Winning While Waterlogged

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Saturday, June 17: 2-1 Win

This game should not have been played.

It’s great that it was, considering NYCFC came away with three crucial points to propel them to third place in the Eastern Conference and overall, but at the end of the day it really should not have continued past half-time. It poured buckets on Yankee Stadium, and the pitch more resembled a small lake than anything else. Players were kicking up waves of water when they went for the ball, which often skidded to a stop long before it reached its destination. At one point is was said that the match would be suspended if the ball stopped moving entirely.

Which… happened. And yet the match continued! Whatever, I guess. Let the water ballet commence.

Both teams had difficulty acclimating to the conditions, which made for a match that was somehow both extremely sloppy and woefully boring to watch. Aside from the slow-motion loping across the pitch that led to Cristian Roldan‘s goal, very little in the first half stood out. NYCFC’s best (read: least awful) chance came during stoppage time, when David Villa pinged the ball off the crossbar.

There was some concern bubbling up that it would be another one of Those Matches for NYCFC, coming hot off the heels of the U.S. Open Cup loss to the New York Red Bulls. Missed chances, deflections off the post, and bad luck compounding on top of awful weather. Nobody wanted to see that again. We came to be entertained.

Villa heard the call, come on New York, and he responded in kind.

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image of David Villa courtesy: @NYCFC

Debate all you want about NYCFC’s equalizer, which came off a penalty call early on in the second half. Contention over referee decisions is the most boring part of football to me. The only hill I’ll die on is that Villa wasn’t diving — in fact, he clearly gets up and keeps going for the ball after he gets knocked down. Which, you know. Kind of defeats the purpose of a dive. He’s grown a lot since he was going for Olympic gold in diving back at FC Barcelona, guys. He isn’t that guy anymore. (Thank god. I hated that guy.)

But nobody can deny the majesty that was Villa’s second goal of the night. Jack Harrison was at his Jack Harrisonest, coolly fighting off Seattle Sounders FC defenders to create space where no space previously existed, and when he sent the ball across the face of the goal, an entirely unmarked Villa was there to chip it in.

I find it funny that teams don’t mark Villa every second of every game. He’s the greatest DP in the history of the league, guys. If you don’t want to mark him, that’s fine, more goals for us — but it makes you look pretty foolish when he’s consistently wide open.

Regardless, that sealed the deal for NYCFC. Ugo attempted to net a third toward the end of the match, but after a great save from Stefan Frei, the ball ping-ponged about in the box to no result. Chad Marshall had Seattle’s best attempt at a final equalizer in the very last seconds of the game, but it wasn’t meant to be. After Villa’s second goal, the clouds broke over Yankee Stadium and the sun shone down on the boys in blue, weak but insistent. A sign, surely, that things were meant to go their way.

A few bits and bobs, while I have your attention:

  • David Villa now has over fifty goals for NYCFC, and you can watch them all here. Can you pick a favorite? I can’t. Every little thing he does is magic. (Also a cool stat: He’s never gone longer than a playable month without scoring since NYCFC began. What a guy.)
  • I’ve seen conflicting reports on the length of Alex Ring‘s contract with NYCFC, but whether it’s one year or two years, here’s my suggestion: Extend it for five more and keep him forever and never ever let him leave. Despite Villa’s brace, Ring was my Man of the Match against Seattle. I don’t even know how many duels he won. At some point it feels futile to keep count.
  • Alexander Callens is currently my favorite NYCFC player on social media. Why? That boy loves Dragon Ball Z. He loves it. And now he’s graduated from snapping himself drawing watching DBZ episodes and drawing DBZ characters to posting DBZ fanart of himself. I’m so endeared, it’s absurd.
  • (Disclaimer about how you could not pay me enough to care an iota about either of the US NTs goes here, and how writing about MLS does nothing to change that.) T-Mac and Sean Johnson have been named for the Gold Cup provisional squad! Who knows if they will make the final cut or not. It’s an honor just to be nominated.
  • A bit preemptive, but in July I’ll be guesting on the hilarious Blue Balls podcast! Gaby Kirschner guested on their most recent episode and it’s my favorite so far. If you’re a NYCFC fan, please give them a listen!

