The struggle is real for LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Sebastian Lletget, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

With a 4-2-3-1 formation, Ola Kamara was the lone striker, which should have meant getting more touches on the ball, but we just couldn’t quite get there despite our rigorous efforts.

The LA Galaxy played at Yankee Stadium, so I had to listen to my team struggle via the radio and watch per Twitter highlights.  The size of the field, 68 x 106 yards (70×100 meters), played a factor in our performance since it is the smallest in MLS and the smallest allowed by FIFA’s international guidelines. We aren’t used to playing on that, but it’s not an excuse.

With Alessandrini out for the match due to a hamstring injury, it was an opportunity for Sebastian Lletget to shine as the right winger. This was his first start and longest amount of time played (75 minutes) since his long recovery from a Lisfranc injury.  He brought speed and really fought hard to create scoring chances.

We were outplayed in the first half and the first goal came in the 22nd minute from Anton Tinnerholm on a well-timed run that Ciani just couldn’t push out.

This is only the second game in the season, but we can see the Galaxy need to work on keeping it together after substitutions and hang on in the later minutes of the second half until the end of the match. They also need to work on finishing goals because they had plenty of scoring opportunities. Lastly, we need to develop the chemistry between players (we are looking much better), but we need to play the way New York City FC’s Sweat and Medina set each other up.

It was 2-0 by the 33rd minute when David Villa scored on a rebound off Bingham’s save. Their other chances came when players like Yangel Herrera were given too much space, but Bingham really did well saving us most of the evening.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget’s first start and the most minutes he’s played since his recovery

Unfortunately, the match turned sour for the Galaxy when Ciani had to exit with what we now know as a hip flexor injury, but Steres was subbed in.

Set pieces are always opportunities for the Galaxy to score, but we missed those. We also had poor play out of the backline.

Finally, the breakthrough we’d been hoping for came in the 60th minute when Jonathan Dos Santos was able to score. He moved up when Carrasco subbed his brother, Gio, due to an injury ten minutes prior.  Jona had been on the ball but played too deep in his position in the holding mid before the change.

After that goal, the Galaxy had better energy. Skjelvik defended us well. Still, we need to keep from coming undone late in the game.

The last blow to us came when Ashley Cole, our beloved captain, got a second yellow card that resulted in a red and we were down a man. Cole made a challenge that took down Villa with little contact, which should have been up for VAR, but another key player was out.

At the end of it all, we are a more than capable team. As to be expected after the alterations this team has undergone, there’s still work to be done. But, I see us coming together despite this 2-1 loss. Missing key players means the rest of the team has to step up and show up.

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Oops, we did it again breaking ALL the records in Atlanta

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, March 11: 3-1 Win

After a miserable season opener at Houston last week, Atlanta United FC redeemed itself by breaking the “raccoon witch curse” and the fans proved once again that soccer is thriving in Georgia.

In 2017, ATLUTD could not manage to scrape together a draw against DC United, let alone a win and the “raccoon witch curse” was born. Those raccoons at RFK Stadium obviously performed some unholy magic that somehow allowed the second-worst team in the league last year to defeat ATLUTD all three times they met.

In our home opener for 2018, though, the tables turned. Coach Tata Martino made some adjustments to the formation (more on that in a bit) and ATLUTD wins 3-1, with goals from Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Tito Villalba. My friend (and Mouths of the South podcaster), Jay Riddle had a theory:

ATLUTD played in a 3-5-2 formation this week (different from the usual 4-2-3-1) and Tata put Jeff Larentowicz (aka “Larry”) back as a defensive midfielder, Miggy back in at CM, and moved Greg Garza to left wing and Julian Gressel to right wing.

I’m usually a bit leery when Tata starts changing things around, but it was easy to see the guys had much better control this week. I was still nervous with only a 1-0 lead at the half, but then Miggy scored. And not even two minutes later, Tito scored (and I missed it because I was posting a picture of T.I. on the supporters stage to the MLSFemale IG story, which is how I got caught on ESPN, so there’s that).

