All posts by abigailgerken

Sounders 2-game recap

Abigail Gerken - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Abigail Gerken // @abigailgerken22

SEA VS VAN – 9/15/18 

On Saturday night, after a 2-1 Sounders victory against our rivals to the north, the Seattle Sounders winning streak continued to a new MLS record of 9 consecutive games. The 27 points in 9 games, has not only boosted the morale of the team and fans but has made a serious improvement in the playoff race. This streak and result from this game moved them into good playoff contention with arguably one of the easiest remaining schedules left.

Also, the Sounders officially clinched the Cascadia Cup trophy which is a fan-created trophy awarded to the team who does the best against the other Cascadia teams (Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle). This is their 3rd time winning it since all three teams entered MLS.

Raul Ruidiaz was exceptional for the Sounders as he scored a brace to lead the Sounders to their 9th consecutive win.

SEA VS PHI – 9/19/18

This miraculous winning streak came to an end as the Sounders lost 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night.

The Sounders suffered a couple first-half injuries to key players, which is not comforting as their fight for the playoffs continues. In the 35th minute, star striker Raul Ruidiaz came out with an ankle injury, later identified as a right ankle sprain. At the half, Chad Marshall was subbed off for Roman Torres due to a head-to-head collision that happened in the first half.

In the 65th minute, the away side scored a goal after a loss of marking off a cross from outside the 18. However, VAR was for once in the Sounders favor and disallowed it due to the goal scorer being offsides. (Seriously though it feels like the first time VAR has helped the Sounders and hasn’t hurt them!)

The Philadelphia Union were forced to go down to 10 men when Jack Elliot got a second yellow for a reckless tackle in the 89th minute.

The Sounders were battling to find the full three points with solid attempts on goal, however, in the 90+2nd minute, Philadelphia scored off of a bad clearance pass out of the back.

As of 9/20/18 the Sounders are pushed below the playoff line with 44 points in 6th place (1 point below 5th place which is the playoff line with a game in hand).

The Sounders continue their fight for the playoffs on Sunday, September 23rd in LA taking on the LA Galaxy on FS1 at 1pm PST

Featured image: @SoundersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @abigailgerken22

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USWNT Recap – 2 games vs Chile and Press 100

Abigail Gerken - USWNT/mlsfemale
Official USWNT Reporter

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

On August 31st the US Women’s National Team defeated Chile 3-0 at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles, California. The highlight of the night was the celebration for Christen Press reaching 100 caps for the national team. Over her 6-year international career, Press has scored 45 goals in 104 caps, including a goal to seal the 3-0 lead on her celebratory night. She also has won an Olympic Gold Medal and a World Cup Championship.

In this first game against Chile on the March to World Cup Qualifying, the USWNT cruised past Chile 3-0. In addition to an own goal (off a Julie Ertz header) and Christen Press’s tap-in at the far post,  19-year-old Tierna Davidson scored her first USWNT goal from a header off of a goal kick.

There was controversy surrounding a PK that Christen Press took and scored- as it was disallowed because a Chile player and Crystal Dunn both encroached on the penalty kick – since both of them encroached fans and players argued that it should have been retaken.

On September 4th the USWNT played Chile again in San Jose, California for their final game before World Cup Qualifying begins.

Earlier in the day, the WCQ groups for CONCACAF were decided. The USWNT will play Mexico on October 4th, Panama on October 7th, and Trinidad and Tobago on October 10th all in Cary, North Carolina.

Alex Morgan captained the game, earlier it was reported that Carli Lloyd will retire following the 2019 WWC in France next summer, many supporters anticipate that Alex Morgan will be passed the torch. When Carli Lloyd came into the game, she was given the captain’s armband.

An early injury for McCall Zebroni after an unfortunate landing led to a 5th-minute sub, Morgan Brian subbed in for McCall Zebroni. Later it was reported that she has a fractured elbow. North Carolina Courage may lose their strong No. 6 for the 2018 NWSL playoffs starting in the coming weeks.

In the 33rd minute Mallory Pugh went down in the box, Alex Morgan stepped up and after missing the left-footed attempt, Tobin Heath rebounded and dished in a cross and Mallory Pugh scored her 12th international goal.

