In Piatti’s Absence, Montréal Impact Emerge Successful but Unsatisfying

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Most recent results: 5/18: Montréal Impact v NE Revolution 0-0, 5/11: Montréal Impact v FC Cincinnati 2-1, 4/13: Montréal Impact v Columbus Crew 1-0

It is no secret to anyone who follows MLS. Sure, the coach prepares his tactics and sends out the strongest team at his disposal. Sure, it is an eleven-man team, not a one-man team. But in Montréal, there is one particular player who consistently makes the difference between a loss and a draw, or a draw and a win. That overwhelming influence falls on the shoulders of Ignacio Piatti.

The Impact have been incredibly lucky. In Piatti’s time with the club he has missed remarkably few matches due to injury. However, the 2019 campaign has not been so kind to the player.

Following the third match of the season, when Piatti scored his second and third goals for the team, he was sidelined for a total of ten matches due to injury, and then a setback in his rehabilitation.

For those of us who had followed the team since his 2015 arrival, we began to sing the familiar chorus of “No Piatti, No Party” — losing your leading goalscorer and team MVP for nearly a third of the MLS campaign is bound to hurt anyone, but when a team is so dependent on one player to provide their goals, it hurts even more.

The Impact’s 4-4-2 record in Piatti’s absence came as a surprise to just about everyone on the outside looking in, particularly taking into account that seven of those matches took place on the road. Although coach Rémi Garde and the players have preached a collective effort and mentality, history was not on their side.

During Piatti’s absence, the Impact have both recorded their first-ever MLS regular season win at Red Bull Arena, and have also been humiliated with a 7-1 drubbing in Kansas City. They’ve recorded six shutouts, but have also only scored 9 goals in the aforementioned time period.

In the absence of their primary goalscorer, all eyes have been on the Impact’s more offensive-minded players to see who would pick up Piatti’s torch. Indeed, Omar Browne provided flashes of technique and scored a goal before falling to injury. Anthony Jackson-Hamel got off the mark before de facto starting striker Maxi Urruti. Urruti, remains stuck at one goal on the season, despite notching five assists.

Garde’s former protegé, Harry Novillo, has been a resounding disappointment, while Bologna loanee Orji Okwonkwo has used speed and power to overcome a series of fullbacks on the right wing. Still, all of that potential has by and large fallen short in that crucial moment in front of the goal.

Undoubtedly, the saving grace for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir is the fact that the team has been more defensively sound this season. Although the team has been on the receiving end of several results that are anything but flattering, Evan Bush is already more than halfway toward catching up with his personal best 10 shutouts that were recorded last season.

Again, it feels wrong to complain about a totally respectable record, taking into account how many other players on the team are carrying injuries and not playing at full fitness. Yet somehow, it still doesn’t feel like enough. The Impact’s third place in the Eastern Conference feels far from set in stone, especially with many teams climbing up the rankings with matches in hand.

With Piatti’s return, here’s hoping his presence is the impetus for the Impact to get their scoring mojo back before the mass exodus of players for the impending Gold Cup.

Next match: Friday, May 24th at LAFC.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Dynamo Dig Into Depth, Come Up With Three Points

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Houston Dynamo best D.C. United, 2-1

The Honduran influence on the Houston Dynamo is undeniable. The team has leaned heavily on the camaraderie and cohesion of their Honduran recruits in the last couple of years, but Saturday night’s match against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United required Houston to mix up its lineup and call on their depth outside of the Catrachos sphere.

Maynor Figueroa, the club’s newest Honduran player, received the news at the end of Wednesday night’s match that his father had lost his battle with cancer. A veteran defender, fans expected him to be a backup in support of some of our younger center-backs, but Figueroa has been a powerful force starting in 13 matches so far this season.

The team paid tribute to Figueroa’s father with black armbands and a special team photo ahead of the match. His absence against D.C. was the first hurdle Houston’s lineup would face.

Fans were thrilled Saturday to see our two Honduran forwards – Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis – finally paired up again in the lineup. This excitement was short lived, however, as Elis took a hard knock less than a minute into the match that led to his removal. Homegrown player Memo Rodriguez replaced him in the eleventh minute.  

The Dynamo defense managed well in the first half, their offense lined up chance after chance but were not able to finish, and the first half ended with a no goal tie.

The second half started seemingly before the Dynamo defense was ready, as Wayne Rooney took advantage of too much space and scored in the 46th minute. The Houston defense woke up after that and held DC United to the single goal while the offense continued to work to find a payoff from several chances.

Searching for an answer to the finish, Coach Wilmer Cabrera pulled our remaining Honduran forward out of the match just past the hour mark. Tommy McNamara replaced Romell Quioto in the 66th minute, and the match pace changed completely.