Our old pal Yamil Asad may have scored DCU’s first goal of the season, but he wasn’t much help to them this weekend. Asad got some applause from the early fans when he walked into the stadium and hugged all of his former teammates when DCU came out for warmups, which nearly made me cry. However, he did have some trouble getting past Gressel and Franco Escobar on the right. The only goal for DCU was scored by Darren Mattocks, who slipped by Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and somehow managed to get a shot by Brad Guzan.

For a third time, ATLUTD broke the MLS single-game attendance record with 72,035 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. The club also announced on Monday that they will open the full stadium for a fifth game (Oct 21 vs Chicago Fire, the final regular season game) this season. A friend of mine did the math and said this will bring us to just over 900,000 people at ATLUTD games in 2018. I’d like to see them open it up two more times (for a total of seven full-stadium games) so we can go over 1,000,000!

In other news this week, Julian Gressel made the MLS Team of the Week (with Almiron on the bench), and Miggy’s goal is up for Goal of the Week. I think ATL fans broke MLS’s system last year, so now you can only vote once (instead of once per hour like last year).

This coming Saturday, 3/17, ATLUTD host the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have an impressive streak of 18 road games undefeated. Vancouver got the best of our boys last year, but so did DCU – until they came to the Benz, so we’ll see what Tata and the boys do this week. I’m not betting against my boys and the home crowd, though. 😉

Featured image courtesy:

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Chicago Fire home opener

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, March 10: 3-4 Loss

The air was crisp, fans were lining up to enter the stadium, kids high fived and took pictures with Sparky, the team’s mascot. This day was one many fans were anticipating. The Chicago Fire had to wait an additional week to play their first game of the season.

Sporting Kansas City had lost their opener a week prior to New York City FC and was looking for a win. Hopes were high for the home opener, fans thought this game would be a win for sure, but what unfolded in the 90 minutes left fans at a loss for words.

Starting XI

Richard SanchezBrandon VincentChristian DeanJohan KappelhofMatt PolsterTony TchaniDax McCarty ©; Aleksandar KataiBastian SchweinsteigerLuis SolignacNemanja Nikolić.

The first half was dominated by Sporting KC. The team took an early lead in the 9th minute- Sanchez came off the line to make a save; the ball bounced off his hands and deflected right onto Felipe Gutierrez, who scored his first goal in the MLS. As the first half was coming to a close, Johnny Russell added one more goal for the away team.

The halftime whistle blew and the Fire was down by 2. Fans were getting restless but there was plenty of time to draw or end the game in a win. The Fire needed the halftime break to regroup.

In the second half, the Fire took fans on an emotional rollercoaster. First, Katai scored his first goal in the MLS. Minutes later, Nikolić scored the second goal of the game. Just then fans were in an uproar, cheering on the team, hoping for at least one more goal and 16 minutes later they got their wish.

Nikolić scored his second and the Fire’s third goal of the match. Shortly after, Jimmy Medranda equalized after capitalizing from another blocked shot by Sanchez. At this point, a draw would suffice. But finally, in the 86th minute, Gutierrez scored his second and the final goal of the match to mark the final score 3-4.

Throughout the 90 minutes, the Fire played a messy game.  Many passes were lost at midfield and the defense was not helping either. Sporting KC capitalized on mistakes made on the pitch. The Fire, however, showed that they can overcome a deficit but alas they couldn’t earn 3 points at home.

The Fire return to action on Saturday, March 17, 2018, against Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank Stadium.

Featured image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

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Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Win

New York City FC immediately took control of this game, calmly keeping possession and easily moving the ball around and through the LA Galaxy.  This was the pace of the first two-thirds of the game.  The movement down the left wing was swift and opened up space for David Villa in the center and for the cross to the right side.  Jesus Medina and Rodney Wallace again utilized switching flanks quite a bit which successfully shook up LA’s ability to mark well. 

