) still remains atop the Western Conference in spite of the defeat.

The match couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Black-and-Red when the home side scored in just the second minute of play. Midfielder Pedro Morales coolly finished off a cross from Steven Beitashour to stake the Whitecaps to the early lead. However, United responded just seven minutes later when Bobby Boswell finished off a nice cross from Michael Farfan to level the match at 1-1.

United nearly took the lead in the 39th minute when Fabian Espindola, making his season-debut from his six-match ban to start the season, slipped a pass to Farfan and his cheeky chip attempt floated over helpless Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted and just over the crossbar. Three minutes after that narrow miss, the match would change in United’s favor. Midfieler Matias Laba, already on a yellow card, hauled down Espindola just as he was crossing midfield and was given a second yellow card and subsequent red card that sent Vancouver down to ten men.

With the advantage United almost doubled the lead just minutes into the second half. Ousted made a pair of saves on Espindola and Rolfe in quick succession that should have given United the lead. Seconds after the save on Rolfe, the Whitecaps nearly took the lead themselves when Mario Rosales managed to carve out some space and sent his curling shot off the far post. In the scramble for the rebound, United defender Sean Franklin appeared to collide into goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra as the rebound was cleared away. Dykstra, starting for the second straight game in place of starter Bill Hamid, came up limping and had to be replaced by third-string goalkeeper Travis Worra.

After that amazing flurry of play it was United who would regain control of the match in the 64th minute when Chris Rolfe fired home a rebound shot in the 64th minute. Rolfe began the play with a long run through the heart of the Vancouver midfield and laid a ball off the Chris Pontius making a diagonal run just inside the penalty area. Whitecaps defender Steven Beitashour did well to tackle the ball off of Pontius but it fell right into the path of Rolfe who used the outside of his right foot to fire the ball past Ousted for his second goal of the season.

Even though the Whitecaps were down a man, you wouldn’t know it with the way they carried themselves and they nearly grabbed the equalizer on numerous occasions only to see poor finishing and poor execution of plays down the stretch, which included a lengthy six minutes of stoppage time. United dug in and came out with their second road win of the season and now will head home for a season-long three game home stand which begins on Saturday night when they welcome Columbus Crew SC into town.

 

United Notes

  • Taylor Kemp and Davy Arnaud were both left out of the squad for illness and a slight groin injury respectively. Chris Korb and Michael Farfan started in their place.
  • With Espindola back in the lineup, it was Jairo Arrieta that went to the bench and Rolfe started up top with Pontius moving to the left flank.
  • United midfielder Miguel Aguilar was left back in Washington, D.C. because of travel visa issues with Canada. Aguilar played 90 minutes midweek with the Richmond Kickers and helped them to a victory over Red Bulls II in USL action.

About Us

2015 is a big year for us at UnitedMania.com as we enter our 17th year of coverage for MLS’ most successful franchise – D.C. United.

Mike and Martin started this labor of love back when there was virtually no coverage for our beloved Black-and-Red. Other than the Post and the Times you would be hard pressed to find any additional news about the league or team, especially from a group of guys that bled United’s colors. The site was born when “blogs” were still a figment of someone’s imagination, and when podcasts hardly existed.

Times have obviously changed with the inception of social media and UnitedMania.com has taken full advantage of that as we are now available across all platforms which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and iTunes.

Along the way we’ve been blessed to have worked with so many people who have contributed to our efforts. Many thanks to John Dyson, with whom we were hosts of The Soccer Show and which set the stage for our hugely popular and inovative podcast. Over the years, key contributors to the site have been Chris Webb, Randy Ruff, Rafael Crisostomo, Tony Quinn, Matt Mathai, Chris Leon, Chris Bannon, Jimmy LaRoue, Ian Plenderleith, Chris Riordan, Ed Morgans, Edgar Enciso, Chris Snear, John Haydon and Aaron Stollar, all of whom have made UnitedMania.com such a great site to be a part of.

Chris Webb does all of our current Post Game summaries as well as OpEd’s while Mike Martin handles the Pre Game duties. Randy Ruff has come back to the site and is now the fourth member of our podcast (including Martin, Mike and Chris) and will contribute the occasional OpEd piece. And as always, the stunning photography and slide shows presented on this site come from Martin Fernandez with some help from Matt Mathai, Tony Quinn and Rafael Crisostomo

UnitedMania.com will continue to offer its twice a month hour-long podcast: The UnitedMania podcast and will continue to make it available for download directly from the website and via the iTunes music store.

