D.C. United finally into goals, points columns, but Chicago takes result out of RFK (video)

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D.C. United’s winless streak is now at 15 games, but there are a number of positives to take out of Saturday’s performance at RFK Satdium. For the second week in a row, Ben Olsen’s team showed progress, this time getting a 2-2 result against visiting Chicago.

It’s a somewhat patronizing view, but remember: This is a team coming off a season where it set a record for fewest wins. They also lost 3-0 at home on opening day, giving their last two games the feeling of an upward trajectory. After losing 1-0 last Saturday at BMO Field, D.C. United got its first goals and points of the year.

This wasn’t a game that would recommend either side, though. Particularly in the first half, where D.C. was creating most of the initial chances, the game was characterizing more by hard play and effort than skill and execution. This looked like two teams that had combined for zero win in five games.

(ELSEWHERE: Late Di Vaio goal makes Philadelphia pay, gives Montréal first point of 2014)

Chicago, however, found its first piece of execution in the 27th minute, though the opening goal looked as much like a D.C. breakdown as it did a well-executed corner. Yet after Sean Franklin lost Jhon Kennedy Hurtado on a mid-half restart, the Fire had drawn first blood.

source: Getty ImagesD.C. quickly staunched the wound, with Chicago’s own piece of poor set piece defending allowing the hosts to equalize. After Eddie Johnson drew a foul on Greg Cochrane just beyond the Fire penalty box, a back-heeled restart from Nick DeLeon allowed Fabian Espindola to get an angle around the Chicago wall. His low blast went under a slow reacting Sean Johnson to tie the game before halftime.

The second half was more of the same, though the teams reversed roles. Instead of Chicago taking advantage of D.C. to go up on a corner, it was Perry Kitchen’s (pictured) third career goal through some goal mouth chaos that gave United a 2-1 edge in the 73rd. Nine minutes later, Patrick Nyarko shredded Cristian Fernandez down the right flank before finding Quincy Amarikwa at the edge of the six-yard box. The striker’s second goal of the season gave Chicago its third straight draw.

(ELSEWHERE: Sporting Kansas City breaks out, overcomes penalties in Colorado)

Perhaps that breakdown will leave D.C. disappointed, but a look at the numbers helps describe what was team’s best day of the season. Fifty-two percent possession speaks to the improved play in the midfield, something that’d been a problem through games one and two. The team put nine shots on target while limiting Chicago to four. While soccer stats can often portray a false impression of a game, there’s some truth in today’s numbers. Perhaps United weren’t as far beyond Chicago as a 9-4 shots on target edge suggests, but they were generating more chances throughout.

In that sense, there’s no need for disappointment. True, D.C. gave away a late lead, and on Thursday, we called this game an “if we can’t win this one, we’re in real trouble” affair, but that looks like an exaggeration, now. United didn’t win, and it’s in less trouble than it was three hours ago. Today was progress, if only slightly so.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.