With the fluid ball movement, the elephant on the field was that our offense was continuously distributing balls to Villa in goal-scoring chances in lieu of taking the shot themselves.  As this was Villa’s 100th cap for NYCFC, teammates Medina and Maxi Moralez gave him many of their own legitimate chances to score but most of these deferred attempts fell flat. 

The first goal of the match was scored by NYCFC when a shot by Villa was poorly cleared by LA and Anton Tinnerholm quickly capitalized on it with a strong left volley at 21:50.  And finally, at 32:37 Villa’s one-game goal-scoring drought ended.  Medina received a cross from Ben Sweat whose shot was blocked by LA goalkeeper David Bingham, which set up Villa to finish off the rebound. 

Anton Tinnerholm, NYCFC - Keira Smith/mlsfemale
Post game. Anton Tinnerholm, NYCFC – Keira Smith/mlsfemale

Already, there seems to be strong chemistry between Sweat and Medina who have successfully set each other up in front of the goal in both games. The NYCFC momentum continued, yet as Villa stated in the post game, “…We couldn’t close the game. In the first half probably we had a chance to close the game. With three nil. Much easier and [with] no pain in the last minute.”

And so the tone of the game changed with an LA Galaxy goal at 60’ by Jonathan Dos Santos.  NYCFC began to rush and scramble a bit more and LA was able to put together some offensive attacks. New York was very successful in forcing turnovers in the middle third of the field by swarming each LA player with two to three defenders. 

Attacks on the Galaxy continued but when Medina was subbed out, there were numerous opportunities when nobody was on the right post.  In the last 20 minutes of the game, Emmanuel Boateng became really dangerous every time LA took possession. Even playing with ten men, (Ashley Cole was ejected for 2 yellow cards), LA managed to heavily pressure NYCFC. 

It looked like New York ran out of gas in the last 15 minutes, so when the final whistle blew it was with a huge sigh of relief from many fans. 

Greatest hits

Sean Johnson is credited with only two saves and one claimed cross but with one possibly saved by his face. They were legit threats and decisive saves.

No VAR used!

Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha’s squatting ball-clearing headers.

H-U-S-T-L-E-R of the match – Rodney Wallace providing that necessary 2nd or 3rd person pressure on LA.

Tinnerholm’s goal celebration = pure joy.

Extra Time

Who did David Villa say in the post-match interview is a “really amazing guy”?

Featured image courtesy: Keira Smith

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Sorry Orlando City, not our night against Minnesota United

Shae Beaudoin - Orlando City/mlsfemale
Official Orlando City Reporter

By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz

This past Saturday, March 10th, Orlando City faced off against Minnesota United. Just to recap, Minnesota United is coached by Adrian Health, who coached us during our first year and a half in the MLS. Their attack is also led by midfielder Kevin Molino, who also played for us previously. In Heath’s first return to Orlando since parting ways with the club, he managed to secure 3 points with the Loons defeating the Lions 2-1.

I gotta say, Minnesota really brought it to us. In the 13th minute, MNUFC scored their first goal, albeit with a little controversy. The replay of the goal appears as though Finlay was offside, but no call from the ref so the goal counted. Minnesota kept the pressure on and had a multitude of opportunities in the first half, but Orlando’s defense held strong.

Huge shout out to El-Munir. He was one of our offseason pickups and he’s done nothing but impress me so far this season.

Stefano Pinho went down around the 24th minute and needed to be stretchered off, bringing Mueller in as a sub. It has since been confirmed that it is an injury to his ankle. There is no set timeline for his return.

Just before the half, a foul went to VAR, awarding Orlando City a penalty kick. With a beautiful delivery by Yoshimar Yotún, City tied it up.

Around the 51st minute, Molino went down and also needed to be stretchered off. Reports state that he is suffering a torn ACL. The score remained stagnant until Finlay came back with the brace in the 79th minute.