The Dynamo found the goal they had been looking for in the 67th minute from early sub Memo Rodriguez. And just one minute later, the second substitution paid off with Tommy Mac scoring his first Dynamo goal with a show of pure will, battling United’s Hamid for a cross at the far post and joining the ball in the back of the net.

Photo Credit: Leslie Chairez

While the Dynamo are having an amazing start to 2019 and are still undefeated at home, this match is a landmark in the squad’s season. Lingering questions around their depth were answered and the men in orange proved that personnel changes in any of their lines can be mastered.

Even the unfortunate loss of our playmaker Alberth Elis was managed, which may be important as many expect to see him traded in the summer transfer window. The boost of securing three points against the top team in the Eastern Conference is just what Houston needed.

Hopefully, the Dynamo will take this confidence with them on the road as we visit Minnesota next Saturday night.   

Featured image: @Its_Leslieeeee

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Sounders grab 3 points at home from heavily rotated Orlando


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Seattle Sounders defeat Orlando City 2-1 at CenturyLink Field

The Seattle Sounders took 3 points in their mid-week home game against an Orlando City side who made 11 changes from their previous game.

Injuries continued to plague the Sounders this week as Chad Marshall, Gustav Svensson and Victor Rodriguez were left out of the 18, all of whom play an important role in Seattle’s ideal starting XI. The return of Raul Ruidiaz was a welcome sight for fans, as was seeing him get back in to scoring form.

Brad Smith continued to shine offensively and found great chemistry with Harry Shipp down the left wing. While Smith was credited with an assist here, his positive contributions to the Sounders offense has been more than the game score sheets show.

Whether with Victor Rodriguez or Harry Shipp in front of him, Smith has made an incredible impact down the left wing. It can’t be said enough how vital the retention of his loan from Bournemouth will be for the Sounders in the second half of the season.

The Sounders went in to halftime leading 1-0, but coach Brian Schmetzer stated to the sideline reporter he believed they should be leading “at least 2-0.” Both Nico Lodeiro and Harry Shipp missed sitters, but the lead was still maintained heading to the locker room.

In the 53rd minute, Jordan Morris went down with a non-contact injury and his physical and facial reactions indicated all was not well with the homegrown player. Handwalla Bawana substituted in for Morris, who was filmed in tears on the sideline bench. In post-match comments, Schmetzer stated the injury was a hamstring and would be followed up with an MRI.

While there is no indication this injury was due to the aging turf, it cannot be said enough that continuing to play on turf will negatively impact the team and the city. Any hope at a city selection for the probable North America World Cup bid would hinge on playing surface quality. Also, the United States National Teams both issued recent statements saying they would not play on any turf surfaces or with grass laid over turf. This eliminates Seattle from any future National Team games.

Turf rant over. Back to game notes. In the 67th minute after replacing Jordan Morris, Bwana finished off a BEAUTIFUL (and powerful) cross from Nicolas Lodeiro and extended the Sounder’s lead to 2-0.

While Orlando would grab a goal of their own in in the 75th minute thanks to Chris Mueller, the Sounders held off further efforts by Orlando and finished the game with a 2-1 victory.

The Rave Green travel to Philadelphia on a quick turn around for their next match on Saturday with a kickoff of 4:30 PM PST. This road game begins a month of away games for the Sounders who will travel to Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas and Montreal Impact before returning home on June 29th for a Cascadia match against Vancouver Whitecaps.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

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Dynamo and Timbers Draw, 1-1, In Houston

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The Houston Dynamo and the Portland Timbers are two of the most intense clubs currently playing in MLS. Houston is an underrated squad on a hot-streak with a lot to prove, while Portland is an MLS late model flagship that had a rough start to the 2019 season, frantic to regain status.

When two groups like this meet, especially in the steamy humidity of a late spring Houston evening, tempers rise with the temperature and teams often play powderkeg matches just waiting for a spark.

The match was predictably physical, and the Dynamo once again showed off their offensive dominance in the first half. Portland’s defenders were pushing hard, but the Dynamo were relentless. The incessant Dynamo offense paid off in the 40th minute when Mauro Manotas scored his sixth goal of the season.

The Timbers’s number 4 defender, Jorge Villafaña, stuck to Houston’s Alberth Elis in the early part of the match with aggressive tactics I haven’t seen since the dance floor at my last college party. His handsy defense moved on to cover Boniek Garcia later in the half which would be the spark that this match was waiting for.

Of all of the players on the Dynamo roster, Oscar Boniek Garcia is known for his likability and consistently happy demeanor. The Honduran native is known to play with a smile on his face, so the early signs of hostility toward the Timbers were apparent to most fans around the stadium.