It didn’t take long for the USA to double their lead. In the 38th minute the USWNT earned a free kick in a dangerous position, Tierna Davidson gets the flick on header and Tobin Heath slots it away.

Just after halftime, in the 47th minute, Carli Lloyd scores a header off of a Tobin Heath free kick in her first touch of the game.

Shortly after, Alex Morgan would get her goal off of a Tobin Heath cross, however, it was ruled offside.

In the 90+3rd minute, Carli Lloyd sprinted up the wing, dribbled around Chilean defenders and slotted it away.

This 4-0 victory expanded the USWNT’s unbeaten streak to 21 games (18-0-3), they’re in good form heading into World Cup Qualifying.

The next US Soccer game is tomorrow. The USMNT take on Brazil with a young squad looking to secure their places within the depth chart.

Featured image: Sports Illustrated

Follow and chat with me here: @abigailgerken22

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Inside the Sounders record-setting 8 game win streak

Abigail Gerken - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Seattle Sounders Contributor

By Abigail Gerken // @abigailgerken22

Saturday, Sept 1: 3-1 Win

The Seattle Sounders have broken another MLS record. They have won 8 games in a row, the most in a single season in the post-shootout era. This is a massive turn around from their record earlier in the year. Before this historic run, they earned just 17 points in 18 games. This has completely changed the season for the Seattle Sounders, now they are in a good position to earn a playoff spot – now sitting in 5th place in the Western Conference.

Let’s see how this went down:

7/21 vs Vancouver – What better way to kick off a record-breaking, season-turning-around run than a 2-0 win over Seattle’s rivals to the north, the Vancouver Whitecaps! On Raul Ruidíaz’s MLS debut, the Sounders secured a solid 3 points. The goals came from a penalty kick due to a handball- which Nico Lodeiro converted and later he doubled his lead due to a long-distance shot & deflection that secured the lead.

7/25 at San JoseRaul Ruidíaz scored his first MLS goal as the Sounders cruise past the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya stadium.

7/29 vs NYCFC Cristian Roldan put the home side up 1-0 in the 36th minute. Shortly after the halftime whistle, Gustav Svensson doubled the lead with a rocket shot from outside the 18. Then, 17 minutes later the away side got onto the scoreboard. However, they could not find an equalizer before Harry Shipp sealed the 3-1 lead.

8/4 at Minnesota – Minnesota was up 1-0 for 70 minutes. The game took a dramatic turn as the Sounders were awarded a penalty kick in minute 90+1, which Nico Lodeiro converted. Then in minute 90+7, Will Bruin chipped the keeper right before the final whistle blew. Seattle stealing these three points show off Seattle’s “tough kids” and fighting mentality. This was a big confidence and morale boost for players and fans.

8/12 vs Dallas – Right before the end of the first half Chad Marshall put the home side up 1-0 with a header off a Nico Lodeiro corner kick. Only 7 minutes after half FC Dallas tied it up. In minute 68, Nico Lodeiro put the Sounders ahead. With help from a Dallas red card to Reto Ziegler in minutes 90+1, the Sounders held on to this 2-1 lead.

8/18 vs LA Galaxy– The Sounders rolled past LA in this huge 5-0 home victory. They tied the club record for the largest margin of victory at home and broke the club’s win-streak record with 6 wins in a row,. The goals came from (in order) Marshall (3’), Shipp (18’),  Servando Carrasco – own goal (50’), Roldan (59’), Ruidíaz (67’). This victory brought the Sounders up above the playoff line for the first time in 2018!

8/26 at Portland – Another Cascadia victory for the Sounders as they defeat their rivals the Portland Timbers 1-0 at Providence Park. In the 76th minute center-back Kim Kee-Hee flew up the right side and powered in a cross – aiming for Raul Rudíaz, but resulting in a Timbers own goal. This win helped propel them in the standings, and lead them to the top of the coveted Cascadia Cup regional trophy table.

