All posts by avaraceli

Carlos Vela is back: LAFC wins the west; claims two points on the East Coast

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Best in the West

The Los Angeles Football Club is the best in the West thanks to Minnesota United’s 2-0 road loss in Houston on September 11.

So what does this mean for the Black & Gold?

The MLS Cup playoffs are coming to the Banc!

As the No. 1 seed – LAFC has secured a first-round bye, home field advantage, and will begin their quest for MLS Cup on Oct. 23 or 24 in the Western Conference semifinals, as other teams kick off their journey on Oct. 19-20.

And should they secure the Supporters’ Shield – the Banc could host its first final.

But there’s more!

The world’s stage is calling LAFC. Along with obtaining the top spot, the Black & Gold qualified for the 2020 Concacaf Champions League; giving the club a chance to compete against world football giants like Real Madrid, Liverpool, Boca Juniors, or Barcelona in the FIFA Club World Cup.

East Coast Rivals

The Black & Gold returns home after earning two points in back-to-back draws on the East Coast.

  • Orlando City

The club kicked off their East Coast road series in Orlando on September 7th and played Orlando City to a 2-2 draw.

Missing seven players due to international duty – Adrien Perez earned his first start and Alejandro Guido made his first appearance on the bench.

In the 12th minute, Lee Nguyen sent the ball inside the box, a deflection off Orlando’s backline gave it to Perez, who then tapped it in to score his first goal; giving LAFC the lead.

Nani got in behind LAFC’s defense to chip in the equalizer just moments later. Benji Michael doubled the score in the 20th minute after Ruan cut back a pass to him inside the box.

Down by one, the Black & Gold rallied in the latter part of the half to level the match. Dio played in a ball to Diego Rossi, who, like Perez, beat the keeper in the 78th minute to earn the club their first road point on the East Coast.

LAFC remained on the East Coast to train ahead of their match against the Philadelphia Union.

  • Philadelphia Union

MLS Cup final preview? Maybe.

The two playoff bound teams matched each other in a 1-1 draw at Talen Energy Stadium. Despite conceding a goal each, Tyler Miller and Andre Blake kept their teams in the game.

The Union’s Kacper Przybylko opened the scoring early with a header over Miller in the 3rd minute. Carlos Vela returned to action – scoring his 28th goal in the 43rd minute to level the match.

Both sides exchanged scoring opportunities in a chippy second half with the final play falling to the home side. Fortunately, Fabrice-Jean Pinault’s shot went wide – seeing LAFC leave Philadelphia with four cautions and a point.

Carlos Vela Update

The captain is back!

Carlos has missed a total of three matches this season and with Ibrahimovic closing in on the golden boot race – things are beginning to look more challenging for the winger.

Vela rejoined the group in Philadelphia last week to participate in full training. And even though it was great to see the captain back in action, he did not seem to be at full strength – only seeing 66 minutes of playing time in Philadelphia.

I can only assume Bob Bradley saw this too; leading to his decision to switch Vela out with Brian Rodriguez.

What’s next?

Staying atop of the standings for 24 weeks straight and holding 64 points, LAFC will look to close out the regular season on a high note with four games left and the Supporters’ Shield in sight.

The Black & Gold still own the best home record this MLS season (11-1-2) and on Sept. 21, the club will look to restart it’s winning streak at home when they host fourth-place, Toronto FC.

Featured Image: LAFC

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Player Spotlight: Steve Clark turns Providence Park into House of Horrors

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sitting above the playoffs line in seventh place with 43 points, the Portland Timbers continue the battle of the west. Despite falling to D.C. United this past weekend; Steve Clark is turning Providence Park into the House of Horrors.

Timbers’ veteran goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was sidelined due to a season-ending injury this July. And Clark has stepped up in a big by posting 1710 minutes, five shutouts, 66 saves, and currently holds a 79.5% save percentage, thus far.

