All posts by MLSFemale

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

Bienvenue Chez Vous, Monsieur Garde: Montréal Impact’s home opener versus Rival TFC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, March 17: 1-0 Win

The Montréal Impact opened their 2018 season as many new faces began their journey with the team. It was clear the players were still getting to know each other, and that new manager Rémi Garde was still getting to know the league. On Saturday, they returned to Olympic Stadium, to play the home opener against none other than their arch nemesis, Toronto FC.

What the Impact had shown so far in 2018 was that they needed to concede a goal or two to begin competing with their opponent. Many fans feared that if the Bleu-Blanc-Noir allowed TFC’s formidable attack to launch wave upon wave of offensive maneuvers, that the home side would be made to pay early and often.

Everything about the game came as a surprise – including the team formation. Garde presented a 3-5-2 with 36-year-old Rod Fanni making his début. Fans of the Impact were surely haunted by memories of experiments with such a formation last year, however, Garde had a plan to even out the numbers in the midfield.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Montreal Impact facebook page

Saturday’s match was certainly physical as was the case in many previous Canadian Classico clashes, yet the match began with the teams feeling each other out tactically. It quickly became obvious that the Impact was willing to concede possession in favour of regrouping and choosing opportune moments to step in and start a counter-attack.

Fanni demonstrated an aptitude for taking on Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco without the same complex that has plagued former Impact players. Samuel Piette made a series of wonderful interceptions to poke the ball from the toes of Giovinco and Bradley. Saphir Taider developed a solid partnership with Piette and the two were largely responsible for launching counter-attacks.

In the 40th minute, Piette robbed TFC skipper Michael Bradley of possession. The ball was quickly played to Taider, who passed it to Piatti who did what he does best: dribbling at defenders and drawing players to him like moths to a flame. This left Vargas space to shoot from the top of the box and score the lone goal which would determine the outcome of the game.

The Impact’s lack of finishing meant that a few other opportunities to put the game to bed went unclaimed, and early in the second half, Greg Vanney made some adjustments to TFC’s formation, allowing the visitors to further dominate possession and set up camp in the Impact’s half.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Montreal Impact facebook page

That is not to say that the game was won after Vargas’ goal! Although the Impact’s defense seemed to jell really well, Evan Bush still made several saves. In the greatest “heart-in-throat” moment of the match, Bush got a hand to Altidore’s strike, however, the ball was still trickling behind him. Michael Petrasso saved the day, and the three points, with a goal-line clearance.

It was sweet to finally taste the first victory of the season, and all the sweeter coming at the expense of a bitter rival.

Although the Impact spent a good portion of Saturday’s match on the defensive, there was clear intent behind Garde’s choices. TFC players and fans may claim a CCL hangover handed the Impact the win, but undoubtedly those who identify with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir will feel reassured that things are heading in the right direction.

Next on the calendar: Due to the FIFA break, no match until Saturday, March 31st, when the Impact will make another cross-continent trip to Seattle to face the Sounders.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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Water dance of Loons snuff out Chicago Fire in opener

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

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 17: 2-1 Win

On Saturday night, Minnesota United FC put on a show for the sold-out black and blue and green clad crowd at TCF Bank Stadium, their temporary home on the campus of the U of M. Many feared a repeat of the 2017 home opener, when the Loons made their MLS debut in white-out conditions and gave up six goals, much too easily, to expansion rival Atlanta United. This home opener could not have been more different.

With speedy left winger Miguel Ibarra playing the central-mid role in place of Molino, flanked by Nicholson on his left and Finlay on his right, and communicating telepathically with withdrawn striker Christian Ramirez, the Loons were constantly pressing forward. Behind them, Schuller and Ibson were picking pockets left and right, choosing carefully their opportunities to send the ball forward. It was frustrating to watch that effort come to nothing the first half, especially with Chicago Fire’s attack, led by Nemanja Nikolic, outshooting Minnesota with five shots to two.

A last-second miscue or dispossession would dissolve the Loons’ momentum time after time. But still. They dominated. The shuffled lineup was cause for celebration by fans who were confused up to this point by Heath’s use of the bench. The midfield, in particular, a problem spot all last season and in the season opener in San Jose, earned the glory.

Without Ibson’s ridiculous footwork and dribbling, without Nicholson’s driving shoulder on the wing, without Ibarra’s speed and distribution, without Ramirez’s selfless hold-up plays, without Finlay’s crossing ability…

Ibson notched the first goal when he (for some bizarre reason) found himself on the receiving end of a Finlay cross in the 55th minute. Chicago keeper Sanchez got a glove on Ibson’s first shot but tipped it back his direction. Ibson made good on the second chance.