9/1 vs SKC – In the most recent game, the Sounders defeat Sporting Kansas City 3-1 at home. SKC didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard, they led 1-0 after a 2nd-minute goal. Raul Rudíaz equalized for Seattle in the 12th minute. Then, in the 52nd minute, a cross from Harry Shipp deflected off of Graham Zusi and in to put Seattle up 2-1. Shortly after Nico Lodeiro added to the scoreboard after converting a penalty kick awarded for a handball on Ike Opara. The most controversial moment of the match was an 81st minute DOGSO (Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity) red card to Chad Marshall. It was a very skeptical call despite going to VAR to justify the PK.

I’ll let you guys decide for yourselves, I’m interested in your opinions.  Comment your opinion if its a PK or not or tweet me your take  @abigailgerken22

The next Sounders game is Saturday, September 15th at Vancouver Whitecaps, let’s hope this streak continues as the Sounders push for the playoffs.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @abigailgerken22

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NWSL: League-leading awards updates

Abigail Gerken - USWNT/mlsfemale
Official USWNT Reporter

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

At MLSFemale we have decided that we need to help promote our amazing female athletes in the sport we love. I am excited to start reporting about the National Women’s Soccer League and the US Women’s National Team, hopefully, to draw more attention to the growing league and national team. What better way to kick it off than an NWSL recap and awards check-in?

The first place to discuss is the standings.

NWSL standings as of July 20th, 2018:

Team Points Matches played Record
North Carolina Courage* 46 19 14-1-4
Seattle Reign 29 17 8-4-5
Orlando Pride 28 18 8-6-4
Chicago Red Stars 28 18 7-4-7
Portland Thorns FC 26 17 7-5-5
Utah Royals 22 18 5-6-7
Houston Dash 20 17 5-7-5
Washington Spirit 10 17 2-11-4
Sky Blue FC 3 15 0-12-3

*Clinched 2018 NWSL Playoff spot

The North Carolina Courage stand out on these standings because of the giant gap of 17 points that they have set between themselves and the next closest team. They lead the league in team goals with 41 (next closest is Portland with 27). This has led them to already clinch a spot in the 2018 NWSL playoffs, and are on track to win their 2nd NWSL Shield (would be tied with the Seattle Reign for most Shields).

Although the Shield race seems to be locked up, there is a tight race for the Golden Boot Award. Lindsey Horan of the Portland Thorns and Sam Kerr of the Chicago Red Stars are tied for first place with 9 goals apiece, Lynn Williams of the North Carolina Courage is right behind them with 8. Megan Rapinoe, Crystal Dunn, and Christine Sinclair are not far behind with 7 goals each.

As for Goalkeeper of the Year, one stat that could help determine who is the most valuable keeper this season is in the saves category. Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit) leads the league in saves with 84. Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue) comes in second with 60 saves. In addition to saves, Alyssa Naeher has broken out as, to what is seeming to be, her role and the USWNT new number one keeper after Hope Solo’s terminated contract in 2016. This could help place her as the Goalkeeper of the Year.

At the ESPYS, Megan Rapinoe came out on top as the best NWSL player this year. The Seattle Reign veteran has 7 goals for the year and 4 assists and is leading her team towards the top of the table. Australian forward Sam Kerr won the best international women’s soccer player. She has 9 goals this year for her club Chicago Red Stars and 24 goals in 67 caps with the Australian national team.

At the 2018 Kids Choice Sports awards Alex Morgan took home Favorite Female Athlete award because of her continued success at both the club and international level.

Which NWSL players do you think will win these awards? Chat with me on twitter @abigailgerken22 and let me know.

Featured image of Lindsey Horan: American Soccer Now

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Sounders Finally Won in Houston

Abigail Gerken - USWNT/mlsfemale
Sounders Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken // @abigailgerken22

Jingle bells, Jingle bells.
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to see,
Seattle win away!
Is it a little early for Christmas music? Maybe. Is this song totally appropriate? Yes.

The Seattle Sounders took a 2-0 win in Houston in the first leg of the Western Conference Final. It was a very chippy game with many cards and fouls, but Seattle ended up on top.

The first goal came in the 11th minute when Gustav Svensson headed home a Nicolas Lodeiro corner kick. That was the 2nd goal of the season for the Swedish international.

In the 27th minute the game went downhill for Houston. Defender Jalil Anibaba took Joevin Jones down in the box resulting in a DOGSO (Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity) red card and penalty kick. Lodeiro went up to take the kick, but goalkeeper Joe Willis guessed correctly and saved it.