Prior to assuming starting goalkeeper duties, Clark was included in the starting lineup for five of fifteen league matches and appeared in the 2019 campaign of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

The Mason, Michigan native is no stranger to the shuffle. On August 17, 2018, the five-year MLS veteran was waived by D.C. United while in the midst of his second season with the club. Following the Timbers’ announcement that they had picked up the veteran keeper on waivers – he went on to start eight games for the 2018 campaign.

His quick reflexes have kept the Timbers out of dangerous situations. And Clark is having a little fun with it – occasionally wearing a Michael Myers mask from the classic slasher franchise Halloween; during the Timbers’ traditional slab celebration ceremony to celebrate shutout.

“Providence Park is going to be a house of horrors this summer,” Clark said during the July 28 postgame conference. “It’s going to be a tough place to come. That’s kind of what I’m saying. This is a bunch of monsters out here.”

Fellow teammate Sebastian Blanco is joining in the fun donning a Chucky mask from cult classic Child’s Play. The Argentinian midfielder began the tradition in May of 2018 to celebrate his game-winning goal against the Seattle Sounders.

Outside of the MLS, Clark has played for Hønefoss BK and AC Horsens, respectively – crediting these experiences for his development as a player, even encouraging players to “move abroad and challenge themselves.”

With playoffs starting in a few weeks, its hard to ignore that Clark was once a three-year starter for Columbus Crew SC from 2014-16, where the 33-year-old keeper ironically played against his current club during the 2015 MLS Cup; losing 2-1. Fast forward to now, Steve said of his time in Columbus:

“My time in Columbus was a long time ago now. But it was a good time for me as player. Now being with the Timbers – life has really come full circle and I’m really enjoying myself now. Portland is a beautiful place to live and a great club to play for.”

The Timbers will continue their search for the final playoff push in a midweek fixture when they host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, September 18.

Featured Image:  Portland Timbers

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LAFC concludes Rivalry Week with 3-3 Draw at home against the Galaxy

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The rivalry continues.

The Los Angeles Football Club and LA Galaxy battled to a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday night. Despite, coming back from a two-goal deficit, LAFC remains winless against its rival.

The Galaxy struck first just two minutes after the whistle when Cristian Pavon found Zlatan on a run across the box. Ibrahimovic calmly slotted a left-footed finish inside the near post beating Tyler Miller for the opening goal.

In the 12th minute, Steven Beitashour lobbed a cross towards the far post. Diego Rossi headed it back across the goal and out of reach of the keeper for Latif Blessing to send the header home for the equalizer.

However, the Galaxy cut celebrations short by quickly responding with back-to-back goals. Ibrahimovic doubled the score on a breakaway set up by Efrain Alvarez in the 15th minute; before Pavon struck for the Galaxy’s third just one minute after that to cap off the wild start to the match.

Blessing got the last laugh during stoppage time when he collected a deflection off a Galaxy defender, rounded Bingham and lightly taps the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the evening – cutting the deficit to one goal going in the half 3-2.

But the madness did not stop there.

Shortly after the restart whistle, Mark-Anthony Kaye set up a shot for himself outside the box but then passed the ball to Carlos Vela on the wing. Vela led Bingham off his line to slot home his 27th career goal inside the far post to level the match 3-3.

Shortly after his heroic goal, the captain was substituted out in the 61st minute due to a possible right hamstring injury. Visibly upset by the decision – Vela threw down his captain’s armband. However, he was seen going back and forth from the bench to the sidelines to help coach the team – a move we saw him do in Houston this past July.

The new designated player Brian Rodriguez replaced the captain to make his club debut. Defender Jordan Harvey wore the captain’s armband. And Josh Perez, who scored his first goal against San Jose entered for Rossi in the 86th minute. Bradley never used his third final substitution.

Rodriguez quickly went straight after Galaxy’s right back Rolf Feltscher and put the backline under pressure from inside 25 yards, fired the shot straight at the net. But Bingham was there to catch it.

Despite needing to get more familiar with Bradley’s system, in just 30 minutes, the young Uruguayan displayed how comfortable he is with his teammates and looks to be promising for future matches.

LAFC dominated with 65% possession and shot advantage for the final moments of the match, but were unable to find the winning goal.