His usual sportsmanlike play was replaced with rough challenges and post-drop stare-downs. As the captain’s patience faded, the rest of the team seemed to match his mood and the play on the field began to show lots of strain.

Even the halftime break was not enough to cool tempers for the Portland or Houston players as the rough play continued with the start of the second half whistle.

At 50 minutes, after a tough challenge in the midfield left Dynamo player Tomas Martinez on the pitch, Portland denied to play the ball out while he recovered. This led to lots of words and more than a few shoves exchanged between several of the players, but no cards were issued as a result of the dust up.

Contentious matches like this one should be controlled by the officials, who can maintain fairness and hold players to a reasonable standard. In this match, the players and the match were in the hands of well-known referee Ted Unkel.

The eccentric officiating favored both and neither teams at different points in the match, and Unkel ultimately concluded the match with no radio after tossing it to the sideline late in the second half.

Portland leveled the match shortly after a 65th minute substitution brought on their recent Argentinian acquisition Brian Fernández, and the match concluded with the 1-1 draw. While both teams played desperately for all three points, I consider the match to be a lucky draw – the real win being both teams walking away with no serious injuries and no disciplinary suspensions.

The Dynamo’s depth will be tested again at their third match in eight days against D.C. United on Saturday at home.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

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FC Dallas’ game-changing result after playing New York Red Bulls

Official FC Dallas Reporter

By Abigail Kistner// @abruhcadabruhh

With FC Dallas back at home, I was ready to get back to Toyota Stadium and witness another win for the team. Since I’ve only began following this team for the 2019 season, and FC Dallas had been undefeated at home, I hadn’t seen Dallas lose in person, and I didn’t expect that to change.

Clearly, I was incorrect…

With an upsetting 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls, Dallas takes their first loss at home. However, FC Dallas’ game is a work in progress, and we’re going to go in depth with play analysis, statistics, and what’s to come for the next game against Los Angeles FC.

To begin the game, FC Dallas had an interesting lineup for their team. With a 4-3-3, Dallas replaced Carlos Gruezo with Jacori Hayes in the midfield, and this replacement was actually pretty well prepared. However, Ryan Hollingshead replaced Michael Barrios as a right wing, and this showed many issues for FC Dallas.  

Within 12 minutes of the game, New York scores a goal by Cristian Casseres Jr. Some issues in the front in midfield led to this goal, as Jacori Hayes assisted defense with Reggie Cannon to cover Andreas Ivan from NYRB. Unfortunately, Ivan passes to Casseres and gets the first goal of the game, leading New York 1-0.

By the thirty minute mark, Dom Badji (up top) became injured, and (thankfully) Jesus Ferreira subbed in. Two minutes after the 45 minute mark, Hayes assists Jesus Ferreira in a goal that ties up the game by halftime.

Starting back up after halftime, New York scores by the 58th minute. With Reto Ziegler’s late attempt to close down New York’s Michael Murillo, the ball gets shot and goes in with the help of Sean Nealis, allowing the Red Bulls to lead 2-1. And, to end the game, New York scores again as Matt Hedges is unable to hold the ball before New York comes and takes it back. As Bryan Acosta and Thomas Roberts (subbed for Jacori Hayes) help out Reto Ziegler with a failed attempt to get the ball back. New York scores the final goal by Brian White, making the ending score 3-1.

Some noticeably crucial findings as I viewed this game was the lack of eagerness within FC Dallas. Perhaps, with New York changing 10 out of their original starting 11, Dallas assumed they would have an easy win. The most hungry I saw the team was when Zdenek Ondrasek subbed in for Ryan Hollingshead. ‘The Cobra’ came out with an intense attitude, and with 16 touches and 2 shots (one on goal) within 26 minutes, this is probably the best we’ve seen him play, and his outcomes solely reflect his eager attitude in the game.

Overall, seeing Ryan  Hollingshead up top as a wing was a very disappointing position for him. With the idea for Hollingshead to drop back, the temporary right wing was shut down almost every single time by his defender, Kyle Duncan. As well as missing a shot on goal, Hollingshead provided little to no support for Dallas in this game.

One more thing to point out was Thomas Robert’s play as he was brought in. As I personally viewed his performance from the Dallas Beer Guardians supporter section, I could see intentionally physical play from Roberts, and not in the professional way. With several remarks to players, as well as pushing and throwing elbows, it’s clear that the 18 year old Roberts has a lot of growing up to do as he continues his career.

