September 22, 2014

D.C. United CONCACAF Champions League Game 2 Recap: Espindola scores twice in key away win

UNITED ON VERGE OF ADVANCING OUT OF CCL GROUP STAGE

Fabian Espindola last made news in Major League Soccer for being on the receiving end of a dubious (yet upheld by the league) red card in a 1-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls last week. But while Espindola will miss an MLS match due to New York midfielder Dax McCarty running into the side of Espindola’s boot, United’s leading scorer was available and spectacular in United’s 2-1 win at Waterhouse FC Tuesday night in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The win by United at Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica, lifted the club to 2-0 in the group stage, both wins over Waterhouse. United beat the Jamaican side, 1-0, at RFK Stadium on August 20. With six points, United is tied with Waterhouse FC for the lead in the three-team group, as Waterhouse has already beaten Tauro FC (Panama City) twice. United need only a point from two upcoming matches with Tauro (Sept. 24 at home; Oct. 21 away) to clinch Group 4. [Read more...]

Fantasy Football: Week 2 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

NFL Survivor

Welcome back to DSP’s NFL Survivor Pool picks column for Week 2. I said Week 1 is the toughest week and we saw nearly a quarter of entries drop out with Chicago the main culprit. Hopefully you didn’t have too many of your eggs in the Bears’ basket.

Now, on to Week 2 where we can overreact [Read more...]

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 4 Review: Redd, Seastrunk Impress in 24-10 Preseason Finale

The fourth and final game of the 2014 preseason for the Washington Redskins was all about the competition for roster spots, so the resulting 24-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was almost immaterial. Colt McCoy went the distance at quarterback and went 22 of 29 from 321 yards and two touchdowns in the teams’ final tuneup before the regular season openers next week.

Several positions are still up for grabs and this game is more than likely the final chance for the proverbial “bubble players” to prove their worth to Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the rest of coaching staff.  The three position battles that stood out the most in this matchup were third/fourth running back, backup linebackers, and the kicking battle.

Chris Thompson, Silas Redd, and Lache Seastrunk all received considerable playing time tonight and it’s hard to say who will come out on top in Head Coach Jay Gruden’s eyes.  Redd averaged just under six yards a carry and Seastrunk caught a screen pass and took it 80 yards for a touchdown.  Redd looked to have improved from earlier in training camp in his pass protection as well and he picked up the blitz nicely, allowing McCoy to keep his eyes down field. Redd capped the night off with a late fourth quarter touchdown and amassed 79 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.

The two running backs who did not necessarily impress were Thompson and veteran running back Evan Royster.  It’s hard to fathom that Royster will make the roster, and Thompson faces an uphill battle as Redd and Seastrunk have both shown flashes of brilliance through the offseason, training camp, and the preseason games. Thompson rushed eight times for 18 yards and Royster lost one yard on four carries.  On a night that each running back was hoping to secure that roster spot, only two made a strong case.

The backup linebacker battle has become an interesting one, especially in the case of Gabe Miller. He was used on some blitz packages in the first quarter and showed that he is very physical and was able to generate penetration up the middle. Late in the first quarter, Miller strip-sacked Bucs’ QB Mike Kafka and recovered the fumble near the goal line leading to a Redskins score.  Akeem Jordan is also another interesting “bubble player” as he is a special teams ace, but we will have to wait and see the result of his knee injury he suffered early in the third quarter.

Then there are the kicking battles. Robert Malone seemed to be a shoe-in for the punting job after the release of Blake Clingan, but newly signed Tress Way impressed in this game.  His first two punts pinned the Bucs deep in their own territory and kicekd for 103 yards on only two punts.  Meanwhile, Malone punted once in the first half for 31 yards. 

For the place-kickers, both showed why each is still on the roster and the battle not yet been decided.  Kai Forbath was 1-for-1 for a 45 yarder, and made his extra point attempt.  Hocker, on the other hand, missed his only attempt, a 39-yarder, and made his extra point.  So, in essence, both have missed in the preseason from distances that NFL kickers should not routinely miss from.