Walking away with a hard-fought point, the LAFC will continue the race for the Supporters’ Shield on Sunday, September 1 as they host 5th place, Minnesota United.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

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Sporting KC’s late winner over Minnesota United keeps playoff hopes alive

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

After suffering through an injury-ridden beginning of the season, it seems Sporting Kansas City have finally found their drive again. Erik Hurtado’s late game-winner led the team to a 1-0 victory over Minnesota United on Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

The 28-year-old’s strike helped Sporting KC preserve their perfect home record against the Loons (5-0-0 in all competitions) and denied Minnesota the opportunity to solidify their hold on second place in the West.

In a possession dominated match, the home side unleashed a total of 22 shot attempts that forced Minnesota’s goalkeeper Vito Mannone into five saves.

In response, Minnesota also forced a spry Tim Melia to make five saves that night. The Loons came close to the opening goal in the 33rd minute when Melia had to make a double save, first parrying aside Hassani Dotson’s shot from distance, then springing to his feet quickly to block Mason Toye’s rebound to keep the game scoreless.

Four minutes later, Graham Zusi challenged Mannone, who pushed his attempt over the crossbar for a corner kick.

KC favorite, Ike Opara made his highly anticipated return to Children’s Mercy Park after a six-year stint with Sporting KC. His presence did not go unnoticed, as he recorded two of the Loon’s 12 shot attempts.

Sporting KC produced several good scoring opportunities but had trouble converting them throughout the second half. IIie Sanchez and Gerso Fernandes entered the match just three minutes apart and made an immediate impact.

In the 88th minute, Johnny Russell’s through ball helped Hurtado finally breakthrough from a tight angle beating the keeper to score the game winner – leading Sporting KC to their second straight win.

With a new sense of energy, Sporting KC will host longtime Western Conference rivals, Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 31st.

Featured image: Sporting KC

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LAFC kicks off Rivalry Week with 4-0 win over San Jose

Official LAFC Reporter

fBy Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club is closing in to win their first-ever Supporters’ Shield thanks to goals from Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela, and Josh Perez. Together, they have kept the club atop of the standings and undefeated at home, most recently in a 4-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Despite having an excellent outcome, the match did not kick off to a strong start as poor passing from the home team led the Quakes to the door of LAFC’s goal. Fortunately, the shot went wide.

A breakthrough came just six minutes in with Rossi getting the early lead off the rebound. Eduard Atuesta sent a through ball from the midfield, landing to Perez. Perez one-timed a curled shot towards the far post that was saved, but Rossi was there to bury it.

The nightmare began for the visitors as LAFC was awarded the penalty after Anibal Godoy blocked Lee Nguyen’s shot with his hand and was called for a handball. Carlos Vela stepped up to convert, and score his 25th career goal, after VAR confirmed the penalty. 

In the 37th minute, Vako went to score at close range, but Jordan Harvey made a diving save in front of Miller to deny the Quakes’ player.

And then… insanity broke out.

If the match wasn’t already crazy enough, the Quakes’ head coach, Matias Almeyda, was visibly distraught as the referee rejected his request to review the play – alleging Harvey committed a hand ball. A similar call awarded LAFC a penalty moments earlier. Kevin Stott ultimately ejected both Almeyda and his translator. After four minutes of protesting, the coach agreed to leave, but not without stopping to yell back at a fan.

In the midst of the spectacle the sidelines, the captain put LAFC up 3-0 in the 41st minute, scoring his 26th career goal.

While LAFC was busy running up the score, San Jose did produce an equal amount of opportunities and Miller came up huge every time.

Early in the second half, Cristian Espinoza found space on the right side of the box and lasered a shot near the post that was firmly blocked out by Miller.

Wearing a protective mask, Mohamed El-Munir came on to replace Harvey in the 62nd minute to make his first appearance since suffering a facial fracture on July 19. The next minute, Adama Diomande subbed on for Rossi. 

The Quakes desperately continued to try to get on the scoreboard but the New Jersey native kept them at bay. Miller made a fingertip save on a Quakes’ shot that clanked off the post in the 78th minute. Guram Kashia pounced on the bouncing rebound but put it over the net for a goal kick.