Next week is the Hudson River Derby (again?) at Red Bull Arena (again??) and… yours truly will be MIA due to moving house. But fear not! We do have Sylvana over in the NYRB section, who I’m sure will do a bang-up job writing about the match no matter what color New York ends up being next weekend.

It’s blue, though. It’s always blue.

Featured image courtesy: nycfc.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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This Win is So Metro

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @whitezinwench

Wednesday, June 14th: 1-0 Win

Derby.

Dar-bee.

New York Derby.

Metropolitan Derby.

Hudson River Derby.

I’d pay NBC Sports anchor Rebecca Lowe five bucks to record the words “Hudson River Derby.”

I was in the press box for this New York matchup. The press access is a completely different experience than any I’ve had at Red Bull Arena. The only rule was that I couldn’t be a fan– business casual dress, no fan gear, no asking for autographs or selfies. A fair trade for the view. There was food and drink available, as well as a workspace for taking notes during the game. I fully enjoyed the game from my unique vantage point, and I look forward to having the opportunity to visit the press box again.

The New York Red Bulls (6-7-2, 20 points) took on NYCFC (7-5-3, 24 points) in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup, a tournament open to professional and amateur soccer clubs throughout the US. It’s a time for Cinderella stories (like Christos FC and the LA Wolves, coached by US Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda), but it’s also an opportunity to get in some extra battles between regional rivals.

There was no doubt this game was going to be chippy. I don’t think the fans would have it any other way. Having a colleague who is the official reporter for NYCFC, I can appreciate a healthy amount of banter. This is not the first time I have been to Red Bull Arena for a matchup against NYCFC. It was electric even then, the hottest day of summer 2016. But this was a much more comfortable evening in more ways than one. Gathering up my gumption, I applied for a media pass and got approved. So, on a much cooler evening, I got to see the game from the press box just above the Red Bulls bench. 

Biggest news of the evening is the end of the Iron Man streak: Goalkeeper Luis Robles did not take his place in goal after 155 straight matches. Ryan Meara, GK for the USL-trophy winning RBNYII, took his place in the net. While he had his work cut out for him, Meara was up for the challenge, making 3 saves throughout the game. Most notably was in the 16th minute, when NYC midfielder Tommy McNamara nailed a shot at Meara, who caught enough of it to send it bouncing off the crossbar and the ground a couple of times before getting cleared. I can’t help but wonder if the moment will be used in the argument for VAR. Then in the 40th minute, NYC striker hit the far post and Meara grabbed the ball as it bounced out again. The goal frame proved a formidable member of the RBNY defense.

During the entire first half, RBNY was capable of breaking up the counterattack but they were subsequently running more than playing (a common complaint in MLS).

After a scoreless first half, Dani Royer was subbed in for Grella at kickoff for the 2nd half. The expected chippiness of the rivalry continued to grow, with a total of 29 fouls committed by both sides.

Tyler Adams, fresh off his run with USMNT U20s, continues to amaze in the defense. Adams’ frustration was visibly increasing in the attacking third. From my vantage point, I could see what Adams was trying to create, but his teammates just weren’t cooperating.

Finally, the stalemate was broken by a goal in the 67th minute from Royer following an assist from forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. BWP lured NYC GK Sean Johnson off his line and allowed Royer to tuck it home. RBNY were able to hang onto that lead for the rest of the match and advance to the Round of 16, where they will face the Philadelphia Union. As for NYC, they’ll be back for league play on the 24th, the game following RBNY’s next league match on Sunday the 18th, against…. the Philadelphia Union.

I guess that’s what is known as the “magic of the Cup”.

Featured image from press box courtesy: Sylvana Budesheim

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

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“A Safe Win”

Mercy Payba - Philadelphia Union/mlsfemale
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Mercy Payba // @mercpay

Wednesday, June 14: 3-1 Win

As I mentioned in my getting to know me post, my first match watching the Philadelphia Union was an Open Cup match, so I get inordinately excited to watch the boys in blue in this tournament. Wednesday’s match against the Harrisburg City Islanders was an expected win with ample minutes for some fresh faces.

