All posts by MLSFemale

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

And It Was All Yellow

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

That was the pregame song playing as the scoreboard showed a montage of Columbus Crew plays, and the yellow soccer team, ironically not wearing yellow, won the game 1-0 against FC Dallas this past Saturday.

Rolling out a line-up similar to the last home game with the exception of Robinho starting in place of Justin Meram, the team got the winning goal early in the game.  In the 10’, Pedro Santos took a near post corner kick aimed at the head of Gaston Sauro.  Sauro, who was being hugged by one FC Dallas defender and closely guarded by a second defender, jumped and headed the ball into the net. 

Two seasons ago, Crew fans and Gaston Sauro himself did not know if he would ever play soccer again.  Now, he’s put in goals in both of the Crew’s home games.  Currently, he’s tied with Gyasi Zardes, who had a brace last week against the New England Revolution, for goals. 

Robinho had a dangerous shot in the 21’ that rebounded off the keeper, but Zardes had trouble finishing the ball skying it over the net.  The Crew kept the pressure and shots coming throughout the first half but were unable to put any more into the back of the net.

In the second half, FC Dallas seemed to be more dangerous.  Michael Barrios had a nice shot in the 55’ that Zack Steffen was able to slow down and Sauro was able to clear.  In the last 15 minutes of the game, FC Dallas seemed to possess the ball more and shot the ball several times.  In past seasons, the Crew would have conceded a goal at these times of pressure, so it was nice to see them finish the game with a win.

Other Thoughts:

  • In Porter’s system, it appears that Artur and Wil Trapp will be doing more shifting back and forth between offense and defense instead of Wil being more defensively-minded. I feel like I’ve seen Trapp make more mistakes and not bring his A-game this season.  I don’t know if this is Wil adjusting to the new system, if Wil’s skills doesn’t fit this style as well, or if I’m just being nit-picky. I was a Gregg Berhalter fan but have yet to form an opinion about what I think of Caleb Porter yet.
  • I do feel that Pedro Santos is finally finding his form.  Maybe he needed a new coach, but now he has several assists on the season and had some great passes and shots in this match.  
  • I am nervous about when Zack Steffen leaves this team for Manchester City in June.  I just don’t see what goalkeeper can step in and do what he does for this team.  He was supposed to be out this upcoming week with the US Men’s National Team, but due to a knee injury sustained in training, he is missing this round of friendlies and this week’s upcoming Crew game too.  I guess we will see who might step up in Steffen’s absence.
  • In addition, the team will be missing Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, Justin Meram, and Waylon Francis for the next Crew match due to national team call ups.

It’ll be interesting to see how Caleb Porter deals with a slightly depleted roster for the call ups as they travel to take on the Philadelphia Union this weekend. 

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Montréal Impact Emerge from the Lions’ Den with 3 points

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

After a thoroughly disappointing defeat to Houston Dynamo, Montréal Impact fans were eager to move forward with the next road match, while still nervous that the team would be too fragile to recover from a loss. However, Orlando City had proven to be a comfortable adversary for the Impact since their entry into MLS, and captain Ignacio Piatti had enjoyed scoring 8 goals against them coming into the match, one of his highest tallies against an individual team.

Although de facto right wing starter Harry Novillo had recovered from a late pre-season injury, Orji Okwonkwo was given the start once again as Novillo was not ready to play a full match, and coach Rémi Garde wanted to allow a stable team to build chemistry and rebound from last week’s loss together.

If stability was what Garde sought, his team didn’t initially demonstrate that quality. The first ten minutes of the match in Orlando were reminiscent of last week’s abysmal showing for the Impact, as the Lions pounced while the visitors struggled to find their bearings in the match. Goalkeeper Evan Bush and Lady Luck worked in tandem to allow the Impact to survive an early wave of pressure unscathed. 

The tide turned in the 14th minute, when Samuel Piette launched a long pass toward Saphir Taïder. The Algerian international penetrated the Orlando defense and drifted to the right of Orlando’s 18-yard box as Okwonkwo used his pace to arrive near the penalty spot, where he latched on to Taïder’s cross and punished Orlando’s defensive lapse with a clinical finish the home team sorely lacked.