Chicago drew level at the 59th minute when the Loons’ defense seemed to lose their marks allowing Elliot Collier to rebound on a Nikolic shot and score in his league debut. The draw lit a fire under Minnesota, who all poured forward. Just seven minutes later, Finlay took off down the right wing and crossed the ball into the box meeting Nicholson, who snuck past a Fire line focused on the right wing. The midfielder pounced and launched a header past Sanchez who barely turned his head as the ball whistled past him.

Both sides had chances over the final minutes, but Minnesota’s defense held true and the squad continued pressing forward, refusing to ‘park the bus’, as they say. Instead, they said maybe.

The entire stadium seemed to hold a collective breath through stoppage time. Finally, the whistle sounded and 23,138 people (less the 200 Section 8 fans who traveled from Chicago) belted out Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ with their scarves held high.

Featured image courtesy: Bridget McDowell

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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Time and Patience: Two qualities FC Dallas fans don’t seem to give, but it may pay off

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale
Official FC Dallas Reporter

By Bailey Brown // @baileystaysposi

Sunday, March 18: 3-0 Win

I’m going to start this off by saying that I was shocked that we really put yesterday’s game away. My feeling could be very wrong, but I usually feel like FC Dallas doesn’t do a great job of really killing off teams when they’re a man up. However, yesterday was different. I liked it. I liked it a lot. But, I had a lot of other thoughts on things that I liked about the game other than the score.

FC Dallas had what was arguably the worst fallout of a season in 2017. I feel that going into 2018, fans were wary of what we would see on the field. We had some great offseason signings and the promise of playing some of our kids. Dallas fans are notorious for not being patient and wanting to see changes and improvements: looks at watch… like, yesterday.

One thing we could definitely benefit from is seeing that time on the field for some of these new players and being patient with them. It will benefit everyone involved. I feel like we finally got a glimpse of what we can see from some of these players and it may just pay off.

Anton Nedyalkov: I didn’t know what to expect from this man from Bulgaria when we signed him. I liked what I saw in film and some Dallas podcasts interviewed fans from his former team and we liked what we heard. However, the transition to MLS can be a lot for someone and may take some time. Let’s just say, in the short amount of time he has been in Dallas, Nedyalkov has definitely earned his new nickname, “The Bulgarian Butcher”.

This man is a blessing to our defense. He really seems to not care if he puts someone on the ground and I love every second of it. I tend to feel that MLS usually is about speed and Nedyalkov is there to literally stop someone in their tracks. Not to mention, he is not afraid to completely push up and just throw another team’s defense off. He actually did this yesterday and set Lamah up for his second goal. It was beautiful and I can’t wait to see more.

Paxton Pomykal: Pomykal is one of those Dallas homegrowns I have been waiting to see really get some time. He came in for Jacori Hayes and only played 26 minutes, but he showed us a lot. Paxton has the speed down the side, but also the skill to make defenders look dumb.

There are two plays of Paxton’s that really stand out to me. One of the first runs he had was dribbling down the field and what seemed to be around five different Seattle Sounders players. I was impressed and the crowd seemed to be as well. The next play that stood out to me was when he kept control of the ball and made a great through to Barrios.

Something I think Dallas has struggled with is getting balls to Barrios for him to make the runs we know he is good at. Pomykal can deliver those and it sets us up for success on many levels.

Jacori Hayes: Jacori Hayes supposedly almost didn’t get the start, but I’m sure glad he did. This kid has impressed me. One thing I like about him is that he is just consistent. The FC Dallas midfield is just not as strong as we want it to be. There just seems to be a missing piece.

While Kellyn Acosta is out, we seem to be lacking depth as well. Hayes can hold it down. We still need that connecting piece that makes the ball movement from defense to our forwards more fluid, but I really think Hayes could be a part of that puzzle. With a little bit more experience and time, I think Hayes will take more chances and really make it his own. Not to mention, he took some hard hits yesterday. He is definitely tough physically and mentally.

Our game against Seattle was everything I wanted it to be. Were they without some key players? Yes. Did Dempsey go out on a red because he can’t keep his hands to himself? Yes. But, defeating Seattle always feels sweet. We had some solid plays from Urruti, Lamah, and Barrios, and I hope the team we saw yesterday continues to jell together and puts games away.

Also, congratulations to Oscar Pareja on becoming the winningest coach in the modern FC Dallas era!