Andre Blake was still on duty with the Jamaican national team, so the starting goalie for the night was John McCarthy, who would be very familiar with the City Islanders through his time with the Union’s USL side: Bethlehem Steel. Haris Medunjanin continued to wear the captain’s armband through the absence of Alejandro Bedoya (recovering from a tweak during international play with the U.S.) Up top, Jay Simpson, CJ Sapong and Marcus Epps took care of the offense. It was Epps’ first start for the Union and he did an excellent job to connect with Derrick Jones up the right side of the field.

Keegan Rosenberry got a start as Ray Gaddis was resting on the bench and Josh Yaro got his first start of the season for the Union after a long injury setback. Giliano Wijnaldum took over as leftback for Fabinho and Roland Alberg was back in the midfield to help Haris Medunjanin and Derrick Jones deliver the ball.

The Union goals came early with a distance shot from Derrick Jones that was unable to be stopped by Harrisburg’s Sean Lewis. Simpson recorded his first assist with Jones’ goal and his second by cutting across the box and finding Sapong, who had no problem getting the ball into the back of the net.

Harrisburg wasn’t sitting on their hands though, as Johnny Mendoza helped the USL team get one back in the 37th minute of play. The defensive breakdown from a counter isn’t exactly a surprising move by the Union, but something tells me the switch of Jack Elliott to work with Wijnaldum on the left contributed to the mistak

While the Union’s defense still needs some experimenting, the attack prospered with the new combination of Simpson, Sapong, and rookie Marcus Epps. Epps got the third goal for Philadelphia just minutes into the second half with a cheeky toe-in past Lewis for his career first. Simpson had some good looks on goal without any luck, but I think his awareness of the space in the final third along with helping with giving the other’s team defense someone else to worry about will be key for the rest of Philadelphia’s season.

Another stand out player in this game for me was Derrick Jones working with Haris Medunjanin in the midfield. It was a different role for Jones, more fluidity in his responsibilities unlike what we’ve seen from him previously. I would argue we saw more of what Jones could bring to the table beyond defensive capabilities. With Bedoya still off the roster, Medunjanin and Jones had to juggle around the number 8 position and their usual duties. Jones had a high passing accuracy along with a couple of clearances that helped keep the game in the Union’s favor.

John McCarthy also pulled off some great saves to keep the scoreline 3-1 when Mendoza’s cross landed at Pedro Ribeiro’s feet in the box. Philadelphia also had a bit of luck when a rebounded header from Josh Grosh hit the crossbar. McCarthy had six saves in the game and most of those came in the second half as Harrisburg wasn’t willing to leave Talen without a fight.

The Union suffered a 2-1 loss in New York before the international break at the hands of NYCFC and this weekend, the New York Red Bulls come to Talen fresh off of their USOC win against NYC. This will be the second game against the NYRB in the season. Their last meet-up was in May, when CJ Sapong got a hattrick and the Union broke their winless streak. Philadelphia will also meet the Red Bulls for the next round of the Open Cup on June 28th.

My prediction: We’ll really make that rivalry label stick and get the win at home.

Featured image of Jones and Epps courtesy: @PhilaUnion

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @mercpay

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U.S. Oh, Who Cares?

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Wednesday, June 14: 1-0 Loss

Honesty is my only policy, so let me start this as honestly as possible: I just don’t care about the U.S. Open Cup.

Is that a side effect of New York City FC never making it past the first game? Probably. But even if they did manage to make the third time the charm and pull through, I can all but entirely guarantee I still wouldn’t care. Cups don’t have to feel like afterthoughts to leagues — the Coppa Italia sure isn’t — but this one absolutely does. It isn’t enthralling, it isn’t interesting, and if clubs themselves don’t care, why should I?

