Audi Field wasn’t quite at capacity Tuesday night, but with attendance at 18,116 it was close. As the sun went down over Buzzard point, the volume turned up. D.C. Unitedstarted minus Captain Wayne Rooney, due to his red card in Saturday’s match against LAFC. After their drop to the number three spot in the Eastern Conference Standings, D.C. was certainly seeking some redemption. A win at home against Montreal before hitting the road would have been nice.
Despite widespread predictions, Quincy Amarikwa did not start but rather began the match on the bench. Instead, Ulises Segura started the match as a forward, something that Head Coach Ben Olsen has previously tried. Zoltan Stieber started as well, in place of Joseph Mora,who is out due to injuries sustained in D.C.’s match against Orlando City SC.
While the Black-and-Red came out with a certain level of grit and tenacity, they were unable to settle in on the pitch. While able to win duels throughout the first half and test Montreal’s defense, they ended up at halftime with nothing in the net. Rather, the half saw both Paul Arriolaand Leonardo Jaraissued yellow cards.
The second half of the match yielded much of the same frustrating stalemate as the first half did. As Quincy Amarikwa was (finally) substituted into the match in the 64’, replacing Stieber, a collective sense of excitement seemed to ripple through Audi Field. Unfortunately, Amarikwa couldn’t save the match for the Black-and-Red, even with a pair of well-placed headers.
D.C. and Montreal split the points, ending the match in an incredibly frustrating 0-0 draw.
D.C. is still reliant on Rooney
The Black-and-Red just couldn’t seem to get it together without their Captain on the field. While Rooneyis an incredible player and leader, D.C. United has the talent to win matches when he is unavailable. Now, they just need to believe it.
More injuries will challenge the team
Both veteran defender Chris McCannand newly signed defender Leonardo Jarawere injured in this match. McCann has a hamstring injury that could see him out for a few weeks, while Jara injured his shoulder and may be out over a week. In addition to the jaw injury and concussion that Joseph Morasuffered, these injuries further reduce the number of experienced players Head Coach Ben Olsen has available.
New players will have the chance to step up
Players like Akeem Ward, may have the chance at minutes on the pitch given the shakeups due to injury. Homegrown players such as USMNT U20 player Chris Durkin, Loudon United playerDonovan Pines, Jalen Robinson, Griffin Yow, and Antonio Bustamante may also be making more appearances in the 18 and starting XI.
Time will tell how the Black-and-Red will adapt. Captain Wayne Rooney will travel with D.C. United as they take to the road and face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, April 13th!
Finally! The Montréal Impact are preparing for their first
home game after six games on the road. Following a 7-1 shellacking at the hands
of Sporting Kansas City, fans were eager, if not a little apprehensive, to see
how the following matches would go. Would the Impact recover from that
humiliation, or had they been shaken too deeply by such an embarrassing defeat?
First on the docket was a trip to Yankee Stadium, to face a faltering NYCFC who were still in search of their first win of the season. With each team missing their most special Argentinian, the fact that the game ended a 0-0 draw was unsurprising. Truly, the match was an overall non-event, as safety on very poor grounds became a bigger concern than the result. Unfortunately for the Impact, forwardMaxi Urruti picked up a red card for a studs-to-shin challenge that was more clumsy than malicious.
This meant that the Bleu-Blanc-Noir were off to Washington, DC on only three days’ rest, short a striker and the player who makes the team tick. Although these were far from ideal circumstances, the fact that Wayne Rooney, who is every bit as important to DC United as Ignacio Piatti is to the Impact, had picked up a red card of his own for Tuesday’s match was a blessing.
With the short turnaround and concerns on the attacking fronts, Rémi Garde opted to give time to the youth players. Mathieu Choinière, Clément Bahiya and Zachary Brault-Guillard all got their first starts with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. Striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Shamit Shome were also given a chance to prove their worth. Including stalwart Samuel Piette, six Canadians featured in the starting eleven.
And the kids did all right. In another match that ended in a 0-0 draw with little to talk about in terms of highlights, there are still quite a few positives that can be retained. First, that our bench might be a little deeper than previously feared. Choinière and Brault-Guillard were undoubtedly the standout performers of the match.
Second, two clean sheets in a row on the back of a heavy loss is an encouraging sign that the defense, and team as a whole, found the stability that had been crucial to a strong end of last season and this pre-season. Finally, the end of this road trip means that the Impact have completed a third of their away matches for the season, and have taken 8 points – a respectable tally to start, and definitely a significant improvement on the 11 road points they earned over the whole of 2018.
At long last, the Impact will return to Stade Saputo to enjoy their first home match of the season on Saturday, April 13th. With Piatti unavailable, and the Eastern Conference top dogs Columbus Crew in town, all eyes will be on who can step up and score a goal to ring that first bell of 2019.
There is something different about soccer and soccer fans, especially here in the Midwest. It’s a small community which, despite its growing population, continues to feel small. When we have questions, concerns or criticisms, the faces and voices of the club are just one @ away. Whether it’s explaining why a certain play worked – or didn’t – or providing background information on a player, there are three people on MN United FC’s broadcast team who we can turn to for an enhanced soccer viewing experience.
Callum Williams, Kyndra de St Aubin and Jamie Watson were some of the first signings made by MNUFC as the club transitioned up to MLS for the 2017 season. They bring three different, invaluable perspectives to Loons broadcasts, a benefit to new and long-time fans alike.
Just weeks ahead of the official opening of Allianz Field, I had the opportunity to sit down with all three.
I came in with a list of questions, but as we all settled in around the conference table it became clear that it would be an easy conversation. After all, they do talk soccer for a living. Williams, play-by-play announcer, came to MNUFC after three seasons in the booth at Sporting Kansas City and has a myriad of leagues and competitions to his credit. De St Aubin, color commentator, played DI soccer for the Minnesota Gophers before kicking off a broadcast career that has taken her to the BigTen Network, ESPN and the Women’s World Cup. Watson played professionally for 12 years, including four seasons in Minnesota (one on loan to the Stars, three for the NASL-era Loons) before retiring into his sideline reporter role.
