Precious few TV viewers watched D.C. United lift its third Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy Tuesday night in Sandy, Utah.

MLS Preview: D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire

Leave a comment

• All of D.C. United’s wins in the 2013 Major League Soccer season have come at home, against Real Salt Lake, the San Jose Earthquakes and Montreal Impact, as have 11 of its 17 all-time victories against Chicago.

• Chicago Fire leading scorer Mike Magee has only scored two goals at RFK Stadium in his career: in 2003 with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and in 2011 with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

• D.C. has conceded 16 goals in the final half-hour of games this year, while Chicago has scored 14 in that time frame. However, the Fire has also given up 22 goals in the last 30 minutes of games in 2013.

Back to reality.

D.C. United hosts the Chicago Fire on Friday (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN or NBC Sports Live Extra) after its biggest victory of the season on Tuesday, which saw it win the Open Cup and its top-ranked 13th trophy in league history. Three days after being on top of the heap, United goes back to the bottom, nine points below any other team in the MLS standings.

United is in the midst of an eight-game winless streak in MLS play, although Chicago has only won once in its last six attempts. Despite its poor run of form, the Fire is still just two points adrift from the fifth-placed Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference, and only four points behind the Houston Dynamo in fourth.

This is the third and final meeting between the teams this season, with Chicago winning the previous two at Toyota Park by a combined 6-1 score. Going on the road will likely be a trickier proposition, though, as Chicago has a 2-8-4 record away from home.

Despite all of D.C.’s wins coming at home, RFK Stadium is hardly a fortress this season, with visiting teams managing eight wins and three ties.

What they’re saying

Chicago midfielder Jeff Larentowicz on D.C.’s likely confidence: “I think you have to just assume they’re going to be confident after winning the biggest game of the year. They have that taste for winning and feeling good again. Teams realize to feel that way, you have to win games, and they’ll probably want to do that again. That’s what our assumption has to be going into Friday.”

D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid on the U.S. Open Cup win in Salt Lake: “Now, we know that we can go into any environment and get a win. This is our first away win of the season except for Chicago in the Open Cup. Now we know, we have that belief, we have that faith in ourselves that we can go and get a result anywhere we want. As long as we believe and come with that mentality, we can do it.”

Prediction

A good cup run can define a season, and D.C. will take its trophy as salvaging an otherwise dreary 2013 campaign. But its atrocious league form this year, regardless of positive Open Cup results midweek, point to only one possible outcome in this match. Chicago is still fighting for playoff relevance, while D.C.’s season effectively ended on Tuesday. The Fire should ease this one, even with its terrible road record.

Wales manager says Arsenal could have avoided Aaron Ramsey injury

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 07: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Pre-Season Friendly between Arsenal and Manchester City at Ullevi on August 7, 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wales manager Chris Coleman says Arsenal could have prevented Aaron Ramsey‘s current hamstring injury had they left him out of the early-season matches.

Ramsey was withdrawn in 62nd minute of Arsenal’s season opener against Liverpool after pulling up, and Coleman believes it happened for a reason. “It’s disappointing he’s got an injury. Could it have been prevented? Possibly, yes,” Coleman told the media ahead of the international window. “I think we all expected him to [miss the start of the season]. So I don’t know what happened between then and when he ended up on the pitch. Obviously only Arsenal can answer that. I think, to a man, if you were looking at [Arsenal’s team-sheet], it was a bit of a surprise he started.”

Ramsey helped Wales progress to the Euro 2016 semifinals. Many starts from countries that went deep in the Euros got a rest to start the season. Many of France’s team members, including Dimitri Payet and even Ramsey’s Arsenal teammate Olivier Giroud saw time off to start the Premier League season.

“When you’ve got a player as good as Aaron, take him out of any team and you are going to know about it,” Coleman said. “He is irreplaceable. He makes a huge impact for us. He is a great player and it’s a shame he’s not here. He’s a loss to any team.”

Wales has a World Cup qualifier against Moldova on September 5.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 1-2 Toronto FC

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC dribbles the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): The Orlando City defense played a 75 minute match, and those 15 minutes off cost them the match. A pair of sleepy moments early and late in the match saw Toronto bag two goals on the road and leave Citrus Bowl Stadium with all three points. Sebastian Giovinco had the assists on both, a pair of perfectly timed through balls – one over the top and one through the middle – sprung the Toronto strikers.

Three moments that mattered

7′ – Toronto had a dream start just seven minutes in when a looping ball from Sebastian Giovinco found Tousaint Ricketts. He torched Tommy Redding down the right, breaking free on goal and finishing the one-on-one chance around Joe Bednik cooly.

56′ – Greg Vanney’s anger was doubled. First, the Toronto FC manager was left seething at a foul called as Marco Delgado clipped Matias Garcia and gave Orlando a set-piece opportunity. In the ensuing spell of possession, a cross from Luke Boden met the head of Clye Larin, who deposited it into the back of the net. A stone-faced Vanney was left seething on the bench as the home side leveled it up at 1-1.

86′ – Jozy Altidore came off the bench to finish off the game, and while he had a horrible miss just minutes into the game, he atoned at the end. The visitors again caught the Orlando defense completely asleep, with the back line pressed way high up the pitch. Altidore timed his run perfectly, and the hosts didn’t even attempt to catch up. One-on-one, the USMNT striker finished easily.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Ricketts 7′, Larin 56′, Altidore 86′

Men In Blazers podcast: Leicester vs. Arsenal, plus wins for Mourinho, Pep, and Conte

meninblazers
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo recap the discordant draw that was Leicester vs. Arsenal and break down perfect starts for Mourinho, Pep and Antonio Conte.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]

Hope Solo suspended from USWNT for 6 months, contract terminated

KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 22:  Goalkeeper Hope Solo #1 of the United States in action during the game against Costa Rica at Children's Mercy Park on July 22, 2016 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images
16 Comments

U.S. Soccer has announced that Hope Solo has been suspended from the USWNT for six months following the comments she made about Sweden’s performance in the quarterfinal match that saw the U.S. eliminated from the 2016 Olympics in the quarterfinals.

Sweden played a defensively-minded match, which finished in a 1-1 draw and progressed to penalties, where Sweden defeated the reigning World Cup champions. Solo told reporters following the match that “I think we played a bunch of cowards” and “the best team did not win.”

[ MORE: Transfer needs for all 20 PL teams ]

“The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in a statement on Wednesday evening. “Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions. ”

The statement said that prior incidents were considered “as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. National Team member” when determining the length of the suspension. Solo was suspended in 30 days back in 2015 for a build-up of conduct issues. Even considering her prior conduct problems, the length of suspension is surprising for simply inflammatory comments, but U.S. Soccer made it clear in the statement that there is likely more to this than meets the eye.

[ MORE: Top 15 USMNT prospects under 23 ]

With the six-month layoff, Solo will be eligible to return to the team in February of 2017. The team has just two more matches scheduled for the remainder of 2016. She can still play for her club team Seattle Reign during the suspension. There was another term of punishment levied on Solo:

Other reports have confirmed that, because U.S. Soccer pays her club contract as well, only her national team portion of the contract was revoked.

“During our current National Team camp, Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates,” coach Jill Ellis said in a separate statement. “We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.”

Solo responded to the suspension, saying, “I apologize for disappointing my teammates, coaches and the Federation who have always supported me,” she wrote. “I think it’s best for me to take a break, decompress from the stress of the last several months, and come back mentally and physically ready to positively contribute to the team.”

[ MORE: Yedlin, Newcastle make it official ]

While Hope Solo seems to accept the decision, the player’s union isn’t so much.