The key in the kicking battle could be on kickoffs, and Hocker seems to be farther ahead than Forbath in this area.  The incumbant has already kicked one out of bounds earlier in the preseason, and Hocker just seems to be able to put the ball deep every single time.  This is crucial for a coaching staff that would like to boast one of the best special teams units in the NFL.

Now on to positions that seem to be decided.  Wide Receiver Ryan Grant is something special.  He was a consistent target for McCoy all night, amassing 71 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown.  He came back on his routes to receive underthrown balls, maintained awareness when making catches on the sideline, and went over a defender to catch his touchdown pass.  Needless to say, Gruden is happy with his draft pick that seemed like a head scratcher at the time due to the depth at wide receiver.

The amount of penalties in this game was another encouraging stat.  The Redskins were penaltized just four times for 45 yards.

There was some bad news. Both nose tackle Chris Neild and linebacker Akeem Jordan went down with apparent knee injuries.  MRI’s should be expected in the near future for both, but these are two players that could have been key role players and depth on this 2014 team that may now be potentially lost for the year.

Overall, this was a good final test for the Redskins reserves and “bubble players”.  It will be interesting to see just how much this final preseason game will factor into the final cutdown to the 53 man regular season roster.

D.C. United Game 22 Recap: Real Salt Lake buries listless United right away

The return of Nick DeLeon, Chris Korb, and even Fabian Espindola as a substitute couldn’t save D.C. United from a 3-0 drubbing Saturday night at Real Salt Lake. The listless and stomach-turning performance dropped United to 11-7-4 (37 points) on the season. RSL took over first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference at 10-4-9, 39 points.

United were neatly and surgically put away within a half-hour, thanks to an 11th-minute goal from Joao Plata and then two goals by defender Chris Schuler, who had a grand total of two career goals prior to Saturday night’s match. He had two in this match by the time 24 minutes were gone. United’s defending was non-existent at times and the attack managed just two shots on goal – eight total – and were flattered by the end to have 45 percent of possession. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 104 Review: Offense leaves Strasburg out to dry against Marlins

When the offense dries up, it dries up hard.

With Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, and Jayson Werth out resting a sprained ankle acquired when unsuccessfully trying for an extra base Monday, the Washington Nationals were missing two of their most productive hitters entering Tuesday’s rematch with the Miami Marlins.

The results weren’t pretty. The Nats wasted six walks by four Marlins pitchers, went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base, spoiling another strong outing by Stephen Strasburg, to fall 2-0 to Miami at Marlins Park. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 100 Review: Roark, Span lead Nats over Reds

NATIONALS EXTEND N.L. EAST LEAD TO 2 1/2 GAMES

Behind a masterful performance from starter Tanner Roark — and a four-hit effort from Denard Span – the Washington Nationals knocked off the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 Friday at Great American Ballpark.

Roark allowed just three hits and a walk over seven innings to earn his 10th win of the season, tops on the Nationals staff. [Read more...]

D.C. United Game 13 Preview: Defending MLS Cup champs visit RFK tonight

D.C. United looks to make up ground in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference tonight when Sporting Kansas City comes to RFK for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcast locally on CSN. Given the combination of United forward Eddie Johnson having his red card from last week rescinded, and the lack of availability for a couple key Sporting Kansas City players, United are presented with a decent chance to get all three points and move to 6-4-3 on the season.

United comes into tonight’s match off a 2-1 loss at Eastern leaders New England last week. D.C. sit five points behind the Revolution in the race for first place, and one point back of SKC for second. United are 4-0-2 in the last six home matches following a season-opening loss to the Columbus Crew. Sporting Kansas City is 2-3 away from home in 2014. [Read more...]

Washington Redskins upgrade offensive line with two third round selections in 2014 NFL Draft

The Washington Redskins came into the 2014 NFL Draft looking to upgrade their defense and offensive line.

With their first pick, the 47th overall, the Redskins selected OLB Trent Murphy from Stanford.

Then in the third round, with the 66th overall pick the Redskins selected Morgan Moses, offensive tackle from Virginia. Later, with the 78th overall pick, the Skins chose Spencer Long, an offensive guard from Nebraska.

