All posts by MLSFemale

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

A chat between friends – Presidents of Dallas Beer Guardians and Angel City Brigade briefly discuss the recent game

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale
Official FC Dallas Reporter

By Bailey Brown // @baileystaysposi

With guest, Karina Ceja

Karina and I met this past year at the annual Independent Supporters Council Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada. We automatically became friends and have bonded over our love of soccer and Selena. She now serves as the President of Angel City Brigade, an independent supporters group for LA Galaxy.

After our game on Saturday, I reached out to her with some questions that I have had as an outsider looking in and trying to get her thoughts on the game.

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale
Karina Ceja

BB: Hey girl! Thanks so much for being down for this. I think any time we can show supporters having a friendly discussion is always a plus. Anyways, I’m excited about this.

Okay, so let’s jump right in!

I have to admit, when you guys signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, I was incredibly upset. Not because I was jealous, but because I felt like this was just another instance of 1. LA Galaxy flexing its money muscles and 2. The overall look of players from European Premier League not super in the prime coming to MLS for a new beginning. What were your thoughts when you guys finally made the deal?

KC: So, this was a rumor for a few seasons now. At first, I didn’t pay much attention because I didn’t know if/ when this would finally happen but a friend/ reliable source mentioned it to me a few days before the deal was finalized. Given the nature of his career and success, I was stoked, but I was also afraid because he hadn’t played in so long and I didn’t know how his personality would mesh with the rest of the team.

BB: Now that you’ve had him for a couple of games, do you think the investment was worth it/will continue to be worth it?

KC: I definitely think it was worth it. We had lots of games last season where our midfield and defense would play their role, we just didn’t have confident forwards to fulfill the goals we needed to capture the wins.  There are no words to describe how “worth it” he was/is during his debut, helping the team come back from a 0-3 deficit to beat the new team in town. I was crying in the stands, “I LOVE YOU, ZLATAN!”

BB: So, something I’ve come to on my own conclusion is that a lot of these big name players don’t affect the gameplay as much as other acquisitions. For example, in Chicago, I will always stand by the signing of Dax McCarty being a much bigger influence on their midfield than Bastian Schweinsteiger. I get that one brings in a lot more money than the other, but do you think there were any other signings for Galaxy this year that have made a bigger impact for you guys?

KC: Yes. Ola Kamara! Not a huge surprise, considering his stats with the Crew. He has shown heart and dedication since preseason and has continued to do so. He even got a goal on FC Dallas.

BB: Okay, I agree. Ola Kamara was a solid acquisition. I hope to see Zlatan deliver to him up more. I know they’re still working out the kinks and you could see that in the game this past weekend. Once both of them get a little more time together, I think they will both be able to work better at the connection piece.

Saturday, May 12: FC Dallas 3 – LA Galaxy 2

BB: Okay, so let’s start about the game. FC Dallas saw a glimpse of glory with Diaz coming back and making 3 assists for our team. For someone who has been starting on the bench and who has, for the most part, not been as consistent since THE injury (referring back to 2016), this was refreshing to see.

Not to mention Roland Lamah putting two balls in the back of the net for us. Were there any standout plays to you on your side? Reto Ziegler got his second caution in the 73rd minute ultimately sending him off the field and Dallas down a man. I really didn’t agree with it, but I’m not the ref. However, I do think this helped give you guys momentum for your second goal. What are your thoughts on all of it?

KC: To be honest, after the first Urruti goal, I was like, “Okay, here we go with 2017 all over again.” Dallas playing with 10 men seemed to have an influential drive for the Galaxy. They started attacking and eventually, Boateng landed that second goal- which helped the team feel like we were still in the game. Alessandrini and Zlatan both had shots that hit the post, so there was still hope that we’d get a shot in for the tie. Towards the end of the match, I thought we’d tie.

BB: Okay, and lastly… I know you joke about keeping the Wooden Spoon (Independent Supporters Council trophy for worst overall record in the league… the less spectacular sibling of the Supporters Shield), but I really don’t think you’ll have it again. If I’m being completely honest, I think that will be reserved for Seattle this year and I’m not sad about it.