ABOUT UNITEDMANIA.COM: UnitedMania.com is an online publication dedicated to DC United and US Soccer fans with up to date news, information and opinion about professional soccer in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. Founded in 1998, UnitedMania.com is an independent news source for Major League Soccer’s most decorated franchise, DC United.

Fabian Espindola. Photo: Tony Quinn

2014 Postseason Player Evaluations

Fabian Espindola, above, is one of six DC United players to get high marks from UnitedMania’s team. Photo: Tony Quinn.

A season that had been shaping up as an exciting return to playoff glory for D.C. United ended prematurely, leaving fans with unrealized expectations. That disappointment should not take away from what was an exciting season, and a cause for optimism moving forward. After the abysmal 2013 campaign, many supporters were calling for heads to roll in the front office, specifically head coach Ben Olsen and general manager Dave Kasper.

Kasper and Olsen had failed to reach a meeting of the minds on the way to develop the team for years and it was difficult for even the most loyal supporters to endorse their continued presence. It’s not easy to be loyal to a coach in charge of a team that achieves team and league records for futility, nor is it easy to back a GM of a team that loses millions of dollars every year in the process. While there are valid reasons and excuses for this, sport remains a results oriented business and the type of patience and trust show by the team was astonishing and refreshing.

Olsen and Kasper responded by rebuilding the team with players that for the first time in their combined tenure both men could embrace. That as much as anything is something to be thankful for in the new ownership group, and what is suddenly a very solid coach/GM partnership (or “brain staff” as our friend Martin Fernandez would say on the podcast). After giving management and ownership good marks here is a look at how the UnitedMania.com staff graded the players for the 2014 season:

Goalkeeper

Bill Hamid (A) – Hamid demonstrated the necessary maturation to match his outstanding physical talents. His decision taking and positioning skills improved dramatically, allowing him to become one of those rare goalkeepers that can play as both a shot stopper and as a tactical leader.
If Bill can continue on this path, the sky is the limit for him. With the US National Team beckoning, can an overseas pursuit be far behind? Rumors abound on this, but don’t they always? As big a loss as that might be for the team looking ahead, its great press for the DC United Academy from which Hamid was developed within. If Hamid has a weakness it’s his distribution of the ball, and he’s made strides in improving that also this year. Bill should earn the league’s goalkeeper of the year award, although speculation has it that he may be edged out by a sentimental decision for Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando.

Defenders

Steve Birnbaum (B+) After beginning the season on the bench behind the steady center back tandem of Bobby Boswell and Jeff Parke, Birnbaum quietly rose to become an MLS rookie of the year candidate with steady play marked by very few mistakes. Steve made the team look brilliant for selecting him with the second overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. His size, mobility and organizational skills are good, and he’s being tutored by two of the best in the business in Boswell and Parke.

Bobby Boswell (A) The reacquisition of Bobby Boswell from the Houston Dynamo was initially perceived as a play on fan sympathies as many scoffed at his usefulness, citing Houton’s willingness to discard him so cheaply. Boswell exceeded all expectations delivering an MLS best X1 worthy season, but more importantly he captained the team expertly restoring leadership by example to the club’s core values. It’s one thing to wear the captain’s armband on match day, but what is truly inspiring about Boswell’s leadership is the way he allows for other to join him in that role without a clash of egos. Boswell is simply pure class.

Sean Franklin (A) Acquired in the offseason to shore up one of the most inept defense’s in league history many assumed that Franklin was more flash than value based off his past experiences in LA, which boasted of his attacking prowess and the cannon in his right leg. Yet what Sean brought to D.C. United was consistency at the right back position with a defense first mentality. In spite of the stay at home approach Franklin still added attacking threat on the right flanks without compromising his marking responsibilities. Sadly, injuries robbed the team of Franklin’s services for several games and that’s something that will need to improve. But he made excellent use of his time away from the field, and his charity work earned him the team’s humanitarian award.

Taylor Kemp (B) This year was a coming out party for the second-year defender. Kemp had failed to impress anyone in his first season after being drafted out of the University of Maryland with lofty expectations. Taylor began the season third on the depth chart at left back behind Cristian Fernandez and Chris Korb but rose to nail down a starting role after alleged homesickness and injuries paved the way for him. This year when Kemp got his chance he took it providing reasonable defending and very impressive attacking acumen. It’s amazing how effective a team can be with reliable crosses coming in from the left back.