Featured image of rowboat celebration courtesy: Bailey Brown

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @baileystaysposi

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC utilize a little Irish luck

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, March 17: 2-0 Win

As you know, St Patrick’s Day is the day when New Yorkers dress up in green attire and accessories and look idiotic.  On purpose.  Sometimes it goes along with some other questionable choices in celebration methods.  St Patrick’s Day celebrations were in full effect at Yankee Stadium and fans had full faith in their own St Patrick, head coach Patrick Vieira.

Up until an hour before the game, New York City FC fans were feeling very confident about this home match versus Orlando City FC.  Everyone was healthy, Orlando City has been struggling and was down five starting players.  And then they got the tweet:

The game became a real match up.  No David Villa and no Jo Inge Berget, who is supposed to be Villa’s backup?  No man of the last match Anton Tinnerholm? Apparently, NYCFC was going to be testing this much-previously-discussed depth of the squad.

Turns out there’s depth.  Jumping in the front as striker for Villa, who was out with a minor injury, was Ismael Tajouri-Shradi with his first start.  At right back for the also injured Tinnerholm was another first-time starter, Saad Abdul-Salaam.  Both players performed very well in the match as NYCFC maintained about 60% of the possession with fluid, smooth ball movement and quick, decisive destruction of Orlando’s offense. 

The major fan frustration was the small number of shots taken by NYCFC on Orlando City’s goal, particularly in the first half.  Without Villa, (the usual proverbial beacon in the night calling for the ball), there seemed to be a sense of caution on offense, which did lessen in the second half. 

The second half is when most of the action happened.  At 61:37, Tajouri scored his first NYCFC goal which was quickly followed by a goal by Maxi Moralez at 73:04. Down 0-2, Orlando kicked it up a notch and did give goalkeeper Sean Johnson some trouble. He made three saves, while a handful of Orlando’s shots were off target. According to Vieira, he was very happy with the way the team played in this game.

Maybe there was a little luck of the Irish happening? On that note, the biggest fan response to a sub coming on was our local Irish-American hero Tommy McNamara.

H-U-S-T-L-E-R of the match: Alex Ring for not only destroying possible attacks but instantaneously jump-starting the offense in a calm, methodical manner.

Oh crap, moment of the match:  Ronald Matarrita getting injured again after playing only a few minutes.


Featured image courtesy: Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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The struggle is real for LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Sebastian Lletget, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

With a 4-2-3-1 formation, Ola Kamara was the lone striker, which should have meant getting more touches on the ball, but we just couldn’t quite get there despite our rigorous efforts.

The LA Galaxy played at Yankee Stadium, so I had to listen to my team struggle via the radio and watch per Twitter highlights.  The size of the field, 68 x 106 yards (70×100 meters), played a factor in our performance since it is the smallest in MLS and the smallest allowed by FIFA’s international guidelines. We aren’t used to playing on that, but it’s not an excuse.

With Alessandrini out for the match due to a hamstring injury, it was an opportunity for Sebastian Lletget to shine as the right winger. This was his first start and longest amount of time played (75 minutes) since his long recovery from a Lisfranc injury.  He brought speed and really fought hard to create scoring chances.

We were outplayed in the first half and the first goal came in the 22nd minute from Anton Tinnerholm on a well-timed run that Ciani just couldn’t push out.

This is only the second game in the season, but we can see the Galaxy need to work on keeping it together after substitutions and hang on in the later minutes of the second half until the end of the match. They also need to work on finishing goals because they had plenty of scoring opportunities. Lastly, we need to develop the chemistry between players (we are looking much better), but we need to play the way New York City FC’s Sweat and Medina set each other up.

It was 2-0 by the 33rd minute when David Villa scored on a rebound off Bingham’s save. Their other chances came when players like Yangel Herrera were given too much space, but Bingham really did well saving us most of the evening.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget’s first start and the most minutes he’s played since his recovery

Unfortunately, the match turned sour for the Galaxy when Ciani had to exit with what we now know as a hip flexor injury, but Steres was subbed in.

Set pieces are always opportunities for the Galaxy to score, but we missed those. We also had poor play out of the backline.

Finally, the breakthrough we’d been hoping for came in the 60th minute when Jonathan Dos Santos was able to score. He moved up when Carrasco subbed his brother, Gio, due to an injury ten minutes prior.  Jona had been on the ball but played too deep in his position in the holding mid before the change.

After that goal, the Galaxy had better energy. Skjelvik defended us well. Still, we need to keep from coming undone late in the game.