Josh Perez had a total of five chances throughout the match, and his moment finally came in the 80th minute when the 21-year-old scored his first ever goal for the club off a pass from Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Diomande scored late into stoppage time but the ref called him for a foul and took back the goal. Despite the call, the Black-and-Gold secured another three points, putting them up to a total of 61 points.

The win, without a doubt, gave LAFC even more confidence before they host the LA Galaxy in the second edition of this year’s El Tráfico on Sunday.

Just like how fans were chanting, “We want Carson!” following the win, LAFC is presumably ready with a lineup at full strength. But, is it enough beat Zlatan’s mental antics?

Featured Image: LAFC

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Rivalry Week: Sporting KC hosts the friendliest rivalry in the Midwest

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS.

When: Thursday, August 22th, 8:30 p.m. CT.

How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes, 810 WHB, ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM

Every point matters. And Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United are not taking the match tomorrow likely.

For the better part of the last decade, Sporting KC has been the team to watch in the Western Conference. Minnesota United has struggled to get out of the bottom places for the first two years of their existence.

This year, the tables have turned for these two Midwestern teams. Sitting in second place with 42 points in a tight race, the Loons will be looking to secure their first-ever playoff qualification, in addition to hosting a playoff game at Allianz Field.

SKC’s turbulent season has been frustrating for both the players and fans. Still stuck in alternating positions below the line and with nine games left, SKC is desperate to keep their streak of eight straight postseason appearances alive.

Both teams will meet for the first time in league play this Thursday for the “friendliest rivalry” in MLS after the Loons eliminated Sporting KC from Round 4 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this year.

The match will also serve as reunion when SKC favorite, Ike Opara returns to CMP. Despite wearing the wrong jersey – Opara continues to be a dominant defender and has been critical in guiding the Loons.

To help get a better insight on the Loons and their club history, I interviewed my colleague at MLSFemale and Minnesota United reporter, Bridget McDowell.

Araceli Villanueva: Minnesota United struggled for their first two years of existence. Now sitting in second place, how do you think they’ve been able to turn things around this season and can they keep up the momentum with playoffs just around the corner?

Bridget McDowell: Minnesota has finally started to build an identity and team chemistry. The new veterans (Ike Opara, Ozzie Alonso, Lawrence Olum) have added a new level of accountability (something which was building last season, but often dropped off with each poor result). Their guidance has led the squad away from the in-fighting seen often in ’17 and ’18 and towards a more positive approach.

Players may show frustration, but typically discuss what led to a mistake and help one another improve. I’ve seen quite a few post-match discussions in the locker room, with players huddled around phones watching a replay or getting a teammate’s perspective on an error. The rookies are also upping the standard and pushing the whole squad to work harder.

Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson bring fresh attitudes and their work ethic and adaptability seems to be pushing the others. These players have all been key pieces in the gutsy, gritty victories (and draws) that have landed Minnesota in 2nd.

AV: Thursday’s matchup has been dubbed the “Friendliest Rivalry” for this week. What is your take on the title?

BM: Minnesota Soccer Twitter got a kick out of [Sporting KC’s] tailgate video in which fans shared their views of United fans. “Oh yeah, those guys” and “they’ve got a nice place up there” is a taste of the neutral rivalry this has become. United has drawn Sporting as a USOC opponent since the NASL days so when that trend continued as Minnesota moved into the same league, the same conference, as Kansas City. It’s kind of a forced rivalry. I think it’s become a parody rivalry of sorts.

The first face-off I witnessed was the 2016 USOC match played in Blaine. I stood with the supporters who were screaming at the ref, banging on the boards and frustrated to tears with the result. Sporting’s first visit to TCF Stadium in 2017 served as the bitter rematch. Minnesota got revenge despite GK Bobby Shuttleworth having his nose broken by Dom Dwyer. By the time that USOC draw came around, United fans could only say, “Those guys again?” I’ve talked with many United fans considered SKC their MLS club before MNUFC made the jump. With similar histories, it’s a team and fan base we look up to and a match-up we circle on our calendars every year. If the league is going to call that a rivalry, we may as well have a little fun with it. But if MLS really wanted to invest in this ‘rivalry’, it would pitch in a little money to speed up the endless construction on I-35.

