All posts by MLSFemale

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Vancouver Whitecaps are Rising Up Rain City

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Sunday, October 15: 1-1 Draw

As the season closes in, the Vancouver Whitecaps have wound their way through almost every spot in the standings. Considering this, their play has also represented all of these standings. We have seen them go toe-to-toe with New York City FC, summoning a fire within that brought even the harshest winds to their adversaries. We have also seen them struggle with chemistry, an ever changing starting lineup, and missing PKs that should have been meticulously placed in one of the four corners of the net.

As the San Jose Earthquakes came to town, we once again saw the on again, off again Whitecaps. With a rather slow and unenthusiastic beginning to the game, we saw a goal from Yordy Reyna (Rayna Terror we call them) in the 29th minute that catalysed the entire team. The effect was immediate, the goal was a team effort touching almost all positions on the pitch.

Most of the game was mediocre by the Whitecaps, though we saw some great attacking plays that just didn’t fall. For me, someone who loves to see some playmaking, I felt like we put more pressure on their back end with runs and finding space rather than our usual long ball over the top that gets sent right back. Honestly, I like the way the attacking half was playing.

The Quakes came back with a goal in the 77th min by Valeri Qazaishvili. A devastating blow to the ‘Caps ability to clinch first place in the West.

Most of what we talk about happens to be goals, so I wanted to give a shout out to Andrew Tarbell and Stefan Marinović who were both magnificent in goal. It really was a delight to watch them both.

Now we work to defeat the Portland Timbers who are going to go in strong in this last game of the regular season. So much rides on this last game. Pride in rival games, first place, and home field advantage going into the playoffs. We need the mids to be stronger, faster, and more accurate with their ball skills.  We need the forwards to continue firing at the net. We need to defeat the Timbers! It’s time to #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nkstar9

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Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Saturday, October 7:1-1 Draw

With Tim Howard (USA) and Mekeil Williams (Trinidad & Tobago) called away for international duty and Michael Azira still out with a questionable ankle, the Colorado Rapids had a new lineup this past weekend against FC Dallas. They played their standard 4-2-3-1 formation with Alan Gordon starting up top for the first time since May. Nana Boateng started the game as a center midfielder, and I have to say that I really liked him there. He was decently physical, though he does still need to learn a little restraint.

 

From the first whistle, both teams played fairly lackluster which was surprising considering Dallas needed points to move into playoff contention. The Rapids struck first with Stefan Aigner getting his second goal of the season in the fifteenth minute. Nana Boateng drew the first card of the match when he slid in hard and late on Dallas’ number 37, Maximiliano Urruti. Atiba Harris got the first yellow for Dallas when it looked like he had a late tackle on Stefan Aigner. The card was overturned once it was evident that Aigner dove and Harris never touched him. Aigner lucked out here because he didn’t get carded for simulation. Several attempts and a minute of stoppage time later, the first half ended.

Jesse Gonzalez proved himself vital to FC Dallas’ defense during the second half by making some incredible saves. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s going to be in the MLS much longer with his talent.

At the 53rd minute, Atiba Harris headed in the equalizer off of a corner kick and that would be the score for the rest of the game. Dallas uses their first sub, and Badji gets the second card of the game in the 67th minute. (It should be noted that this is the third game in a row that Badji has started an argument of some sort with the opposing team. With his contract being renewed for another two years, I wonder if this is something that will be addressed or not.)

Atiba Harris gets his true first yellow of the game when he elbowed the Rapids keeper, Zach MacMath, in the face while going up for a header. The contact was truly accidental as neither man saw the other coming because they were so focused on the ball. Once again, Nana Boateng shows just how much power he has when he kicked the ball from the halfway line into the 18 yard box. The tie would stand though, and move Dallas just above the line, while keeping Colorado ahead of L.A. Galaxy.

The Rapids face Real Salt Lake on Decision Day 2017 (Sunday, October 15, 2017) for their last home game of the season.

15’ – GOAL: Stefan Aigner (COL) – 1-0 Colorado

21’ – CARD: Nana Boateng (COL) – yellow

53’ – GOAL: Atiba Harris (FCD) 1-1

66’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Roland Lamah replaced by Tesho Akindele

67’ – CARD: Dominique Badji (COL) – yellow

69’ – CARD: Atiba Harris (FCD) – yellow

70’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Alan Gordon replaced by Mike DaFonte

82’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Maximiliano Urruti replaced by Cristian Colmán

83’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Stefan Aigner replaced by Shkelzen Gashi

88’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Mauro Diaz replaced by Victor Ulloa

Featured image courtesy: Colorado Rapids facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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Colorado Rapids – We Got Three!!!