But here we are. And to their credit, NYCFC did care this time. Patrick Vieira put out a full-force starting eleven, and the New York Red Bulls responded in kind. Looking at the lineups, you could easily mistake it for a derby in the league. (By the way, that’s in a week and a half.) So that’s nice! Great to see both teams taking the Cup seriously!

That’s about where the great things end.

The boys in blue found themselves victims of utterly terrible luck. Early on in the first half, David Villa delivered an inch-perfect pass that landed gracefully at the feet of an unmarked Tommy McNamara. T-Mac wound up, T-Mac kicked, T-Mac somehow managed to ping the ball off the crossbar, then the ground, then the crossbar again, then the ground again. A perfect vertical arc that kept the ball squarely out of the net.

From that point on, it was fated to be that kind of game. As the first half was dying down, Villa’s otherwise brilliant shot on goal deflected off the post and went straight into Ryan Meara‘s arms. At the other end of the pitch, the Red Bulls did their fair share of testing NYCFC as well. Sean Johnson made several stunning saves, and all told, it was a strong showing from both sides over those first forty-five minutes.

Then Maxi Moralez went down with an injury before the break, and things rapidly fell apart.

There’s not much that can be said about the second half. With John Stertzer coming in to replace Maxi (and only lasting twenty weak minutes before getting subbed off himself) the midfield couldn’t connect, and NYCFC were pinned back in their own half more often than not. It was only a matter of time before the Red Bulls beat them back, and god, did they ever.

In typical gutsy fashion, Johnson came off his line to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips, leaving an open goal that Daniel Royer capitalized on. Though we could all feel a Red Bulls goal coming, I wish it hadn’t been that kind of goal. It was embarrassing to be caught with an empty net, and what little Frédéric Brillant did to try to defend the line in Johnson’s stead was… well, too little by far.

Losing to the Red Bulls is familiar in the worst way. But, you know… It’s the Open Cup. Who cares?

Get it together for the derby, boys. Hit them where it really counts.

I can spare you a random thought or two:

  • Maxime Chanot picked up a hamstring injury during the international break, and I don’t think I’m being melodramatic when I say I want to burn down our back line without him. Too much? I don’t care. Bring back Mad Maxime!
  • Obvious observation is obvious, but Stertzer’s substitution was useless and wasted a potentially valuable slot that could have been used to bring in Jon Lewis or Ugo sooner. I want to understand Vieira’s substitution logic, but sometimes I just don’t.
  • Saturday’s game against the Seattle Sounders also happens to fall on NYCFC’s Pride Day. In general, the commercialization of Pride is something I am entirely against — but NYCFC does a good job of not turning it into a cash grab, which they so easily could. As a queer football fan, seeing a team acknowledge the LGBTQIA+ history of the city they inhabit and the very real, very passionate sector of their fanbase is so heartening. To be acknowledged and validated is invaluable. Personally, I can’t wait for NYCFC’s first ever Pride Day. I have a feeling it’s going to be something really special. (And if we win on top of it, all the better!)
  • Anyway, who here’s seen The Producers? When I think of NYCFC and the U.S. Open Cup, I think of this:grx32x04r7yxez

For the next few days I’ll be salting the earth and praying that Nicolás Lodeiro doesn’t do Nicolás Lodeiro things to us when the Sounders come to town. Please, join me.

See you then!

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @lukacharms

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Who Are Those Guys?

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, June 10: 2-0 Win

That’s what I imagine FC Dallas was asking after they were soundly defeated at Providence Park last Saturday. The Portland Timbers, already missing two players on international duty (Darlington Nagbe and David Guzmán), lost two more in the course of the match. The match finished with several players who weren’t regular starters, and two right-footed defensive midfielders at center back: and somehow the team didn’t just win, but won decisively.

The lineup was predictable. With Nagbe away with the USMNT, Dairon Asprilla once again got the start on the wing; and with Guzmán away for the Costa Rican national team journeyman Lawrence Olum filled in at defensive midfield behind Diego Chara. Alvas Powell is apparently still in the doghouse for his poor decision-making on the field, giving Zarek Valentin the start again at right back. The other eight starters were more or less the usual suspects.

