D.C. United records watch; one step closer to dubious distinctions

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Ben Olsen made the right call Saturday, for sure, resting all his starters ahead of this week’s U.S. Open Cup final at Real Salt Lake.

Unfortunately the choice could also hasten D.C. United’s place toward history. Here is a quick look at those black marks that Olsen and Co. would surely prefer to avoid, some of the all-time worsts in league history — some of the sad benchmarks for MLS season-long futility:

(MORE: Resting its regular, United falls at Toronto FC)

  • Lowest winning percentage in a season

The 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny finished with a wretched .185 winning percentage in the grim year before if went away (a 4-21-2 record). United’s current .150 percentage (3-21-6) is worse.

Uh, yeah. And the might need to win a couple to scoot by the league’s second lowest historic percentage yet; the 1999 MetroStars and 2005 Chivas USA was both at .219.

The good news is that three of United’s final four matches are at home. The bad news is that all three are against teams that are likely to be desperate for points; Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston all remain alive today in the playoff race.

Oh, United’s one road match is at Eastern Conference contender Sporting Kansas City. That’s hardly encouraging.

  • Fewest wins in a season

Again, the mark to beat belongs (in part) to that dismal 2001 Tampa Bay group, which won just four times. So did Chivas USA in 2005. (United, as noted in the record above, has three wins this year.)

  • Fewest wins on the road in a season

This one is in real jeopardy, although United will have plenty of company … and that is something, at least. Four clubs went an entire season without a road win. Vancouver, just two years back, was the most recent doing so. The 1999 Red Bulls never found a “W” on the road, either.

Not being able to field a competitive team in Toronto today really hurts here, because that’s one for which a full version may have had a shot, at least. Regardless, that coming match at Sporting Park on Oct. 18 is the Black and Red’s final opportunity. The team is 0-13-3 away from RFK Stadium (pictured above) currently.

  • Fewest goals in a season

Here’s one where United can surely get over the hump. With a goal on Saturday (a nice one at that), Olsen’s team has 20 this year. No, it’s not exactly the 98 Galaxy (85 goals, yo!), but the men of RFK need just two more to dodge further besmirch.

D.C. United’s 2010 team holds this particular dubious distinction with 21, back in the club’s previous, most woeful season.

So, four games to score two goals.

C’mon United! … You can do it!

  • Worst goal difference over a season

Uh, more bad news here. Because Saturday’s three-goal loss got Olsen’s sad bunch too close for comfort on this one.

The current miunus-32 goal difference is just four off record pace. Chivas USA in 2005 and Tampa Bay were both at minus-36 after their campaigns of misery. (By the way, the ‘keeper for that awful, first Chivas USA side … none other than current Aston Villa standout and U.S. international Brad Guzan. Just some trivia to lighten the mood; it is a bit dark in here, eh?)

New York Red Bulls introduce space at RBA for autistic families

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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) The Red Bulls have announced plans for a permanent sensory-friendly space at their stadium for families impacted by autism.

Formerly executive offices, the space overlooking midfield is a calm area that is free from the crowds and the noise of Red Bull Arena during matches. Families can use it for free.

The team announced the new space on Saturday before the Red Bulls were set to host the Chicago Fire. It was Autism Awareness Night at the stadium.

“Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year,” Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre said in a statement released by the club. “We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.”

League Two game restarted in empty stadium after fans storm field

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LONDON (AP) An English soccer game restarted in an empty stadium after a pitch invasion led to the crowd being told the fixture had been abandoned.

There were five minutes remaining in Leyton Orient’s fourth-tier game against Colchester on Saturday when a sit-down protest was staged on the pitch by Orient fans against Italian owner Francesco Becchetti.

It forced the referee to take the players off the field. The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd was told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared. The teams came out and finished the game.

Leyton Orient lost 3-1 a week after its relegation from the English Football League was confirmed after 112 years.

“A decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct,” the EFL said in a statement. “However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid hold serve in tight title race

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Super-duper Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of top 7 ]

Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona are doing all they can do — win — in their bid to usurp Real Madrid in the race for the title. While they entered the weekend — and still are — ahead of their El Clasico rivals based on head-to-head results this season, Los Blancos still have a game in hand which will surely decide whether Madrid claim their 33rd top-division title, or a 25th for Barca.

On Saturday, Luis Enrique’s side had more than just the title at stake — also at stake: the Derbi Barceloni, against fellow Catalan side Espanyol.

For 45 minutes, the home side held firm and refused to break, but once Luis Suarez put the Blaugrana ahead in the 50th minute, that was all she wrote. Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the 76th minute, and Suarez completed the scoring 11 minutes later.

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

By the time the derby kicked off, Madrid had already applied the pressure and gone three points clear with a 2-1 victory that was a whole lot closer than the final score indicates.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, and Zinedine Zidane’s side was well on its way to victory. Ronaldo followed up his opening goal with a missed penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, and Daniel Parejo pulled the visitors level with a sensational free kick just eight minutes before the end of regular time. Points looked sure to be dropped, and the door opened wider for Barca, but Marcelo was prepared to play the part of hero on the day, and the Brazilian left back bagged one of the season’s more improbable goals, a right-footed strike from the top of the box, in the 86th minute.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruña — 6 a.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Leganes — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:45 p.m. ET

Monday’s La Liga schedule

Malaga vs. Sevilla — 3 p.m. ET

Championship Focus: It’s all about the playoff places now

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With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD

First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait

As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of the top 7 play ]

Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.