All posts by MLSFemale

MLSFemale is a group of talented soccer reporters. We bring you MLS from the female perspective.

MLSFemale Survey Summary

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyzer/mlsfemale
Survey Analyzer

By Katie Sveinson // @KatieSveinson

Recently, MLSFemale.com created a survey to better understand the experiences of MLS fans.

We found that the Portland Timbers had the most representation in the survey, with 23.3% respondents noting the Timbers as their MLS team. Second place went to the Seattle Sounders, followed by Sporting Kansas City. All 22 teams had fan representation in the survey.

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyst/mlsfemaleOnly 40 out of 132 participants said they were not part of their teams’ supporters group. For those who were part of the supporter groups, the Timbers Army had the most members in the survey, as this group was listed most frequently. The Cauldron was the second most mentioned, and there were multiple individual responses such as Inferno, Ruckus, Resurgence, Sons of Ben, Third Rail, and Vancouver Southsiders to name a few.

Participants noted that they were most likely to attend 1-2 games per season (20.5%), with 17.6% going to 3-5 games. Interestingly, there were 12.1% who don’t normally attend games, compared to 7.5% who attend 25 games or more.

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyst/mlsfemale

Additionally, 24.4% noted that they have been a fan of watching soccer for 20 years or more! Whereas 22.7% have been fans for 6-9 years and 18.5% have been fans for 10-14 years. There are lots of dedicated fans and some who are just starting their career as MLS fans. Furthermore, we found that 96.2% of respondents watch the US national soccer teams and 83.3% watch or follow European football in addition to their MLS team.

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyst/mlsfemale

We asked the participants how they became fans of their MLS team. The most frequent response was based on geographical location. This included cheering for the local team, and overall proximity to their current location. Other responses included the influence of another individual, including friends, parents, and the players for that particular team. An honorable mention should also go out to the ‘atmosphere’, which was discussed numerous times as being an important role in continuing being a fan. 

Thanks to all those who participated! Make sure to be on the lookout for future surveys!

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Drop ‘Em Like They’re Hot

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Columbus Crew SC is dropping points like they are too hot to hold.  Some fans are getting restless.  Some are keeping the faith.  Some are just turning off their TVs because their black and gold hearts can’t take it any more. 

Crew SC continued their point-dropping trend in Atlanta this past Saturday.  Dropping a possible point by allowing Atlanta United to score two goals after tying up the game.  Ending the game with a score of 3-1 Atlanta.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch another game where the wheels came off.  Nor could I bring myself to write about it, so I decided to do a brief look back at the season’s point dropping debacles (where we had a lead or a tie and gave it away) and where we are compared to where we could have been. 

–March 4th against Chicago Fire

Crew SC has the lead in the 17’ and loses the lead in the 73’.  They end in a 1-1 tie.  Crew SC gives up 2 points.

–April 29th against NYCFC

Crew SC goes into the lead in the 49’ and gives it away in the 64’.  They lose 3-2.  Crew SC gives up 3 points.

–May 10th against Toronto FC

Crew SC scores in the 28’ and drops the lead in the 81’.  They lose 2-1. Crew SC gives up 3 points.

–June 3rd against Colorado Rapids

Columbus scores in the 61’, and we lost the lead in the 80’.  They lose 2-1. Crew SC gives up 3 points.

–June 17th against Atlanta

Crew SC tied it up in the 26’ and then lost the draw in the 67’.  They lose 3-1. Crew SC gives up a point.

Columbus Crew SC currently sits 6th in the East with 22 points and a game in hand over most teams in the East.  If we gained all the points I listed above instead of dropping them, we would have 12 more points, and we would be at the top of the Eastern Conference with 34 points.  We would also be on the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.  In reality, I know it isn’t possible to win every one of those games, but even if Crew SC had held on to some points with ties, we would be in a much better position than we are now.

The majority of these give-aways are happening in the 70’ or later.   Is this due to physical or mental fatigue?  Is it the way we are using substitutions?  Is it at this point in the game where we need to be making some tactical shifts? 

I don’t know the answer, but Crew SC better discover it soon if they want to find the magic from the beginning of the season and soothe the hearts of their fans. 

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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SLIP-N-SLIDE IN NYCFC

Kaitlyn O'Rourke - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Seattle Sounders Key Contributor

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke 

Saturday, June 17: 2-1 Loss

The Seattle Sounders lost 2 goals to 1 against New York City FC on Saturday in a wet and slippery Yankee Stadium. Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris (USMNT) Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago), Oniel Fisher (Jamaica), and Roman Torres (Panama) are all back from their national teams. The Sounders lined up in their typical 4-2-3-1, playing all their returning internationals but Roman Torres.