Adi Bomaye

At first it appeared that Fanendo Adi’s finishing might still be jinxed. With a beautiful feed from Liam Ridgewell, Adi chested the ball and fired at 5′ but was stopped by Dallas’ Jesse Gonzalez, who sent it over the bar for a corner kick. Gonzalez stopped Adi again at 15′ after Diego Valeri sent the ball through to him for another shot. Finally, though, at 32′, Sebastian Blanco fed Adi on the left. Adi stayed on his feet and sent it to the center of the goal for a score, ending his goal drought:

When Adi DOES score in a match, he’s just as likely to score a second, and he didn’t disappoint, putting away a beautiful score at 72′ to add to his total of braces in MLS:

As beautiful as both Asprilla’s cross and Adi’s cool, calm, collected finish were, my favorite part of the goal was the guy who didn’t touch the ball: Diego Chara. Watch that play again. Chara’s dummy in front of the goal is fabulous, drawing the defender away from Adi and forcing Gonzalez to stay to his left to prevent Chara from the easy score, which leads to Gonzalez leaping desperately to his right in a vain attempt to stop Adi when he realizes that Chara doesn’t touch the ball. Gonzalez’s dive to the corner of the box leaves him on the ground and helpless as Adi calmly takes another touch and sends the ball home.

“Disallowed Goal of the Year”

It was glorious to come away with a convincing 2-0 win; but oh, what might have been. Take a look at Valeri’s beautiful work on an almost-goal that was ultimately ruled a handball:

Poetry. Sheer poetry. I agree with @totalmls’s assessment that this might very well be the disallowed goal of the year.

The Replacements

I also have to give a shout out to the guys in the lineup who haven’t been starters for most of the season. Dairon Asprilla put in a solid game. Besides the assist on the second goal, he was a scoring threat himself, nearly putting it in at 41′ and forcing Gonzalez to tip it over the bar for the save.

And Zarek Valentin–oh, my goodness, did he put in a night’s work. He had a brilliant clearance off the line at 22′ after Jake Gleeson initially had the save but the ball continued to roll toward the line:

Finally, a word for our defensive midfielders and center backs (who in this case were mostly the same people). After Ridgewell went down at about 25′, Olum slid back to the center back position and Amobi Okugo came in at defensive midfield. Then, when Roy Miller took a knock from a pileup with Maxi Urruti, he never completely recovered and had to leave the game at 61′, leaving Okugo to slide back to the other center back position and bringing in Ben Zemanski as the third player during the match to line up at defensive midfield. It was crazy: we started the game with two left-footed centerbacks in front of our goal and ended it with two right-footed defensive midfielders in their place.

And yet, amazingly, they pulled it off. With only six regular starters on the field for the last 30-plus minutes, they managed to hold down the fort, protecting the clean sheet and leaving Dallas to look at the lineup and wonder:

 

Off the Pitch

With Pride Week in full effect, the Timbers Army had a tremendous display of support for equality in the stands:

And in the community, we also had a great deal to be proud of. The Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters (the supporters group for the Portland Thorns) marshalled a crew of volunteers and together completed two visitation rooms for foster children and their families at the DHS offices in Beaverton:

And, in a beautiful example of paying it forward, among the many volunteers were immigrants and refugees from IRCO’s Africa House. You may remember reading here earlier about the Timbers Army sponsoring IRCO teens at futsal back in March and April. Many of those same teens wanted to return the favor, and when they heard about the opportunity to volunteer for the foster care room makeover project, they jumped at the chance:

Finally, our match day drive was to help stock those foster care visitation rooms with supplies for kids:

Team. Town. Timbers Army. What a wonderful week, and a wonderful win. See you again after Tuesday’s Open Cup match!

