New York Red Bulls Dance On

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, May 11th: 1-3 Win

Just three days after their home loss to the Impact, the New York Red Bulls went to Deepinaharta, Texas…. okay, Frisco. FC Dallas, coming into the match in fifth place in the Western Conference, wanted to bounce back from a loss to the Houston Dynamo. But like a gift from the heavens, the Red Bulls turned things around and are bringing home three points.

A piece to the puzzle that falls into place: If you correctly predicted the Starting XI for the Red Bulls, you should go out and buy a lottery ticket. Word is that captain Luis Robles stayed home. I can only imagine an injury kept him out, even though he was not listed on the injury report. Weird flex, but okay. Ryan Meara has been amazing before, particularly in the Open Cup. The team was in good gloves.

Every soul in the room keeping time with their hands:Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Casseres, Jr. hasn’t made the starting lineup too much. But his goal in the twelfth minute should really make a case for him going forward. Also, Andreas Ivan with the assist was a thing of beauty.

The devil himself could be pulled out of me: When I first started following RBNY, stoppage time was nervewracking. They most often conceded goals in those last few moments before the whistle. That was what made the leveler from Jesus Ferreira so upsetting. Going into the half tied, while better than chasing the game, was not ideal.

There were drums in the air: Sean Nealis, the Hofstra graduate and 2019 draft pick, stepped up at centerback with Aaron Long recovering from a hamstring injury. While technically Michael Amir Murillo nailed the ball to the net in the 58th minute, Nealis got the credit for putting his noggin on it.

You could tell how we felt: Brian White also made a goal to sew up the game (85′). This was White’s second goal this season.  No Bradley Wright-Phillips? No Royer? NO PROBLEM! Let’s see if anyone from this lineup dances on into the night of the 19th, when Atlanta United rolls into town.

P.S. I had it in my head that playing Dallas called for a little Carlos Santana. Don’t give me a hard time about Chad Kroeger– for this song, it works.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

Houston Dynamo Fall to the Sounders: A Different Perspective

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

I joined Houston Dynamo fans at a local restaurant chain to watch our team take on the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night. The simultaneous UFC fight audio was appropriate for the match, as the Dynamo and Sounders played an intensely physical game full of big hits and rough play.

My step-son, who was watching the match elsewhere, shared his initial thought on the match after the Sounders’ Roldan made an amazing volley at 5’, giving them the early lead.

He is an amazing 12 year old, a defender on his U14 team, and a recreational referee, so his opinions on matches are always interesting. I’ll let his commentary help me tell the story of the match.

The 23rd minute brought the first of many off-frame shot attempts from the Dynamo, this one by Alberth Elis. While the first half was largely dominated by excellent offensive efforts by the Dynamo, they were simply unable to target effectively.

As we neared the end of the first half, the Dynamo’s offense began to struggle and started giving away a lot in the midfield. The Dynamo have an oft-lethal counterattack so I was hopeful,  but the kid was pragmatic. Neither team was bashful about full-contact play, but late in the first half, Seattle’s Kim used a bear hug to slow down Alberth Elis.

While Elis was able to maintain control despite being manhandled, the referee’s claim of advantage left Elis angry. Equally frustrated, the kid declares the foul:

(He’s 12…forgive the spelling)

We traded strategy as Houston’s poor shot calibration continued, and the first half closed with another wasted shot from Manotas that rose to the heavens instead of the occasion.

Things really began to go off the rails in the second half. The Dynamo’s frustrations blossom into poor organization and worse judgment. The referee began to answer Houston’s calls for better officiating by bringing it down on their efforts. AJ Delagarza was booked for a silly foul in the 59th minute and I consulted my favorite ref on the call.

Houston’s Wilmer Cabrera began subbing at the 70th minute, but the new blood on the pitch fell prey to the same issues. Tommy McNamara came in at 72’ and quickly loosed another off-target shot.

While I won’t lay all of the blame of this loss on the officiating, the referee continued to have a lot of influence and intrusion on the play as the match reached its final moments. At one point, Seattle’s Bruin found himself having to shimmy around the referee during a drive.

Houston finished the night with only one shot on target for all of their efforts, and their loss was held to 1-0 through the luck of the crossbar.