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Sunday, October 1: 2-1 Win

Y’all. We did it. We finally got three points this weekend against the Montreal Impact. I don’t think I’ve held my breath that much since the USA/Honduras World Cup Qualifier last month. I walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a huge smile on my face, taking deep breaths, and telling my dad how good it felt to have a win. The truth is, this was easily the weirdest soccer game I have ever witnessed.

The first half saw Stefan Aigner getting his first home start of the season as the 10 alongside Marlon Hairston’s 7 and Joshua Gatt’s 11 with Dominique Badji up top. At 9 minutes in, Jared Watts got the first red card of the game thanks to the VAR. It was the right call. He slid into Chris Duvall’s ankle, studs up, in attempt on the ball. It was a bad decision on Watts’ part.

At this point in the game, the Colorado Rapids formation had to change from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-1 to accommodate for the now missing 8. Duvall was subbed out and the game restarted with 10 Rapids players to Montreal’s 11. Montreal’s Daniel Lovitz got the second red card of the game thanks to a stupid decision. Rapids defender, Mike Da Fonte went up for a header against Lovitz and ended up on the ground. As he was getting up, Lovitz stepped through and kneed him in the ribs. From my understanding of FIFA rules, the ref probably considered this a use of excessive force which would be why he was sent off.

As if two red cards in the first half weren’t weird enough, the ref whistled play dead and restarted with a drop ball when he lost track of the ball in the 41st minute. The fourth official indicated that there would be four minutes of stoppage time and in the second minute of that stoppage time, Aigner found the back of the net for his first career MLS goal. From the review of the play, Aigner moved from an offside to an onside with a little stutter step which put him right in line with Mekeil Williams’ pass.

At the 46th minute, the Rapids used their first sub of the game and replaced Mike Da Fonte with Nana Boateng. Kort Ford got his first yellow in the 47th minute, followed by VAR coming to the Rapids rescue in 51st minute. Hairston takes down Ignacio Piatti in the box and the ref called a PK. The play went to VAR which showed that Hairston made contact with the ball and the PK is overturned.

That relief was short lived as Mateo Mancosu got the equalizer in the 61st minute. Axel Sjöberg missed his opportunity to stop the goal when he turned to the side and let Mancosu go right past him. The shot was unsaveable because it went into the top corner of the net, just over Tim Howard’s fingertips. At this point in the game, both teams were playing with ten men on the field, Montreal used all of their subs, and Colorado used 2 of their 3.

Michael Azira caught his ankle on the grass just wrong and it folded underneath of him. Mohammed Saeid came in as the Rapids third and final substitution. Two minutes later, Alan Gordon scored the game winner and got a yellow card for excessive celebration.

Shortly thereafter, Boateng saw an incredible attempt on Montreal’s goal, from the top of the Rapids’ box, go just wide by a couple of feet at most. The weirdness continued when Montreal went down to 9 men after Piatti twisted his knee and dropped to the ground with no players around him. After playing 89 minutes, Deian Bolder was shown off the field by the center referee because he forgot his shin guards. Mekeil Williams went down on the opposite side of the field with an ankle injury and had to leave in stoppage time.

Both teams ended the game with 9 players, but the Rapids came away with the win and 3 points. We finally moved ahead of LA Galaxy in the league standings thanks to a late goal by Kyle Beckerman to cause a draw between Real Salt Lake and L. A. The Rapids will face FC Dallas at DSG Park on Saturday, October 7th.

9’ – CARD: Jared Watts (COL) – red

13’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (1/3) – Chris Duvall replaced by Hassoun Camara

32’ – CARD: Daniel Lovitz (MON) – red

45’+2 – GOAL: Stefan Aigner (COL) 1-0 Colorado

46’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Mike Da Fonte replaced by Bismark “Nana” Adjei-Boateng

47’ – CARD: Kortne Ford (COL) – yellow

62’ – GOAL: Mateo Mancosu (MON) 1-1

67’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (2/3) – Dominic Oduro replaced by Anthony Jackson-Hamel

72’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Stefan Aigner replaced by Alan Gordon

75’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (3/3) – Patrice Bernier replaced by Michael Salazar

79’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Michael Azira replaced by Mohammed Saeid

81’ – GOAL: Alan Gordon (COL) 2-1 Colorado

82’ – CARD: Alan Gordon (COL) – yellow

85’ – PLAYER OUT: Ignacio Piatti (MON) out for an injury

90’+3 – PLAYER OUT: Mekeil Williams (COL) out for an injury

Featured image of Stefan Aigner courtesy: @stevecookeworld@ColoradoRapids

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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Clinched It – Columbus Crew

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, September 30: 2-0 Win

On Saturday night, Columbus Crew SC did what they did not look able to do in the middle of the season—clinch a playoff spot.  What spot they actually finish in is still unknown, but Crew SC will play at least one playoff game during the 2017 MLS season. 