The biggest take away I have from this game is that Mueller’s got to put some work in on those completions. Of course, it’s only his second MLS game ever and he’s got a lot of adjusting to do, but there were a few promising crosses made during this game where the finish just wasn’t there. Personally, I’m excited to see how Mueller does with Dwyer beside him. I think that combination will give just the extra push Mueller needs to open his MLS account.

Orlando City is now out 7 starters, and this is not looking like a good start to the season. However, we are expecting a good portion of our starters back by the end of the month. Uri Rosell is only out pending fitness, so as soon as he’s in shape, we can expect to see him. Dwyer and Colman have been out with injuries and anticipated back by the end of the month.

Sacha and Da Silva will be wrapping up their suspensions in time for our March 31st match at home and PC will be back from his red card suspension this week against NYCFC. I fully believe in this team Kreis has built and I’m sure we will start seeing results when we get these key players back, so just hang tight City fans. After all, we’re City till we die!

That about wraps up this post-game report for ORLvMIN. Wishing a quick recovery to Pinho and Molino so both teams can get back on their feet ASAP. Our next game is on March 17th against NYCFC, our first away game of the season. It’s gonna be a big one, so make sure you’re following Keira and me on Twitter for that in-game coverage.

Featured image courtesy: Shae Beaudoin

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @ShaeEliz

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A cry of loons bests the pride of lions

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 10: 1-2 Win

Despite an identical lineup, the cry of Loons who appeared in Orlando Saturday was a different animal from last weekend. And this group announced their presence loud and clear.

I choose the collective noun ‘cry’ here over a handful of others for Minnesota’s state bird because the performance of this squad – their grit, heart, and perseverance – against Orlando City SC put a hopeful and enlightened tone on the season, much like the cry of our beloved loon does on a summer day.

Head coach Adrian Heath faced his former club with the same 4-2-3-1 he tried against San Jose Earthquakes last week, but with Christian Ramirez at forward in lieu of Danladi.

Center back Francisco Calvo anchored a backline that communicated well from the first whistle, closing gaps effectively and holding down the box. Ibson, who was not even a shadow of himself in the asylum against San Jose, pressed forward with each possession, pecking away at weaknesses in the Lions’ midfield, but did not take any unnecessary risks.

Mid Sam Nicholson worked the wide open left wing in his best showing to date, creating some hopeful chances of his own. And Kevin Molino was aggressive against his former club, assisting Ethan Finlay on a beautiful 12th-minute goal which spurred an even greater hunger to move forward.

But in the latter part of the first half, despite leading a depleted Lions squad, play went stale. It would pick up a bit after Orlando forward Stefano Pinho (a veteran of the NASL-era Loons) was stretchered off and the countdown to halftime began, only to devolve when an Orlando free kick was rescinded and replaced by a PK, thanks (or no thanks) to VAR, allowing Yoshimar Yotun to level the game for the Lions.

The second half began similarly, with play wallowing like a raft in waves. Molino had to be replaced by Collen Warner after a non-contact left knee injury. Also, Nicholson’s hamstring, a minor issue through the first half, finally saw him replaced by Miguel Ibarra. Ramirez was also pulled in favor of the fresh legs of rookie draft pick Mason Toye.

Toye and Ibarra were immediate factors, laying on the pressure up front and finding wide open shooting lanes. Their efforts were rewarded in the 79th minute when Ibarra received the ball from Toye and fired a cross toward the near post. It was met by a well-timed boot from Finlay for a stunning brace. From there, the Loons went into overdrive with a dopping of defense, dispossessing Lions in the box and forcing shots wide.

With Molino and others uncertain, Heath will undoubtedly have to go back to the ‘loonery’ to shore up his squad before the home opener. The club has a lot of improvements to make, but after watching this entire squad gut out the final minutes of this match, it is obvious that these players are determined to do whatever it takes to make 2018 a successful season.

Next up: The loon will cry out over Minneapolis on St Patrick’s Day. Can a water dance tame the Chicago Fire?

