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DC United’s last game at RFK ends in a loss 2-1 against NY Red Bulls

 DSC8432DC United'S Chris Korb collides with Red Bulls forward Gonzalo Verón while stopping the attack by Verón. Both players went to the ground, no foul called. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE

Despite a solid display of athleticism and more than a bit of aggression from both teams, DC United (9-20-5) was unable to leave Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium with one more win. In the last Major League Soccer match Sunday afternoon on the pitch at RFK in front of 41,418 spectators, the New York Red Bulls (14-12-8) defeated DC United 2-1.
Led by first-time captain Marcelo Sarvas, DC United opened the match with a parry-and-thrust attack that kept the Red Bulls on their side of the field more often than not. Each time the Red Bulls moved the ball onto the DC United’s side, DC responded by turning the ball back and moving the match back to the other end of the pitch.
The fires of frustration crept into the match ignited by a tangled dust-up between United’s forward Paul Arriola and Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence. Chasing the ball from opposite ends resulted in a loud, violent collision that brought both players to the ground, skidding across the end line and into advertising barriers surrounding the field. Arriola lay crumpled against the wall, not moving much.

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Seattle Reign supreme over Washington Spirit in final game of the season, 3-2

Seattle Reign vs. Washington Spirit 9 30 17Spirit midfielder Tori Huster slows Beverly Yanez’s movement towards the ball as Mallory Pugh closes in from behind for the steal. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  BOYDS — Sitting at the bottom of the National Women’s Soccer League’s standings, the only improvement the Washington Spirit could have gained Saturday by winning their match against the Seattle Reign FC would have been ninth place. Unfortunately, even that small victory was not to be; The Spirit lost to The Reign at Maureen Hendricks Field, 3-2.

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DC United fall to Orlando City Soccer Club, 2-1

205 20170909 DCUnited vs Orlando City 1DC United's Paul Arriola slumps to the field as game time runs out, with the Orlando City Soccer Club declared the victors, 2-1. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  WASHINGTON — In front of a crowd of 18,028 spectators at RFK Stadium, DC United fell to the Orlando City Soccer Club, 2-1.
Orlando City owned the majority of the first half, keeping DC United’s defense stretched out. It was the first half that brought Orlando their only two goals of the match. DC United’s frustration with the first half of the match showed up when Luciano Acosta at the 24th minute and Paul Arriola at the 33rd minute were flagged with yellow cards for unsporting behavior.
The second half of the match, DC United was back as the dominating home team that fans expected. They played faster, more aggressively, and with an obvious sense of urgency. DC United head coach Ben Olsen commented that the second half was better for the team. "The second half was pretty gutsy from us, and I thought we should have earned a little bit more out of that game."

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Washington Spirit fall to North Carolina Courage

Spirit vs. CouragePitted against the league leaders in the National Women’s Soccer League on their home pitch, the Washington Spirit (4-10-4) fell 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage (13-5-0) this past Saturday. The North Carolina Courage was the team to beat as they’re at the top of the league with 39 points. The next closest team is the Portland Thorns with 34 points. Unless the Courage fall apart in the next few weeks, they will be the league champions of the NWSL.

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Spirit back on the bottom again

On Saturday, the Washington Spirit (4-9-4) took on the Boston Breakers (3-7-7). A win would have moved the Spirit into eighth place. Instead they came up with a 2-2 draw, dropping them back into last place in the league. While the Spirit has 16 points, the same number as the Boston Breakers, their larger negative goal differential, -7, puts them back on the bottom. It’s hard to see a team with a storied reputation for being formidable league leaders sitting at the bottom of the rankings.
The Spirit has played matches where it looks like they are going to turn a corner towards stringing some wins together. Most recently they played Sky Blue FC on Saturday, Aug. 4. They won that match 4-1. All four Spirit goals were in the second half showing off their physical stamina and mental willingness to play hard until the end.
Four days later, the team who had just crushed Sky Blue FC is playing the Orlando Pride in Orlando. Orlando, like Washington was coming into this match with only four days since their last match. The Pride controlled the pitch and left the Spirit with zero goals while scoring three of their own. Orlando added three points to their standings, the Spirit added none.