AV: Kevin Molino and Darwin Quintero are a few players that stood out from the last match against the Rapids. Do you think this duo could deliver similar results again on Thursday? Or which players should Sporting KC fans should be cautious of?

BM: They stood out against the Rapids, but not so much against Orlando when they played again at Allianz on Saturday. Molino and Quintero are definitely a strong attacking partnership.

New [young designated player] Thomas Chacon could shake that up on Thursday, though it is not clear how involved he will be. (MNUFC has said he will travel, but haven’t said in what capacity. He’s a likely sub though, with Angelo Rodriguez injured.)

SKC fans should know exactly who to be cautious of: Ike Opara. Many soccer writers and pundits have pointed out recently that SKC has yet to fill the gap left by Opara, leaving that defense uncharacteristically weak while Minnesota’s has been uncharacteristically strong. Opara is a clear leader in this squad so his return appearance will be motivation to win, maybe more so than the ‘rivalry’ atmosphere. Other players? Gasper, Jan Gregus and Ethan Finlay are all on every opponent’s radar each week; this one will be no different.

Bonus question: What is your score prediction?

2-1 Loons. Luck has played a distinct role in Minnesota’s recent successes. That, combined with a struggling SKC defense and an eager Opara, will drive United’s attack, but – true to the “Nicest Rivalry” moniker – it won’t be a complete blowout.

Featured image: Andy Witchger

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Rivalry Week: LAFC returns home after clinching 2019 playoff spot on the road

Official LAFC Reporter

fBy Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club is becoming every club’s nightmare.

Carlos Vela and Adama Diomande’s goals helped the club to become the first MLS team to secure a spot in the 2019 playoffs this past weekend as they won on the road, 2-0, over Real Salt Lake.

Now leading the league with 52 points and a 42 goal differential, the Black-and-Gold return home to host the San Jose Earthquakes as part of MLS Heineken Rivalry Week.

LAFC has dominated the series against the Quakes; causing an earthquake in San Jose during their first meeting this year in March by winning 5-0.

Walker Zimmerman will miss the action after being ejected from the last match against Real Salt Lake. Tristian Blackmon will likely fill the role again. Additionally, Mark-Anthony Kaye will face suspension due to yellow card accumulation if carded in tomorrow’s match.

Bob Bradley has done very little to change the starting lineup this season, given the club has made some major roster moves in the recent weeks – with recently loaning three players to two USL teams, respectively: Dejan Jakovic and Rodolfo Zelaya to Las Vegas Lights FC, and Peter-Lee Vassell to Phoenix Rising FC.

Vela continues his historic season by setting a new single-season record of 39 combined goals and assists. The captain has made MLS history with 24 goals and 15 assists, with nine games remaining.

The Quakes will visit the Banc after suffering back-to-back losses, and will have a full roster to choose from as no players are on the injury report. LAFC remains the only team in the league to go undefeated at home and will look to retain that record tomorrow.

The Black-and-Gold will conclude their mini Californian tournament as they host the LA Galaxy on Sunday, August 25 – for the fifth installment of El Tráfico.

Featured Image: @LAFC

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Making History: LAFC Defends The Banc in 4-2 Victory

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continues to shake up the league in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls and remains the only team in the MLS undefeated at home.

Normally, defenders don’t make the highlight reel or some recaps but last night was a special occasion. Defenders Jordan Harvey and Eddie Segura scored their first LAFC goals off of set-pieces – coming off balls played towards the middle of the penalty area by non-other Carlos Vela.

Harvey’s header opened up the scoring sheet in the 23rd minute. And less than two minutes later, a sequence of passes by Eduard Atuesta and Steven Beitashour helped Latif Blessing notch one home to double the score.