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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Obstacle for New York Red Bulls: Olimpia

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

CONCACAF Champions League, Round of 16
Leg 1: 1-1 Draw
Leg 2: 2-0 Win (3-1 agg.)

Before MLS kicked off for the 2018 season, the New York Red Bulls began their campaign in the CONCACAF Champions League with a trip to Costa Rica to face the Honduran club Olimpia in the first leg of the Round of 16.

That 1st leg, played in an empty stadium at a neutral location, was not particularly a stand-out match. Forward Daniel Royer scored in the 31st minute, only to have the score equalized by Brayan Moya in the 79th minute with a penalty kick following a hard tackle by defender Aurelien Collin. While the Away Goal Rule was in place, which weighted RBNY’s goal a little more, going into the 2nd leg with a draw allowed for the drama to play out at Red Bull Arena.

And play out it did.

Adeus meu amigo: While rumors had swirled in recent weeks, it was only when the gameday roster of 18 was announced that it became clear Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins was no longer part of the team. It was not until 2 days later that the trade was made official, sending Felipe to the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for defender Tim Parker (and a bunch of GAM TAM THANK YOU MA’AM that I’m not going to bother to explain). Like the other recent departures from RBNY, there’s sadness among fans, but the general consensus is that it was time to move on and we wish him well… until he comes back to face the Red Bulls.

Visa- not quite everywhere you want to be: Moya, as well as 2 other players for CD Olimpia, were prevented from traveling to Harrison for the 2nd leg due to issues with their visas. I don’t know who should have taken steps to ensure that all players would be able to travel, but it should have been handled.

Willkommen: Marc Rzatkowski (shh-KOFF-skee), on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, made the starting XI in the midfield. And he shined. I loved every second he was on the ball. Unlike other players who have joined the squad in recent seasons, Rzatkowski’s integration was seamless and immediate.

“He was fantastic, I mean his work ethic, the thing that you’ll see with him, the best of any player I’ve ever seen is with the ball and any movement within the game he comes back and thinks about closing down space and second balls, he’s incredible.”

–Coach Jesse Marsch

Dos a Cero: Following a well-moving but scoreless first half, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips opened his account for 2018 competition with a laser shot in the 54th minute that the Olimpia goalkeeper was sure was going to go wide. The pace was markedly faster after the goal from both sides.

Midfielder and RBNY Academy product Sean Davis doubled the lead with a goal in the 64th minute.

If anyone was worried about what was going to happen to the Red Bulls midfield following the exit of the likes of Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, and now Felipe… it seems the kids are alright (Davis, RZA, and Tyler Adams).

#HolaKaku: Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who couldn’t travel to Costa Rica and instead played with Red Bulls II in the final match of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, made his RBA debut in the 64th minute. He replaced Alex Muyl, who deserved the rest following 4 total shots at ridiculous angles.

Kaku was credited with 2 shots and a respectable 81.3% passing accuracy. His slightly off-frame shot in the 84th minute was inches away from instant legendary status. It will have to wait for another day.

The Red Bulls face Club Tijuana in the quarterfinals and will be back at Red Bull Arena on the 13th, but will also open their MLS season against the Portland Timbers this weekend.

Featured image courtesy: Sylvana Budesheim

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So that happened to ATLUTD…

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 4-0 Loss

Atlanta United‘s preseason was…not ideal. They managed a single win against soon-to-be MLS rival Nashville SC in some crazy weather conditions and then a loss (vs Columbus Crew) and two draws (MNUFC and USL side Charleston Battery) during the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, SC.

During the week between the final game in Charleston and our first regular season game at Houston, it was announced that our brand new toy, Ezequiel Barco, sustained a quad injury in training and would be out for 4-6 weeks. This brought back nightmares to the ATLUTD faithful, as Josef Martinez suffered a similar injury early in the 2017 season while playing for the Venezuelan national team.