However, I feel like you guys are definitely seeing a little more consistency this year overall. What are your thoughts after last year (I mean, I feel like Dallas ended well enough to share that trophy with you)?

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale
Picture of the Wooden Spoon on its way back to L.A.

KC: I haven’t completely lost hope in our season. I do joke about it but we still have a few months to get it together. Last year was a combination of bad coaching, poor defense, no performing strikers. We have a bit more consistency with scorers– we just have to get our team to defend the last 15 minutes of each game. We will come back– even if it’s just for a brief playoff appearance.

Featured image: Bailey Brown

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @baileystaysposi

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The Road to Russia: Vela, Gaber, Beitashour and Ureña from LAFC named to provisional rosters

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Monday was a busy day for LAFC as the club announced four players named to their national team’s provisional squads, respectively. In addition to, Los Angeles will serve as one of the host cities for the Gold Cup in 2019.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is starting to heat up as managers of all 32 countries competing in the 2018 tournament officially released the provisional squad rosters on Monday. Each country’s coach selected between 30-35 players for their provisional squads.

Teams have until June 4 to announce their official 23-man tournament roster. However, some coaches have already announced their final rosters before the deadline. Including, Costa Rica’s head coach Óscar Ramírez.

The month-long tournament will kick off on June 15 with the group stage running till the 28th before going on a two-day break for the knockout phase. The final will take place on July 15 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

LAFC is the only MLS club with the most potential participants in this year’s tournament and is expected to have multiple players called up by their respective national teams:

Steven Beitashour – Iran

For the first time since 2014, defender Steven Beitashour has been called up by the Iranian National Team and has the opportunity to make his second appearance for the squad in the 2018 World Cup.

The San Jose native first featured for the Iranian National Team in 2013 and appeared in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He notched an assist in Iran’s 3-0 win over Thailand in Asian Cup qualifications in 2013 and was on the bench for the national team’s three group matches in Brazil.

Iran is the first team from the Asian Football Confederation to stamp their ticket to Russia. Iran was drawn into group B with Morocco, Spain, and Portugal – arguably the toughest group in the tournament. If selected, Beitashour could face Ronaldo.

Despite, the controversial call-ups of Masoud Shojaei and Ehsah Haji Safi – both players who were initially banned for life last year after playing for their Greek club Panionios against an Israeli team – Beitashour remains on the 35-man provisional roster. There is a chance he will not make the trip as head coach still has less than a month to whittle down his squad to 23 players for the tournament.

Omar Gaber – Egypt

Omar Gaber was named to Egypt’s 29-man provisional squad as The Pharaohs prepares for their first World Cup appearance since 1990. The 26-year-old defender is a veteran of World Cups in youth tournaments for Egypt and now has a chance to make his first appearance for the senior competition led by head coach Hector Cuper.

Egypt was selected to play in Group A with Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and the host country, Russia. Although Egypt won’t play the host country until June 19, Gaber’s presence can be huge for the team. Gaber has played 18 times for Egypt, appearing in five games in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.

Carlos Vela – Mexico

Vela has been vital to the black and gold’s current success having scored his sixth MLS career goal this past Sunday in a dramatic 2-2 draw against New York City FC. Named to the 28-man preliminary roster by the boss Juan Carlos Osorio, Vela has a chance to bring his talent back to the world stage.

A veteran of the 2010 World Cup, Vela has been a consistent starter during Mexico’s qualifying campaign and helped his team stamp their ticket to Russia. Vela skipped the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to a long-standing dispute with the national team. However, he returned to the roster later that year. The forward has recorded 67 appearances and 18 goals for El Tri and is now on the verge of his second World Cup appearance.

Mexico was drawn into Group F consisting of Germany, Sweden, Korea Republic. Mexico is set to start their run on June 17 against the current World Cup champions and will need Vela’s help to hold off the German powerhouse.