Stefan Frei

Oniel Fisher, Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones

Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan

Harry Shipp, Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey

Jordan Morris

The game kicked off just as fans in Seattle were waking up, fans in New York were being poured on. The teams settled in, with the occasional chance resulting in someone looking like they were on a slip-n-slide (seriously, check out the photos and GIFS from the game. They’re hilarious). Both teams had trouble with the standing water on the field, the ball would stop and players had trouble kicking it. Neither team had a dangerous chance until the Sounders struck first with a goal from Cristian Roldan in the 40th minute.

The New York defense turned the ball over near CR7, who passed it to Harry Shipp, who then passed back to Roldan. The ball deflected off a defender then off Clint Dempsey and found its way to Roldan’s feet. Roldan kept running with the ball, and opted not to pass to Dempsey and scored the opening goal (seriously why is this guy not on the national team??).

In the second half, the ref awarded a penalty for Oniel Fisher “pushing” David Villa in the back. While I don’t think he dove, I don’t think he was pushed, my thought is that he slipped with all the water (but hey, I’ll always have a soft spot for Villa as a Barca fan ;)). Anyways, Villa equalized so congratulations on your 50th goal for NYCFC David*.

The Sounders subbed in Will Bruin for Harry Shipp, moving Morris back to play Shipp’s role and Bruin to be the lone striker. The Sounders had several dangerous chances following the sub, but didn’t capitalize on any.

In the 77th minute, David Villa scored again* for NYCFC on a cross from Jack Harrison. This sunk the Sounders ship for good, Seattle never found an equalizer.

*seriously Villa, you couldn’t have waited until you play Portland?!?!?! ok i’m over it

Takeaways and notes

  • Cristian Roldan deserves to be on the USMNT*.
  • Stefan Frei got his US Citizenship on Tuesday so — 1. Congratulations!! And 2. He’s now eligible to play for the USMNT
  • The game should’ve been stopped at half time, it was said during the broadcast that if the ball stopped moving due to rain/standing water that the game would be stopped. The ball did stop moving several times.
  • Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris need to work better on the field. They should go fishing or dancing or something. **
  • The Sounders play again Wednesday against Orlando (which happens to also be their pride celebration)
  • I don’t know if this is just me, but can we do something about these game times?
  • The game Saturday started at 1pm ET, which meant many Sounders fans had to wake up earlyish for a game.
  • The game against Orlando starts at 7:30pm PT, which means many Orlando fans have to stay up late on a weeknight.  

*seriously Cristian Roldan should be on the national team. He and Jordan Morris could use their BFF powers for good. They could be like Captain America and Wonder…Man? And maybe it’s just me, but I would LOVE to see a USMNT that had DeAndre Yedlin, Cristian Roldan, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, and Christian Pulisic all playing together.

**Maybe the Sounders need to start dancing after games again. It worked last year.

Featured image courtesy: soundersfc.com

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Don’t Play the Blame Game

Mercy Payba - Philadelphia Union/mlsfemale
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

 By Mercy Payba // @mercpay

Sunday, June 18: 0-2 Loss

Late goals are the demise of Philadelphia Union. Out of the nineteen goals the Union has conceded in the regular season, twelve of them have been in the second half. Bradley Wright-Phillips capitalized on the red card given to Derrick Jones in the 53rd minute of the game to tidy up the match with two goals. Was it straight red card worthy? I would disagree, but that’s not exactly the problem to focus on. If anything, the red card gave us the lens to focus on the real issue.

Is it creating chances? Is it defending our goal? Is it our persistent gap in the midfield? These questions have been percolating in the fan base for a long while. No one has a concrete solution and no one can settle on one answer (because there are multiple.) Management tells fans to be patient because change is a-coming and the team is building. At this point, all we’re building is sandcastles. It’s understandable to invest in the academy, in home-grown players that could be the future of the team, but the fact of the matter is we’ve been sitting for seven years on the promise of the future.

  • One more year of waiting isn’t going to make a difference, if the Union can’t see where the problem lies.
  • Yes, the back line isn’t perfect; our CBs need to figure out fluidity, and the combinations currently being used aren’t foolproof.
  • Yes, the midfield is lacking a playmaker, an attacking mid that can not only help pass but create more chances, give vision to more offensive plays. 