However, in the 43rd minute Will Bruin doubled the lead and scored a header goal (assisted by Joevin Jones).

Fun facts about this match:
Will Bruin scored against his former team of 6 years. His 2nd time this year.
Clint Dempsey grew up about 2 hours north of Houston, so a lot of his family and friends were at this game.
Roman Torres will miss the next match because of yellow card accumulation.
We saw two former Sounders on the field with Dylan Remick and Jalil Anibaba playing.

Prior to this match, the Sounders were 0-4-4 in Houston, making this their first win in Houston.

The Sounders are heading into the second leg of the Western Conference Final with a 2-0 lead. The next game will be in Seattle on November 30th, the winner on aggregate after the 2nd leg will advance to the MLS Cup Final on December 9th.

Featured image courtesy: @SoundersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @abigailgerken22

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Moving Forward for the USMNT

A collaboration from the ladies of MLSFemale. Organized by Abigail Gerken.

The USMNT not making the 2018 World Cup made room for a lot of discussion about this program and how we can advance as a soccering nation. Here is what the MLSFemale writers think about this situation the USMNT is in.

What went wrong in this qualifying cycle?

KAITLYN: US Soccer has several problems, and it’s not just Bruce Arena, Jurgen Klinsmann or Sunil Gulati. US Soccer needs to grow their players. They need to develop the players in MLS Academies, and those players (if American) need to be getting attention from US Soccer. Like Kerissa said; Klinsmann didn’t help develop the youth system. US Soccer really needs to focus on youth development and get players who they can into the US Soccer and MLS Academies; ones that will develop and support the players.

In the end, the US didn’t play to win. They played to tie. They assumed that Mexico and Costa Rica would win; which wasn’t a safe assumption. And of course, people will blame the coach, they’ll blame the field, they’ll blame Mexico and Roman Torres. But the players didn’t perform. It just wasn’t there.

KERISSA: Looking at just this qualifying cycle, it wasn’t just one thing that went wrong. One place where I think issues began was having Jurgen Klinsmann be both head coach and technical director. Technical directors also need to handle youth development and Klinsmann never showed interest in developing the US system. He recruited from Europe and leaned on players who trained in the German system. Yes, it’s a great system, but US Soccer isn’t always going to pull from that pool. Ignoring players developed and developing means less incentive to stay or play for the US.

As for the TNT match, the biggest error was Bruce Arena not taking Trinidad and Tobago seriously enough to make a game plan. Not only did he send out the same formation as the Panama match, he had no backup when it became apparent in the first ten minutes that the formation wasn’t going to work.

While his was an arrogant decision, too many of the players showed entitlement in their approach to the match.

JESS: What went wrong. Speaking specifically to the Trinidad and Tobago game, the players did not show up. Like Kaitlyn said, and like I have been saying, they stepped on the field to play for a tie because they knew that all they needed was a tie and thought they could skate by. In any game you play, you should be playing for the win. When the question of qualification comes up, your aim should be to destroy the other team. To leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that you deserve that last guaranteed spot or that one more chance in the playoff.

There was no heart. Blame the conditions of the field, the weather, whatever you want to blame – but that’s all an excuse for the more painful truth that as bad as the team may have wanted this win, they didn’t show it on the field. Just because you haven’t missed qualifying since 1986 doesn’t mean that you deserve to be there. I got a little miffed with the people asking the “but can you imagine a World Cup without _______?!” questions, because the answer is yes. No one is guaranteed in so a World Cup without _____ is entirely possible and probable as we painfully found out this week. Time to reboot.

KIRSTEN: The team (and country) put all their hopes on a 19 year old kid who is barely out of high school. Christian Pulisic is an amazing player, but he can’t be the guy right away. He needs support, and the team couldn’t give that to him. We also had no midfield presence. Our mids were all pushing forward leaving Bradley to be kind of defensive all by himself.

Our transition game was GOD AWFUL! We weren’t too terrible at defensive for a chunk of the games, but the rest there was not much good anywhere. *side note: I feel terrible for Matt Besler (he’s obvi my fave), but I’ve always seen him as a hard-worker who never takes things for granted. He was benched a bit last season for subpar play, and was passed over for Gold Cup in 2016. He knows the stakes, and I am just sad I’ll never see him play in another World Cup. I might be crying a bit right now, but that’s okay.