Houston faces its busiest schedule this week since finishing up their CCL run, and the decision to rest some of its regular defensive starters most certainly affected the results of the match. However, Houston’s depth must be able to stand up to these tests. The Dynamo will have a chance to prove themselves again at home this Wednesday against Portland and then head out to the east coast to battle DC next Saturday.

Thanks so much to my step-son for permission to use his texts in today’s retelling.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC find their groove against the Galaxy, winning 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club continued to show its developing form in its unexpected win over LA Galaxy.  With a return of anchor defender James Sands from injury, the team looked calm and settled.  One slight change to the lineup was the swapping out of the injured Ebenezer Ofori, out with a core injury, for Tony Rocha in a center midfield role.  NYCFC faced a Galaxy who were without Jonathan Dos Santos, Rolf Feltscher, Romain Alessandrini and showed some struggle to gather attacking chances particularly without Dos Santos.

The Boys in Blue excelled in their passing accuracy in the attacking half and the final third and this kept them steady and in control of much of the game.  New York City did an excellent job of defending but the clear and obvious strategy by LA of always trying to serve the ball up to Zlatan Ibrahimovich made the Galaxy seem predictable and easier to defend.  Where LA did a good job of accurately crossing the ball, the NYC defenders knew how to position themselves in order to quickly destroy the play.  Alex Callens was particularly efficient at slowing down or destroying LA’s attempts to propel their attack.

New York’s first goal was scored by Héber on a rebound of an Anton Tinnerholm shot.  Héber has clearly settled into his #9 role, making a go of any loose balls in the box.  He has scored 3 goals and had 3 assists in the 7 games he’s played since he joined the team.  Not only does Heber do his job well, he looks like he’s enjoying himself the whole time.  

The second goal was scored on a play in LA’s box that was first called as an offside on City but ended up as a handball call on LA via VAR.  Incredulously, Maxi Moralez stepped up to take the penalty kick, leaving most fans screaming at their screens “No!  Anyone but Maxi!” as Moralez’s last two attempts at PKs this season were failures.  

Moralez ended up burying this ball in the back of the net.  For the record, Héber should take these PKs but perhaps out of respect and seniority he deferred to Moralez.

img_8009

NYCFC has successfully and repeatedly made good use of the wingback role, with particular ease when the roles are executed by Tinnerholm and Ronald Matarrita. The match did end on a strange note with a seemingly frustrated Ibrahimovich and NYCFC’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson in a tangle of alleged body bumps and hands to the neck resulting in both players being booked on yellow cards.

It’s still early in the season but NYCFC have now moved up to 4th place in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia, DC and Montréal with their next call to arms on 5/25 in another away match versus Chicago Fire.

All images:  NYCFC twitter

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Kings of the West: LAFC bounces back in 3-0 win over Columbus Crew

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club returned to its winning ways in a 3-0 win over the Columbus Crew at MAPFRE stadium on Saturday. Mark-Anthony Kaye, Adama Diomande and Carlos Vela scored all three winning goals of the night.

With a full roster available, there were no changes in the lineup. Tristian Blackmon was among the players who returned to the bench. In what was arguably a must-win situation for the Crew, I’m not sure if the pressure from LAFC but the home side made a lot of mistakes. And the Black-and-Gold was able to capitalize on those easy opportunities.

LAFC had two solid chances to open the scoring with Kaye and Diego Rossi after the whistle blew. Kaye tried to sneak one in past Joe Bendik, unfortunately, his low shot whizzed past the post. In the 31st minute, Rossi hit a curler off of a cross from the Mexican international. But it glided just slightly over the crossbar.

However, the club earned another chance to score in the 37th minute, as Latif Blessing served the 24-year-old midfielder the ball from the top of the box and Kaye flawlessly kicked the ball home.

The Crew was in pursuit of the equalizer and nearly got their opportunity as Robinho sent a pass to Pedro Santos, who fired a rocket down the center. Fortunately, Tyler Miller was in the right place at the right time and came up huge to deny Santos in the 59th minute – earning his fifth clean sheet.

In the 74th minute, the Crew almost pull level but former LA Galaxy forward, Gyasi Zardes saw his goal called back after being called offsides.