Columbus Crew SC won 2-0 against one of their oldest rivals, DC United, who had a familiar face in the net.  Former Crew SC keeper Steve Clark was picked up by DC and faced his former teammates.  There wasn’t a lot Steve could have done to stop Crew SC’s two goals though.

In the first quarter of the game, Crew SC seemed to dominate play.  Josh Williams headed in an Higuain corner kick in the 14’ to score the game’s first goal.  Clark was pretty much left out to dry by his defense who left Josh unmarked.

In the middle of the game, it was much more of a back and forth match, but unlike earlier in the season, I never felt a sense of dread that Crew SC might let DC back into this match.  Their unbeaten streak has given the team a much-needed boost of confidence and camaraderie, which has started to radiate into the stands as well.

This isn’t to say that DC didn’t have their chances, but Zack Steffen continues to make great saves.  I hope that at some point the USMNT take notice of Steffen.

In the 56’, Artur sent a ball across the field toward Jimenez who let the ball go through his legs to Justin Meram.  Meram hit a beauty of a shot into the far side of the goal.  As the ball went toward the goal, I was pretty sure he was going to miss.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I don’t think Clark had a chance to save the shot.  I don’t think many keepers could have saved it. 

Other thoughts about the match and Crew SC happenings:

TIFOSweat gets a huge shout out for the large TIFO they did to honor Frederico Higuain who had given all of us the impression that this might be his last season in the black and gold. 

However, not only did Crew SC clinch the playoffs this week, but they also locked up Pipa for another year.  Did the TIFO play a role in his decision?  No one will ever know, but I’m going to go with yes.  He is essential to this team, as I’ve said all season, so I’m glad to see him back for another year.  Now, we just need to lock up Artur.

You can tell both Pipa and Santos grew up playing soccer with a similar mindset.  They are often at the same place on the field at the same time.

If you had asked me to make a bet at the beginning of the season who I thought our starting center backs would be by the end of the season, I would have lost that bet.  Who would have thought Josh Williams and Mensah would be our center back pairing?  But it works.  They look much more confident than any other pairing we have seen this year. 

Finally, I know there was talk on Twitter, and apparently Facebook, about how to handle facing Steve Clark.  Some people wanted to boo him before and after the game and some during the game.  People can obviously do whatever they want to do within reason.    During the game, I laughed when we scored on him and some chanted, “Steve says, ‘Yes!’” as some good-natured ribbing during the game is part of the sport. 

However, I was proud that before the game and after the game the fans cheered Steve.  Despite the goal that will live in infamy during the 2015 MLS Cup, Steve was a solid keeper for this team.  He brought spirit and leadership to a team that desperately needed it, and he loved the fans of this club.  Steve Clark will always be a Crew SC player that I respect and who played lights out soccer in a system where the defense in front of him isn’t always a keeper’s best friend.  Despite how much I respect Steve though, I was glad we scored two goals.

After a break in the action, Crew SC picks back up and plays its last two games on the road to see which playoff spot it will actually have.  And I am going to enjoy the journey.

Featured image courtesy: @JustinMeram

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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A Tale of Two Goodbyes – Colorado Rapids

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Wednesday, September 27: 2-0 Loss

This week has not been an easy one for the Colorado Rapids. Wednesday night’s loss combined with wins around the league has put the Rapids mathematically out of playoff contention. The tie between LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo means we are still in last place of our division, behind by two points now. Again, we are faced with needing the Galaxy to lose while we win in order to not come in dead last in the West. To top this off, the Rapids lost a center forward when Kevin Doyle retired on Thursday.

A win in Frisco would have meant that the Rapids still had the chance to challenge for the playoffs, however, FC Dallas had no intent of letting us off that easy. Like Saturday night, the Rapids again played in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Dallas’ 4-3-3. This match up saw the return of Bobby Burling and Dillon Serna to the starting lineup, and Stefan Aigner’s first start with the Rapids.