Moses, 6’6″, 315, is a devastating run blocker, but his lack of foot speed might limit him in the pass game. Moses is from from Richmond, VA.

From Moses’ draft profile on NFL.com:

[Moses] has outstanding size and vines for arms — sheer mass and length makes it difficult for rushers to run the arc on him. Has strength to anchor. Wins with his hands. Pulls with a head of steam and can eliminate defenders when he has a bead.

Long, 6’5″, 320, is big, strong and good in pass protection with a bit of a mean streak, as you’d expect from a former walk-on.

From Long’s draft profile on NFL.com:

Solid in pass protection — good anchor, shadow and mirror. Good base and balance — controls and steers defenders. Flashes some nastiness. Intense, competitive battler. Smart and instinctive. Lunchpail worker will do a lot of extras and is very ambitious and driven to succeed. Excellent weight-room strength — can squat a small house.

 

Washington Capitals Game 59 Recap: Capitals shut out Devils 3-0; Erat scores his first of the season

The Washington Capitals have five Olympians on their roster, but before they set off for Sochi they had one more task to complete. After sacking the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Capitals finished off their four game homestand with another victory, a 3-0 decision over the New Jersey Devils.

The Caps enter the Olympic break on a 5-2-1 tear.

Braden Holtby got his second start of the week, and earned his third shutout of the season.

Julien Brouillete, called up from Hershey this week to aid an ailing Caps defense, scored the first goal of the game in the third period and the first of his career, with his parents in attendance as well.

“I’m sure he’s flying high right now. Big goal,” said Adam Oates. “But you know what, Backy [Nicklas Backstrom] won a draw. That’s what it’s about. You win a draw, we get it across the blue line, you throw it to the net with a little bit of a screen and you’ve got a chance to get a goal.”

Martin Erat experienced a milestone of sorts himself, as well. The Devils pulled Cory Schneider for the extra man to try to tie the game with two minutes left, but Erat fired a wrister at the empty net, finally scoring his first goal of the season, just before his trip to the Olympics as a member of the Czech team.

Troy Brouwer scored his 100th career goal just a few seconds later to cap off the win.

Adam Oates was impressed with the patience of his players during a game that was sleepy at times.

“Obviously the Devils play that kind of game. They are willing to play it every night, and it’s a frustrating team to play. They don’t give you much. I looked up with nine minutes left in the third period, and I think it was 20 each in shots. Both teams played stingy. It was good.”

District Sports Page looking for writers

Do you have a passion for one (or all) of the pro teams in DC? Can you articulate that passion via thoughtful analysis or constructive opinion? Do you have an interest in describing game action, and not just who did what, but why and how they did it?

District Sports Page is looking to add to our staff of writers covering the professional teams in Washington, DC.

Do you currently have your own blog, or write for someone else’s, but looking to expand? Are you a college student or recent graduate looking for experience? Are you a seasoned writer but not in the industry anymore? Do you have a particular sports expertise but need guidance in the creative process?

We’re looking for candidates with strong writing skills, a deep understanding of the sports they write about, time and energy to commit to the endeavor, and most of all, a passion for DC sports.

Our mission here at the District Sports Page is simple: To provide independent daily, quality, analytical, critical and opinionated coverage of the DC pro teams.

Journalism is comprised of the asking and answering of questions: the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the story. The mainstream media in town do a great job of giving sports fans a broad overview of the Who, What, When and Where of the games and stories they cover, but because they have to cater to a mass audience, the Why and the How often are overlooked.

Hopefully, that’s where you’ll come in.

If you have a deep understanding of the games, and can articulate that in writing, DSP might be the place to showcase your talents.

We are in need of writers for all sports, so if you want to write about the Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, Nationals or United, let us know! Shoot, if you have a particular knowledge or passion for the Kastles or the Mystics, we’ll make room for you.

If you’re interested, please send an email to: comments@districtsportspage.com and include the following:

  1. Resume
  2. Examples or links to previous writing
  3. Cover letter describing your writing style, expertise in a particular sport, level of commitment, and writing ambitions

We look forward to hearing from you.

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