Featured image courtesy: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid youtube

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

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In Bruce we Trust

Abigail Gerken - USWNT/mlsfemale
US National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken // @abigailgerken22

Sunday, June 11: 1-1 Draw

Lineup:
Brad Guzan
Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Tim Ream
Deandre Yedlin, Kellyn Acosta, Michael Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley
Paul Arriola (Darlington Nagbe, 63) , Bobby Wood (Jozy Altidore 79), Christian Pulisic (Graham Zusi, 90+2)

The USMNT faced off against Mexico at high altitude for a crucial World Cup Qualifying match. An hour before the match when the lineup was released on twitter, fans got a little nervous. There was a lot of questions surrounding this particular eleven with only 6 of the 11 who played against Mexico on November 11th, 2016. Some questions USA fans had were: Where is Clint Dempsey? Where is John Brooks? Where is Tim Howard? These ‘key’ players were replaced with the likes of Kellyn Acosta, Omar Gonzalez, and Brad Guzan.

Here are some quick theories on why I think Bruce Arena chose this lineup. The game takes place in Mexico City, Mexico which is 7,382 feet above sea level! It’s not an easy transition for someone who plays at for example, 581 feet above sea level (Clint Dempsey in Seattle, Washington). In this group of 23 guys, we have players who play in Mexico and who are already adapted to the altitude. So when you have two players who play the same position like Omar Gonzalez and John Brooks, and Omar Gonzalez plays at 8,000 feet altitude compared to John Brooks 300 feet, you’re going to go with Omar Gonzalez.

Also, there are several players who are on the verge of yellow card suspension. Those players are Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, Bradley, John Brooks and Cameron. So when you have players that have dependable replacements i.e John Brooks, you can save them from what we all know is a chippy rivalry match.

The doubt would quickly be set aside when Michael Bradley (Yes, Michael Bradley!) unleashed his inner Carli Lloyd and chipped the Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa from about 40 yards out in the 5th minute. I guess it is a captain America thing 😉

The lead didn’t last very long. In the 23rd minute after a missed chance for the US in the box, Mexico countered and Carlos Vela slotted a low ball into the right post.

Overall, the game was pretty chippy, but what else do you expect? It’s against Mexico and at Estadio Azteca in front of 71,537. However, there were only 2 yellow cards issued in this match, and both to the United States. DeAndre Yedlin got one in the 42nd minute for persistent infringement and Paul Arriola also got cautioned in the 56th.

After the results of this match, the United States are currently in 3rd place in the Hex with 8 points. There are 4 more games in the Hex, with the qualifiers concluding in October. The next USMNT World Cup Qualifying game is on September 1st against Costa Rica.

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @abigailgerken22

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Crew vs Rapids

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, June 3: 2-1 Loss

Another lead given away, another 3 points dropped, and the cries for a coaching change are growing louder as the Colorado Rapids defeated Columbus Crew SC 2-1 on Saturday night.  Berhalter sent out a different formation than normal, essentially a 3-4-2-1, with three centerbacks in the back—Williams, Crognale, and Naess

There wasn’t a ton to write back home about in the first half.  Crew SC had a few nice chances that they couldn’t seem to finish. 

  • In the 11’, Meram sent a pretty ball through to Kamara who just couldn’t get to it. 
  • Later in the 18’, Wil Trapp got a cleared ball from a Crew SC corner kick, sent a pass to Francis, who sent a gorgeous ball to Pipa, who got it to Kamara who just didn’t get it finished. 
  • In the 26’, Afful sent a mini-chip between two Rapid defenders to Higuain, who sent it to Meram.  However, it was intercepted by the defense before Meram could get to it. 

The Rapids were really limited in opportunities until the 30’ where they had multiple chances including one that forced Steffen to make a double save against Colorado’s Gashi in the 33’.  It’s difficult to explain, but I just didn’t sense extreme intensity radiating from anyone (outside of Pipa) during the first half until about the 33’ when the Rapids had multiple chances. 

The second half seemed to start with more intensity from both sides. 

  • In the 61’, Crew SC broke it open when Justin Meram sent a ball to Higuain who was left open slightly outside the Rapids 18. 
  • Pipa took the shot as Colorado’s Azira came in to challenge the ball. 
  • The shot deflected off of Azira into the Rapid’s net. 