The Rapids played half-hearted nearly the full game on Wednesday night as if they had already given up any hope of ending the season with a win or two. Maynor Figueroa (FCD) started the game off with a goal five minutes in after Eric Miller missed a clear opportunity to clear the ball out of the box. Not four minutes later, Miller was beat once again, this time by Roland Lamah (FCD) for the second and final goal of the game.

Bobby Burling drew the first yellow card of the game after channeling his inner hockey player and hip checking Lamah. Colorado got their first opportunity at putting the ball in the back of the net when Matt Hedges drew a card after getting tangled up with Dominique Badji. Two more yellow cards came for the Rapids before the end of the first half when Stefan Aigner mouthed off to the ref and Mohammed Saeid threw the ball at Javier Morales’ head.

The frustration was evident in the second half of the game as the Rapids missed multiple opportunities on goal and, as a result, could not put together a comeback. The Rapids saw a bit of pick up in speed and goal opportunities late in the game after substitutions were made. Marlon Hairston came in for Stefan Aigner and his first touch was an attempt on goal. After being warned about time wasting in the 38th minute, referee Ricardo Salazar finally issued a yellow card for time wasting to Jesse Gonzalez in the 83rd minute.

The Rapids need more central players.

At one point in Wednesday’s game, the entire midfield was left open while players were either at the top of the box or at the midfield line. Kevin Doyle was one solution to that problem and was known for closing down the middle during games. Sadly, he announced his retirement from soccer on Thursday following medical advice from his doctors due to concerns about the risk of permanent damage from further concussions. He had not been seen on the pitch since the second half of the September 2nd game against the Galaxy after getting his second concussion of the season.

Doyle first came to Colorado from Crystal Palace in 2015 and had been a fixture on the Republic of Ireland national team since 2006. He finishes his 16 year career with 63 international caps, and the appreciation of Rapids fans everywhere.

Colorado next faces Montreal Impact at home on Saturday, September 30. Let’s go ‘Pids!

5’ – GOAL: Maynor Figueroa (FCD) 1-0 Dallas

8’ – GOAL: Roland Lamah (FCD) 2-0 Dallas

11’ – CARD: Bobby Burling (COL) – yellow

21’ – CARD: Matt Hedges (FCD) – yellow

44’ – CARD: Stefan Aigner (COL) – yellow

45’ – CARD: Mohammed Saeid (COL) – yellow

54’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Marlon Hairston in for Stefan Aigner

63’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Dominique Badji

69’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Shkelzen Gashi in for Mohammed Saeid

74’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Victor Ulloa in for Mauro Diaz

83’ – CARD:  Jesse Gonzalez (FCD) – yellow

86’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Ryan Hollingshead in for Roland Lamah

89’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Luis González in for Javier Morales

Featured image courtesy: @ColoradoRapids

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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Catching up with the Colorado Rapids

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

This season has been a rough one for Colorado Rapids fans. The end of 2016 saw us lose at home against the Seattle Sounders in the race for the MLS Cup, a victory that has eluded us since 2010. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park had been affectionately nicknamed the “Mile High Fortress,” thanks to their 2016 regular season record at home. This season began full of hope and promise.

And then came 2017.

The 2017 season has been rife with disappointment, losses, and upheavals in staffing and on the field. A team that finished second in the MLS West division to FC Dallas, and the Supporter’s Shield, in the 2016 season was now dealing with life on the bottom of the board. We just couldn’t put together cohesive play to result in more than a handful of wins and the frustration was visible in player interactions on the field.

The offseason saw us sign the likes of Alan Gordon from LA Galaxy, Bismark Adjei-Boateng from the Manchester City system, and not do anything else. Midway through the season we saw the devastating departure of team captain Sam Cronin and Marc Burch to the new expansion team, Minnesota United. In return, Mohammed Saeid and Joshua Gatt donned the burgundy jersey. The departure that seemed to hit the hardest, however, was that of longtime coach and former player, Pablo Mastroeni. The drop in morale was tangible in that first home game since his firing.

There has not been much turnaround for the team under the wing of interim coach Steve Cooke, but Saturday night’s game provided the opportunity for the Rapids to move ahead of LA Galaxy, and out of last place. The Rapids started a 4-2-3-1 against Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place with Jared Watts and Michael Azira playing as a defensive 6 and an attacking 8, respectively, and Dominique Badji at the top as a target player.

The first half saw an early goal go in off of a header from Freddy Montero to put Vancouver ahead 1-nil after Axel Sjöberg was late to the play. Jared Watts (COL) drew the first yellow card of the game in the 14th minute due to a tackle from behind on Yordy Reyna after the ball was gone. Tim Howard then denied Cristian Techera a goal with a sliding save. Tim Parker (VAN) saw an attempt go wide and then turn into a yellow card thanks to his hand ball in the 34th minute.