The last blow to us came when Ashley Cole, our beloved captain, got a second yellow card that resulted in a red and we were down a man. Cole made a challenge that took down Villa with little contact, which should have been up for VAR, but another key player was out.

At the end of it all, we are a more than capable team. As to be expected after the alterations this team has undergone, there’s still work to be done. But, I see us coming together despite this 2-1 loss. Missing key players means the rest of the team has to step up and show up.

Images courtesy:

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @AdorableEars

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Chicago Fire home opener

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, March 10: 3-4 Loss

The air was crisp, fans were lining up to enter the stadium, kids high fived and took pictures with Sparky, the team’s mascot. This day was one many fans were anticipating. The Chicago Fire had to wait an additional week to play their first game of the season.

Sporting Kansas City had lost their opener a week prior to New York City FC and was looking for a win. Hopes were high for the home opener, fans thought this game would be a win for sure, but what unfolded in the 90 minutes left fans at a loss for words.

Starting XI

Richard SanchezBrandon VincentChristian DeanJohan KappelhofMatt PolsterTony TchaniDax McCarty ©; Aleksandar KataiBastian SchweinsteigerLuis SolignacNemanja Nikolić.

The first half was dominated by Sporting KC. The team took an early lead in the 9th minute- Sanchez came off the line to make a save; the ball bounced off his hands and deflected right onto Felipe Gutierrez, who scored his first goal in the MLS. As the first half was coming to a close, Johnny Russell added one more goal for the away team.

The halftime whistle blew and the Fire was down by 2. Fans were getting restless but there was plenty of time to draw or end the game in a win. The Fire needed the halftime break to regroup.

In the second half, the Fire took fans on an emotional rollercoaster. First, Katai scored his first goal in the MLS. Minutes later, Nikolić scored the second goal of the game. Just then fans were in an uproar, cheering on the team, hoping for at least one more goal and 16 minutes later they got their wish.

Nikolić scored his second and the Fire’s third goal of the match. Shortly after, Jimmy Medranda equalized after capitalizing from another blocked shot by Sanchez. At this point, a draw would suffice. But finally, in the 86th minute, Gutierrez scored his second and the final goal of the match to mark the final score 3-4.

Throughout the 90 minutes, the Fire played a messy game.  Many passes were lost at midfield and the defense was not helping either. Sporting KC capitalized on mistakes made on the pitch. The Fire, however, showed that they can overcome a deficit but alas they couldn’t earn 3 points at home.

The Fire return to action on Saturday, March 17, 2018, against Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank Stadium.

Featured image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @DanielaCalvo__

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale


Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Win

New York City FC immediately took control of this game, calmly keeping possession and easily moving the ball around and through the LA Galaxy.  This was the pace of the first two-thirds of the game.  The movement down the left wing was swift and opened up space for David Villa in the center and for the cross to the right side.  Jesus Medina and Rodney Wallace again utilized switching flanks quite a bit which successfully shook up LA’s ability to mark well. 

With the fluid ball movement, the elephant on the field was that our offense was continuously distributing balls to Villa in goal-scoring chances in lieu of taking the shot themselves.  As this was Villa’s 100th cap for NYCFC, teammates Medina and Maxi Moralez gave him many of their own legitimate chances to score but most of these deferred attempts fell flat. 

The first goal of the match was scored by NYCFC when a shot by Villa was poorly cleared by LA and Anton Tinnerholm quickly capitalized on it with a strong left volley at 21:50.  And finally, at 32:37 Villa’s one-game goal-scoring drought ended.  Medina received a cross from Ben Sweat whose shot was blocked by LA goalkeeper David Bingham, which set up Villa to finish off the rebound. 

Anton Tinnerholm, NYCFC - Keira Smith/mlsfemale
Post game. Anton Tinnerholm, NYCFC – Keira Smith/mlsfemale

Already, there seems to be strong chemistry between Sweat and Medina who have successfully set each other up in front of the goal in both games. The NYCFC momentum continued, yet as Villa stated in the post game, “…We couldn’t close the game. In the first half probably we had a chance to close the game. With three nil. Much easier and [with] no pain in the last minute.”

And so the tone of the game changed with an LA Galaxy goal at 60’ by Jonathan Dos Santos.  NYCFC began to rush and scramble a bit more and LA was able to put together some offensive attacks. New York was very successful in forcing turnovers in the middle third of the field by swarming each LA player with two to three defenders. 