The Bleu-Blanc-Noir would go on to double their lead directly after OCSC restarted play. Orlando allowed striker Maxi Urruti’s incessant pressing to pay off as he intercepted a weak back pass from a central defender. Goalkeeper Brian Rowe was left with no choice but to sweep Urruti off his feet – however the forward had already passed to Piatti, who needed no further invitation to find the back of the net.

This one-two punch had clearly taken some wind out of Orlando’s sails, as the Impact would go on to enjoy comfortable periods of possession for large stretches of the game. After Okwonkwo had run himself ragged, Novillo made his Impact début, and quickly offered an assist to Piatti off yet another Orlando defensive error in the 80th minute. With his 10th goal against Orlando, Piatti is now the player who has scored the most goals against the men in purple.

Unfortunately for all involved, the match was poorly officiated by a referee new to the league, who allowed a series of increasingly physical challenges to go unsanctioned. It became clear as the clock wound down that tension levels were rising, and there had been several minor clashes between players over the course of the match. Dom Dwyer, who had scored a late consolation goal for Orlando, is a notorious instigator regardless of his opponent.

After a stoppage in play deep in injury time where Novillo received treatment following another robust tackle, Orlando City received the ball. Rather than respecting fair play and returning the ball to a goalkeeper, Orlando elected to go on the attack. This move was poorly received by the Impact, and led to a mass confrontation at the next stoppage in play. Central defender Zakaria Diallo allowed himself to be baited by Dwyer, and received a red card for shoving him in the head. 

OCSC coach James O’Connor would go on to apologize to the Impact in his post-game press conference, as even he felt his team had conducted themselves poorly when ignoring fair play. All in all though, the whole incident was just a blip on the radar in an otherwise satisfying away win.

This match marks the halfway point of the Impact’s six-game road trip, and it is an uphill battle from here until the home opener. The Impact will have next week off as many players depart to represent their countries, and will subsequently enter Blue Hell as they visit Sporting Kansas City on March 30th

Featured image: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @ejp_nb

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Montreal Impact Suffocated Yet Again In Houston

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

In all of their visits to BBVA Compass Stadium to take on the Houston Dynamo, Montréal Impact have only ever taken one point. If there are matches on the calendar that fans circle with great anticipation, a trip to Houston is not one of them. However, with the positive atmosphere surrounding the team this year, surely the tide was going to change?

Not to be the case.

Time and again, outside factors such as the stifling humidity, artificial turf, and a lack of ambiance in the stadium have been blamed for the Impact’s consistently poor performances in Texas. And perhaps the display the team demonstrated on the field was a result of any combination of those factors.

Ignacio Piatti, the man who makes the sun rise and set for the Impact, was smothered by defenders any time he got a whiff of the ball, remaining well-shackled and unable to contribute to the game. Passes were errant, attacking creativity lacked, and the Impact conceded a late goal – and all the points – after switching off as Houston ramped the intensity up a notch. Over the course of 90 minutes, there was only one team in the match, the team who had played a mid-week game nonetheless.

 As Rémi Garde put forth an unchanged starting eleven from San Jose, fans were pleased to see that the players would get a chance to build off the chemistry that had been building since pre-season. But as many passes went to the opposition and communication seemed non-existent, that chemistry seemed to evaporate before our eyes. Perhaps the Impact need to remain sequestered in a hotel all season in order to maintain continuity?

The highlight of the match for Impact fans was undoubtedly Saphir Taïder’s second goal in as many matches, nearly a carbon copy of his goal in San Jose – the Algerian snuck behind the defense to finish a deep pass, this time off a brilliant cross from Micheal Azira. 

Houston would go on to score immediately after play restarted, before laying a second-half siege to the Impact’s half, much as San Jose did in the previous match.