The latter part of the half saw all the action with back-to-back goals by Diomande and Vela. First up, a crucial error and a substitution hot off the bench secured the lead for the Black-and-Gold. Josh Perez ran the ball outside the net deflecting off the post, and miscommunication between Bendik and Jonathan Mensah – gave Diomande the opening he needed to hit the rebound to double the score.

Moments later, it was the captain’s turn. It came off of Vela’s dangerous left foot into the back of the net – scoring his 12th goal of the season.

The boys rallied in the final minutes of stoppage time to secure the 3-0 victory and remain atop of the Western Conference standings.

The club will return to LA with all three points and gear up for another two-game series with FC Dallas. LAFC will host them on Thursday, May 16 and then travel to Dallas for the second leg just three days later.

Photo credit: Columbus Crew

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

D.C. United Weekly Roundup: Match preview, Injuries, Call Ups, and Marquinhos Pedroso

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Match Preview: D.C. United v Sporting KC 

D.C. United is set to host Sporting KC for a Mother’s Day matchup at 7pm EST May 12that Audi Field. The match will be nationally broadcast on FS1 and FOXDEPORTES.

While D.C. is fresh off a 3-1 home victory against the Columbus Crew, Sporting KC just fell to Atlanta United 0-3 in a shutout match. Sporting KC currently is sitting in 10th place of the Western Conference. In addition to the spate of injuries that have plagued Sporting, this is the first time the team will hit the road in a six-match stretch. 

For D.C. United, a position at the top of the Eastern Conference hinges on winning this home match against SKC. Currently, D.C. is tied with the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact for first place in terms of points, however, the Black-and-Red occupy second place due to goal differential.

Although SKC is depleted and having a tough run lately, D.C. should not take them lightly. Sporting’s offense is dangerous, having scored 19 goals this season, and has only been without a goal in one match, their most recent faceoff with Atlanta United. SKC has also recently reacquired midfielder Benny Feilhaber from the Colorado Rapids. Whether he will take the pitch against D.C. is up for debate.

Injuries

D.C. saw the recovery and return to play of Russell Canouse and Leonardo Jara, two integral players who have regularly appeared in Head Coach Ben Olsen’s starting XI. However, homegrown player Donovan Pines is sidelined due to a sprain in his medial collateral ligament sustained during D.C.’s most recent match with the Columbus Crew. Pines has started in the last two matches for D.C. United and has shown valuable speed and accuracy, able to bail out the Black-and-Red defensively.

Call Ups

D.C. United homegrown player Chris Durkin has received a call up to compete in the U-20 FIFA World Cup in Poland. The U-20 FIFA World Cup kicks off May 23rd. Striker Griffin Yow, D.C.’s newest homegrown signing, just helped the U-17 USMNT to a 8-0 victory over Guadeloupe. The team will advance to the Concacaf U-17 Championship Quarterfinals where they will face Panama.

New Player Marquinhos Pedroso

D.C. recently acquired left back Marquinhos Pedroso from FC Dallas for $100,000 in GAM. The 25-year-old Brazilian began his professional career at Figueirense, and has since played in the Brazilian top flight, and in Turkey and Hungary. Pedroso was a regular starter for FC Dallas throughout 2018 and fills in a critical defensive gap for D.C. United, as Joseph Mora is still unavailable due to injury. The acquisition of Pedroso also allows Olsen to keep Paul Arriola forward, where he is able to create scoring opportunities for the Black-and-Red.

As always, VAMOS UNITED!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

The Texas Derby Results and How FC Dallas Can move forward

Official FC Dallas Reporter

By Abigail Kistner// @abruhcadabruhh

Although I couldn’t travel to Houston to support FC Dallas, I still made it a priority to watch and review the game, and let me be the first to say that I’m glad I did. This was a turning point for FC Dallas for sure.

We begin the game with a lot of defensive play, not only from the defense itself but from the entire team. In fact, not even fifteen minutes in, you can see Barrios (wing) performing defensive tactics against Houston. However, around the same time during the first half, you also see the trio: Zeigler, Hedges, and Cerillo doing all they can to keep the ball within Dallas’ realm.