Jeff Parke (B+) Many fans, including some of us here at UnitedMania.com, were left scratching their heads at the offseason pick up of Jeff Parke, a well-travelled journeyman defender cast off by more teams than one might be comfortable with in establishing new back line. Additionally it was well know that the team was high on Birnbaum, specifically because Steve was judged by consensus as ready to start immediately. Parke responded with the best play of his career, outperforming Boswell as the two of them forged a rock solid center back pairing. Undone by a freakish inner-ear injury, Parke was lost for the season but remained as an excellent mentor for Birnnbaum.

Chris Korb (C+) While no longer a starter or a leader in minutes played for the team Korbinho turned in his best season as a professional (I hope you understand how difficult this was to type for me!). He responded well to the new wave of experienced defenders brought in to overhaul the back line and contributed depth to the right and left back positions and stepped up his versatility with some capable play as a wing midfielder.

Midfielders

Davy Arnaud (B+) Davy Arnaud delivered a heroic performance in providing consistency in leadership in a central midfield partnership with Perry Kitchen. Some have criticized his offensive numbers with only two goals and two assists on the season, but he was asked to fill a vital role in the absence of a playmaking center midfielder on the team. Arnaud delivered solid two-way play and was a big part of the reason that D.C. United was difficult to break down.

Nick DeLeon (C-) One of the few players on the team who truly underperformed this year, DeLeon was capable of much better than he put out on the field each week. He was frequently culpable on defensive lapses in the midfield leading to scoring opportunities for opponents and frequently invisible on offense. He struggled to find any chemistry and linkage with the forwards, specifically with Fabian Espindola who expected much more from Nick as do we all. A few rare moments of brilliance reminded us of his potential and spare him from a failing grade while simultaneously they infuriate as you just know the guy has gallons of unapplied skill and passion.

David Estrada (B) After being label a “deckchair’ by the “talent” (M. Martin), Estrada provided the kind of depth you want in a reserve player after being acquired from Seattle in a midseason trade. Estrada stepped into an injury riddled line up and provided starting caliber performances. While fans would be right to expect more from a full-time starter than Estrada might be capable of, having a player of his caliber on the depth chart pushing for minutes is exactly what this team has needed for years.

Perry Kitchen (B+) Perry was asked to contribute a lot more than his typical defensive midfield responsibilities this season and responded with increased physical presence and previously unseen offensive production. As one of the truly essential an irreplaceable players on the team, Kitchen needs to manage his yellow cards better and could use some improvement about where on the field to avoid fouling. His postseason performances against Red Bull were glaringly subpar but he turned in a very good season again for United.

Lewis Neal (C+) The Englishman delivered another solid season as a utility midfielder. He performed adequately and gave what you’d expect off the bench from a reserve player/spot starter. There were no moments of heroism from Neal this year, but he’s still capable of delivering them now and then.

Chris Pontius (C) Perhaps the most cursed player in team history, although Brian Kamler might give him a him a close race. The injury demons plagued Pontius again this year as his hamstring injury from last year did not improve in the offseason and required surgery to correct. Pontius was lost for most of the season and was only a shell of his former self when he return to action late in the year. This team was only going to go as far as Chris Pontius could take them and average playoff performances gets you sent packing.

Chris Rolfe (A) An outstanding season from the experienced and dangerous (former United-killer) Rolfe who was miraculously obtained on the cheap from the Chicago Fire early in the year. His arrival produced immediate results in scoring and team dynamics. Rolfe found chemistry with Espindola where DeLeon could not and the two were absolutely brilliant to watch together. Undone by a broken arm late in the year, Rolfe was just a few weeks too late to be effective for the team’s playoff push.

Forwards

Fabian Espindola (A) Fabian gave D.C. United a team and league worthy MVP season this year. Cast off as an expensive afterthought in New York, Espindola provided arguably the most complete play of any United player ever. Not only was he talismanic in attack, scoring and assisting with equal preference and frequency, but his work rate and passion was unmatched throughout the league. While his temper remains his Achilles heel, and he’s a red card magnet, it’s a tradeoff you take 100 times out of 100.

Luis Silva (A) The largely unheralded Silva was projected to be slotted into an attacking midfield role at the start of the season where he looked lost and inept. That earned him a trip to the bench and then injuries sidelined him further. Almost a forgotten man at one point Silva stepped up in the absence of the injured and suspended Eddie Johnson, formed a fantastic partnership with Espindola and delivered a team-high 12 goals and gave the team a legitimate free kick threat from inside 30 yards.

Eddie Johnson (C+) While his play was not as bad as the statistics suggest as a Designated Player, you’ve simply got to deliver more than seven goals. That’s only three more scored than 2013 striker “Own Goal” buried. It’s important to recognize that Johnson isn’t a pure goal scoring forward, but more of a tweener (winger/slasher+set up forward). And he also hauls in 10x less than other league designated players like Keane and Henry, but if Luis Silva can find the net a dozen times, you’ve got to be comparable to that. EJ does a lot of unheralded off the ball work and gives the team a solid aerial presence, but he’s got to get past bickering with fans and sulking when he doesn’t get proper service. This team has proven over the years that it will accept a hothead and EJ needs to channel his frustrations better. If he does that the goals will come.

2015 MLS Expansion Draft

The arrival of two new teams entering the league next season (New York City FC, and Orlando City SC) will result in another expansion draft. MLS teams may prepare a list of 11 players that they may protect from the expansion draft process, and leaving the remainder of their roster as fair game. As usual the league has an ever evolving and secret systems of rules and procedures that assure surprises and special exceptions, particularly for New York based teams.

The wrinkle this year appears to be that each team must protect at least one of their foreign players. D.C. United has two players on the roster that qualifier as foreign by league definition: Samuel Inkoon and Kyle Porter. Given that Inkoon played well in the 70 minutes that he saw in the 2014 season, and that Porter did not appear in few MLS matches, UnitedMania.com forecasts that the team will protect Inkoon rather than Porter. That leaves ten players from the roster that the team will be able to shield from New York and Orlando. Those ten players should almost certainly be: Bill Hamid, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Taylor Kemp, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, Chris Rolfe, Luis Silva, and Fabian Espindola.

Players gaining consideration and sympathy, but not a consensus, from the UnitedMania.com panel are Davy Arnaud (M. Fernandez, M. Martin), DeLeon (C. Webb), and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra (R.Ruff).

In accordance with the league rules teams can lose a total of only two players in the expansion draft. Once a player is selected from a team they may protect a previously unprotected player. Losing Arnaud or DeLeon would be painful, but it’s highly unlikely that they would lose either. Arnaud, while a complete professional and solid player, comes with a $200,000+ salary slot and a pair of aging knees. DeLeon, while talented, is coming off consecutive disappointing seasons (a sophomore slump followed by a junior jape).

The two expansion teams are unlikely to be looking for high priced (by MLS standards) players past their prime or underachieving slackers. What that means for D.C. United is that the team is likely to stay intact and will suffer minimal loss from the expansion draft.

Probable losses: Chris Korb/David Estrada – two versatile players that could start for an expansion team at relatively low cost and provide solid depth if they do not.

Possible losses: Jeff Parke/Eddie Johnson – while not cheap offer solid talent for their price tag.

Absolute Reach: Andrew Dykstra – a goalkeeper with a great upside that we hope no one has heard of.

Tim Howard

Following Our Soccer Players in the EPL

As the English Premier League approaches its halfway point of the season, we’d be forgiven for failing to follow our fellow countrymen in arguably the biggest league in the world. Due to time differences and keeping inundated with MLS breaking news, sometimes it just becomes a little tiring trying to keep up with the goings on in the EPL.

It’s also apparent that we don’t have the leading lights of yesteryear in the EPL anymore either. There’s no Landon Donovan at Goodison Park, where he instantly forged a bond with the Everton fans. There’s also no Clint Dempsey who had successful spells with London outfits Tottenham and Fulham. Nor is there the talisman Brian McBride who like Dempsey had a formidable period at Craven Cottage playing for Fulham under a host of managers.

With that in mind, there are more than a few reasons why you may have taken your eye off the ball with our homegrown talent playing in the EPL. But there is still a lot of promising American talent plying their trade in the EPL such as Stoke City contingent Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea, Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan, Tottenham’s Brad Friedel, Southampton backup goalkeeper Cody Cropper, Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore and finally the ever-reliable Tim Howard who is still with his beloved Everton.

 

Thankfully there is a multitude of useful digital platforms that can potentially help us keep up to date with the aforementioned players progress in the EPL. The coverage of sports in the UK isn’t too dissimilar to the U.S. and its main broadcasters have some really great apps. Luckily for fans of the EPL these broadcasters have tapped into the need that the consumer needs digital content on the go for the modern day Internet user. This generally means that broadcasters are now investing large amounts of their budgets into their services such as app production.