Marco Ureña – Costa Rica

The 28-year-old LAFC forward Marco Ureña is part of the squad that will represent Costa Rica this summer and has been a key player for both club and country. Costa Rica’s head coach Óscar Ramírez announced his final roster the same day before the deadline, making it Ureña’s second World Cup selection.

The forward recently underwent surgery to repair a facial fracture injury he acquired in LAFC’s home opener against Seattle on April 29. As he continues to heal, it is expected Ureña will make the trip to Russia, and likely to play, too.

Although it is an honor to be called up for national duty, this means Ureña could possibly miss five games including the friendly against Borussia Dortmund, and potentially longer depending on how far Costa Rica advances.

Featured image courtesy: @FIFAWorldCup

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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Chicago Fire: You win some, you lose some

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Chicago Fire 1- Atlanta United 2: Loss

Saturday, May 5

After two road games, the Chicago Fire came back home to Toyota Park to host the Atlanta United. The last time the two met the Fire played with 10 men early in the game and eventually lost the game 4-0.

Starting XI

Richard Sanchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Damian Lillard, Brandon Vincent; Dax McCarty ©, Mo Adams; Elliot Collier, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Aleksandar Katai; Nemanja Nikolić

Chicago Fire coach, Veljko Paunović kept the same lineup from the previous week against Toronto FC, but in a different formation, Schweinsteiger was moved up from the back line to attacking midfield in order to create scoring opportunities for Nikolić and Katai. 

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Aleksandar Katai (left) and Diego Campos (right) setting up for a free kick. Image: Daniela Calvo

The Fire dominated the first half by keeping Atlanta on their toes in order to minimize them from scoring. The Fire was aware that Atlanta could find space and exploit it by creating a scoring opportunity. But once the halftime whistle blew the score was 0-0.

Subsequently, 8 minutes into the second half, Atlanta’s Ezequiel Barco scored the first goal of the night with an assist from Miguel Almirón. Then 4 minutes after that, it was Josef Martinez who scored the second goal for Atlanta.  Ultimately in the 61st minute, Fire’s, Kevin Ellis scored his first goal of the season with a half-volley and the last one of the match.

The Fire played a midweek game against The Montreal Impact.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Kevin Ellis, player who scored Chicago’s only goal of the match. Image: Daniela Calvo

Chicago Fire 1- Montreal Impact 0: Win

Wednesday, May 9

Starting XI

Richard Sanchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Damian Lillard, Brandon Vincent; Mo Adams, Dax McCarty©, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Alan Gordon, Aleksandar Katai, Nemanja Nikolić

After losing to Atlanta United 4 days prior, the Chicago Fire were looking to defeat the Montreal Impact. This time Fire Coach, Veljko Paunović added Alan Gordon to the starting lineup. Currently, both teams are battling for the middle of the table so this game is an important one.

It took 34 minutes into the game of Aleksandar Katai to find a scoring opportunity, but unfortunately, Impact defender, Daniel Lovitz was there to clear the ball and keep the score an even 0-0 in the first half.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Bastian Schweinsteiger setting up for a free kick after he was fouled. Image: Daniela Calvo

The Fire bounced back in the 89th minute when defender Kevin Ellis scored the only goal of the match for the Fire marking the final score 1-0. The Fire tend to dominate in the second half, and having young talented players on the bench aides them when its time to sub in to keep the momentum going in the final minutes of the game.

Chicago Fire’s Mo Adams aided the team greatly with his defensive skills. He was all over the field stopping Impact’s Ignacio Piatti from putting them on the board. He was not awarded Man of the Match, but he sure made an impact. 

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Rookie Mo Adams. Image: Daniela Calvo

Images courtesy: Daniela Calvo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @DanielaCalvo__

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Orlando City breaks Club’s win streak record with match against RSL

Shae Beaudoin - Orlando City SC/mlsfemale
Official Orlando City Reporter

By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz

Sunday, May 6: 3-1 Win

This past Sunday, Orlando City broke the Club’s win streak record with a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake. This marks 6 consecutive wins for the Lions, breaking the Club’s record of 5 straight wins which was set in the 2017 season. Most notably, this win streak includes two away matches, which used to cause us quite some trouble.