Bridget McDowell: You have a front row seat to the growth of soccer here and, with your various backgrounds – You, Kyndra, played here; you, Jamie, played here as well, on multiple teams; and you, Cal, have covered so many leagues and seen so many different environments for this game. In light of the stadium and the way things are progressing forward, I’m interested in your thoughts on how the soccer experience has changed here in Minnesota, recently with MLS and even through the decades.
Kyndra de St. Aubin: Well, I think it’s kind of cool because all three of us have a different perspective of this exact thing you’re asking about. Mine is my childhood growing up; Jamie’s is actually playing in it, for the team; and Cal’s is like a completely outside view, and coming into the culture when [the move to MLS] just was announced. So I’d have to say, the biggest thing for me, and I was trying to explain it the other day at Allianz, is you can’t really put it into words, what it is like standing in front of that stadium, knowing where this team and this club and soccer has come from in the state of MInnesota, and going back to the Met and the Kicks and the Strikers and prior to Blaine and NSC…
And, it was funny, just out of the blue my husband last night, we were getting ready for bed and I showed him the picture of the United sculpture with Allianz lit up behind it and it almost took his breath away. And that’s tough to do. He was like, it’s crazy if you would’ve thought then… Because he was drafted by the Thunder, used to play with Buzz [Lagos, 16-year head coach of the MN Thunder and father of Manny, current MNUFC Sporting Director, former MNUFC manager, Thunder and MLS veteran] and Amos [Magee, current Director of Player Personnel, Thunder player/manager] on Christmas break and stuff and tool around with those guys so…. Just to know where it’s come from, it’s not surprising sometimes to us in the soccer world, but yet it is at the same time.
It’s such a cool transformation and seeing the game grow and being truly a part of the four other major sports in this market, and competing with all the colleges that we have going. This is a hockey state but you can see soccer slowly kinda growing in there.
Jamie Watson: I mean, it’s – I don’t want to speak for Kyndra – but I can imagine this never seemed like something that was achievable –
JW: To this level and to Kyndra’s point, I was on the team in 2012 that lost the second leg of the NASL final, the Minnesota Stars at the time, and the team was league owned at the time. And I was in the locker room. Not only had we just lost a final, but everyone in the room thinks that they’re going to be out of a job because the team’s dead in the water. We didn’t know of any discussions that were going on ownership wise, we weren’t privy to that.
So the only saving grace to that night in Tampa that we lost at Al Lang Stadium was the commissioner coming in and congratulating us on a good season, but then telling us, by the way, we have a new investor and owner that want to come in and save soccer in Minnesota. And not only save it, but he’s got big plans for it. That was Dr. Bill McGuire and we didn’t know it at the time but… I was in the room when it was first said to the players at that level, and I thought, “Oh, cool. Soccer’s not just going to go away, but it will probably be, at best, this level [NASL] and to see what it had turned into as a player with Minnesota United, it was professional from day one.
We went to England, Mexico, Brazil for preseason trips, a significant investment when you could really just train indoors at Blaine instead. He was doing things and investing money, I’m sure losing money hand over fist, year after year, with this vision of wanting to get to this point. And it’s easy to say I want to get to that point… to spend your hard-earned money that you worked your entire life to earn? It’s a completely different level of belief. I was on the team and I don’t know if I believed it, you know? And he did so I think it was a testament to the vision he had back in 2012 when he joined on.
And to stand out there and watch Kyndra emcee [the Allianz Field Scarf Raising] – I still don’t – I just, it’s just, It’s never this good! It’s got that too good to be true feeling. This time it is true though.
BM: I can say, as a fan, you’re always kind of waiting for that other shoe to drop.
BM: When that announcement was made … It’s like, we’ve heard this before. You know?
JW: Uh huh. And honestly, I think I understand that…
KSA: Unfortunately, or fortunately, Dr McGuire is a man on a mission.
Callum Williams: He really is, yeah.
JW: For better or worse, yeah.
KSA: You know what I mean?
BM: It sounds like it!
KSA: He sets out to accomplish something and watch out. And it will be at this level. He knows no other way. Plus he’s a former college athlete so he hates losing so there’s all these different layers to him. I mean just now we were sitting there, the three of us and him, watching Slovakia and Hungary on my computer. [We met on the first matchday of the Euro Qualifiers] You know, and he’ll sit right down and watch it with us because he wants to know who this player is and who that player is and whatever so he’s a very involved owner. In a good way.
CW: And he was furious [Jan] Gregus wasn’t starting.
KSA: Yeah, exactly! He wants to know who’s taking him up, who’s taking Gregus’ place in Slovakia’s starting lineup, today. [Slovakia went on to win 2-0, but did so without Gregus.]
JW: What are we, twenty-four days away [from home opener]?
JW: Twenty-three days away and he –
KSA: Yeah, and he sits down and –
JW: And he’s watching Hungary-Slovakia, Thursday at 3 o’clock because he loves soccer that much.
CW: He’s absolutely into it. We’re very, very lucky here and I think, from my perspective, talking about how this thing has grown, as Kyndra quite rightly said, I’m the outsider here. And, I’ll be totally honest, when the club first approached me, I had no idea about the soccer culture here, and I’ve been completely blown away by the level of enthusiasm for the game here. Obviously you had the Kicks and the Stars, Thunder, everybody over the course of the last thirty years or so, so soccer’s always been here.
And I had no idea that it was as big as it actually is and that people always seem to follow the game and it was one of the first things I was told. When the club first asked about coming on board I called a couple people I knew around the league and it was the first thing that everybody said: “Soccer culture’s great there, you got to go, you gotta go, it’s fantastic.” And I think the stadium is one of many aspects that prove that for sure.
BM: Awesome. Yeah, I think a lot of people had almost forgotten that it was still here. Until all of this happened and it sort of took off again. And it’s like, wait, it never actually left.
JW: Well, I think Minnesota gets overlooked in that aspect so many times because it’s not LA, it’s not New York.
KSA: It does as a state in general.
JW: Yeah, of course.
KSA: Like, ‘oh you’re in the middle of the country somewhere, you’re not Chicago.’