Seeing both the front and the back work to keep the ball was very entertaining, but also disappointing, as the midfield was lacking this game. However, this wasn’t a bad game for FC Dallas. Despite being the youngest team in the MLS, Dallas shows a very mature style of play, and you see that after competing with Houston, the 4th oldest team in MLS.

Despite the lacking efforts in the first half, FC Dallas comes back, in the 86th minute to win their first goal of the game by Dominique Badji. Not only that, but FC Dallas scored again 10 minutes later with a goal by Santiago Mosquera. However, with a VERY controversial referee call regarding Dallas’ goal via VAR, it eventually led to the 2-1 loss of the Texas Derby.

Although Dallas took a seemingly unfair loss, the drive to win in the second half was something I have yet to see in another team so far this season. With some of our essential players gone (Paxton Pomykal) I believe FC Dallas is doing just fine for now.

With a home game coming up facing the New York Red Bulls, Dallas has a clear advantage to win this upcoming game. With a current 5-3-2 record with 17 points, Dallas has a very good rate at taking another win at home facing the NY Red Bulls (record of 3-4-2 with 11 points). Despite New York’s past two wins, Dallas had yet to be defeated at home, and it’s fair to say Dallas has the chance to remain undefeated at home and gain another 3 points.

Featured image: @fcdallas on Instagram

Follow me on Twitter and let’s talk! @abruhcadabruhh

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

LAFC Weekly Roundup: Carlos Vela, Match Preview, Gold Links

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Columbus, here we come!

Coming off back-to-back draws, LAFC will look to return to its winning form as they travel to MAPFRE stadium to face the Columbus Crew this Saturday, May 11.

LAFC is currently leading the all-time series with one win on June 23 in a 2-0 victory at the Banc of California stadium. However, the Black-and-Gold fell to the Crew during the preseason. Saturday marks the third meeting between the clubs

*Image provided by the MLS’ app

Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, and Latif Blessing remain a dangerous trio in the midfield. Eddie Segura and Walker Zimmerman are becoming a stronger pair every match. The two center backs may not be able to speak the same language. But they allow the universal language of football to speak for them. And the with a roster back to full health, the club will hopefully utilize every opportunity.

Especially after the Crew defeated the New England Revolution on Wednesday in a 5-0 win – following a five-game losing streak and will likely enter this weekend’s match as a must-win situation.

What are your match predictions?

Back at full health

The roster seems to be back at full health with only defender Danilo Silva and midfielders Alejandro Guido and Javi Pérez listed as questionable.

Head Coach Bob Bradley has nearly a full team to choose from as there are no players out for tomorrow’s competition.

Adama Diomande and Andre Horta appeared in the eighteen last week coming off of long injuries. Dio entered the match in the 75th minute for Steven Beitashour – whom also returned to the starting XI due to injury.

With another two-game series within days of each other on the horizon – I am expecting a little rotation in the roster, if not on the bench for Columbus.

Projected LAFC Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

Carlos Vela earns back-to-back MLS Player of the Month honors

There is really no stopping the Mexican International captain at this point.

On Tuesday, Carlos Vela was voted the MLS Player of the Month for the month of April of the 2019 MLS season. Along with back-to-back MLS honors – Vela is dominating the league in three categories: goals (11), shots (60), and shots on goal (24).

According to LAFC’s Digital Manager, Vince La Rosa: Vela becomes just the seventh-ever player to earn the honors in consecutive months after earning Player of the Month accolades in the first month of the 2019 campaign.

The club’s captain finished April with five goals and two assists over five contests, helping the Black-and-Gold earn a 3-1-1 record. His 16 combined goals and assists are also the most by any player in the opening 10 games of a season in MLS history.

Gold Links

Photo credit: Imad Bolotok IG // @imadshoots

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

New York Red Bulls Fall Apart

 

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 8: 1-2 loss

Having missed a heck of a show last Saturday (a 3-2 win over the mighty Galaxy), I was looking forward to the team going three in a row at home. They’ve had a rough go of things so far this season, with only three wins. But their fortune was turning around, and another win against a Piatti-less Montreal Impact would set them up for a positive road trip to Dallas.

Don’t look now; things just got worse.

I got my wings: The RBNY pipeline has multiple channels. Tom Barlow, selected in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, cut his teeth in the USL squad and made a big impression. He has already put up six goals this season for RBII, so Sporting Director Denis Hamlett gave him the big call-up: he signed a first team contract. Just hours after the official announcement, Barlow found himself in the Starting XI.