However, celebrations would be cut short in the 42nd minute. Blessing made a tackle outside the top of the left side of the box, but the ball rolled to Red Bull’s Cristian Casseres Jr., who sent a low shot near post – pulling one back for the visitors cutting the lead in half.

Tyler Miller was quick to make a diving save in the 44th minute to deny Daniel Royer securing the lead a little longer – just before the Red Bulls made another run at LAFC’s defense to force an own goal by the keeper – leveling the match just before the half.

Mark-Anthony Kaye regained the lead in the 50th minute when he sent a through ball down the middle into the back of the net. But the referee Drew Fischer later disallowed it for a foul outside the box after consulting VAR.

Six minutes later, Blessing almost gave us serious deja vu with another goal by dribbling past two defenders, but an outstretched Luis Robles blocked his attempt.

LAFC proceeded to push on the counters – soon receiving another scoring opportunity when Rece Buckmaster, recently signed from Red Bulls II, got tangled up with Eduard Atuesta who went down inside the box – awarding LAFC the penalty. Vela successfully converted the shot putting the black-and-gold back in front, scoring his 23rd-career goal.

The Mexican captain continues to make history, now tied with the record for most combined goals and assists in a single MLS season.

And just when you thought Bob Bradley would go the full 90 with all starters – he made a double substitution late in the second half sending in Lee Nguyen and Josh Perez replacing Kaye and Diego Rossi.

Segura, who was recently acquired from Colombian side Atletico Huila on a permanent, multi-year deal, notched his first career goal and the game-winner off a free kick from the captain in the 72nd minute.

Perez and Adama Diomande kept knocking on the Red Bulls door for the duration of the match but had difficulty finding the fifth goal. Ultimately, LAFC ended the match by claiming all three points and solidifying their lead at the top of the table even further.

Now with 55 points, a +40 goal differential, and leading the Supporters’ Shield race by 10 points – LAFC will travel to Rio Tinto Stadium to face rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday, August 17.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

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Player Spotlight: Steven Beitashour blends sport and culture in Los Angeles

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Once a ball boy for the San Jose Earthquakes, LAFC’s defender Steven Beitashour is thankful to now be a part of a club in his home state that continuously supports him not only as a player, but also supports his connection to his Iranian heritage.

The San Jose native dreamed of becoming a soccer player after his father – a former San Francisco State University player – introduced him to the game and took him to his first practice at four years old.

Beitashour, born to Iranian parents, is an Iranian international and strongly identifies with his heritage. While there have been a handful of Iranian players in MLS over the history of the league, Beitashour has had the longest and most successful career to date, winning the MLS Cup with Toronto FC in 2017, and the Supporters’ Shield with San Jose in 2012. Additionally, he played in the 2014 World Cup with the Iranian National Football Team and made an appearance at the 2012 MLS All-Stars.

In 2010, Beitashour received the opportunity to play for his childhood team – after the Quakes selected him in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. His family supported him fully by attending all his games.

He would go on to spend three years with the Quakes before being traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2014. Following a short stint in British Columbia, Steven was then traded to Toronto FC in 2015 for two years, before having the chance to return to his home state as a free agent.

“LAFC seemed the best fit as far as the coach. I think Bob Bradley is one of the best coaches, in not only the U.S., but the world. LAFC had a lot of promise by how they were creating this club with the stadium, the fans, the name, the logo, etc., it seemed they were doing it right. Being from California, I had a lot of other offers, so it wasn’t an easy decision. But it made the decision a little easier.”

On January 24, 2018, the 32-year-old defender signed with the Los Angeles Football Club. Beitashour hit two major career milestones during his first year with the expansion club:

  • Beitashour made his 200th start in the 2-0 win against the Columbus Crew SC on June 23rd, becoming the 100th MLS player in league history to reach the mark. 
  • Beitashour also started in all 30 of his MLS Regular Season appearances, his sixth season surpassing the 2000 minute mark. 

Since then, Beitashour has been fortunate to find a club that not only supports him as a player but highly respects his Iranian heritage.