JW: Yeah! But if you’re here you know. Kyndra grew up on it.
CW: Yeah, if you’re not Chicago, yeah –
JW: And you have to have that because it’s not easy, not to speak to Kyndra’s childhood, but it’s not as if there’s like this professional team in your backyard that you can grow and idolize to one day be on. Maybe it was here, maybe it wasn’t –
JW: There’s these gaps and times when it was here and then now you get –
KSA: It was the Lagoses back then, and it was Amos Magee.
BM: Exactly, it’s crazy.
KSA: It is kinda funny, I remember my first day, when I came in for my interview and I sat down at this table and they had just hired Adrian Heath. And they bring him in to sit in on this interview, and I’m like, I’m sure this is exactly where he wants to be right now; he’s got to assemble a roster in a matter of days. And it was Amos and Manny and Adrian and maybe one other person. But it was weird because I’m like, Oh! I know you, I know you, you know what I mean? It had been so many years but everyone kinda looks the same.
BM: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I grew up here too and my mom grew up in Minneapolis. She, it turned out, went to Kicks games.
KSA: There you go.
BM: And she hadn’t even mentioned it until I dragged her to a United game.
KSA: Isn’t that funny?
JW: No way.
BM: And one time Buzz walked by, up to the booth and she said, ‘That’s Buzz!’ And I was like, ‘How do you know him?’ And this whole, like family history with soccer came out. But yeah, people had kind of forgotten it was still around; she hadn’t even give it a second thought. I mean, how does it compare – Cal, you came from Kansas City most recently, how does it compare here, whether to Kansas or you, Kyndra, having covered other sports in other states… What makes it unique in that respect?
KSA: Why don’t you start because you have the KC experience?
CW: Well, so it’s very reminiscent in terms of the way that Sporting Kansas City rebranded themselves, new stadium, something the club was always looking towards. I say that because we’ve obviously got Allianz Field to look forward to here and I guess moving into Major League Soccer is almost, sort of a rebrand isn’t it? Because you’re essentially moving the club onto another level.
The fans are very similar: great background with the game, they know the game, challenge people, whether it’s on social media or whether it’s other outlets and that’s great! Because that insinuates that they care and that’s great. I think there are, as I said, a lot of similarities to my experiences in Kansas City and I think the stadium now is only going to elevate it. We all know this but ever since we saw the plans for the stadium, we all knew this was going to be something spectacular.
And I think now that if the team continues the way that it started this year and it goes on and it has a playoff run and does well… I’ve said this before, Bridget, in my opinion there’s no reason for – should the team go on and do that- there’s no reason that if you’re in a bar somewhere, and you often hear people talking about the Wild and the ‘Wolves and whatnot, there’s no reason that Minnesota United can’t then come up in the conversation.
I genuinely think that if Minnesota United compete and give Minnesotans a team to be proud of, with the environment they have around them now, I genuinely think that we can become a part of that generic sports conversation. Now, we’re already getting there; I’m starting to see more Minnesota United flags, scarves, t-shirts, whatever, all over the place.
But I do think a successful season will help and I say that because in Kansas City, after a successful season there, Sporting got to the playoffs, they won the Open Cup the year after that, then MLS Cup the year after that and it became mainstream very, very quickly. To the point where the players, and even myself, we couldn’t really walk out on the streets because of people, it became such a big thing in Kansas City. Personally, what I’ve seen already, I think Minnesota United will do just the same, for sure.
KSA: I’d say from my perspective, just from my overall sports perspective, speaking to Cal’s point about becoming part of the general sports conversation, the two markets that I really worked in before were Milwaukee and Phoenix. And Phoenix, specifically, is a hotbed for soccer because, as anybody knows, anybody who can play outside for 12 months of the year, like Texas or Florida or California,
JW: That’s a huge advantage, yep!
KSA: Huge advantage. So soccer’s a big deal there, but at the same time they struggled to make soccer popular there because you can’t create fans, necessarily. It has to be, just like an atmosphere inside of a stadium I think it takes some time and sometimes it’s just very organic. So even though, covering other sports, I just said to a coworker, I lived and breathed brackets before, I filled out tournament brackets and I haven’t filled one out since I moved here and started this job, because your focus changes and what you’re thinking about changes.
And I just think that this town, and this city, and this state loves this game so much and people respect it so, even if you’re not a fan of it, you’re willing to go to a game and learn it and want to be a part of it and support it. And I think our state is big into that because we have so many pro sports and college sports, they just learn to support everything and appreciate it. And sometimes, when I was in Arizona on the air for radio, I was constantly defending soccer. You know, people think it’s boring and this, that. You know, if a goal was seven points would you feel better about it, like-
KSA: You don’t have that because people respect it. Like, if we go on radio shows or we go on local TV shows, they may not have been to a game yet, they may not be a diehard soccer fan, but they want to learn and they want to hear about it. And I think that’s a little bit different in this market than maybe some of the others I’ve been a part of in the past which is really fun to see.
JW: I’ll just say, a different perspective because they kind of hit everything… How lucky are we that we get to be the people that are talking about it on a Saturday, we’re immersed in it. We get to see – we get to peel the curtains back a little bit, to see what goes on behind closed doors and we get to then talk about it. And really we’re a mouthpiece that what people want to know and are talking about and a lot of what we end up talking about in pregame shows, a lot of it is dictated on what are the big storylines, what are the big talking points of the week.
We can sit down on a Monday and say, ‘We think this will be important on Saturday’s game,’ but the reality is, the week happens and it shifts and then we sit down and we go, ‘Right, remember that two hour meeting we had on Monday? Let’s just crumple that piece of paper and throw that away and let’s start over again,’ because everything’s changed, in a matter of a couple days. And we’re in an awesome position that we’re, like – I played for twelve years and I thought that was the greatest job in the world… This is the – that’s 1A, this is 1B.
Because this is the next best thing to playing and being with them is great because I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t have conversations, whether in person or over text about soccer, what’s going on on social media, like Cal said, having conversations with other people. And it’s amazing that we get to do it and that it’s a club that we all believe in, that we get to be a part of and then on the weekend, we’re the fortunate ones that get to talk about it.