Attacks on the Galaxy continued but when Medina was subbed out, there were numerous opportunities when nobody was on the right post.  In the last 20 minutes of the game, Emmanuel Boateng became really dangerous every time LA took possession. Even playing with ten men, (Ashley Cole was ejected for 2 yellow cards), LA managed to heavily pressure NYCFC. 

It looked like New York ran out of gas in the last 15 minutes, so when the final whistle blew it was with a huge sigh of relief from many fans. 

Greatest hits

Sean Johnson is credited with only two saves and one claimed cross but with one possibly saved by his face. They were legit threats and decisive saves.

No VAR used!

Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha’s squatting ball-clearing headers.

H-U-S-T-L-E-R of the match – Rodney Wallace providing that necessary 2nd or 3rd person pressure on LA.

Tinnerholm’s goal celebration = pure joy.

Extra Time

Who did David Villa say in the post-match interview is a “really amazing guy”?

Featured image courtesy: Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sorry Orlando City, not our night against Minnesota United

Shae Beaudoin - Orlando City/mlsfemale
Official Orlando City Reporter

By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz

This past Saturday, March 10th, Orlando City faced off against Minnesota United. Just to recap, Minnesota United is coached by Adrian Health, who coached us during our first year and a half in the MLS. Their attack is also led by midfielder Kevin Molino, who also played for us previously. In Heath’s first return to Orlando since parting ways with the club, he managed to secure 3 points with the Loons defeating the Lions 2-1.

I gotta say, Minnesota really brought it to us. In the 13th minute, MNUFC scored their first goal, albeit with a little controversy. The replay of the goal appears as though Finlay was offside, but no call from the ref so the goal counted. Minnesota kept the pressure on and had a multitude of opportunities in the first half, but Orlando’s defense held strong.

Huge shout out to El-Munir. He was one of our offseason pickups and he’s done nothing but impress me so far this season.

Stefano Pinho went down around the 24th minute and needed to be stretchered off, bringing Mueller in as a sub. It has since been confirmed that it is an injury to his ankle. There is no set timeline for his return.

Just before the half, a foul went to VAR, awarding Orlando City a penalty kick. With a beautiful delivery by Yoshimar Yotún, City tied it up.

Around the 51st minute, Molino went down and also needed to be stretchered off. Reports state that he is suffering a torn ACL. The score remained stagnant until Finlay came back with the brace in the 79th minute.

The biggest take away I have from this game is that Mueller’s got to put some work in on those completions. Of course, it’s only his second MLS game ever and he’s got a lot of adjusting to do, but there were a few promising crosses made during this game where the finish just wasn’t there. Personally, I’m excited to see how Mueller does with Dwyer beside him. I think that combination will give just the extra push Mueller needs to open his MLS account.

Orlando City is now out 7 starters, and this is not looking like a good start to the season. However, we are expecting a good portion of our starters back by the end of the month. Uri Rosell is only out pending fitness, so as soon as he’s in shape, we can expect to see him. Dwyer and Colman have been out with injuries and anticipated back by the end of the month.

Sacha and Da Silva will be wrapping up their suspensions in time for our March 31st match at home and PC will be back from his red card suspension this week against NYCFC. I fully believe in this team Kreis has built and I’m sure we will start seeing results when we get these key players back, so just hang tight City fans. After all, we’re City till we die!

That about wraps up this post-game report for ORLvMIN. Wishing a quick recovery to Pinho and Molino so both teams can get back on their feet ASAP. Our next game is on March 17th against NYCFC, our first away game of the season. It’s gonna be a big one, so make sure you’re following Keira and me on Twitter for that in-game coverage.

Featured image courtesy: Shae Beaudoin

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @ShaeEliz

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

A cry of loons bests the pride of lions

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

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 10: 1-2 Win

Despite an identical lineup, the cry of Loons who appeared in Orlando Saturday was a different animal from last weekend. And this group announced their presence loud and clear.

I choose the collective noun ‘cry’ here over a handful of others for Minnesota’s state bird because the performance of this squad – their grit, heart, and perseverance – against Orlando City SC put a hopeful and enlightened tone on the season, much like the cry of our beloved loon does on a summer day.

Head coach Adrian Heath faced his former club with the same 4-2-3-1 he tried against San Jose Earthquakes last week, but with Christian Ramirez at forward in lieu of Danladi.

Center back Francisco Calvo anchored a backline that communicated well from the first whistle, closing gaps effectively and holding down the box. Ibson, who was not even a shadow of himself in the asylum against San Jose, pressed forward with each possession, pecking away at weaknesses in the Lions’ midfield, but did not take any unnecessary risks.