It was a bit of a surprise to the Missouri native. “I was supposed to go to Canada with the USL team and I tried handing in my passport and they said I’m not going.” (Red Bulls II played to a 1-1 draw against the Ottawa Fury the same day as the MLS match).

With striker Bradley Wright-Phillips still out with an injury, it was time to ‘shop the closet’ and bring in someone the organization hopes is ready for the next level. Keeping his USL number 74 jersey, he also played 74 minutes.

While he didn’t score the hat trick I was of course expecting, he made a good showing. The only way for a player like Barlow to get used to being in MLS is for him to actually be in MLS. This is admittedly easier said than done, especially when the team overall isn’t doing well. But that’s not on Barlow. I’m excited for the kid… and I know how ‘Soccer Mom’ that makes me sound. I’m not ashamed.

When things start to feel right: For the third straight game, a defender tallied a goal for RBNY. This time, it was Aaron Long, 2018 MLS Defender of the Year. Our own Captain America. His header off Marc Rzatkowski’s free kick was perfection. It was the kind of set piece goal that had been New York’s signature threat in seasons past. All they had to do was continue in that vein for the second half.

You can count on me to start to doubt it: When Maxi Urruti put an inswinger to Zakaria Diallo and Diallo leveled the match, it was a small disappointment. The game was just past the hour mark– plenty of time to renew the attack, or at least hold the tie and get a point.

But Aaron Long’s over-emphatic defense on Anthony Jackson-Hamel resulted in a penalty kick for the Impact. Urruti took the kick from the spot, opening his account for the season with the conversion. Another defensive move from Long moments later sparked a hamstring injury that forced him off the field.

Manager Chris Armas had already spent his three substitutions on attacking options, so the team was forced to play with only ten men for the last ten minutes of the match. Thankfully the Red Bulls were able to keep Montreal from capitalizing on the advantage. Granted the damage had already been done. So now the Red Bulls head to Dallas trying to put it back together.

P.S. When the Red Bulls were winning, I was all set to use one song. Then I chose another when they were tied. I was at a loss when the team… well– lost. But thanks to my satellite radio for coming in clutch.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

Sporting KC falls to Atlanta United 3-0

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City fell to Atlanta United 3-0; snapping their home unbeaten run on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park. It was the first time the home team lost to the reigning MLS Cup Champions.

With multiple injuries plaguing the roster – and missing key starters like Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza – Vermes fielded an almost unrecognizable lineup with only five subs available on the bench. Two of which earned their first MLS starts – Graham Smith and Gedion Zelalem (made his club debut). Kelyn Rowe and Botond Barath returned to the starting XI.

Sporting KC kicked off the match with a good opportunity when Graham Zusi unleashed a long-range curler that carried marginally beyond the right-hand post. Shortly thereafter, Atlanta’s Pity Martinez cut centrally onto his left foot and dragged a low shot wide of the near post.

The home side would earn another chance after Krisztian Nemeth could have recorded his 11th off a corner kick by Johnny Russell in the 13th minute, but his glancing header on the edge of the six-yard box missed the mark.

And then it stopped?

With both sides holding close to equal possession and overall passing accuracy, it seemed they locked in a game of keep away, as they passed the ball back-and-forth without creating any solid chances for a full 15 minutes.

*Writer’s note: I’m not suggesting no one was trying to create an opportunity, I just found the situation odd.

Just as it appeared the match would go scoreless into halftime, Josef Martinez opened the scoring for Atlanta in the 39th minute after retrieving the rebound off of Tim Melia at short range. Martinez went down briefly after a collision with the keeper. But he returned to the pitch uninjured to score the game winner in the 76th minute.

Two minutes after the restart, Atlanta doubled the lead. Sporting failed to clear a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and a shot fell invitingly to Ezequiel Barco, who made right-footed strike down the middle into the left side of the post.

Melia did well to deny the 20-year-old nine minutes later, then produced another reflex stop on a strike from Miles Robinson.