JW: And a lot of what we talk about is dictated on what the fans are talking about so it’s pretty cool that we get to do that. And it’s transformed because it was maybe a smaller group of people who were talking about it before and, I’ve said this, I’ve played in games where there were more people in this office than there were in the stands, total! And now you look at it and it’s like, wow!
It’s amazing to see where it’s come from and it’s only getting bigger and bigger. I mean, if this was the stock market I’d be buying all the Minnesota United shares I could get my hands on because it’s only going one direction.
CW: That’s the thing isn’t it? I think, from all of us collectively, the thing we’re all excited about is the obvious and quite blatant sense of this unwavering potential here. And I think that’s the biggest thing for all of us, isn’t it, that it’s such an exciting time to be a part of this. And I think that’s certainly what lives within our core isn’t it, is the drive to want to be a part of this.
And just knowing what it can become, and not only in Minnesota but throughout the entirety of the league, you know, it’s such a wonderful time to be a part of soccer in this country and we happen to be in a situation where we’ve got this glorious stadium which will be the crown jewel of Major League Soccer for some time and then being a part of this project in MLS that just continues to elevate year after year. It’s a very exciting time for sure.
BM: It does seem to be becoming a more legitimate sport and league than it was before for sure. Favorite calls or moments from these last few seasons? Hard question, I know.
KSA: No, it’s just, honestly there’s quite a few. Sometimes, for as rough as the first two seasons may have seemed…
CW: We had a great time!
JW and KSA: Yeah!
KSA: We had a great time! You know, part of that is the beauty of… We do really try to treat the broadcast as 51-49 Minnesota percentage-wise. So when we call a game or Cal does a goal call, you know, if it’s an insane or ridiculous goal by the opponent he’s going to give it the same love as he does a Minnesota goal. And so sometimes, and Cal can probably vouch for this, I can’t tell you how many times, especially the Darwin chips, you know, I smack his arm really hard in the broadcast when certain things happen.
CW: She beats me.
KSA: So he can vouch for that. So he may know better than I do what my favorite call was by how hard I hit him.
JW: By how big the bruise is.
KSA: Yeah exactly. But there’s a couple, like Abu Danladi’s strike in Montreal and I go back to this a lot you know, late in the match, same with his one in Atlanta. Just because of the significance of the moment and the feeling of it.
KSA: Depending on where we were at as a team at that point and how the season had been going. Of course there was Atlanta, at Atlanta. That always feels good. And then Darwin’s chips. To me, that whole match, it was like, ‘Oh my god! You’ve got to be joking!’ It was one of those moments that if I told you this happened in one game you wouldn’t believe me until you saw it. So those are some of my favorite ones, at least from Minnesota United, for sure.
JW: I’ll say that I think I have the best vantage point of all, because I get Cal, his call, in my ear, Kyndra’s breakdown of it, and I get the energy of the bench right next to me. So it’s incredible. You talked about the one in Montreal. I’m literally standing, it was actually – it was actually too close –
KSA: Is it hard for you not to cheer though because you’re out in the public eye? We’re doing this [swings her arm at Cal] in the booth and no one knows.
JW: It is hard and sometimes I do have to remind myself that I’m not a player anymore but that Montreal one, I mean that’s Adrian Heath [points to Cal, sitting four feet away] and I’m here and we weren’t winning, we were down early in that one. I’m trying to break that down where I know that Adrian can hear what I’m saying so I think I was whispering into the microphone and it’s incredible.
It’s a really unique perspective because Cal’s got this incredible voice that his calls stick and they resonate and that’s not an easy act for Kyndra to follow up because he gives these incredible goal calls and then Kyndra’s got to come in and match that energy, right? So then,
KSA: Yeah, and not sound like an idiot.
JW: Yeah, well, we try to do that for 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes pre and post. No promises on that one and no perfect performances yet for me. So, then you know, that Montreal one certainly stands out. It was a 3-2 winner in the dying moments of the game. And I think the Darwin Quintero chip… The hat trick is the best hat trick I’ve ever seen, live or on TV I think, ever. And having the soundtrack playing from these two in my ear while I’m down on the bench looking at guys that – I mean Adrian’s been in soccer for 43 years and looking at his face and this look of something he’s never seen before – you know it’s a rare, rare, rare occasion so I think those stand out for sure. [To Cal:] You have one? Other than your ‘It’s historic, it’s iconic…”
JW: “It’s a moment to savor for a lifetime.”
KSA: Maybe you didn’t love your call, but a favorite goal you’ve seen.
CW: Yeah, I was going to say, I try – I’m not a big fan of relistening and going back and listening to yourself. I think it’s important to do maybe once, you know if we watch tape during the week and whatnot, it’s important to do that, but I’m not a big fan of remembering goal calls and whatnot. I get them, a couple of people, like these guys, saying one or two things in the week, like, ‘What did you say here?’ or whatever. But for me it should never be about the commentator, it’s about the moment. Someone asked me a while ago, it was about the Ramirez goal in Portland, the first goal –
KSA: The first goal in MLS.
CW: Yeah and they said something along the lines of – They described it as my moment and I said, No, no it’s not. It’s Christian’s moment, it’s the club’s moment, it’s Minnesota’s moment; it’s nothing to do with the commentator, regardless of what you say on the call. I think it’s important as Kyndra insinuated earlier on that we try to do a 51-49 in favor of Minnesota because fans aren’t stupid.
When there’s a clear and obvious yellow or red card, I think we do a good job in suggesting that it’s an obvious yellow or red card because in my opinion then if you try to say ‘Well, it’s obviously not a yellow card, that’s ridiculous, the foul should have gone in favor of Minnesota,’… You’re being disrespectful to the fans because the fans want a true and honest broadcast and I’m the same. I’m a fan. I don’t want to hear the commentator spew stuff.
JW: I would turn it off.