“[There’s] a huge soccer culture in the Iranian culture. If you ask them, ‘what is your favorite sport?’ I think 99% of them would say soccer. […] So the fact that you can bring awareness that there is an Iranian-American player playing in the MLS – in their own backyard. I think a lot of them stick well to it and are LAFC fans.”

There is a significant population of Iranians and Iranian-Americans in and around Los Angeles, with some estimates stating there are between 300,000 and half a million people of Iranian heritage residing in the greater Los Angeles area. It is considered to be the largest group of Iranians outside of Iran in the world.

“There are a lot of young kids that are in a similar position where they’re Iranian-American – they want to play for the MLS, they want to play for the Iranian National Team and they look at my story for hope and belief.”

LAFC have been groundbreakers in cultural acceptance by recognizing and respecting each player’s background. Omar Gaber, former defender and Egyptian native kicked off the tradition last year of having the first player t-shirt in Arabic before departing the club in July of 2018.

Last October, the LAFC released the first Farsi t-shirt in MLS history; a shirt in black-and-gold, that reads: ‘Los Angeles Football Club’ to show solidarity with the defender.

“I think they’re taking advantage of the fact that’s there so many Iranians, Persians, in the greater Los Angeles area. And the fact they support me in that way, and they show that they support all their players. Not just me. [It] really speaks volumes of the club and how they’re doing things,” Beitashour continues. “LA has a lot of different cultures [and] ethnicities here. Soccer is the world game. So anytime you can get into those areas; it’s really smart and beneficial for both the club and the player.”

In addition to having personalized player apparel added to LAFC HQ’s cultural collection, alongside Lee Nguyen’s player tee in Vietnamese, Beitashour had the opportunity to share his culture through food on an episode of “Taste of LAFC” hosted by Max Bretos. He took LAFC’s play-by-play announcer to Shamshiri Grill just outside of Westwood to enjoy a traditional Persian meal while discussing his experiences with the club.

Off the field, the new father balances spending time with his family, filming his “Beita Time” series on LAFC’s youtube channel, and recording episodes of the ‘Back-To-Back’ podcast with fellow teammate Jordan Harvey.

LAFC continues to be a trailblazer in MLS by displaying player support on both personal and athletic levels. And Steven Beitashour is proof of that.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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Sporting KC Falls to Real Salt Lake In 2-1 Loss

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Coming off of a strong win in Seattle, Sporting Kansas City fell back into old ways dropping points to rival Real Salt Lake in a 2-1 loss at Children’s Mercy Park.

The match kicked off to a rocky start with winger Gerso Fernandes forced to leave the pitch early in the sixth minute due to an ankle injury. Daniel Salloi came off the bench to take his place in helping the team maintain possession of the ball.

Johnny Russell put SKC on the board in the 31st minute with a free kick. But seven minutes later, Corey Baird was quick to respond for the visitors and leveled the match. 

The home side had a chance to restore their lead after being awarded a penalty kick when RSL’s Donny Toia tripped Russell from behind inside the box. Felipe Gutierrez stepped up to convert but he watched as the ball rattled off the left post – sending them into the half tied up 1-1.

The visitors found their lead in the 70th minute when Jefferson Savarino picked out an unmarked Baird who tucked in a left footed shot into the bottom right corner for a brace.

The home team petitioned for a penalty in the 73rd minute after Gutierrez went down under Aaron Herrera’s lunging challenge and with the support of the crowd chanting for VAR – referee Fotis Bazakos reviewed the play but stood by the call of no penalty.

Things took a turn for the worst in the 84th minute when Sporting lost their second player of the match. Salloi was shown a straight red for a hard tackle on Damir Kreilach when he clipped the midfielder studs up, reducing the home side to 10 men for the duration of the match.

Sporting KC watched as their chances of playoff contention diminished further last night but is it too late? Maybe.

With ten games left in the regular season and still sitting in tenth place with 28 points and a -6 goal differential, every game from now on is crucial for SKC.

“I’m not giving up,” Peter Vermes told the press during the post match press conference.

Sporting KC will now look to bounce back in a mid-week fixture when the team visits Orlando City.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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