We finally saw some flashes of Colorado’s defensive capabilities when they denied four consecutive attempts from Vancouver. Dominique Badji scored the equalizer in the 44th minute, megging the keeper, David Ousted. This was his third goal in as many games, bringing him to 9 for the season.

The second half began with a completely incidental collision between Badji and Andrew Jacobsen (VAN), though both got up with a bit of a hobble. Montero had a chance for his second goal, but he went just wide with his attempt. It was a lucky break for Colorado as Howard was down with no chance to make the save. Yordy Reyna beat Howard in the 53rd minute to score the go ahead goal for the Whitecaps.

Tempers soon flared a bit between Marlon Hairston and Tony Tchani, but because of camera angles – we weren’t able to see what happened. However, neither cards nor fouls were issued for the interaction. Michael Azira received the fourth yellow card in the game for pulling down Yordy Reyna. There was no argument from Azira because it was, as announcer Marcelo Balboa called it, “a professional foul”. Despite multiple attempts at the end of the second half, the Rapids were not able to put anything away to bring the score even.

The Rapids face FC Dallas on Wednesday, September 27th in their next round of play. Should the Galaxy lose to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, we will have yet another chance to pull out of last place before the end of the season.

4’ – GOAL: Freddy Montero (VAN) 1-0 Whitecaps

14’ – CARD: Jared Watts (COL) – yellow

34’ – CARD: Tim Parker (VAN) – yellow

43’ – CARD: Mekeil Williams (COL) – yellow

44’ – GOAL: Dominique Badji (COL) 1-1

53’ – GOAL: Yordy Reyna (VAN) 2-1 Whitecaps

59’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Stefan Aigner in for Marlon Hairston

64’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Josh Gatt

69’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (1/3) – Bernie Ibini in for Cristian Techera

75’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Bismark Adjei-Boateng in for Jared Watts

76’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (2/3) – Alphonso Davies in for Brek Shea

82’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (3/3) – Erik Hurtado in for Fredy Montero

86’ – CARD: Michael Azira (COL) – yellow

Featured image courtesy: Colorado Rapids facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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Crew SC Unbeaten in Seven

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, September 23: 3-2 Win

While the calendar says September, Saturday night at Mapfre Stadium felt like the middle of July as Columbus Crew SC took on the New York Red Bulls in the continued hunt for a playoff spot.

Crew SC rolled out the same line-up that started at Vancouver with two exceptions–Mensah returned at centerback and Justin Meram returned to left wing.  This time, however, we had a different result than Vancouver with a 3-2 win for the Black and Gold.

Scoring started with Crew SC in the 6’ as Higuain sent in a free kick that Mensah headed into the net.  You could see the joy on the center back’s face as he celebrated his goal with the team. 

New York was quick to tie it up in the 14’.  Columbus felt one of the New York players had been offsides, but the AR did not make the call and Bradley Wright-Phillips finished the goal.  BWP was given much too much space regardless.  With a goal scorer like that, defenders should not give him any space. 

Santos was fouled in the 39’, but the ref let play continue on to the Crew’s advantage.  Ola Kamara, virtually alone as a defender tried to catch up with him, tried to chip the keeper to tie the game, but he overshot the goal.  Kamara continues to miss the chances you think he should finish and finish shots that look nearly impossible.

Crew SC took the lead again in the 54’ when Meram took on two New York defenders and shot the ball into the net.

In the 66’, Josh Williams who apparently didn’t want to be outdone by his center back partner decided it was time for a goal.  His first since 2013.  He headed in a Higuain corner kick for goal number three of the game.

New York wasn’t done yet.  In the 69’, Mensah fouled Gonzola Veron.  There was some heated argument from both sides as the foul occurred outside the field of play but kept Veron from getting to the ball.  After video review, the Red Bulls were granted the penalty kick, which Veron finished. 

Crew SC was able to hold the Red Bulls off resulting in a victory and 3 more points toward making the playoffs.

Some thoughts on the match:

Pipa had all three assists in this match.  He continues to show why he is a central cog for this team

Meram scored a goal.  It was pretty.  However, there are a lot of times when he should pass and doesn’t.  I don’t want him to stop trying to take on defenders.  I just wish his judgment on when to do this and when to pass would improve.

The refs in this game were horrible.  As a player, I was always taught you play the refs’ game.  Arguing calls wasn’t going to help, so you don’t.  Those words to live by would have gone down the drain had I been a player on the field on Saturday night.  I think the officiating wasn’t great for either team.

After the Red Bulls scored their second goal, I grew concerned that this would turn into another game like Vancouver where they scored to tie it up near the end of the game.  Or, it would be like earlier in the season where we gave away a lead.  I was pleased to see that Crew SC can finish out a match as I’m sure this skill will be necessary if we plan on winning any playoff games.

I do not understand Sacha Kljestan’s moustache.  Please someone explain it to me….

This season has gone incredibly fast and next Saturday is Columbus Crew SC’s last regular season home game against DC United.  It would be nice to get 3 points from this match and help solidify a playoff spot.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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RSL V Timbers  – We’ve crossed the line!

Ambrosia Tonkovich - Real Salt Lake/mlsfemale
Official Real Salt Lake Reporter

By Ambrosia Tonkovich // @heyambrosia

Saturday, September 16: 2-1 Win

We are over the line for the first time!! It’s been a hard fight folks, and somewhere that a lot of people thought we’d never be this year. When Mike Petke first signed on and people were skeptical of him, this is the place that I wanted to point them to. This is the moment that I want to rub their nose in. Right here. Hey. We’re over the line, man. We went from being the first team to lose to MNUFC to being above the lines and four games away from potentially being in the playoffs. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

Alright. So let’s talk the awesome goal that was Albert Rusnak’s. What a weird volley that was. The foot angle was weird, and I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it? But oh man, he did, and in the 14th minute.

What a way to start of a game against the Portland Timbers, who are up there in the top three of the table. It soared right past former backup keeper for Real Salt Lake Jeff Attinella, and straight in for what was truly a beautiful goal. Crowd went wild, I went wild, and Rusnak celebrated with the ole’ prego with the ball baby victory. I mean, all right, you do you Rusnak. Whatever keeps you getting goals like that, man.

That first half was a magical one, we played well together, like we were actually communicating. We seemed to be pushing forward as a TEAM instead of a few individuals, and we kept possession for most of that first half. We walked out of the first half with a 1-0 lead and probably danced their way into the stands.

The second half opened up quite quickly for the Timbers, with Valeri sending a quick header past Rimando into the goal at the 47th minute. I’ll be honest, that was a pretty one. No idea who was supposed to be marking him on our team but… they weren’t. I saw some choice vowels being formed there via Rimando’s mouth, and I don’t blame him. But a well deserved goal for Valeri and the Timbers.

Savarino. Wooooo boy.

 

Lookit that goal.

That is what beauty is made of. Seriously, I don’t know what Attinella could’ve done about that, but that was so pretty. Jefferson knocked that beautiful goal in at the 61st minute bringing RSL up 2-1 and sending us immediately into a defensive position. Subs were made and Yura remained at the top by himself as the rest of the game was played entirely defensively and I’m definitely okay with that plan.

The Timbers are a good team and us getting a lead on them at home… yep, that was the right call by Petke to play defensively for the rest of the evening, especially with us losing Luis Silva due to right groin injury early in the game.

We came out of this game 2-1, and I couldn’t be more happy. After the Houston/San Jose game we are still barely above the line, but we are there. This is a nice place to be.

We play Seattle next week at home at Rio Tinto Stadium, and I’m hoping we can get as cohesive as we did this game and pull another W to get us higher up in the standings.

Also, side note not related to that game – I’m super worried about Rimando (especially Rimando), Beckerman, and Beltran all being free agents next year… uggggggh. Send me a billion Xanax please.

Game highlights:

14′  Goal! Real Salt Lake 1, Portland Timbers 0. Albert Rusnák (Real Salt Lake) right footed shot from outside the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Luis Silva.

47′  Goal! Real Salt Lake 1, Portland Timbers 1. Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Dairon Asprilla with a cross.

58′  Substitution, Real Salt Lake. Yura Movsisyan replaces Luis Silva because of an injury.

61′  Goal! Real Salt Lake 2, Portland Timbers 1. Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Albert Rusnák.

68′  Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) is shown the yellow card.

70′  Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

75′  Substitution, Real Salt Lake. Brooks Lennon replaces Joao Plata.

75′  Substitution, Portland Timbers. Jeremy Ebobisse replaces Darren Mattocks.

76′  Substitution, Portland Timbers. Vytautas Andriuskevicius replaces Liam Ridgewell.

80′  Substitution, Portland Timbers. Lawrence Olum replaces David Guzmán because of an injury.

87′  Yura Movsisyan (Real Salt Lake) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

89′  Substitution, Real Salt Lake. David Horst replaces Jefferson Savarino.

Featured image courtesy: @RealSaltLake

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Columbus Crew SC vs. Sporting Kansas City

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Sunday, September 10: 1-1 Draw

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Columbus Crew SC played Sporting Kansas City to a pretty uninspiring draw in one of Crew SC’s final three home games of the regular season. 

Kansas City struck first scoring a goal in the 19’ on an unnecessary failed bicycle clearance by Jonathan Mensah.  SKC’s Cristian Lobato took the missed clearance and nutmegged Crew SC’s keeper while he was trying to stop the shot. 

There were a few opportunities for Crew SC in the first half to equalize, and they felt like the more dominant team.  In first half stoppage time, Ola Kamara headed in a beautiful goal off a Pedro Santos’ corner kick to finish the half with a 1-1 draw.

The second half didn’t provide a lot to write home about.  This could have been a game like many others earlier in the season where Crew SC gave away a draw for a loss, but they held on for a point. 

Some thoughts about the game:

Pedro Santos is good.  Really good.  I don’t want Kei Kamara back, but I’m pretty sure if he was, Pedro would put every corner kick or set piece directly on to his head.   He can see the field and the plays before they happen.  I think he will be Schelotto-like—making all the players around him even better as he grows to know his teammates, and they grow to know him.

What is with both Santos and Higuain standing together to take corner kicks?  Is it to confuse the defenders with who may kick the ball?  It’s a corner kick.  Most of the time, it is going into the mass of players in front of the goal.  Wouldn’t it be better to have another man in front of the goal or someone to clean up any balls that leak through from the corner kick instead of having two players standing over the ball to kick it?

Honestly, I imagined them having this conversation at the corner flag:

Pipa:  I really should take the corner. I’ve been on the team a long time.  I’m good at it.

Santos:  I’m new.  Let me give it a try.  Plus, if they’re anything like your PK taking ability maybe I should take them…

Then I laughed at my crazy imagination, and figured this is some kind of game plan Gregg has conjured up for corner kicks that I just don’t understand.

Finally, the second half really wasn’t very exciting soccer.  This made Gregg’s substitutions in the second half even more puzzling.  Ola Kamara was subbed out in 64’ for Adam Jahn, Pedro Santos was subbed out in the 65’ for Cristian Martinez, and Jimenez was subbed out for Afful in 84’.   Bringing Afful in, I can understand as he is working his way back from an injury, and I found out later that Kamara is fighting an injury.  However, why not bring on Manneh instead of Jahn for Meram or Kamara?  Why pull Santos off the field? 

It felt like Gregg was playing for the tie, and with Crew SC’s track record of giving up goals earlier in the season, I kind of understand this decision.  However, we are in a precarious spot in the playoff hunt.  We have 1 to 4 games on hand on teams that can challenge us for a playoff spot, and we need all the points we can get. 

Thoughts on the previous week’s happenings:

I’ve been absent writing for the last few games.  Real life has kind of been busy, but I’m back on the beat.  I had some thoughts about the last few matches or off field happenings that I wanted to share:

Nicolai Naess was recently traded.  We evidentially made a profit from his transfer.  He played a great long pass, and he stayed calm on the ball.  I never understood why he got benched.  I feel like his absence is a real loss for the team.  However, I’m happy he will go somewhere he can contribute. 

Frederico Higuain has recently stated that he believes this will be his last season in a Crew SC uniform.  Is this a negotiation tactic?  Who knows?  However, I still feel like Crew SC is a better team with Pipa on it.  I wonder if having someone like Santos on the team that thinks as fast as he does on the field will help change his mind about sticking around for another season.  Seeing Santos and Pipa when they have had even more time to gel on the field would be a sight to behold.

I also know that Ola Kamara wants to renegotiate his contract as well.  This man needs to get paid.  He is our only true forward.  We need to work on bringing someone else in as well because if his injury develops into something more serious, we will be in trouble.  Plus, we just need another forward.

During the LA Galaxy vs. Crew SC game, VAR (video assistant referee) was used three times in pretty significant ways during the game resulting in a PK, red card, and call back of a goal.  All these calls went in Crew SC’s favor.  Being there, I can say it was a crazy short stretch of time.  I’m not sure how I feel about VAR.  It did break up the flow of the game a bit, but I don’t know how often it will impact a game as much as it did this one. 

Finally, I have given Mensah and Abu a lot of criticism this season.  Some justified criticisms–some probably not.  These two have been brilliant in the last few games.  They both seem confident and are working well with their teammates on the field.   Yes, Mensah did make a mistake in this week’s game, but he stayed confident afterward and continued to make strong defensive plays the rest of the game. 

This is a different guy from the beginning of the season.  If the same mistake had happened to him earlier in the season, I think you would have seen shaky play the rest of the game.  Gregg Berhalter may have final found a centerback combination that works and another good center midfield option. 

Hopefully, the team can stay confident and dominant against the Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday and earn 3 much needed road points to help solidify the road to the playoffs. 

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Sixth-annual Rock Against Racism – Chicago Fire Benefit Concert Takes Place August 26 at Toyota Park

Nicole Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Nicole Hack // @nikhak

Rock Against Racism – Chicago Fire (RAR-CF) is a Chicago Fire supporter driven group that is against racism and in support of diversity and inclusion. Joel Piktel and Alfredo Gomez have organized RAR for the last six years. Naturally, when they asked me to be involved with the event two years ago, I couldn’t say no. In addition to rocking out against racism, the event has become empowering for women too. I mention this because I’m sharing this via MLSFemale, and I couldn’t be prouder of women’s involvement in Chicago Fire and MLS’ supporters’ culture.

Nicole Lynn Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale

In 2015, we had the fortune of USWNT and Chicago Red Stars player Christen Press join us. Press spoke honestly about her intolerance for racism, and the event raised $1000 dollars for Guardian Angels of Joliet.

Then in 2016, the annual RAR-CF event featured female-fronted bands including The Dyes, Atom Meets Bomb, and All Our Fans Are Cats. In addition to the regular awesome group of guys slinging beers at the annual RAR-CF event, Kelsey McClure formerly of New Belgium Brewing joined us in support against racism. Because of the impressive efforts of our community, $1,700 was raised for Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

This year Moria Dailey Nestmann joins the RAR-CF planning team. Dailey Nestmann will primarily be assisting on the PR side of things, but is looking forward to helping at any capacity that’s needed and being more involved in upcoming years. She explained that, “I love punk rock, love the Fire, and hate racism, so it seemed to be a natural progression (to get involved).” I, for one, am excited that Moria’s involved.

Nicole Lynn Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale

Now onto the main event…

The sixth-annual Rock Against Racism – Chicago Fire benefit concert is scheduled for this Saturday, August 26 at Toyota Park, directly preceding the league-topping Chicago Fire going head to head with Minnesota United, marking the new team’s first appearance on Fire turf.

All local bands, hardcore outfit Anger headlines, with support from oi newcomers Fuerza Bruta, and Latino ska standbys, Tone Zone Skam. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Northern Illinois Justice For Our Neighbors, an organization which helps residents navigate and respond to complex immigration regulations. Their vital work is a necessity in these turbulent times and organizers are excited to lend their support to such an organization, as we believe diversity is a great strength in our communities.

Rock against Racism was founded to foster and celebrate an environment that is free from racism, sexism, homophobia, and hate of all kind at Toyota Park and within Fire fan culture. Rock Against Racism is a partnership between the Chicago Fire, Section 8 Chicago and Sector Latino, the Hispanic supporters group. This year features Tone Zone Skam a band comprised of active members of Sector Latino.

“Considering these troubled times, this year’s musical line-up is going to be the hardest hardcore line-up we have ever had,” says Rock Against Racism organizer Alfredo Gomez. Continuing the Fire and MLS’s staunch anti-racist stance, Rock Against Racism is a cornerstone event for the Fire community and a continued opportunity to showcase both established and up-and-coming members of Chicago’s diverse musical scene.

Sector Latino, Section 8 Chicago, and the Chicago Fire are excited to welcome supporters of Minnesota United to Toyota Park to enjoy the party and stand with us to give racism the red card. Fans and supporters who cannot attend can support Rock Against Racism online by donating here to support NIJFON’s legal services.

Nicole Lynn Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale

To stay involved and informed on RAR-CF, join the RAR-CF Facebook group. The primary function of the group is to further create an environment at Toyota Park that is free of racism, sexism, and homophobia. This is done through:

  1. Educating ourselves and others on the topic
  2. Sharing news and info specifically related to this topic in our community
  3. Planning and organizing our annual event
  4. This is also a place to archive photos/images related to the event

Love Fire. Hate Racism.

Images courtesy: Alfredo Gomez, Nicole Hack, and Michael Nowicki

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