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Okay . . . we’ll call it a draw - Spirit vs. Pride

1010 20170708 Spirit vs PrideOrlando’s Alex Morgan and The Spirit’s Estelle Johnson (24) match strides during Morgan's attack on goal getting off her shot. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  BOYDS — The Washington Spirit took on the Orlando Pride this past Saturday in front of a home crowd of over 5200. At the end of the match, it was a draw, earning both teams one point in the league standings.
In the 10th minute of the match a penalty kick was awarded to the Pride. Brazilian soccer player Marta took the shot and put the Pride up 1-0 over the Spirit. Head coach Jim Gabarra said it was an “unearned penalty” that put the Pride up so early in the game.
For the next 10 minutes, the Spirit looked a bit flat. Marta went the other way and used the goal to energize herself. It was not very long, 10 minutes or so further into the match it all changed.

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Boston Breakers break Washington Spirit 1-0

Washington Spirit LogoAn ambitious Washington Spirit team (3-6-2) ended their 3-match undefeated streak, losing 1–0 against the Boston Breakers (3-6-3) on the Breakers home field. Now sitting at the bottom of the league, the Spirit have nowhere to go but up. Matches played away from their home field of Maureen Hendricks Field have not been good for the Spirit’s standings in the league. They have not won a match on the road this season.
The match in Boston was really a three-way match between the Breakers, the Spirit, and the wind whipping down the Charles River. Regular gusts were clocked at 20-plus miles per hour. In the first half, the winds worked in the Spirit’s favor; in the second half, not so much. Any ball lofted more than head height was subject to the whims of the wind. A ball set on the ground for play restarts, corner kicks, and goal kicks would not stay where placed if a gust of wind came in, and the wind came in often.

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The Washington Spirit dull the Thorns

1010b 20170624 Spirit vs ThornsThorns’ Amandine Henry (28) goes one-on-one with the Spirit's Cheyna Williams (20). Williams won possession but committed a foul, forcing a turnover of the ball over to the Thorns.    PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFEOn a gorgeous Saturday evening at Maureen Hendricks Field in Boyds, the Washington Spirit (3-5-2) defeated the Portland Thorns (4-3-3) 1-0 in front of 4,319 spectators.
Let me reemphasize that statement. The Spirit won! That makes three matches in a row where they have not been defeated this season. This is the best knitting of undefeated games by the Spirit yet this season. As a result, the Spirit is moving up in the standings as their injured players return to form on the pitch and the team continues to gel as an organized unit.

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The Canadian Connection

Labbé Zadorsky 1bThe Washington Spirit’s Shelina Zadorsky holds back the progress of an opposing player while teammate Stephanie Labbé goes for a grip on the ball, a familiar strategy that Labbé calls “for sure normal.” PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Canadians Stephanie Labbé and Shelina Zadorsky for an exclusive interview about their second year with the Washington Spirit as professional soccer players in the National Women’s Soccer League.
This year, Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra has implemented multiple systems of play. At least one of them features a three-back defensive line versus a more traditional four-back defensive line. I asked Labbé and Zadorsky their thoughts on this system.
Labbé said, “I think the four-back is more natural. I think growing up that’s what we play all through the youth systems. I think that the three-back, it’s a new system. If you tactically have the right coaching and can really structurally break it down and be efficient in it, I think the three-back is a great tool to have. You have to have the right players that can fit the positions of that. Defensively the four-back is much more natural to so many people. Your instincts just go with it a lot better so it is easier to play.”

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D.C. United dominates fourth round of tourney

1003 20170613 DCUnited vs FC CristosDC United's keeper Travis Worra lies injured on the ground as United's Robinson and Christos FC’s Levi Houapeu have a heated exchange as Worra's head was struck by Houapeu's knee during play. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  In front of 5,286 enthusiastic fans, amateur team Christos FC took on DC United in a fourth round play of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. While in the first half of the game it looked like Christos FC were going to provide DC United a potential loss, by the end of the match DC United stood tall, soundly drubbing the amateur team, 4-1.
There was no lack of support for the scrappy amateur team from north of Baltimore. Sponsored by a liquor store, Christos FC team members profess they do not practice much, because they all have full-time jobs. However, that did not stop them from getting through the first three rounds of playoffs in the USOC. Winning their third round earned them a chance to play against DC United.

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