Mid Sam Nicholson worked the wide open left wing in his best showing to date, creating some hopeful chances of his own. And Kevin Molino was aggressive against his former club, assisting Ethan Finlay on a beautiful 12th-minute goal which spurred an even greater hunger to move forward.

But in the latter part of the first half, despite leading a depleted Lions squad, play went stale. It would pick up a bit after Orlando forward Stefano Pinho (a veteran of the NASL-era Loons) was stretchered off and the countdown to halftime began, only to devolve when an Orlando free kick was rescinded and replaced by a PK, thanks (or no thanks) to VAR, allowing Yoshimar Yotun to level the game for the Lions.

The second half began similarly, with play wallowing like a raft in waves. Molino had to be replaced by Collen Warner after a non-contact left knee injury. Also, Nicholson’s hamstring, a minor issue through the first half, finally saw him replaced by Miguel Ibarra. Ramirez was also pulled in favor of the fresh legs of rookie draft pick Mason Toye.

Toye and Ibarra were immediate factors, laying on the pressure up front and finding wide open shooting lanes. Their efforts were rewarded in the 79th minute when Ibarra received the ball from Toye and fired a cross toward the near post. It was met by a well-timed boot from Finlay for a stunning brace. From there, the Loons went into overdrive with a dopping of defense, dispossessing Lions in the box and forcing shots wide.

With Molino and others uncertain, Heath will undoubtedly have to go back to the ‘loonery’ to shore up his squad before the home opener. The club has a lot of improvements to make, but after watching this entire squad gut out the final minutes of this match, it is obvious that these players are determined to do whatever it takes to make 2018 a successful season.

Next up: The loon will cry out over Minneapolis on St Patrick’s Day. Can a water dance tame the Chicago Fire?

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

LA Galaxy’s refreshing start to the season

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

The Los Angeles Galaxy are back! Home opener at StubHub center vs the Portland Timbers.

Sunday, March 4, 2018: 2-1 Win

Six foreign friends and I waited in anticipation in our chilly seats behind the goal in GA. They compared US soccer to their countries in Europe and South America based on the warm-ups. I wanted them to be impressed and to show them that the MLS can hang in the world of soccer. 

A banner then rolled out over us right before the national anthem. The Angel City Brigade clapped rhythmically, waved their flags, and beat their drums.  Familiar chants roared across the field. Despite being sick with a cold, I cheered right along. Needless to say, we were stoked before the game was even underway.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.



The first half was dominated by the LA Galaxy. It belonged to them.

Both goals were scored in that half. A rather messy goal that was Kamara’s debut where he literally fell into scoring as a Portland defender pushed him from behind, knocking him over the keeper, but the ball was in at the 31st minute.The crowd went wild.

Goal #2 came two minutes later when Alessandrini scored after a second attempt as the ball came off the post when he slid onto his side, got back up and kicked it in. He was quick and determined.

Alessandrini went out after he pulled up with what looked like a right hamstring strain in the 60th minute. Chris Pontius entered the game. We started to come loose at the seams.  Portland had plenty of chances and often times too much space as seen in the second half, such as when Sebastián Blanco was able to score making it 2-1 by the 66th minute.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Portland with a free kick before the end of the first half

Giovani Dos Santos was subbed out in the 72nd minute and finally, Sebastian Lletget, who fans had been calling for, came in.  Lletget brought speed and was fearless as he challenged two to three Portland defenders at a time to win back the ball.

In the 83rd minute of the game, Ema Boateng exited and Servando Carrasco came on for the Galaxy. Another change that altered the dynamic of the team.

There’s currently not an update on Alessandrini from coach Sigi Schmid. Wishing him well, especially since he and Boateng are key players. Once they exited the game, we had trouble keeping it together, we needed to keep calm and play through difficult maneuvers from the other team.

We needed to defend and not worry about scoring. The Dos Santos brothers made good runs for the most part. That said, Ciani has the most improvement with great attack and defense.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
52’ Bingham (Galaxy keeper) with the save off a corner

This LA team in the preseason gave plenty of concerns and there were plenty of times throughout this match that had me asking so many questions (most of them were calls made or not made by the ref).  There’s always room for improvement. Still, The Galaxy deserved this win. They earned it in front of 25,462 fans. This kind of comeback is what I was hoping for and what this club needed.

Overall, our defense was exceptional as well as our attack. We also regained possession quickly. We looked and played the best we’ve been in a long while. This is LA. This is my team. This is the way to come back and open at home.

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink

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