If the Union wants to build a bridge to the future, there’s got to be traffic on that bridge for it to be useful. In this case, traffic is getting the money to spend on players for these ‘interim’ seasons. Philadelphia is a small team playing in a league that’s outpacing them every year they stick to building up.

Don’t get me wrong, the Union have done some great things with what they have. There have been ups and downs but in the past five years, Philadelphia seems to sputter and stop in the middle of the pack. The middling status isn’t going to be sufficient enough as the league grows, as talent is fielded from international waters, and the Union has nothing to offer. I’m not an advocate of buying superstars for the sake of it, but I am an advocate of commitment. There’s a certain commitment to being in Philadelphia, to watching games like these and wondering if it’ll ever change.  

There is great talent in the rookies we have playing (Jack Elliott, Marcus Epps, and Derrick Jones) and the B team in Bethlehem Steel. The problem with always looking to the future is neglecting the now. Philadelphia Union has to pick a direction and once they do, commit to it.

Next week: another rivalry game against DC United who are at the bottom of the table. For the sake of the home fans, Philadelphia will try to snap this three game losing streak. Will they succeed? I hope so. The last time the Union faced DC was at RFK with a lot of firsts on the scoreboard ending in a four-goal win.

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Hydration Breaks & the End of the Dry Spell

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, June 18: 2-0 Win

Happy Father’s Day, everybody. After spending my midday watching one of my favorite players of all time (my 9-year-old) in his last game of the season, I made it home just in time to watch the New York Red Bulls (7-7-2, 23 points) take on the Philadelphia Union (4-7-4, 16 points). Let me state for the record: I do NOT believe this matchup qualifies as a rivalry. If anything, RBNY fans seem indifferent towards Philly. That’s understandably odd, since the NY/Philly rivalry is common across other sports. But between DC United and NYCFC, there’s just no room for more animosity.

Panamanian International Michael Amir Murillo is back, as well as Jamaican International Kemar Lawrence, who was under the weather and didn’t make the Starting XI. With the heat and humidity, MLS allowed for hydration breaks during the match.

A key for RBNY was to contain attacking midfielder Chris Pontius, who has scored more goals against the Red Bulls than any individual opponent. They also had to look out for CJ Sapong, who scored a hat trick in the last meeting of these sides. A major obstacle for the team is that while the Red Bulls go 1v1, the Union seem able to double- or triple-team attackers. Red Bulls have no choice but to play the ball into traffic, which prevents them from finishing their attack. All too often, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips ends up behind the defenders as teammates Alex Muyl and Felipe cross the ball towards him. Additionally, RBNY had made great progress in years past on their set pieces, but it just doesn’t yield any results this season. There is an implication that some variety is in order: Captain Sacha Kljestan steps up for most free kicks and corners.

As Murillo gets an increasing number of starts, he is clearly showing the talent that makes him a Panamanian international. Without Kemar on the left, the ball is played up the right channel, and Murillo owns that entire space.

In the 22nd minute, Pontius proved once again how dangerous he can be; however, RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles got a hand on a ball in his 156th consecutive appearance (a previous report by yours truly implied his streak was over when he did not appear in the Open Cup match vs NYCFC—his record is only for regular league matches). A call of offside on the subsequent corner kick caused a Union goal to be called back.

Kemar Lawrence comes in at the start of the 2nd half for Aaron Long, who rolled his ankle and could not continue. Knowing he was unwell, this development was disconcerting, but Lawrence quickly showed that he was feeling fine. Then the advantage increased: Union midfielder Derrick Jones received a straight red in the 53rd minute for a dangerous foul on Felipe, who is the most fouled player in the league. Unfortunately, RBNY could make no progress for more than 30 minutes of play against a team of 10.

Argentinian midfielder Gonzalo Veron was subbed in for Daniel Royer (84′). He doesn’t get many minutes, and it’s not clear why. Especially when he clearly changes the game. He created a chance almost immediately after coming on, but nothing came of it until the 87th minute, when BWP *finally* got in front of defenders and scored, ending a 524-minute goalless streak on the road). Then came an almost carbon-copy goal from BWP in the 92nd minute. Veron was a factor in both goals. Sounds like he’s a real game-changer…

In more pressing matters, the next installment of the Hudson River Derby will be played against NYCFC at Red Bull Arena this coming Saturday. As for the Union, they come back to RBA on June 28th for the Round of 16 in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup. I’d like to see more of what I’ve been seeing.

Featured image courtesy: New York Red Bulls facebook

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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

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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

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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

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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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