What should we change moving forward (new players, formation, coaches, etc.)?:

ABIGAIL: I think that we need to start focusing on 2022. We need to start having a consistent lineup (especially the back 4 which has been made up of many different combinations of players). We have so many talented young players in the system (Pulisic, Brooks, Yedlin, Acosta, Arrola, Wood) who have proved they can play at a very high level and push this USMNT team forward. Take out older players who aren’t going to be there for ‘22 and let the young players figure things out and build chemistry. We have 5 years to do this.

KAITLYN: In my opinion, it’s time for Sunil Gulati to move on. US Soccer needs to be re-evaluated and their system would benefit from a new president to re-vamp the program. As for new players, this should be the wake up call. The National Team needs new defenders; and as much as we all love Tim Howard, they need a younger goalie.

SYLVANA: I fully believe there are people in the system who can bring about the necessary changes. Gulati isn’t going anywhere; he’s still aiming to get WC2026 to North America and the only way is to be rid of him is to put someone else in place through election. Tab Ramos, who has been part of the system, could be a step in the right direction.

JESS: What needs to change is that US Soccer continuously relies on our past to resolve our future. We relied on a coach that got us to the quarter-finals in 2002. What did he do after that? Arena is that ex that never should’ve gotten a second chance. We blame Klinsmann for a thrashing against a solid Costa Rica team. Was he the one on the field?

Firing him didn’t solve anything. We rely on older players who, while still capable of playing, are not truly capable at keeping up with the international field. Why? Perhaps they might be of greater value off the field than on. We have a USSF president who is far more concerned about bolstering his pocketbook than aiding his organization. Again, why? No one runs against him. Our home system is a slower, less creative game than what we see come out of the rest of the world.

I love the MLS and will always support it, but why don’t we play with the speed and creativity of Germany and Spain? Why do we have to be the retirement league of the world? We stand here, wring our hands, and say “what happened” when the freight train of issues that’s been heading our direction, and we’ve seen coming, finally hits us. Maybe we should get off the tracks.

Let’s vote out a USSF president that doesn’t want to take responsibility for putting us on those tracks and bring in someone with a new, better plan. Let’s scrap and rebuild our pay-to-play system, and make more opportunities for those kids from lower income households with the passion and natural ability that we need.

Let’s encourage our players to step out of their comfort zone and take opportunities available to them in different countries. Let’s take a hard look at American individualism, how it impacts being a team player, and remember that soccer is a team sport and not a “me” sport. Let’s take bigger risks, leave the past where it is, and invest in our future.

KAITLYN: For me, I have the biggest issue with US Soccer’s development systems.

There has been a lot of discussion about Pay-to-Play in the youth soccer systems, how does that affect the USMNT?

KIRSTEN: In the United States soccer is seen as a “rich kid” sport. To get into the best club systems your family needs to have money. To many, basketball and football are seen as the “street sports” where kids from all backgrounds can play and get noticed. In other countries soccer is the sport that everyone plays regardless of background. If we can grow soccer like we have fostered basketball and football we have a chance of getting talented athletes from all walks of life, and not just the privileged.

SYLVANA: As a soccer parent, I want to comment on pay-to-play. I get it– this stuff costs money. I see our expenses for my sons’ club: insurance, pass fees, uniforms, equipment. And our club costs a fraction of the cost of other clubs in my area. I’ve had other parents tell me they’d gladly pay more if it resulted in better results on the field.

But to me, cost doesn’t equal value. My kid could be ready for an academy, but he won’t be seen by a scout unless I pay hundreds of dollars in camp fees where the scouts go. So if I can’t afford it, my son’s development is over. And that’s not fair to him. How many times has that happened in America in the past 20 years?

I’m also hearing a lot about the NCAA and blowing up the college system. I’d like to share with you something Mark Pulisic told me (I hope he doesn’t mind). He said in America, there are so many levels of play that anyone who wants to reach their highest level can do so– that level isn’t always international. I don’t think anyone who plays college for 4 years should have any sort of leg-up in getting into MLS. (Jordan Morris was a homegrown academy product- his college career is irrelevant.) Soccer as a vehicle to an education is distinctly American.