Down by two, Sporting KC ran the ball down to try to close the gap and earned two solid opportunities in the process. But as the script goes, Kelyn Rowe’s thunderous effort from the top of the box was blocked and Nemeth’s 22-yard curler skimmed over the woodwork.

In the 65th minute, the energy changed as Ilie entered the match in a double substitution.

Ilie did not appear once in training this past week and he was listed as questionable. So it’s understandable the predicament Vermes was forced into. And one he will probably see himself again:

“The problem is I don’t have the whole team available. It’s not just one guy. When you have a team – and every team has their starters – to then have to supplant all those guys with new players, it’s very hard.”

Regardless, the Spaniard still had a solid attempt shortly after Russell cuts into the middle and forces Guzan into a leaping save with a left-footed curler that bounced off the top corner in the 73rd minute. But the striker couldn’t put his strike within the frame.

Ultimately, it was Martinez’s second goal that gave Sporting KC their first loss of the season at home in a 3-0 deficit.

Even though frustration filled the locker room, the team remains optimistic about the future. Especially with the newcomers earning more playing opportunities:

“I thought the two center backs did a really good job. It’s a quality team with a lot of attacking minded players that are really good at combining and for the most part, till maybe the 70th minute we did a really good job shutting [Atlanta] down.” Melia told the press.

Seth Sinovic added: “I think everyone had their moments. I think everybody got the opportunity to improve, not just the new guys but the experienced guys. And it’s on the experience guys that have not only played a lot of games in the league but a lot of games in a sporting uniform – we have to be better leaders. We got to do a better job and we’re not filling that job right now.”

Next up, Sporting KC will travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and D.C. United for the first time.

“We have to concentrate on our first day back at training. Making sure we’re doing everything there [..] we build them correctly for the game against [D.C. United],” said Melia. “We just got to get back to being us. And look at one game at a time.”

Featured image: Peaty Romano

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

You gotta have depth: NYCFC tops Montréal Impact 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

After an inconsistent start to the 2019 season, New York City Football Club appears to have found their groove with a 2-0 win over Montreal Impact.  The victory was, in part, due to solid play by the misunderstood Ben Sweat and smart strategy by the often-maligned Head Coach Dome Torrent.

Prior to this match, it looked like City had found a solid starting lineup:

 

However, injuries to Alexandru Mitrita, James Sands, and Ronald Matarrita suddenly made the team’s chances versus Montréal less certain.

Team depth, particularly in the midfield, paid off big time as Ben Sweat stepped up his game and executed his wingback role beyond expectations and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi returned to his starting position of right wing.

Tajouri-Shradi, one of 2018’s top team scorers, has not been consistently in the lineup, which was sparking questions from many fans.  The biggest cause for concern prior to this match was the injury of defensive powerhouse James Sands and how the team would fill in for his strength and consistency.

And in the end Torrent chose to go with a 3-4-3 just as certain adept fans so accurately predicted.

The depth of the team and the adherence to a strategy of ironically “widening the field” (you know, since we have such a narrow home pitch?) and playing the majority of attacking sequences down the flanks ultimately were the doom of the Impact.

With this ball and player pattern, Montreal had no idea who to cover and how to predict the play, particularly in the second half.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if this winning strategy was more effective on the road and the team ended up more successful on the road than at home? Is this likely? Probably not, but it would make things very interesting.

With goals scored by Moralez (6′) and Tajouri-Shradi (49′), the team demonstrated depth in offensive prowess and the ability to generate goals without Designated Player Mitrita and despite striker Héber having a rare non-productive outing.

Also worth noting is that the Impact generated a few first half goal scoring chances but NYCFC’s back line of Sebastien Ibeagha, Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot ultimately were consistent in their defense.

Tajouri-Shradi photo credit to NYCFC
Tajouri-Shradi dropping the hammer

Next up, NYCFC has three challenging games on the road: LA Galaxy on 5/11, Chicago Fire on 5/25 and Columbus Crew on 6/1 before returning home to host FC Cincinnati on 6/6.

I would anticipate that Coach Torrent will continue to utilize a formation with wingbacks, either with or without Sands.  Will this formation be as useful on the narrow home pitch? As of now, City is unbeaten over the past 6 games, but the matchup against the LA Galaxy will be a true test of this apparent upward momentum.

Featured Image:  NYCFC.com

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale