Conor Doyle

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CCL roundup: DC United advances, RSL in good shape

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DC United is the first club through to the knockout rounds of the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League, as Conor Doyle and Jared Jeffrey scored to lead a reserve-heavy MLS side to a 2-0 win over Panama’s Arabe Unido on Tuesday night in Washington.

DC has yet to concede through three group stage matches of the competition, and will likely field another weakened side for Sept. 22’s visit to Montego Bay United.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League roundup ]

Also on Tuesday, Real Salt Lake navigated the second of its treacherous first two road matches with a 0-0 draw at Salvadorian side Santa Tecla. In true CONCACAF style, a backup-laden RSL saw the only yellow cards of the match (5) and went down a man late when John Sterzer saw his second yellow in El Salvador.

RSL is tied with Municipal (Guatemala) for first place in the group, but is the only side with two matches remaining in Group G.

Wednesday finds one match involving an MLS side, though there are implications for two. Seattle has a tenuous hold on first place in Group F, having played one more match than Olimpia (Honduras) and two more than Vancouver. The latter two square off in Canada tonight before the ‘Caps head to Seattle next Wednesday.

The other MLS side in the CCL — consonants! — is off this week but holds a heavy advantage after a pair of blowout home wins in Group D. T&T’s Central heads to Guatemala to take on Comunicaciones tonight.

MLS Snapshot: DC United 3-1 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less): David Accam’s third goal of the season gave Chicago hope against Ben Olsen’s United, but DC’s Jairo Arrieta made sure table order was restored with a pair of his own goals. He first headed home a Fabian Espindola offering before playing the role of “Jairo on the spot” when a mistimed tackle pushed a ball onto his path in the center of the box. Andrew Dykstra stopped a PK and later teamed with Conor Doyle for a doorstep denial of Chicago. With the win, DC moves seven points ahead of No. 2 New England in the East, while Chicago fails in a bid to move fourth.

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Dykstra pushes Larentowicz PK onto post — Drinks on Steve Birnbaum, as the young USMNT back’s wayward arm granted a chance from the spot to Jeff Larentowicz. But Big Red’s languid run-up got very little power on his low shot. Dykstra guessed correctly and pushed the ball off the post.

28′ — Accam flashes into the box to give Fire a 1-0 lead — It would only be a temporary reprieve, as the 24-year-old Ghanaian darted past Kofi Opare to push Quincy Amarikwa’s cross past Dykstra. Harrison Shipp helped start the play, and DC United’s back line was a group of passengers as the home team went down.

61′ — Arrieta nods home an equalizer— Jairo Arrieta rose above a pair of Fire defenders to net his fourth goal of the season. Fabian Espindola’s corner kick went dead center, and it was 1-1 with about a half-hour to play in DC.

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Man of the match: Fabian Espindola, DC United — He’s the machine that drives DC, and he set up a pair of goals on the night. First it was Arrieta’s headed equalizer. Later, it was Markus Halsti’s awkward, two-footed insurance goal.

LINEUPS

DC United: Dykstra; Franklin, Boswell, Opare, Birnbaum, Aguilar (Espindola, 46′), Halsti, Kitchen, DeLeon (Coria, 85′), Doyle, Arrieta (Arnaud, 73′)

Goal: Arrieta 2 (61′, 69′), Doyle (75′)

Chicago Fire: Busch; Palmer, Larentowicz, Gehrig, Jones, Polster, Watson (Igboananike, 70′), Accam (Do Prado, 77′), Stephens (Cocis, 62′), Amarikwa, Shipp.

Goal: Accam (28′)

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Once again, the top teams are struggling to get through the summer; our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 23 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – Win No. 3 on the year! Conor Doyle, on loan from England’s Derby County, came off the bench for score a swell goal in the 3-1 result over Montreal.

18. Chivas USA – The Goats could generate precious little offense in a 2-0 loss at San Jose. Carlos Bocanegra’s red card stuck more of a bummer on the night.

17. Toronto FC – A 1-0 win at New England represents a nice result, but the Reds remain long, long way from turning this thing around. A resolution to the ongoing pursuit of Maximiliano Urruti would be a great start.

16. Columbus – Robert Warzycha’s team needs an August super-boost of the kind Federico Higuain gave the Crew one year ago. Unfortunately, those lightning-in-a-bottle moments are few and far between, as we know. The Crew has lost six of seven.

15. FC Dallas – The bottom has fallen out spectacularly as Schellas Hyndman’s team has not won since . How did this team get so bad, so fast? (One answer is the continued reliance on David Ferreira, who is a shell of his former playmaking self.)

14. New England Revolution – All the good feeling of two consecutive road wins evaporated in losing to Toronto FC at home.

13. San Jose Earthquakes – In echoes of 2012, Chris Wondolowski scored twice as San Jose won comfortably at home over Chivas USA. The ‘Quakes sit just three points out of playoff position.

12. Houston Dynamo – Two Houston forwards found goal, so perhaps things are pointed in the right direction at BBVA, although things were in doubt until the very end during a 3-1 victory over Columbus. Meanwhile, early reports that Clint Dempsey may have included Houston on his MLS wish list appeared to be false.

11. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee (pictured above) supplied his league-leading 14th goal, this one a game-winner as the Fire picked up a valuable three points on the road (at Philadelphia).

(MORE: Major League Soccer’s Round 23 in review)

10. LA Galaxy – Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan are back on the field following Gold Cup and injury absence. The champs have attempted to address their goalkeeping issues.  Now, if they can just get past this cash grab of an international tournament and re-focus on MLS matters, things might be OK.

9. Seattle Sounders – Clint Dempsey. ‘Nuff said. (Well, there’s this: looks like he’ll play this week against Toronto. Find Univision on your channel lineup if you have not already.)

8. Philadelphia Union – After a loss at home in Round 23, this week’s contest at PPL Park against a potentially drained D.C. United (which plays mid-week while the Union is idle) is an absolute must-have three points.

7. Montreal Impact – The Impact’s season of high highs and curious lows continues: Marco Schallibaum’s club fell to D.C. United, 3-1.

6. Colorado Rapids – A 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake was enough to get the Rocky Mountain Cup into Rapids hands for the first time in seven years. That’s a big day around DSG Park.

5. New York Red Bulls – When peripheral figures like Loyd Sam and Jonny Steele can contribute goals and assists, the team will be a good shape. Last week’s 3-2 win at Sporting Kansas City, a lesson in counter-attacking soccer, helped soften the blow of losing Tim Cahill to injury for a few weeks.

4. Vancouver Whitecaps – Yet another rugged, foul-filled Cascadia Cup contest resulted in a 1-1 draw in Portland, a good result for Martin Rennie’s team.

3. Sporting Kansas City – Peter Vermes changed the team’s style this year to be less reliant on high-pressure tactics. The results aren’t encouraging, however. After last week’s loss in the heartland to New York, SKC is just 5-4-3 at home, which is mediocre at best.

2. Portland Timbers – Caleb Porter’s club is not handling the summer disruptions well, with just one win in its last five home matches. The big blow for the Timbers, however, was seeing bitter rival Seattle gather up attention and a roster boost in Clint Dempsey’s acquisition.

1. Real Salt Lake – Generally speaking, a draw on the road is fine, especially against a team in playoff position. But a 2-2 draw in Denver meant RSL handed off the Rocky Mountain Cup.

D.C. United snap winless streak with win over Montreal thanks to a crop of newly acquired players

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Ben Olsen and D.C. United (3-15-4, 13 pts.) were desperately searching for goals coming into Saturday night’s game against the Montreal Impact 10-6-5, 35 pts.). D.C. had only scored more than one goal once this season coming the game, but, thankfully for Olsen, his youngsters were able to provide not only goals but also a much-needed, 3-1, win at RFK Stadium.

The win snapped a five-game winless streak for D.C. in league play and was its first win since a 1-0 win over San Jose on June 22. It was also an important win for  a United team looking to build for next season because the playoffs have long been out of reach.