As the next game comes up against LAFC, Dallas has a lot to work on before playing the current best team in MLS. With a 21+ goal difference and only losing one game so far, LAFC has a clear advantage to FC Dallas. However, Luchi Gonzalez definitely has some tricks up his sleeve, and seeing Dallas take LAFC head on will be an enjoyable game nonetheless.

Featured image: @FCDallas

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Sounders hold off Dynamo with 1-0 victory and roster rumbles


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Take a bow, Cristian! The Seattle Sounders rode the wave of Roldan’s 5th minute golazo all the way to the 90th minute to a 1-0 win over the Houston Dyanmo.

The Sounders were strong defensively as Houston had Sounders fans holding their breath and sighing with relief several times in both halves. Chad Marshall was left out of the team 18 for the second consecutive game, but Roman Torres gave a solid performance.

As always, Stefen Frei came up big in goal and kept the all-important shutout, helping the Sounders claim 3 more points and gain traction in the Western Conference standings.

Both sides had offensive chances throughout the game, although the score remained unchanged after Roldan’s 5th minute rocket. The only other notable event was Victor Rodriguez being substituted in the 15th minute with a hamstring injury. Rodriguez just recently returned from concussion protocol, so picking up a new injury is not something Sounders fans were happy to see.

After 11 games played, Seattle sit in third place in the Western Conference tied on points with the second place Galaxy and 5 points behind first place LAFC. However, the Sounders go in to the upcoming week with a game-in-hand that they will play at home on Wednesday against Orlando City.

The upcoming week is important for the Sounders to claim points. Taking at least 4 points from both games would move the Sounders to second place. With the Galaxy hitting a run of bad form lately behind injuries to Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos, the upcoming week is a vital time to pass them in the Western Conference Standings.

League leaders LAFC are on a hot streak that doesn’t seem to be burning out and with rumors that Carlos Vela might not be called up for international summer duty, the Sounders need to grab points while they can to catch the Black-and-Gold.

Injuries are still plaguing the Sounders starting XI that played so dominantly at the start of the season. Gustav Svensson is out for an undisclosed amount of time, Victor Rodriguez has picked up his third injury of the season, and Chad Marshall missed his second game in a row with a knee injury. On the positive, Raul Ruidiaz returned from a month long injury and Will Bruin substituted in for Ruidiaz, marking his return after several weeks injured as well.

Reinforcements in former Sounders wingback, Joevin Jones, and Ecuadorian centerback, Xavier Arreaga, will arrive some time in the next few weeks. Sounders fans were notably surprised to see Arreaga receive a DP tag, especially as the team currently has 4 centerbacks on their roster (Torres, Marshall, Kim and Campbell).

How and when Arreaga will be utilized is unclear, but some fans have speculated on Chad’s retirement coming earlier than the end of the season. Spending the money on a DP caliber defender seems ridiculous if he isn’t in Seattle’s immediate plans, but no clear statement has been made from the front office.

Jones played predominantly as a left-back for the Sounders and occasionally as a left wing, but played almost exclusively the latter during his time in Germany. It’s likely the Sounders will use him as a variation for Rodriguez or if Brad Smith‘s loan from Bournemouth can’t be extended this summer as the Sounders have vocally said they would like to see happen.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

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Paul Arriola Leads D.C. United to a 1-0 Win Over Sporting Kansas City at Home

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Paul Arriola, the tenacious 24-year-old Californian, made the game winning goal for D.C United in the 78’ during a tough match against Sporting Kansas City. Attendance at Audi Field was not at its best Sunday night, with a recorded total of just over 12,500. Any variety of factors could have been to blame: Mother’s Day, Game of Thrones, or the chilly weather that belonged back in early March. 

With numerous Sporting KC starters missing due to injury on the team’s first visit to Audi Field, it would have been easy for D.C. United to underestimate the depleted team. Instead, the Black-and-Red exhibited a real sense of urgency on the pitch, as D.C. needed a win to keep pace with the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference Standings. (Both teams currently are in possession of 23 points.)

The first half of the match saw a focused D.C. United trying to break through holes in Sporting’s defenses and the veritable brick wall that is Tim Melia. Sporting’s Dániel Sallói was shown a yellow card early, in the 11’, for dragging D.C.’s creative Leonardo Jara back.

Shortly after, Captain Wayne Rooney took a beauty of a free kick in the 14’, only to have his effort thwarted by the talented Melia. The first half continued to slip away, with both D.C. and SKC unable to find an opening. At halftime, the score stood at 0-0.

As the second half started, the weather deteriorated further and pouring rain pummeled the pitch. While the Black-and-Red faithful remained, many in ponchos, a good number of fans exited Audi Field, unwilling to suffer any longer. The pitch became slick, sending players sliding and giving both D.C. and Sporting a tough time. Medics were called onto the field numerous times as players went down hard. Although there were a few scares, everyone emerged from the match relatively unscathed. 

