Toronto FC v DC United

Olsen: “It is on the players now”

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Ben Olsen is no longer searching himself and his coaching staff for answers. Players of D.C. United be warned, your coach is on the warpath.

“It is on the players now. I am going to put them under a microscope. We’ll see if that works because they were prepared [Sunday],” Olsen told the Washington Post. “I have looked at myself and now I am going to hold [the players] to very, very high standards. If it’s not working, we will make changes.”

So obviously a 1-5-1 start is not sitting pretty with Olsen and his staff, but what about the powers that be at D.C. United?  “Ben Olsen is not going anywhere,” General Manager Dave Kasper said. “Ben has a been handed a tough card with a lot of injuries and he has had to change lineups.”

The dreaded vote of confidence. Great.

Following the 3-2 defeat to I-95 rivals Philadelphia on Sunday, United sit bottom of the Eastern conference with just one win from seven. Olsen has a veteran squad trying to turn things around, but they’ve been hampered with the injury of  young attacker Nick DeLeon and 2012 MLS All-Star Chris Pontius’ lack of consistency.

MORE: D.C. United need a new stadium, now more than ever

United have the individuals to win games, DeLeon when he returns, Pontius, captain Dwayne De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy, young Brazilian DP Rafael, the list goes on. But small defensive errors have cost United big so far. 2-0 down after 11 minutes on Sunday against the Union, they fought back admirably to narrowly lose.

But if they keep putting themselves in situations like that, this rough patch Olsen’s men are having will elongate until the fall. And nobody wants that.

USMNT youngster Bill Hamid has been the only player to cover himself in any glory so far in 2013. And that’s because the ‘keeper has been working overtime due to lackluster defending. Only New York and Chicago have conceded more than D.C. and if Hamid wasn’t on song it could be much more.

Things can only get better for United and Olsen. Once a defense first approach returns, United should flourish. But like Olsen said, “If it’s not working, we will make changes.” You’ve been warned, guys.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

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In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).