Goals from newcomers Luis Silva (19th minute), Conor Doyle (68th minute) and Jared Jeffrey’s stoppage time nullified Jeb Brovsky’s goal for Montreal in the 52nd minute.

Silva, who has been a revelation since joining D.C. from Toronto FC, opened the scoring to continue his goal-per-game ratio since the move. With three goals in three game, Silva has already become the team’s leading goalscorer. His movement, pace and ability on the ball made him a constant threat to score. And being paired with a now healthy Dwayne De Rosario doesn’t hurt either.

De Rosario made it be known that, when healthy, he can and will make this D.C. team tougher to stop in the final months of the season, even if the playoffs are out of reach, with his ability to control tempo with his passing but also create chances for himself and his teammates out of nothing with his ability to find space and outsmart defenders.

Doyle, who came on for De Rosario in the second half, proved to be just as much of a handful for the Impact backline  as De Rosario. The former Derby County player showed confidence and goal-scoring know-how with his goal in the 68th minute, a first-time flick of a cross with the outside of his foot after making a near-post run. It was an intelligent run followed by a near-perfect finish that left Montreal defenders flat-footed.

Doyle then set-up the final goal from Jeffrey on the break. After committing everyone forward Montreal was caught out and Doyle and Jeffrey were free to break out, finding themselves in a two-on-one with Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Doyle waited for Perkins to commit and then slotted the pass to Jeffrey to finish the chance in an empty net.

If Doyle can maintain the kind of form he was in when he came on in the second half, especially from the start in 2014, D.C. could have a potent, young attacking line squad with Doyle, Silva and Nick DeLeon, if he can return to last season’s form, at its disposal. All three players are good on the ball, have pace, aren’t afraid to take on defenders and can score plenty of goals.

Montreal, on the other hand, wasted an opportunity to stay tied for first in the Eastern Conference with the New York Red Bulls, who beat Sporting Kansas City earlier in the night, with two games in hand if the Impact could have taken three points from its visit to RFK.Instead, Montreal was unable to cope with United’s quick counter-attacks down the flanks and the impressive midfield pairing of Jeffrey, who was acquired on July 3 from the German club Mainz , and Perry Kitchen.

Kitchen and Jeffries not only shielded the D.C. defense, which has been under immense amounts of pressure at times this season, but they also sprayed the ball around the field and shifted United’s point of attack quickly and often, which made it hard for Montreal to link play  through the middle of the field and slowdown D.C.’s wingers on counterattacks.

With D.C. out of the playoff race, Olsen has begun preparing for next season by giving his youngsters the opportunity to shine. If those players can grow and fight through the battles this year, D.C. could be a team on the rise again next year.

Conor Doyle snapped up by D.C. United in lottery

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One of America’s young stars who has been plying his trade in England, Conor Doyle, has been acquired by D.C. United through a Major League Soccer lottery conducted on Thursday morning.

The 21 year old forward has spent the last three years at Championship side Derby County, where he’s made 23 appearances and has yet to score a goal. For the last few weeks, the former U.S. Under 20 player has been training with the Colorado Rapids in hopes of reaching a loan agreement with the club.

That desire was squashed Tuesday when his rights went to D.C., who have the league’s worst record at 2-13-4 and are in need of a jump-start to an attack that has produced only eight goals in 19 matches.

D.C. United GM Dave Kasper spoke highly of Doyle but remained reserved when it came to discussing how much playing time the former Creighton man may see.

“Conor is another quality young talent who has advanced international soccer experience for his age,” Kasper said in a club statement. “This loan will allow us to take a close look at him with an eye on the future. We look forward to Conor’s arrival in D.C. and to integrating him among our strong core group of up-and-coming players.”

Doyle’s loan deal was sought by Derby manager Nigel Clough, who believed that the forward would benefit from an increase in playing time and experience while he continues to develop. Doyle and Clough had targeted Colorado as the place to make that happen as Rapids president, Tim Hinchey, had previously worked at Derby.

 

You can find Mike on Twitter @mprindi