Barco’s injury and the fact that Michael Parkhurst was still recovering from an injury forced coach Tata Martino to make some pretty big changes in the lineup for the Houston Dynamo game.

Miguel Almiron, who has made the most impact at central attacking midfielder was pushed out to the left to cover for Barco. 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year Julian Gressel was slotted in to replace Almiron, Chris McCann was added as a defensive midfielder, and Jeff Larentowicz was pushed back to center back to replace Parkhurst.

This was, however, our first regular-season lineup with offseason acquisition Darlington Nagbe in it. We saw some lovely things from him in the preseason, but this game didn’t go as well for him – or any of the midfielders or CBs, for that matter.

It pains me to say this, but Leandro Gonzalez Pirez probably played his worst game ever. He ended up with a yellow card (Despite saying he was trying to get fewer cards this year; not such a great start there, LGP) was subbed out late in the first half with a hip contusion.

Maybe he was still hungover from his birthday celebration earlier in the week? Or he was distracted by the fact that he’s going to be a first-time dad later this year? I don’t know what got into him, but he was not himself this weekend and while ATLUTD is reporting that he’s day-to-day (did not practice on Tuesday) with this hip contusion, he could easily be out for 1-2 weeks or more.

While our list of injured players grew longer, at least our defense managed to shore itself up in the second half of the game on Saturday. After giving up four goals (!!) to Houston in the first half, the second half was scoreless. This is the first time ATLUTD fans have been on this side of a score like that. And it was not fun. My social media timelines were not a pleasant place to be on Sunday.

Thankfully, it was just the first game of the season. We have 33 more games to go and I have faith that they’ll figure it out soon enough.

In the meantime, we have our first home game of the season to look forward to (or not) this Sunday vs the only team that got the best of us three times (*angry emoji*) last season, DC United. DCU snuck around during the offseason and picked up Yamil Asad on loan from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina.

If you read any of my columns last year, you’ll know Asad was a fan favorite here in Atlanta in 2017. He will always be remembered for scoring the very first regular season ATLUTD goal and throwing ‘bows out on the field early in the season. He even went on to score DCU’s first goal of the season last week at Orlando (ha!).

ATLUTD take on DC United this Sunday, 3/11 at 3pm ET at home in front of a potentially record-breaking (again) crowd. The upper level will be open, which means 70k+ in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Featured image courtesy:

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @robynsaghini

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LA Galaxy’s refreshing start to the season

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

The Los Angeles Galaxy are back! Home opener at StubHub center vs the Portland Timbers.

Sunday, March 4, 2018: 2-1 Win

Six foreign friends and I waited in anticipation in our chilly seats behind the goal in GA. They compared US soccer to their countries in Europe and South America based on the warm-ups. I wanted them to be impressed and to show them that the MLS can hang in the world of soccer. 

A banner then rolled out over us right before the national anthem. The Angel City Brigade clapped rhythmically, waved their flags, and beat their drums.  Familiar chants roared across the field. Despite being sick with a cold, I cheered right along. Needless to say, we were stoked before the game was even underway.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.



The first half was dominated by the LA Galaxy. It belonged to them.

Both goals were scored in that half. A rather messy goal that was Kamara’s debut where he literally fell into scoring as a Portland defender pushed him from behind, knocking him over the keeper, but the ball was in at the 31st minute.The crowd went wild.

Goal #2 came two minutes later when Alessandrini scored after a second attempt as the ball came off the post when he slid onto his side, got back up and kicked it in. He was quick and determined.

Alessandrini went out after he pulled up with what looked like a right hamstring strain in the 60th minute. Chris Pontius entered the game. We started to come loose at the seams.  Portland had plenty of chances and often times too much space as seen in the second half, such as when Sebastián Blanco was able to score making it 2-1 by the 66th minute.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Portland with a free kick before the end of the first half

Giovani Dos Santos was subbed out in the 72nd minute and finally, Sebastian Lletget, who fans had been calling for, came in.  Lletget brought speed and was fearless as he challenged two to three Portland defenders at a time to win back the ball.