I’m not going to lie.  At this point, I felt pretty good about the possibility of winning this game.  Colorado is at the bottom of the table, and while the Rapids had some good chances earlier in the game, I felt like we had limited their opportunities fairly well.  I had put the earlier leads lost by Crew SC behind me. 

Letting my guard down was a mistake as Colorado scored two goals between the 80’ and 86’.  The 80’ goal found Hairston running through the middle of the field without much of a challenge, allowing him to send the ball to Mo Saied, who crossed it to two Rapid players running unmarked to the backside of our goal where Kevin Doyle was able to finish it.  Then in the 86’, Gordon, essentially unmarked on the backside of the goal, headed the ball in giving Colorado the lead. 

Another lead that Crew SC let slip away.

Random thoughts:

  1. Before the game, I tweeted we should bring Mo Saied back with us.  I don’t know if he’d make a difference on the field for us or not, but I miss Mo’s positive presence.  I did find it amusing that the guy defending him for the majority of the night—Josh Williams–was one of the few Columbus defenders Mo never played with during his time with Crew SC. 
  2. Although our current Mo, Mohammed Abu, had what I thought was a solid game.  He flows much better with his teammates than he did earlier in the season.   
  3. Pipa continues a dominant 2017.  He played another good game and for that, and his game against Seattle, made MLS Team of the Week
  4. While Gregg rolled out a different formation, I wish he had also subbed a bit earlier especially in the higher elevation with a lead.
  5. I will be very disappointed if Meram and Pipa do not get chosen for the MLS All-Star team in some capacity.

Our next game is an Open Cup match against FC Cincinnati on June 14th.  I’m not sure what line up Berhalter will roll out as we have a MLS match against Atlanta United three days later.  Here’s to a win and all players staying healthy throughout that Open Cup game.  (I still miss watching you play Eddie Gaven.) 

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs Atlanta United

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Saturday, June 3: 3-1 Win

Let’s just start off with a slow clap for those who thought the game was out of town and didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t going. Yea, I am looking at me. Good thing I was able to record the game and watched it with the comfort of rewind to assure my amateur reffing skills are up to par.

Vancouver Whitecaps battled it out at home with Atlanta United, both teams sat at 7th place in their respective conferences, clawing their way into a playoff spot. It’s a long season, but every game is mission critical.

Whitecaps have put in a lot of extra time on the pitch with the beginning of the season bringing the CONCACAF champions league playoffs and recently adding two games, and travel, playing in the Canadian Championship. Now with the time to focus on the MLS, it seems like chemistry and rapport are starting to come together.

Last game came with some major frustration with it being one of those games where the ball just wouldn’t fall. One of those games that was decided with a single blow of a whistle. The goal post was a foe and the force was against us. The silver lining? The ‘Caps came out and they wanted it. Though, sometimes it’s double or nothing and the Caps felt that pressure with an early Atlanta goal.

The Costa Rican captain, Kendall Waston, takes on the task of getting the boys back in the game. Waston has been disciplined, calculated, and uplifting this season, as he steps up from the back to bury one when it was needed most. Scratch that, with the momentum of the first goal, he steps up to bury a second goal in just a 14 minute span. This time off a corner from Cristian Techera.

Going into the second half ‘Caps have a 2-1 lead. But what do you know, it wouldn’t be a Whitecap game without a penalty against us. The whistle while the ball is in your box is enough to paralyze any player, let alone looking up, and seeing the man in the middle pointing to that very distinctive spot just a few feet away from your keeper. It also wouldn’t be a Whitecap game with a little bit of drama. Drama here is defined by a referee calling a penalty, having 22 sweaty angry men surround you, then talking to the linesman, then saying JK JK. It’s all good, let’s forgot about what I just did and all play together in harmony.

The third Whitecap goal was icing on the cake, but also provided a bit of confusion. Did Tim Parker score? Did Fredy Montero score? I can tell you one thing, the Whitecaps scored!