If you recall a few weeks back, I brought up the concern about the depth of our defense line. This concern rose again for this match against Real Salt Lake, as City went into this game without captain Jonathan Spector (still on concussion protocol), Scott Sutter (knee injury), and Amro Tarek (broken nose and lower body injury). Instead, the offseason addition, Chris Schuler made his City debut and got a full 90 minutes at that.

I wish you all could have been at the Orlando City Soccer Stadium for this game and stood on The Wall with me. The energy was unreal with fans buzzing from the first kick, urging our team towards the 6th straight win. 

The first half saw Orlando City dominating on possession and having way too many close shots, which, unfortunately, none of them made it in. That didn’t matter to The Wall, though. Every attempt seemed to rile them up even more.

Chris Mueller performed some nice little footwork tricks to trap up Salt Lake’s defense and Justin Meram was more alive and on the ball than I’ve seen him all season. Sacha Kljestan also made quite a few attempts of his own. The team wanted those goals, they just kept misstepping or overshooting.

Maybe they were getting a little too overeager, who knows? Corey Baird of Real Salt Lake tried to diminish spirits in the 12th minute when he managed to slip one past goalkeeper Joe Bendik, but that didn’t put too much of a damper on things. We ended the first half 0-1 and with The Wall as loud as ever.

Second half, the Lions came back with a vengeance, just as we were hoping they would. It took a few minutes to get warmed up, but Dom Dwyer started the fire in the 60th minute. Three minutes later, Lamine Sané got his first goal in purple. Honestly, I think part of the stadium got comfortable with two, but Yoshimar Yotún wanted to be extra safe and tucked away a third goal in the 78th minute.

There were also several great saves by Joe Bendik during this match, or we may have been singing a different tune in this report. (Bendik also got himself a pretty little yellow card, but hey).

Stefano Pinho subbed in for Chris Mueller who went down for injury but don’t worry. He was up walking around again by the end of the game so hopefully, it was just a strained muscle and he’ll be back with us next week. I’d love for him to score on Atlanta. Thankfully, no other new injuries to report this game, our remaining two subs were RJ Allen and Uri Rosell, who replaced Justin Meram and Yoshimar Yotún.

Orlando City is back home again next week where they face off against Atlanta United. City will be pushing for their 7th straight win, Atlanta will be pushing for their 8th. There’s sure to be a whole lot of tension and 90 minutes of pure energy. Will you be there?

Featured image courtesy: Shae Beaudoin

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @ShaeEliz

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Ask and you shall receive: Montréal Impact respond to Coach’s request

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, May 5: 4-2 Win

Earlier this week, Montréal Impact head coach Rémi Garde’s interview with the media became a talking point around MLS. When questioned by reporters, Garde stated that his players were not used to “training culture.” More shocking were his comments that Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Dominic Oduro, and Raheem Edwards, in particular, were not giving enough effort in training to compete for a spot on the bench, let alone a starting position.

These words were scrutinized by fans and journalists alike as the Impact prepared for their second home game versus New England Revolution after losing four straight matches in April. Everyone wondered if the coach was transforming the team, or if he was about to lose his locker room.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Image: @impactmontreal

Imagine the surprise of many when the Impact presented their lineup. The familiar comfort of the 4-3-3 returned with two of the players singled-out by Garde in the starting 11: Jackson-Hamel and Edwards featured as striker and right winger, respectively. After being criticized by their manager, the young attackers would have the opportunity to prove their investment and desire to represent Montréal. Nacho Piatti captained the side and returned to his more familiar position on the left wing as he marked his 100th MLS match with the Impact.

The first half saw the Revs largely out-play a low-confidence Impact. On the attacking side, Edwards missed a golden opportunity to finish a cross from left back Daniel Lovitz, and Evan Bush was present to deal with a number of New England corners. To the delight of home fans, Piatti fed a delicious through ball to Jackson-Hamel who had remained just a hair on-side. The striker ran 40 yards alone to beat the keeper and saw his first goal of the season bobble across the line with only seconds left in the half.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Piatti, Edwards, and Jackson-Hamel hugging for the header. Image: @impactmontreal

As the second half began, worry was in the air. The Impact had held a leading position during the previous two matches (3-1 vs LAFC and 0-1 vs Atlanta United) to start the second half and had folded in on themselves such that the league’s leakiest defense conceded enough goals to lose both games. Would the team try the same failing tactic once again?

The answer would prove to be a resounding “No.” Instead, fans were treated to a sight they had come to know and love over the four seasons Piatti has been with the team: The Nacho Show. Author of the assist to Jackson-Hamel’s first-half goal, Piatti would go on to provide two more assists – another to Jackson-Hamel and one to Edwards as they journeyed down their road to redemption. Finally, the Argentinian magician finished off a brilliant long pass by Samuel Piette to score a goal of his own.

Unfortunately, the Impact’s defensive woes would come back to haunt them again, as they conceded two late goals from set pieces, to finish with a scoreline of 4-2. While it is important to keep in mind that the team cannot continue to ship in multiple goals per game, credit should be heaped upon Piatti for the leadership he showed in creating chances for his teammates who were most in need.

Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Raheem Edwards also deserve their share of recognition for showing up when it mattered and seizing the opportunity they were afforded. Finally, Rémi Garde’s psychological tactics paid off, and perhaps he is instigating a much-needed cultural revolution within the team. Regardless of what challenges are to come in the rest of the season, the Impact deserve to celebrate a much-needed victory.

Up next: The Impact have a quick turn-around, as they make a mid-week trip to face Chicago Fire on Wednesday, May 9th.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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LAFC weekly update: LAFC signs Lee Nguyen and Adama Diomandé

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

This week has been a busy week for the black and gold. Following their historical first home win with a late goal from Laurent Ciman, the club adds Lee Nguyen and Adama Diomande to the roster. Including, returning to late night TV for some soccer practice with James Corden.

Historical Night

It was a night for the books filled with moments like Will Ferrell holding a falcon and the crowd singing the national anthem in perfect harmony. The best moment of all came when Ciman scored the lone goal during stoppage time delivering LAFC their first home victory.

Banc of California Stadium is ready to do it all again this Saturday as the club hosts FC Dallas. Kickoff is at 12:55 pm PT.

LAFC is currently in 2nd place in the Western Conference just behind Sporting Kansas City by two points.

Roster Movements

Nguyen, a 6-year MLS Veteran and US international, joins LAFC after a long career with the New England Revolution. Last season, Nguyen put up 11 goals and 15 assists, his third straight campaign with double-digit assists. Overall, he’s logged 51 goals and 49 assists in six MLS seasons. The 31-year-old requested a trade during the offseason and reported to camp in the latter part of the preseason after a rumored standoff with the club.

It seems he finally got the trade he’s always wanted as he enters Bradley’s team – who gave Nguyen his debut on the US national team in 2007 – this week. Nguyen joined the team for his first practice Thursday evening and could debut Saturday.

LAFC then completed their deal with the Norwegian striker before the primary transfer window closed. The 28-year-old moves to Los Angeles after Hull City canceled his contract allowing him to join the MLS expansion side.

Diomandé spent most of his career in his native country and most notably played for Stabaek when Bob Bradley was the coach there. His scoring rate hasn’t been favorable as he only scored 82 goals in 222 club appearances during his career.

However, under the supervision of Bradley, he scored 25 goals in 26 games for Stabaek. So there is hope. Of course, his signing does raise some eyebrows since this addition now puts LAFC over the international slot allotment.

Late Late Soccer Practice

Owner Will Ferrell and LAFC players Tyler Miller, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour, Jordan Harvey, and Mark-Anthony Kaye appeared on the Late Late Night Show with James Corden for the second time in a row Thursday night. Sadly, the team did not have a rematch – with Corden and LLS FC – but instead opted to play games as the host spun on a wheel donning a soccer ball on his chest. One by one the players took turns at trying to kick the ball through the hole on the wheel.

Featured image courtesy: @LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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The LA Galaxy keep putting one foot in front of the other

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, April 28: 2-3 Loss

I wanted this title to reflect the ’90s, but this song by Walk the Moon makes more sense. The Los Angeles Galaxy did celebrate their last 22 years with Throwback night on Saturday, April 28, 2018. They played ‘90s music, had a discounted scarf that was the classic gold and green, and gave out a clear fanny pack.

Our starting lineup: David Bingham; Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole; Sebastian Lletget, Perry Kitchen; Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Ola Kamara; Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Substitutions:

Justin Vom Steeg, Emrah Klimenta, Daniel Steres, Servando Carrasco, Baggio Husidic, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius.

We conceded two goals in the first half. I was sitting near the New York Red Bulls’ supporters to give myself a different experience at this match. I was by myself for the first time, but I didn’t mind since I always end up chatting with people around me. It was a near capacity crowd.

I knew I would move for the second half. I wanted a specific Galaxy jacket but found out it had been discontinued. So, I was cold and during halftime went and got myself some new gear, including that throwback scarf to show how long I’d been a fan. I have a Landon Donovan shirt that’s also the classic style, but it’s gotten small since 2005.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Rick Koser and I. Image: Michelle Huitink

After shopping, I had time in the half to meet up with fellow fan, Rick Koser, who invited me to come sit with him in section 116. We chatted about soccer, of course, and got to know each other a bit; we are both SoCal natives.

I said how LAG had a good start. David Bingham had really been making fantastic saves, and the Galaxy needs to be more patient. As for the calls not being in our favor, we both expressed displeasure with VAR and the refs’ decisions. Rick, who became a season ticket member three years ago said, “the Galaxy can’t catch a break.” I agree wholeheartedly.

We noticed the confetti that seemed to keep floating in the stadium. Fellow MLSFemale writer, Jess Houwen, texted me asking if it was confetti she was seeing on her screen. According to this tweet, this is why…

We continued to watch our beloved team fight for us.

Romain Alessandrini kept the ball in play and even slid to keep it in the 63rd minute. He took on the defenders and after the 73rd minute, he faced a RBNY player one on one “dancing” with him to keep possession of the ball. He really stood out most to me in both halves.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Romain Alessandrini. Image: Michelle Huitink

We came back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game. Ola Kamara scored in the 59th minute on an assist from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He hadn’t scored since the home opener. Then, Giovani Dos Santos scored in the 66th minute. He hadn’t scored since May 27, 2017.

Then, as fate would have it, a penalty was called and RBNY’s Alejandro Romero scored in the 84th minute.

Even with five minutes extra time, the Galaxy came up short and lost at home again.

The New York Red Bulls played a good game. Florian Valot scored a great goal in the 49th minute. This was a team that played in the CONCACAF Champions League. They’re tough and were also coming off a previous home loss, so I can’t emphasize enough how proud I am of my LA Galaxy to take them on and score two goals.

At times it felt there was a magnetic field around the net for the Galaxy when they tried to score. The calls against us really seemed to take the wind out of the LA Galaxy’s sails. Alessandrini was understandably frustrated since his goal in the first half had been rescinded post celebration per VAR.

I could blame the refs more, but there’s no point here. I’ve watched the United States Men’s National Team fight in the World Cup against bad, and what we see as unfair, calls; it’s how the game goes sometimes. We got to push on despite that. They really did fight til the whistle blew.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic played 90 minutes again.

Sebastian Lletget played a full 90 minutes since his injury.

I want to focus on our progress. I mean, Gio Dos Santos scored, y’all! Ola Kamara scored. Everyone on that pitch: the starting lineup and subs Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius, and Daniel Steres put in their best effort.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Cozmo, our mascot, in his throwback outfit. Image: Michelle Huitink

It’s going to be tough ahead as we have a three-game road stretch. I have all the faith in my team and wish them well as injuries continue to plague the soccer world.

Featured image courtesy: Michelle Huitink 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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Lucky Loons defuse disaster

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, April 28: 2-1 Win

Anyone following Minnesota United’s trajectory over the last month may have felt skeptical going into Saturday night’s match against Houston Dynamo. On the heels of a four-match losing streak culminating with a season-ending injury to midfielder Ethan Finlay, could the Loons defuse a Dynamo squad hungry for a winning streak after a 5-1 result against Toronto FC?

Keeping tabs on the Supporters and their flag-waving for the full 90 minutes was more entertaining than much of the early action on the field. There was tense excitement, with many fearful of the club setting a new record for losses, but thrilled to be welcoming them home.

Bridget McDowell - MNUFC/mlsfemale
Supporter section as seen from press box. Image: Bridget McDowell

Within ten minutes, their worst fear was confirmed.

 

Another defensive lapse. Another early goal. Please, Loons. Not again.

They fought hard to avoid a deeper deficit. Chris Ramirez nearly solved their final-third conundrum with a long-range shot on goal in the 25th minute. Had Joe Willis recovered just a half-step slower, Superman would have notched a golazo. Unfortunately, that was the high point of his game. Ramirez, just five minutes later, with a hamstring injury which will keep him off the pitch for the foreseeable future.

United’s attack showed some urgency then. Just before halftime, Darwin Quintero earned a penalty kick which he buried effortlessly in the upper right corner. It was the DP’s first goal on home turf. And the supporters gave it a warm, exuberant welcome.

After halftime, the rollercoaster continued. Good chances were followed by turnovers which could have proved costly if it weren’t for some patented MNUFC luck. In the 66th minute, keeper Bobby Shuttleworth miraculously saves Manotas’ header, eliciting from the crowd a sigh of relief, mixed with disbelief, that could likely be heard by passengers on the train platform across the street from the stadium.

More disbelief followed minutes later. No one was shocked when the Loons missed any chance of scoring on a set piece (the club’s record on set pieces is a tradition from well back in their NASL tenure). The surprise came when winger Miguel Ibarra collected the ball and crossed it into the box where it met the heel of… Ibson?

 

When coach Adrian Heath was asked during the post-match presser what he thought Ibson was doing in that position, his first reaction was to grin and shake his head. Ibarra responded similarly when he met with the media in the locker room.

Regardless of how he got to that spot, which VAR thankfully confirmed to be on-side (it was close), Ibson now has two goals this season. Sure, both drew cheers of “Goal!… Ibson?” But this crowd only asks so many questions about home goals. Ibson certainly isn’t asking questions either:

This goal broke the streak. It secured three points. It extended Minnesota’s record to 2-1-0 at home, where the club will play four of its next five games. Was it pretty? No. Was it a little frustrating and perplexing at times? Oh, yes. Yes, it was.

But it was a win and Minnesota’s fans will take a win, however, and whenever they can get it. And they’ll certainly take more moments like this, shared with 21,574 of their closest friends:

Featured image of the team walk out courtesy: Bridget McDowell

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The Fire Break Even

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, April 28: 2-2 Draw

Starting XI

Richard Sánchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Grant Lillard, Brandon Vincent (Alan Gordon 82’); Mo Adams, Dax McCarty © (Jon Bakero 76’); Elliot Collier (Diego Campos 67’), Nemanja Nikolić, Aleksandar Katai

The Chicago Fire were coming hot from New York after defeating the Red Bulls and were anticipating to trounce the reigning MLS Cup Champions, Toronto FC. Just 48 hours prior to this match, Toronto lost their final game against Las Chivas de Guadalajara in Mexico for the CONCACAF Champions League title. Seeing that the Fire was on a weeks rest, it was apparent that they were going to take advantage and try to win another 3 points on the road.

VAR

The first half was dominated by close calls that led to 3 separate occasions where Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used. The first time was in the 8th minute when Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio scored the go-ahead goal. The reason VAR was used was because Sebastian Giovinco was offside when he passed the ball to his teammate Osorio.

Despite using VAR, the referee made the incorrect call, the goal stands, and Toronto is up 1-0 early in the game. 3 minutes later, VAR was used once more to rule out a second Toronto goal- this time Giovinco put the ball in the net and was assisted by Nicolas Hasler who was ruled offside on the initial playthrough.

But in the 22nd minute, Victor Vazquez scored Toronto’s second goal with an assist by Michael Bradley. The third and final time VAR was used was in the 36th minute when Chicago Fire’s Nemanja Nikolić was hurt inside the box by Toronto defender, Ashtone Morgan-the call was ruled a penalty, which Bastian Schweinsteiger took and missed. The Fire is down 2 goals at the half.

Eye of the Schweinsteiger

In the second half, the Fire did what they do best, which is hustle. Schweinsteiger moved from his spot as defender and took on a midfield position in order to open space and create scoring opportunities. Twenty-five minutes into the second half, Schweinsteiger scored Chicago’s first goal of the match. After pressing Toronto, the Fire equalized the score in stoppage time. Schweinsteiger and Johan Kappelholf assisted Alan Gordon who scored the final goal of the match.

The Fire return home next Saturday, May 5 against Atlanta United at 7:30 PM CST.

Featured image of Sanchez courtesy: @ChicagoFire

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Columbus Crew SC vs San Jose Earthquakes

 

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, April 28: 2-1 Win

On a cool April evening, Mapfre Stadium hosted a Superhero themed night.  Not only were the stands filled with superheroes, but a superhero was found on the field too—resulting in a Columbus Crew SC 2-1 victory over San Jose Earthquakes.   

Crew SC led off the scoring with a Harrison Afful goal from a Frederico Higuain assist in the 28’.  The Earthquakes didn’t let Columbus get too comfortable with the lead for very long.  In the 45’, Florian Jungwirth sent a ball across the field to a seemingly unmarked Danny Hoesen.  Hoesen buried a header past Zach Steffen who looked like he may have gotten hit by a villain’s freeze ray.  Although, I’m not sure there is much Steffen could have done to stop it.

In the 51’, it looked like Crew SC may have found their answer.  When Afful sent in a cross, Milton Valenzuela shot the ball, but an Earthquake defender blocked the ball.  It rebounded to Gyasi Zardes who took a shot, which seemed to hit the raised hands of the defender and deflected away.  Most fans and Crew SC players thought it should be a penalty kick.  Nothing was called, and the game continued.

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Milton Valenzuela image: Hilary @hils4crew

Mike Grella entered his first game for Crew SC in the 65’ after being picked up in the offseason. Grella hadn’t played in an MLS match since early 2017 due to a serious injury.   He has been working back from this injury and these were his first returning steps into an MLS game. 

What Grella didn’t tell his teammates and fans is that he had on his superhero cape.    In the 84’, Pedro Santos crossed the ball across to Grella who after a few quick touches buried the ball past the keeper at the near post earning Crew SC the win.    I don’t know if you can write a happier ending than that. 

Thoughts on the Game:

Earlier in the week, the club announced a contract extension for Higuain for next season.  Now, I’ve always been pretty vocal about how vital I think Pipa is for this team, but for the last few weeks, he has gotten several cards for dissent, kicked the sideboards, and yelled at some of his teammates pretty heatedly on the field.  This reminds me of Pipa from a few years back–not one I thought was playing the best soccer.  While I appreciate passion, I hope it doesn’t start to negatively impact his game.

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Pipa image: Hilary @hils4crew

In the last few weeks, Crew SC has significantly outshot its opponents.  While Crew SC is holding their opponents to very few shots, the problem is that the opponents’ shots are going in.  So, Columbus needs to figure out how to continue to limit their opponents’ shot opportunities while not allowing their limited shots to actually enter the goal.

I still feel this team is missing Justin Meram’s production and knowledge of his teammates’ tendencies.  Hopefully, Grella might develop into an answer to Meram’s absence.  I’m also a huge fan of our rookie left back Milton Valenzuela.  He is one to keep an eye on throughout the season if you haven’t already noticed him. 

This upcoming weekend, Crew SC travel across the country to play the Seattle Sounders.  Hopefully, the team will remember their superhero capes.

Featured image courtesy: Hilary

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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