Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DC United Wins Again !

From DCist.com:

"Hey guys, guess who's in first place?

D.C. United, that's who.

United rounded out a three-game homestand Saturday evening with a victory over the New England Revolution. After taking the full nine points from those three matches, the black-and-red find themselves in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of New York and two points ahead of Kansas City.

While they've played a couple of games more than some of the teams chasing them, United's point total is still something to marvel at. United haven't found themselves in first place this deep into a season since the summer of 2009, and the three-game winning streak is their longest in league play since 2008.

If I sound like a cheerleader right now, you'll have to excuse me. This team has been very, very fun to watch lately.

How different is this team from last years? After jumping out to a 2-0 halftime lead on goals from Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic, United quickly gave up its lead in a five-minute span early in the second half. DCU's 2011 squad would've given up the ghost at that point.

"This year our guys have been so good at keeping themselves composed and know that it is going to come," McDonald said after the match. "For me, I wasn’t worried about the two goals.”

And neither was United striker Maicon Santos, who came off the bench and nailed the game-winner in the 61st minute. A year ago, the idea that United would be able to bring their leading scorer in as a sub would have been laughable. But with options like Hamdi Salihi, Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius and a game-fit Branko Bošković in attack, United can afford to do just that.

Still, United head coach Ben Olsen expected more from his squad: "It’s strange because I feel unfulfilled," he told the assembled media after the match. "I think our team feels unfulfilled, but it’s nice to feel unfulfilled and have three points in the back."

And that's possibly the most hopeful sign of all for United fans. This team expects to win, and it expects to win convincingly. Gone, for now, are the days where blowing a two-goal lead and skating out with a victory are good enough. United has started to demand more from themselves.

Based on Olsen's attitude about the three game winning streak, the best may be yet to come. Said Olsen: "When you’re in this, it’s tough to pat yourself on the back. I want to keep going. I want more points, and I want to do big things here, and I want these guys to experience big things."

Monday, May 21, 2012

De Rosario is On Fire

From USA today:

"Dwayne De Rosario scored two first-half goals, and D.C. United handed Toronto FC its MLS-record ninth loss to open the season, 3-1 on Saturday night. 

Hamdi Salihi added a second-half goal for United (7-4-3). The Washington club is unbeaten in its last seven home matches, including victories in the last four.

Danny Koevermans scored for Toronto, a loss away from tying the league record for the longest losing streak at any point in a season. Real Salt Lake lost 10 in a row in 2005.

De Rosario has scored three goals in his last five matches, and has four multi-goal games since D.C. acquired him in a trade last June with the New York Red Bulls.

He put United ahead in the first minute when he outraced Toronto's Ashtone Morgan and headed in Branko Boskovic's free kick. De Rosario doubled D.C.'s lead in the 43rd when he drove in Chris Korb's low cross after Josh Wolff played Korb down the right.

Toronto appeared to have new life in the 71st minute when Koevermans reached a long, straight free kick from Julian de Guzman and scored from close range. But Salihi struck two minutes later, reaching Andy Najar's cross after Najar eluded de Guzman and Jeremy Hall on the right.

Salihi, signed in the offseason from Austrian club Rapid Vienna, has four goals in his last five games after failing to score in United's first nine matches."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Guardiola Retires !

From ladbrokes.com :

Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola has confirmed on Friday he will be leaving his position as Barcelona coach in the summer. His contract was due to expire at the end of June and he informed the players at training that he would not be extending his stay at the Nou Camp.

At the club’s request he promised to give it further thought but emerged with the same decision. Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has announced that Guardiola’s assistant Tito Vilanova will become first-team coach for next season.

The 41-year-old rose through the ranks at FC Barcelona, making 263 first-team appearances as a defensive midfielder for the Catalan side from 1990-2001. He retired as a player in 2006 and soon after became Barcelona B coach.

On May 8 2008 Guardiola replaced Frank Rijkaard as first-team coach. In his first full season in charge, his Barcelona side completed the treble of La Liga, Copa Del Rey and the Champions League.

He has led Barcelona to two Champions League crowns, three La Liga titles, one Copa Del Rey, three Supercopas, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups in his four-year tenure. Guardiola received the FIFA World Coach of the Year 2012 back in January.

Barca’s current campaign season has come up agonisingly short in the past week after the Catalan giants were beaten by Chelsea on Tuesday in the Champions league semi-final, on the back of Real Madrid’s 2-1 win at the Nou Camp in La Liga which left Barcelona seven points behind Jose Mourinho’s men with four games remaining. Chelsea (17/10) will now play FC Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, with Bayern priced as 4/9 to lift the trophy at their home ground, the Allianz Arena.

Guardiola said: “I would like you to understand that this is not an easy decision for me. But I would like to explain my reasons for this decision.

“I have always wanted short-term contracts. Four years is an eternity as Barca coach. I have given everything and I have nothing left and need to recharge my batteries,” he added.

At a press conference, President Sandro Rosell said: “We have called you today to announce that Pep Guardiola will not continue in charge of the team next season.

“Thank you Pep for all the happiness you have brought us and for bringing a model of football that can never be questioned.”