Montero got the credit and Vancouver in all it’s glory got the lift in standing and in spirit.

Until next time, #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

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Slumping into the Break

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

Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, June 3rd: 1-0 Loss

MLS. It’s not the league of the road warrior. It’s ridiculously difficult to go into an opponent’s stadium and do well. Going into Stade Saputo, the New York Red Bulls (6-7-2, 20 points) had not won an away game since Opening Weekend (vs expansion team Atlanta United) and haven’t scored away since April 1st (in a 4-1 loss against Houston Dynamo).

The form that sent them to the playoffs, that won them the Supporter’s Shield twice in 3 years, and that fans saw coming back in their two most recent wins at home, is slipping away again. Facing the Montreal Impact (4-4-4, 16 points) didn’t make matters easier. This was the team that ousted RBNY from the playoffs last year, Red Bulls Midfielder Felipe’s former team, and the club that had traded to acquire Chris Duvall from RBNY.

During most of the game, the ball stayed on the right side of the field while the Red Bulls had possession. The problem with that is it kept Kemar Lawrence and Mike Grella out of the mix for most of the match. However, a lot of the responsibility fell to Michael Amir Murillo at RB, and he handled the job well. Considering the perceived instability of the back line, defenders Murillo, Lawrence, Aaron Long, and Damien Perrinelle held up quite well throughout the match. Even when Montreal midfielder Blerim Dzemaili made a goal in the 30th minute, it was not because the back line was sleeping on the throw in. Fortunately, the deflection off Dominic Oduro caused the goal to be called back for an offside play.

Following the match, Captain Sacha Kljestan admitted that the team cannot rely on striker Bradly Wright-Phillips to score all the goals; he and the other attackers have to pull their own weight. He should have pointed that out before the match: Grella attempted some fancy footwork in the 42nd minute, as if he was going to dribble the ball right past Impact GK Evan Bush. Then in the 50th minute, Kljestan himself either whiffed the ball or went for the assist: either way, the ball went wide and was another wasted opportunity. Even Felipe, who drew several fouls and took a few free kicks, couldn’t land the ball in the net.

And then, just what the Red Bulls feared came to fruition: in the 67th minute, the Impact earned a free kick and re-started faster than the Red Bulls thought they would. This allowed Dzemaili to poke the ball straight through to the back of the net. They were caught slow, lost, and behind the run of play.

Coach Jesse Marsch called in the reinforcements (Fred Gulbrandsen in for Sean Davis and Gonzalo Veron for Grella in the 75th minute) and the attack was back on. Had the game been maybe ten minutes longer, RBNY might have had a chance to level it. But then in stoppage time Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier slid off the field and fell into the Montreal bench (they have dugout-style benches very close to the touchline—I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often). While Bernier got up and walked out on his own, the incident killed the run of play and referee Mark Geiger did not add additional time to the three minutes already in place.

The International Break is coming up, and prior USMNT call-ups Luis Robles and Sacha Kljestan are staying home (Murillo has been called for Panama, and Lawrence is expected to be called for Jamaica). This is the time they need to rest and refocus. RBNY is hovering at the red line that dictates who makes the playoffs: while they’ve been there before, it’s not where they belong. They have what it takes to climb the standings. They just need to find it in themselves again.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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They Shaved Paradise

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Saturday, June 3: 2-1 win

New York City FC came up from behind to defeat Philadelphia Union with late game goals by defenders Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens, propelling them to second place in the Eastern Conference.

This pleases me. This pleases all of us.

However, there cannot be too much jubilation. It’s important to remember that this week, NYCFC suffered a tremendous loss.

Cult favorite, club legend, West Nyack’s own Tommy McNamara cut his hair.

If you’re suffering anywhere near as much as I am, I’d like to offer you a brief respite:

(Though TMac did earn his first USMNT call-up after shearing himself, so maybe his hair isn’t the source of his power? No. I refuse to believe this.)

Stay strong, everyone. We’ll all get through this together. See you next week for the U.S. Open Cup!

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

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