SHEBA: Pay to play is a completely upside down model for developing the growth of the sport in the US. I work in a community with strong immigrant ties, and soccer is THE sport kids play here–at recess, on weekends, with families, you name it. It is the only sport in which our high school is competitive with other schools its size.

We have immigrant communities small and large across the U.S. with plenty of people who have brought to this country a passion for, and knowledge of, the beautiful game. Unfortunately their passion and knowledge don’t translate into any sort of development of the sport, or pipeline for talented youth players, because they remain disconnected from the traditional pathways to professional soccer in the US, whether Olympic Development Programs, collegiate soccer, or professional teams’ youth academies.

Outside of the inaccessibly expensive pay to play youth leagues, there are “pirate leagues” and “tournament teams” that form and re-form for individual, specific events. These teams have outstanding players at all levels, but such pieced-together-by-the-tournament players are not at all connected to the expensive club system because they cannot afford to be.

These same talented athletes also often come from families who don’t have a history of attending college, and/or who lack the necessary knowledge and financial resources to get their children the tools they need to access higher education. And scouting resources at the collegiate and professional level are woefully understaffed. As a result most of these extremely capable youth players who might otherwise be the next generation of US all stars go unheralded and fail to develop to their potential, unconnected to Olympic soccer, collegiate soccer, or professional teams’ academy systems (many of which are still in their infancy).

Other comments? 

JESS: Maybe there’s a silver lining to not making it into Russia that I’m not seeing. Maybe that silver lining is that it’s spurring conversations like this and has sowed the seeds of change. I know that I am disappointed by the results. I know that I am a little more cynical and on edge this week because of that disappointment. Let’s build for 2022 and come back with a vengeance.

KIRSTEN: Both of my countries are out! The Netherlands are only supposed to be terrible for the Euros, and we know what happened to the USMNT. Who the hell am I supposed to root for now?

Featured image courtesy: @ussoccer

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Happiness to Heartbreak for USMNT

Abigail Gerken - USWNT/mlsfemale
USMNT Official Reporter

By Abigail Gerken // @abigailgerken22

2 games, 5 days apart, 2 very different results, and 1 country on a roller coaster of emotion,

FRIDAY: On Friday the boys played Panama in Orlando, Florida. It was a very chippy game but it resulted in a 4-0 win for the USA. Wonderboy did it again, Christian Pulisic had a goal and an assist. Jozy Altidore also had an amazing game,  2 goals and an assist to his name. After this 4-0 win, the USMNT had a 93% chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

It all came down to the final match day of this World Cup Qualifying cycle. Tuesday was the WCQ equivalent of MLS’s Decision Day for North and South America. All games started at 4:30, and by the end of the night, we will know who is booking a ticket to Russia and who was spending summer 2018 at home.

TUESDAY: It all came down to this. The only way the US could not qualify for the World Cup is if: they lose to Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras beats Mexico, and Panama beats Costa Rica. By the 37th minute, the USMNT was down 2-0 to T&T. In the 47th minute Christian Pulisic scored to make it 2-1. However, the goals would stop there and the USMNT would lose 2-1. Meanwhile, both Honduras and Panama won their respective games.

USA’s worst nightmare just happened. We are officially not going to be in the 2018 World Cup. This is the first time since 1986 that the USMNT has not qualified for a World Cup.

Tweet us @MLSFemale and let us know what you think went wrong! We would love to hear your opinions on this heartbreaking loss.

Featured image of Jozy Altidore courtesy: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @abigailgerken22

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

#WONTHEGROUP

Abigail Gerken - USWNT/mlsfemale
US National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken // @abigailgerken22

3 games, 3 cities, 7 points, 8 days.

Those are some of the numbers that recap the wild group stage of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The boys kicked it off in Nashville where they debuted their new red and navy blue kit against a very determined Panama squad. Sorry, but can we just talk about these kits for a second. THEY ARE AMAZING! We’ve been asking for more patriotism being displayed in our uniforms (@ USWNT world cup kit) and Nike+ finally delivered. Okay, back to the game. Dom Dwyer scored the only USA goal of the match in the 50th minute off of a Kelyn Rowe assist.