Just when it looked like D.C. would have to accept a draw, Paul Arriola curled the ball in past Melia. The shot was the ‘something special’, in the words of Ben Olsen, that the Black-and-Red needed to surpass Vermes’ team and take three points for the District. For fans that had been braving the elements all evening, Arriola’s goal immediately injected a sense of warmth into the crowd at Audi Field. Defender Russell Canouse, said, “It was unbelievable. Once it left his foot, we had the feeling that it was going in.”

After scoring, Arriola immediately sent up his love to his late father, Arturo, who passed away late last year. Lifting his cleat to his ear and pointing skyward, there was no doubt who Arriola was dedicating his goal to.

Arriola’s goal is his third this season, bringing him even with Luciano Acosta. Only Captain Wayne Rooney has scored more in 2019. Arriola said, “This time last year, I don’t even think I had a goal. So, it feels good…But more importantly, today was a complete team performance. In the end, it’s not about who wins it, it’s which team wins it.” 

According to Head Coach Ben Olsen, Arriola is establishing himself as a viable option in terms of scoring goals for D.C. United. ‘Lucharoo’ (Acosta and Rooney) have been systematically marked in almost every match, making it more difficult for the duo to create chances on goal. Their dynamic partnership led to D.C. United climbing the Eastern Conference Standings in 2018 to a playoff berth and other teams have taken note. Arriola’s ability to create chances and to distract from the pair remains an incredible asset for D.C. United as the season progresses.

Sunday night was a true team effort for D.C. United, with every player contributing substantially to the team’s success. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid logged his 60th career clean sheet (and 6th this season), placing him 11th in all-time shutouts in MLS.  Ulises Segura and Chris Durkin saw minutes in the second half. Talented homegrown player Durkin will head off to the U20 FIFA World Cup later this month. 

Marquinhos Pedroso, D.C. United’s recently acquired defender from FC Dallas, put in a solid 90-minute performance, adding much needed coverage to the backline. Pedroso brings a wealth of international experience to the team. He has played in his home country of Brazil, as well as Hungary and Turkey. Olsen was pleased with Pedroso’s performance in the match, saying, “I certainly enjoyed watching him.” The defender’s presence allowed D.C. to return to their comfortable formation on the pitch with a four-man backline.

D.C. United is about to hit the road for two matches, on Wednesday against Toronto and on Saturday against Houston, in what Olsen calls ‘silly scheduling.’ When asked how he would deal with his first true travel test since coming to MLS, Captain Wayne Rooney just smiled. “When you’ve got four kids at home, and you’re used to flying with four kids, yeah, any flight is easy without them.” 

D.C. United plays Toronto FC this Wednesday, May 15th, and then moves on to face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, May 18th.

Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

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Sporting KC falls in tough 1-0 loss on the road

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City fell to D.C. United in a steep 1-0 loss on a rainy afternoon at Audi Field on Sunday night.

The injury list continues to grow with Graham Zusi now joining the ranks due to an oblique injury. Although both veterans (Matt Besler and Zusi) were listed as questionable, neither one appeared in the eighteen – giving Ilie Sanchez the opportunity to wear the captain’s band for the first time. The match also marked Seth Sinovic‘s 200th career MLS start. As well, introduced an old friend back to the lineup, Benny Feilhaber.

English captain Wayne Rooney was the first to test Tim Melia in the 14th minute – when he fired a strike from 25 yards out. Fortunately, the 31-year-old keeper made a full-stretch save to punch the ball away from the danger. Melia would go on to make a total of three saves.

Given ten players were out due to injury and only four players, including the goalkeeper, available on the bench, Sporting KC did well to hold the host scoreless into the second half.

Paul Arriola would finally break the goalless drought in the 78th minute when Wayne Rooney passed a perfect ball to Arriola, who then tucked it in the net by mere inches.

The goal gave the visitors an energy boost as they went on to create two solid opportunities in the final twelve minutes. But it wouldn’t be enough. Krisztian Nemeth instantly received a chance to equalize when he jumped on a giveaway and carried the ball toward goal, but his near-post shot goes wide.

A final chance at redemption saw late-half substitute Kelyn Rowe curl in a ball into a crowded box to find Graham Smith, but his header goes wide ending the match in a 1-0 loss.

Sporting KC’s winless skid continues. Now the club will have a three-game stretch at home, so hopefully, they can pick up some points at CMP before heading on the road for four-straight matches. First up, the club will host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 18.

Featured image: @sportingkc

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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

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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

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