In the 83rd minute of the game, Ema Boateng exited and Servando Carrasco came on for the Galaxy. Another change that altered the dynamic of the team.

There’s currently not an update on Alessandrini from coach Sigi Schmid. Wishing him well, especially since he and Boateng are key players. Once they exited the game, we had trouble keeping it together, we needed to keep calm and play through difficult maneuvers from the other team.

We needed to defend and not worry about scoring. The Dos Santos brothers made good runs for the most part. That said, Ciani has the most improvement with great attack and defense.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
52’ Bingham (Galaxy keeper) with the save off a corner

This LA team in the preseason gave plenty of concerns and there were plenty of times throughout this match that had me asking so many questions (most of them were calls made or not made by the ref).  There’s always room for improvement. Still, The Galaxy deserved this win. They earned it in front of 25,462 fans. This kind of comeback is what I was hoping for and what this club needed.

Overall, our defense was exceptional as well as our attack. We also regained possession quickly. We looked and played the best we’ve been in a long while. This is LA. This is my team. This is the way to come back and open at home.

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @AdorableEars

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Most blocks ever for NYCFC

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City FC started its season at Sporting Kansas City on a sentimental note with captain David Villa’s donning of a “Siemprequini” jersey on the walk out to the pitch- an homage to his recently deceased soccer hero and legend Enrique Castro aka “Quini”. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy Keira Smith

My take on the game in 200 words

NYCFC dominated SKC for much of the game by retaining possession with movement down the wings and pressing early and hard.   We had some good luck when SKC’s early big chance at a goal was headed wide by Roger Espinoza and when three consecutive corner kicks by SKC ended up fruitless. 

It looked at that point that the game might even out until Villa fed a ball from the left across the goal where Maxi Moralez finished it.  The first half ended with a breakaway by Villa which was ultimately destroyed by SKC’s sprinting defender. 

The second half was much of the same as NYCFC dominated possession, capped off by a gorgeous sequence of a backward flick by Yangel Herrera to Ben Sweat on the left who quickly crossed it to the finisher, Jesus Medina.  Up 2-0 NYCFC kept the lead by defending well in all parts of the field, quickly doubling up pressure on SKC players.

Restarts out of the back need to be smoothed out a bit.  NY continued to pass back to Sean Johnson amongst heavy pressure from SKC. In general, however, the team looked solid.

The little details

I will make a giant leap and say definitively that NYCFC blocked more shots in this game than all previous seasons combined.  No, I don’t have the stats to back it up, I just know.

NYCFC debuts in this match: Medina, Anton Tinnerholm, Sebastien Ibeagha and Ismael Tajouri

Despite offensively dominating the match, there were some great saves by Johnson.

Awards!  In honor of the Oscars which I did not watch this year…

The oddest throwback to high school soccer moment of the match: The drop ball after the first VAR review.   

Worrisome injury of the match: Maxime Chanot and Sean Johnson both on the ground clutching their heads after the collision with SKC’s Ike Opara.  And also worrisome is the seeming lack of adherence to concussion protocol.  I mean were they even examined before being able to return to play?

Surprise of the match:  1st- How many times VAR was consulted and how long the process takes.  Hopefully, that will get faster as the season goes on. 2nd- Chanot’s first tackle in the box not being a penalty kick but the second one just outside earning him a red card.

Unsung hero of the match: Moralez.  He was everywhere on the field.  Pressing, passing, making runs. 

Award for most absurd yellow card:  (tie) Medina and Johnson both for “delaying restart”.

Mother of God! moment of the match:  The back passes to Johnson to restart out of the back that came in a bit hot in the first half.

Extra time:

Thoughts for the home opener versus LA Galaxy.  Who will be in our starting defensive line now that Chanot is out?

And why does the word “Brujo” seem to have only positive connotations but “Bruja” mostly negative?  Asking for a friend.

Featured image courtesy: NYCFC Facebook

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