CW: We want the obvious and the truth. But in terms of goals, the one is the Quintero hat trick, isn’t it? That – I’ve never ever seen a hat trick that has glistened so perfectly on any stage ever. You’re right, Bridget, I’ve covered a lot of football around the world, in a lot of different stadiums, a lot of different leagues. I’ve never ever seen an individual grab a game by the scruff of the neck the way he did on that particular afternoon and then to go and score a hat trick the way he did. The manner which he did, as well, was beyond perfection, wasn’t it, for that particular afternoon.
And I remember, obviously Minnesota ended up winning 4-3 and there was a couple of defensive issues that day – that summed up our 2018 campaign – but also that afternoon summed up what we had brought in, in Darwin. And what an absolute master stroke that was from the club. And I still can’t believe – I remember commentating on him in the Concacaf Champions League when he was at Club America and he tore apart opponents with ease and made Tyrone Mears look like a rookie at some stages.
JW: I hated him. I hated him!
CW: Yeah so that afternoon with the Quintero hat trick, that will take some beating for sure.
KSA: Well and usually a hat trick, usually one of the goals is like, off your belly or something. You know what I mean? It’s a deflection or one of the three. To have three the way he did is different.
JW: Good luck ever topping that.
CW: Yeah! Yeah, yeah.
BM: I remember watching that one, vividly, in the press box and it was just insane. Everyone in there is going, ‘What?! One of those has to be offside.’
JW: Right? Something. Something has to go wrong.
BM: Yeah, something’s going to happen here.
KSA: A VAR decision against him somehow.
CW: Nooo, let’s not! Let’s not get into VAR.
BM: Yeah, everyone in there is looking around waiting…. You know I have to say, I started off as a fan, not media. And now covering it as media, I’ll still spend some games down in the supporters section. But I think your commentary helps put everything into perspective, better than some other clubs, some other leagues even, where even when we’re having a horrible game, a horrible season, you can go back and find those moments that string together the positives and get that overall perspective again.
It helps with writing the stories too: I can go back and watch a game with commentary and get other perspectives on the game. So, Cal, you talked a little about social media and criticism and people not understanding why you do a 51-49. Are there things that you want the fans to know, whether it’s the hard core supporters who go back and watch it and disagree with whatever you’re saying or the casual fan who just, maybe their only exposure is through your broadcast.
KSA: The only thing I would say, and I used to feel this way as a player, is that if you’re not getting talked to then they probably don’t care about you. If the coach isn’t talking and yelling at you then they probably don’t care and you’d rather be cared about. Sometimes I feel that way with the fanbase or the supporters or even if someone’s just turned on the game and has never watched the game before.
Whether they’re going to compliment or criticise us or whatever it might be, I’d still rather have them watching because then, like Cal said, you know that they care. And you know, we just try to cipher through some of the feedback, whether it’s to us or to the team or about a specific player or the club, whatever it might be. I’d still rather have anybody respond or have an opinion than no one saying anything, because then you think that no one cares and no one’s watching. That’s just my personal perspective.
CW: You know, it’s funny because we spoke about this a while ago and I actually, if somebody takes it upon themselves to at my twitter handle, and come at me with something they disagree with then so be it, that’s fine, because clearly, as Kyndra said, they care. If someone has a go or a pop at me because I’m ‘too the other team’ or I’m ‘too Minnesota,’ that’s social media, that happens. People hear what they want to hear, they hear different things, and as a commentator there’s only so much you can do about that.
You will never appease every ear in the world. You will always make a pair of ears bleed and clear another pair of ears, there’s nothing you can do about it. What I actually don’t have a problem with is someone saying… Someone actually said this last year, they thought I was too pro-Portland, and they had managed to get together the video of the goal call and sent it to me and I said, I have no problem with people saying that, because it means they care. I have no problem with someone telling me you’re too Portland, you’re too Vancouver, because it means they care and it’s something we don’t spend much time thinking about, it’s par for the course really.
And we value every aspect of feedback. I think it’s important to take praise just as you take criticism, with the tiniest pinch of salt. Because it can get to you either way as a commentator. You get a lot of people saying a lot of things. So you take it with the tiniest pinch of salt. Also, I think it’s important to take as much feedback as we can and we pride ourselves on it. It’s important to us to get as much feedback as possible and we’re in a very fortunate position to have one of our owners, a chap called Ben Grossman, who is sort of a senior consultant for Fox and he’ll be with Kyndra in France for the Women’s World Cup and was a part of the last world cup I believe, and he’s been – His abrasive nature is exactly what we need.
And I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing having internal opinions come our way. As I said we have no problem really with anyone suggesting we do certain things. I had one of the local journalists pull me aside at training the other day to say ‘Have you considered doing this?’ and I said, No we haven’t, but thank you for that suggestion, and sure, we’ll consider it, for sure. So it’s never a bad thing, I don’t think.
JW: One thing I learned as a player early on, especially as social media started becoming a big aspect of it, is you’re never as good as they say and you’re never as bad as they say. And right now, I could create any sort of social media account I want, on a paid or unpaid platform, a chatroom, forum, whatever, and I could go to basketball and I could criticize to all ends about whatever I think: I played one year of sixth grade B-team basketball and I was cut in seventh grade year, in tryouts.
So, just because somebody is offering up an opinion doesn’t mean they are right or doesn’t mean that you should then adopt it and change your approach and what we’ve done to get to this point, to be fortunate enough to be in this position. It’s naive to not take in what people say, filter it out, filter what applies and filter out the rest that doesn’t and say, ‘Okay, that’s interesting, maybe I agree, maybe I don’t.’
And never second guess yourself because the worst thing is, if you don’t know who you are in this… And don’t be stubborn. Certainly don’t put blinders on and say I’m doing everything right, I’m never changing. But you have to have, like any professional, you have to have a level of confidence and belief that what you’re doing is the best representation of how you want to come across, and, as Cal said, we are not the highlights.
Cal has said this and I’ve taken it to heart, nobody tunes in to watch a soccer game to hear the broadcasters. They’re there to watch the game right?
JW: So, if you keep that in perspective, and you try to be as fair and balanced as you can, you set yourself up to give the best broadcast you can. And look, it’s great when people say stuff to you, you know what I mean? Everyone likes it. I mean, you know, when you write a great article and someone says, ‘We thought that was fantastic or spot on, that’s great,’ of course you love hearing that. Now all of a sudden does it mean that you’re a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from 24 hours ago to where you are now?
BM: Yeah, no, exactly.
JW: You just hopefully try to string together as many consistent performances as you can and try to get better and never think that you’re too good or above anybody to listen to them or entertain a conversation because also, you don’t know who’s watching. It could be somebody’s first time watching a broadcast and maybe they want to learn. Maybe they’re so eager to learn about it and you have a conversation with them on social media. Then they become engaged, and they become drawn into it and also maybe you’re dealing with someone who really knows their stuff and you have to be able to defend what you said. To say ‘Right, I stand by this because of this, we can agree to disagree.’
JW: But everything I say in the broadcast, it’s that 51-49 percent. When we’re being critical of Minnesota United, I want to be sure that when I go in Monday morning to training I can look at so and so and say ‘I said this.’ I don’t think there’s any benefit in going ‘This guy’s terrible, what an awful game he’s having’ because what does that do? How do you learn from that if you’re watching.
How about, ‘What he tried to do was see this, the intention was this, however, it clearly hasn’t come off; that mistake led to a goal.’ That’s the end result, not what was intended but what came from it. There’s a way to go about it, and it’s lazy to just say, ‘He’s bad and had a bad game.’ Okay, you’ve seen that, he’s seen that, she’s seen that, I’ve seen that, we all know that. But explain what happened, why it happened. That’s what goes through my mind and hopefully comes out without stumbling or cursing, you know?
BM: Are you getting tired of ‘You dive like Jamie Watson’ yet?
JW: Never! I hated it for a while. Then I thought, ‘Well I kind of miss it’ when I didn’t hear it. And then when I would have people text me, years after it first happened and I was playing in a different league and they’re like, ‘You’ve played for two different teams and an entirely different league, why are they talking about you??” I don’t know but I love it. I love those guys. I miss every single one of ‘em.
Fun story: A few days after this conversation, Watson emceed a season ticket holder event at Allianz Field. As he prompted about a thousand fans, myself included, to bunch closer together in the Wonderwall for our attempt at a world record loon call, one of my friends shouted down to Watson on the pitch, ‘You dive like Jamie Watson!’ I had kept this interview quiet and wanted it to stay that way, so I offered him no explanation as to why the cheer made me laugh so hard. Sorry, Joe!
BM: Before I had even come to a United game I had heard that a few times and then you signed and someone said, ‘You know who that is right?’ Yeah, Jamie Watson. ‘He’s that Jamie Watson.’ Ohhh…
JW: I think that’s why they signed me, just to mess with all the Dark Clouds. So thank you, Dark Clouds, you probably got me a job, a new career.
BM: Well, those were my big questions for you. Thank you for your time, thanks for doing this.
CW: Yeah –
JW: Absolutely. We appreciate it.
KSA: No problem. Yeah, we were just sitting around watching soccer so…
JW: Not a bad job, is it?
BM: That’s for sure.
JW: No, not a bad job.
The Loons open Allianz Field on Saturday, April 13, when they face New York City FC. Opening Day festivities begin at noon with kickoff set for 4 PM CST. The match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
“A tough battle in the Bronx ends in a stalemate” is what I should write about this week’s NYCFC loss -strike that – TIE with Montreal Impact.Yet this should not have been a tough game, particularly with the Impact missing the injured Ignacio Piatti.This should have been a relatively easy home match for New York City.
From where I sat, the game can be summed up as: “Taty Castellanos was trying hard in front of the goal but getting few balls, while Héber isn’t yet fully fit but was basically invisible when he was subbed in.City should have made something of the 20 minutes when they were up a man and, without Maxi Moralez, the team is a rudderless ship.”
It’s interesting how as New Yorkers, we expect the best:in food, entertainment, lodging, museums, shopping. And yet, we seem to historically accept mediocrity from our local sports teams.New York City Football Club is still winless in 2019 over 4 games with three of them at home. The team is actually winless over the past 7 games if you go back to 2018 playoffs. The last win for New York was October 28, 2018, against the Philadelphia Union. Some fans are outspoken in their frustration and others are exhibiting signs of learned helplessness.
So for all of you sad, angry and exasperated NYCFC fans out there, here are some other historically awful winless streaks by New York metro area teams:
New York Knicks – 2018-2019 – 18 game losing streak
New York Nets – 2009-2010 – 18 losses in a row
New York Mets 1962 – 17 game losing streak
New York Islanders – 2010-2011 –14 losses in a row
New York Giants 1976 – 9 game losing streak
Even our winningest New York team, the Yankees, lost 12 in a row in 1908.And the New York Jets in 2014 (and 1975 & 1996) lost 8 in a row and still don’t have their own stadium!
Feel better now?
NYCFC next heads out to the brand-spanking-new Allianz stadium in St. Paul to face Minnesota United Football Club in their very first match in their new home. Most fans have zero expectations except for a loss as the team just can’t seem to win on the road. However, MNUFC was once also a team new to the league playing pretty terribly as recently as last year, also in someone else’s stadium and look at them now. It’s early in the season, but Minnesota is currently in a playoff contention spot, has one of the league’s most attractive stadiums with interactive lights and a deeply devoted fan base.
If New York City FC could get one of these things, it would be a step in the right direction.
All images by Tisha Gale // @tishagale15 on Instagram
It was El Capitan to the rescue once again in Seattle. Nicolas Lodeiro bagged the only goal of the game early in the first half to give the Seattle Sounders a 1-0 win at home over Western Conference rival, Real Salt Lake.
The Sounders started the game with a lineup adjustment as Raul Ruidiaz was held out of the 18 due to a knock he sustained in the Vancouver game the previous week. Ruidiaz had been limited in training and head coach Brian Schmetzer had stated he would be a game-time decision. However, with 3 games on the schedule in only a 6-day span, Ruidiaz clearly needed the rest.
MLS veteran (and new dad!) Will Bruin replaced Ruidiaz; he put in a solid shift frustrating the RSL defenders and contributing great give-and-go plays with his teammates.
After again pressuring heavily from kick-off—a season staple so far for the Sounders—both Jordan Morris and Victor Rodriguez had good looks at goal early. Appeals for a penalty were shouted in the 10th minute after Rodriguez was taken down heavily, but referee Nima Saghafi would not be swayed.
After 18 minutes of consistent attacking, it was the captain, Nicolas Lodeiro, who scored an absolute stunner with a thunderous volley that flew past Nick Rimando. Cristian Roldan also grabbed his first assist of the year on the service to Lodeiro.
No highlight reel efforts graced either team the remainder of the game, and the Sounders held on to their 1-0 lead at home. They remain unbeaten as they prepare to face the Colorado Rapids on the road this Wednesday before greeting old MLS Cup rivals, Toronto FC, back at CenturyLink on Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m.
Another road game followed by a tough home match-up will be a solid test for the Sounders, especially with Ruidiaz’s status unclear and Victor Rodriguez being subbed relatively early the past few games as a precaution. With 13 points out of a possible 15 so far this season, the Sounders will definitely be pushing to continue building on their best start in franchise history.
Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Dave Romney, Jorgen Skjelvik (Diedie Traore 88′), Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget, Joe Corona, Uriel Antuna (Emmanuel Boateng 84′), Romain Alessandrini (Chris Pontius 82′) and Zlatan Ibrahimović
In front of a crowd of more than 22,000, the L.A. Galaxy won their fourth game of the season when they overpowered the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. Zlatan made the decision not to play on turf last year due to a significant knee injury sustained in April 2017, but decided to take the risk this time and played the entire 90 minutes.
The first half of the game, both teams were out of sync and appeared to be unable to find their groove, struggling to keep possession of the ball and see it through to goal. In the second minute of the game, Jorgen Sjkelvic fouled Lass Bangoura in the box resulting in a disastrous panenka attempt by newcomer Ali Adnan. David Bingham easily kept the failed shot out of the net while the players and fans looked around in disbelief.
Center back Diego Polenta was out with a strained abductor leaving the Galaxy’s backline struggling to effectively work together. However, Bingham was a force to be reckoned with in the goal with 5 saves.
The Galaxy came back from half time with a renewed energy and quickly took control of the game. Zlatan got the ball in the net but it was called back for off side. In the 62nd minute Zlatan provided an assist to Daniel Steres who headed the ball in for the first goal of the game. It was his second goal of the season. Zlatan then scored his fourth goal of the season off an assist by Rolf Feltscher, a ball he was able to torpedo past Whitecaps keeper Maxime Crepeau.
Up next for the Galaxy is a home game against Philadelphia Union on Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 PM PST.
Sporting Kansas City earns a hard-fought point on the road in a 1-1 draw against FC Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon at Nippert Stadium. The 16-year-old, Gianluca Busio scored the equalizer; becoming the youngest player in MLS history to score in back-to-back matches.
Manager Peter Vermes mixed things up when he drastically changed the lineup for the first time this season. With more than half of the regular starters missing, Sunday’s match introduced Adrian Zendejas, Nicolas Hasler, Rodney Wallace, and Gedion Zalem; all of whom made their club debuts.
Zendejas was quickly called into action just seconds after kickoff when Kenny Saief struck in a shot off of a low cross from Allan Cruz. But his attempt was blocked by the 23-year-old keeper. Yohan Croizet, who made his first start as a central forward, was quick to reply but was denied by Spencer Richey.
The 17th minute was nothing short of dramatic. Roland Lamah was fouled by Ilie Sanchez who brought him down following a miscue from Zendejas. After the play underwent review, the caution was mistakenly given to Ilie and instead shown to Andreu Fontas. A penalty was awarded to FC Cincinnati. Darren Mattocks stepped up and covered the first penalty in FCC’s history.
Fortunately, the Chula Vista native managed to disband Mattocks’ attempt to double the lead in the 27th minute.
Although it was clear from the start the heavy rotation was taking a toll on some players – the squad still created a few dangerous chances. For example, Kelyn Rowe and Busio proved to be a good tag team, as the duo produced two huge chances. The first came in the 33rd minute after Busio helped direct the ball to Rowe, but he hit it over the post. The second chance resulted in the equalizer.
SKC would get another huge opportunity to tie things up before the half in the 37th minute when Johnny Russell curled a shot into the back of the net, but his goal was called offsides.
Kelyn Rowe sent a long shot to Busio who ran the equalizer home into an open net in the 63rd minute. A miscommunication between Greg Garza and Richey would give the 16-year-old his second goal of the campaign.
The remainder of the second half saw SKC get chance after chance, but all opportunities would either go wide of the post or were saved by Spencer Richey. The second half also included regular starters, like Krisztian Nemeth, who entered the match for Croizet in the 70th minute.
Now sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference, Sporting KC will switch gears once again as they host C.F. Monterrey for the second leg of the Concacaf semifinals on Thursday, April 11.
The Crew came up with a 1-0 win against the New England Revolution on Saturday, April 6th. The line-up was essentially the same as the last game except for Hector Jimenez who started in Harrison Afful’s typical spot. Harrison Afful broke his jaw in a collision with a teammate in the waterlogged game last week in Columbus and will be out a minimum of six weeks. The Crew have lost both their starting outside backs to injury this year. At least, we will see Afful again this season, while Milton Valenzuela, the left back, remains out for the season.
New England seemed to be the better team for much of the game. It started off with a dangerous shot by Jalil Anibaba from outside the 18 yard box that a diving Zack Steffen saved. In the 41’, the Crew’s defense continued their scoring run of the season with a Josh Williams header from a Federico Higuain free kick. This assist tied Higuain for the most club assists with other Crew legend Robert Warzycha. Williams, who even went to Endeavor Brewing Company to celebrate with fans when the initial Saved the Crew announcement was made, ran over to the Nordecke to celebrate his goal with the fans.
In the 49’, Jonathan Mensah almost put another header in off a Pipa corner kick to continue the defensive line scoring trend, but was denied by midfielder Scott Caldwell with a goal line clearance.