With a total of 17% of the world’s population now accessing the Internet via their smartphones according to Gaming Realms, the company affiliated with entertainment platform Spin Genie, high-profile broadcasters foresaw this need for real time content and have brought the most cutting-edge apps to the market. These apps now even let us follow the matches the aforementioned American players are featuring in, using the real time functionalities of such apps.

Here are some of the best apps that will keep you in the loop with the breaking news in the EPL:

BBC Football – One of the main terrestrial channels in the UK, the BBC’s digital services are extremely proficient and reliable. The app also covers the MLS as well, along with all the top leagues in the world and Internationals. But as far as the EPL goes, BBC Football has probably the most well respected online journalists working for them out of all the apps mentioned in this article. The content is updated regularly and is of the highest quality.

Sky Sports News – If anyone is likely to bring sports fans breaking news it’s Sky Sports. The cable channel has a wide net of journalists who work around the clock 24/7 to bring the latest news from all the 20 EPL clubs. It also has real time functionalities to follow the games as they are taking place.

Football Ramble – Not necessarily a news source but a funny take on the latest goings on in the EPL. It also regularly features segments on American and overseas players and makes for an interesting listen while on your commute to work.

United drops another

Who Will Olsen Start at Left Back?

The Black and Red find themselves in a difficult position heading into the final leg of their series against the New York Red Bulls. Down 2-0 on aggregate, DC United must score at least two goals to send the series into extra time. Give up a goal, and the new away goals rule will force United to have to score at least four to stay alive.

This presents Ben Olsen (above Photo: Martin Fernandez) with the dilemma of needing to set up his team score, but also maintain a clean sheet. The Red Bulls are not known for their defending prowess, but an in form Thierry Henry is as likely to find the net, or provide an assist, as any player in the league. To accomplish this, Olsen must resolve DC’s issues at left back.
Since the departure of Cristian earlier in the season, United played both Taylor Kemp and Chris Korb fairly successfully at left back, with all-star Sean Franklin occupying the position on the right. Due to a slight injury, Sean Franklin started the first leg on the bench, with Taylor Kemp and Chris Korb debuting together as left and right back.

Kemp, while not playing poorly, was consistently targeted by the Red Bulls in one on one situations. This forced United to shift to the left, where Thierry Henry exploited the space on the opposite side of the field. The scoreline was 2-0, but could have easily been 3 or 4.

On Saturday, it almost guaranteed that Sean Franklin will return to the lineup. This leaves Olsen with Taylor Kemp, Chris Korb, or possibly even Samuel Inkoom to fill in on the left.

Taylor Kemp

Kemp has really stepped up since being promoted to the first team. Although 1v1 defending is not his forte, the narrower field at RFK will help solve some of the defensive issues. Going forward, Kemp is definitely more of a threat than Korb. Kemp notched two assists at RFK against the Rapids, earning team of the week honors. Against Houston, Kemp found the back of the net to help United earn its first victory at BBVA Stadium.

Chris Korb

The left back spot was all Korb until his injury brought Kemp into the starting IX. Korb may be a better 1v1 defender than Kemp, but offers much less in the attack. In a game that requires DC to score (at least) twice, this is a far more conservative pick. A change in the backline could address defensive issues from the first leg.

Samuel Inkoom

Inkoom is a wildcard. A world Cup and Champions League veteran, he could be the unknown that Mike Petke and the Red Bulls won’t be prepared for. The problem is, Olsen hasn’t shown much faith in Inkoom since his arrival, and he has rarely featured in MLS games.

Consistency

Olsen hasn’t changed tactics or personnel very drastically all season. At the end of August, United beat the Red Bulls 2-0 at RFK using Taylor Kemp at left back. More importantly, the spot has belonged to Kemp because he’s played well enough to earn it. Although he was often exposed by Loyd Sam at Red Bull Arena, the more narrow field at RFK will help him not get isolated on defense.

More importantly, DC will have to be much better in possession if they stand any chance of coming out of this series. If they accomplish this, it will keep Kemp from having to defend 1v1 for extended periods.

Playing Korb at left back wouldn’t be a disaster, but he has yet to start a game at LB since returning from his injury. Korb will start on the bench and come on late in the game should he be needed.

Starting Inkoom would certainly throw something different at the Red Bulls that they probably haven’t prepared for. There’s probably a reason that Olsen has been reluctant to use Inkoom, and this is not the time for Olsen to make a “panic” change.

United need to score twice. They also need to keep a clean sheet. Playing Taylor Kemp at left back on Saturday gives them the best chance of accomplishing both of those goals.