On July 12th, the USMNT played Martinique in Tampa. Jordan Morris was the star of this show. The 22 year old scored 2 goals in this match, and Omar Gonzalez added on the third. Martinique scored 2. The game ended 3-2, with the US picking up 3 points.

On July 15th, the USMNT played Nicaragua in Cleveland. There was 3 different goal scorers in this dominant performance. Joe Corona, Kelyn Rowe, and Matt Miazga (!) all picked up a goal. Going into this game we knew that they needed to win by 3 goals to win group B and avoid playing Costa Rica in the Quarterfinals. Although they won 3-0 it could’ve been 5-0. There was 2 penalty kick calls in the USA’s favor. Dom Dwyer took the first and Joe Corona took the second, both kicks were saved.

A couple notes:

Kelyn Rowe: My hometown hero had a breakthrough performance. He scored his first international goal, started 2 of the games, and played extremely well (I mean did you guys see him completely mix 2 Panamanian defenders to assist Dom Dwyer’s goal?!). He definitely made everyone back in Seattle and New England proud!

Matt Miazga is back?: If you told me at the end of 2015 that Matt Miazga would only have 3 caps and his first goal would be in the 2017 Gold Cup, I would’ve told you that you were crazy! Anyways that’s the case, but he is definitely making a comeback, with a shutout and a goal he should be in the conversation for center back pairings going forward.

The BFFs do national team: My personal favorite MLS player, Cristian Roldan joins his Seattle Sounders FC teammate and self proclaimed best friend Jordan Morris for the Gold Cup. After being ½ of arguably the best MLS center defensive midfield pairing with Osvaldo Alonso and getting a call up to January camp, many fans suspected that it was time he gets his first cap with the USMNT, and on July 12th he did!

Out with the new in with the old? : After group stage, teams are allowed to substitute 6 players on their roster. Head coach Bruce Arena took full advantage of this opportunity and swapped several newbies for seasoned vets + an upcoming star.

OUT: Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe, and Dom Dwyer.

IN: Tim Howard, Jesse Gonzalez, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Darlington Nagbe, and Jozy Altidore.

Want to see more? The USMNT plays El Salvador in Philadelphia on July 19th in the quarterfinals.

Featured image courtesy: @USSoccer

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @abigailgerken22

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

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.

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#wegot3 USMNT get 3 points in crucial WCQ

US Women’s National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

March 24: USMNT vs Honduras: 6-0 Win

USA Lineup : Tim Howard; Jorge Villafaña, Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks (Tim Ream, 70), Geoff Cameron (Graham Zusi, 59); Michael Bradley (capt.), Sebastian Lletget (Alejandro Bedoya, 18), Christian Pulisic, Darlington Nagbe; Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore

The USMNT beat Honduras 6-0 in a huge World Cup qualifying game. They are in the “Hex” which is 6 CONCACAF teams (USA, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, Panamá, and Costa RIca) competing against each other for 3 spots in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The 6 teams will all play each other twice (one home and one away), and the 3 teams with the most points will automatically qualify for the World Cup, the team in 4th place will have to play an inter-confederation play-in game to qualify.

Prior to this game, the USMNT were in last place, with 0 points in 2 games. They lost to Mexico 2-1 on November 11th, and they also lost to Costa Rica 4-0 on November 15th.

The goal scorers for this game were Clint Dempsey (3), Sebastian Lletget (1), Michael Bradley (1) and Christian Pulisic (1).

The Budweiser Man of the Match Clint Dempsey scored his first goals since June 16th, 2016 during the Copa America. He has been sidelined from national team duty after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying – CONCACAF rankings as they stand

TEAM GP W L D Pts. GF GA GD
Mexico 3 2 0 1 7 4 1 3
Costa Rica 3 2 1 0 6 6 2 4
Panama 3 1 1 1 4 1 1 0
United States 3 1 2 0 3 7 6 1
Trinidad & Tobago 3 1 2 0 3 2 5 -3
Honduras 3 1 2 0 3 3 8 -5

Featured image courtesy: U.S. Soccer

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @abigailgerken22

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