In the 64’, defender Michael Mancienne took out Higuain resulting in his second yellow card of the night. From that moment on, New England would be playing a man down. However, with the exception of one play in the second half, a beautiful ball from Jimenez to Gyasi Zardes for a header attempt in the 81’, the Crew seemed to be the team playing a man down.
New England continued to attack and almost evened up the score in the 88’. Buchanan passed a very short ball to Teal Bunbury who crossed the ball right in front of the goal. Jimenez chested it towards Zack Steffen, but Cristian Penilla of New England was there to try and finish the ball into the back of the net. Steffen stepped in front of the ball sending it away. Soon after, the final whistle blew.
Thoughts on the match:
This game had a lot of fouls. The Crew committed 16 fouls while New England committed 10. It was a chippy game, and the ref should have gotten a handle on it earlier.
During the game, Hector Jimenez went down right before half and looked to be in pain. He was able to return into the match and finish out the game. I only hope that he stays healthy as we don’t have an experienced player who can fill that spot.
I’m not sure what the coaching directions were once we went a man up. It seemed to be play keep away by passing the ball in our own half of the field. This was not a good strategy as a few bad passes led to some good attempts by New England to punish us for our mistakes. The Crew should have been attacking or at least playing keep away further down the field.
Once again, Zack Steffen kept us in the match with several incredible saves. We need a quality replacement for him, or we need to figure out how to clone him before he moves to Manchester City in June.
Finally, while I feel our defense played a solid game, our offense seemed a little lost. We need to figure out a way to get the offense clicking. We can’t depend on our defensive players scoring all our goals for the rest of the season.
We will see if the offense can get it going this upcoming Saturday when the Crew play away against the Montreal Impact.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m sitting here looking down my nose, saying, “Ugh– but it’s Minnesota!” I know things have been looking up for the Loons this season. No team can be in charge of another’s success. But RBNY has been so confident. And for what? To have four points out of a possible fifteen?
You look like you haven’t felt the fire:
Overall, the Red Bulls had a lackluster performance. There were, of course, the flashes of brilliance: Luis Robles and his three saves. Tim Parker‘s full-body ball clearance. Mathias Jørgensen and his half-dozen or so runs on goal that hint at exactly why he’s in a Red Bulls kit.
Then there was Cristian Casseres Jr. His goal in the 70th minute was the phenomenal moment that fans are looking for each week. But ninety-plus minutes is a long time to watch a match and only see momentary flashes. There’s frustration at Red Bull Arena, even if maybe it can’t be found on the pitch.
He should’ve turned around and looked at the stands.
Of all the soccer clichés that get on my nerves… actually, “it’s only halftime” is the one that makes me want to thunder-punch someone the most. And “the calm before the storm” is obnoxious, but ubiquitous in sports (and we send along all infractions to Pablo Maurer). But after that, “defend our fortress” is rising in the power rankings for triteness. Because what happened when fans were told the team would defend the fortress?
Abu Danladi and Romario Ibarra: that’s what happened. Anyone watching on TV sees goal celebrations equally from either side: play stops, teammates hug, the players reset. But when a visiting team scores and you’re there to see it live, it’s almost surreal. The home team resets and the din of the crowd remains level. Very often, if not for the change on the scoreboard, I wouldn’t actually believe a goal occurred. The team can get back to fortress defending any time now. Immediately would be best.
Blue ain’t your color, baby:
Because, after all, NY is Red. It might be easier to cry over the sky falling, kiss the season goodbye, and find another sports venue for your entertainment. But sports fandom is not built for ease; rather, it’s a way to be show what you’re made of. So instead, let us demand the team dust off the past, forge ahead together, and bring it to Sporting KC in their Blue Hell of Children’s Mercy Park.
(P.S. Because I’m a little bit country, and I’m a little bit rock n’ roll…)
The Los Angeles Football Club downs D.C. United 4-0 in a battle between the two best teams in each conference on Saturday afternoon at Audi Field. Diego Rossi‘s hat trick led to the statement shutout victory to stay atop the Western Conference (and league standings) with a now 5-0-1 record.
In the 10th minute, Jordan Harvey chased down a long ball in the left wing and tried to send the cross. D.C. United’s Leonardo Jara blocked the cross on a sliding effort, awarding LAFC the penalty.
What would seem like a magical moment for Carlos Vela, who scored his first hat trick last week, saw his chance be thwarted by Bill Hamid, who dove left to save the penalty.
Five minutes later, Adama Diomande pressured the backline forcing a giveaway. Diomande gave the ball to the Mexican captain who ran it up, cut inside with his dangerous left foot into the upper left corner past Hamid – giving the black and gold the lead they were looking for earlier.
In the 52nd minute, D.C. United’s captain, Wayne Rooney was shown a red after digging his cleat into Rossi’s right leg in a sliding tackle for the ball. Rooney was originally given a caution but upgraded to red after the play underwent review. Rooney’s departure gave LAFC some relief as the captain had logged three free kicks that evening.
Now playing with ten men, D.C. United would find one opportunity but Lucas Rodriguez’s attempt found the side of the netting.
Steven Beitashour and Tyler Miller are the keeper duo we didn’t know we needed. A free kick conceded by Beitashour in the 57th minute resulted in a dangerous opportunity for D.C. The resulting cross was mishandled by a jumping Miller. D.C. put the loose ball on net twice: the first saved by Miller and the second redirected off the goal line by Beitashour.
With 20 minutes left and a solid 3-0 lead, Bradley started making substitutions. His first was replacing Harvey with Mohamed El-Munir to make his LAFC debut.
Rossi scored the hat trick in the 76th minute after finding himself alone with Hamid and finishes low to left corner – securing the black-and-gold’s 4-0 victory, as well marking history for the club.
A brief scare came in the 80th minute when Miller landed hard on his right side. The 26-year-old keeper was down briefly but managed to collect himself back up and quickly jumped back into action. Unlike Diomande’s injury he acquired earlier, Miller appeared to be fine.
The rest of the match saw both sides go back and forth with LAFC controlling more than half of the possession, ultimately extending their undefeated run in a 4-0 win.
LAFC will return to the Banc to host FC Cincinnati for the first time on Saturday, April 13.