As the long road trip continues, fans will hope that fatigue does not get the better of the Bleu-Blanc-Noir, as it seemed to do in Houston. Additionally, it looks as though we are in for another year of “Nacho-dependence,”  this writer is off to light a candle for our maestro.

The Impact will take to the road once again, this time visiting Orlando City SC, on Saturday, March 16.

Featured image: @lesliecphotos on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @ejp_nb

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FC Dallas – LA Galaxy

By Sahara Clay // @SaharaClayMLSF

FC Dallas played LA Galaxy this weekend in Toyota Stadium. It was a sunny Texas day in March and the stadium was packed full of adoring fans. However, there was one question on everyone’s mind: where is Zlatan?

From the beer garden, chants rang out of “Where is your Zlatan?” and “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight,” obvious taunts at LA. However, these calls were incredibly valid.

FC Dallas made a huge mistake of marketing Zlatan and this game as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch him play when he was nowhere to be found. Even more embarrassingly, they ran these ads at halftime when it was painstakingly apparent Zlatan would not be found on the pitch.

For such a hyped-up match, nothing much seemed to happen. Yes, FC Dallas won 2-0, but was it the game of a lifetime? Hardly.

In my opinion, Paxton Pomykal was the standout of the match, even though Reto Ziegler and Bryan Acosta scored the two goals of the match. No one showed as much hustle on the field as Pomkykal in every single minute of the game.

In fact, Pomykal is partially responsible for Bryan Acosta’s first MLS goal. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Luchi Gonzalez pushes Pomykal in his debut season as FC Dallas’ coach.

I would love to see Pomykal as a starter this season as his confidence grows on the field. He only gets better. Gonzalez stressed the importance of possession throughout the preseason and Dallas did a great job of implementing that this match.

We ended the match with 64% possession of the ball and even had a whopping 59 uninterrupted passes.

Other notable moments of the match included Edwin Cerillo’s MLS debut after an awesome preseason. Although Cerillo only joined the game in the 79th minute, he had a solid start, with his first touch being a clearance of Joe Corona’s free kick.

Jesse Gonzalez also had a notable save on the field – arguably one of the best of the week – in the 91st minute. His short reaction time saves are some of the best in MLS. Gonzalez and the Homegrowns certainly had an amazing day on the field – pointing towards a promising season if we can keep it up

Featured image: @FCDallas

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SaharaClayMLSF

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Montréal Impact Start 2019 Campaign on the Right Foot (or the Left Foot)

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Montréal Impact had enjoyed a string of promising pre-season results, going undefeated in all matches with only one goal conceded. However, anyone who has ever watched MLS knows that pre-season performances are not totally indicative of how a team’s competitive campaign will go. Regardless, as the team spent 40 long days toiling under the hot Florida sun to get in game shape and strengthen the chemistry that saw them finish the 2018 season on a strong note, a quiet optimism began to buzz around the IMFC fanbase.

The Impact’s schedule will undoubtedly test their mettle, as they begin with six consecutive road games while waiting for the Canadian winter to end. Last year, their road form was far from sparkling. A mere 11 points picked up in away games does not exactly inspire confidence when a team needs to start the season on a strong note. However, this is Rémi Garde’s second year in charge, there has been less upheaval in the squad than last year, and several interesting players have come in, notably Maxi UrrutiHarry Novillo, and Zakaria Diallo (who was signed for the 2018 season, but did not play due to an ACL injury).

2019’s first official lineup saw Diallo, Urruti, and Bologna loanee Orji Okwonkwo make their débuts for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. Fans’ confidence in the Impact’s improvements were short-lived, as a disjointed start saw San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Magnus Eriksson open the scoring in the 11th minute after Victor Cabrera mistimed a tackle and left an ocean of space at the top of the 18-yard box. Similar to their 2018 road record, the Impact were a dismal 1-13-2 after conceding the first goal last season, so having to face adversity this early in the season, after having enjoyed a comfortable pre-season was far from an ideal situation.

Thankfully, the goal proved a sufficient wakeup call for the Impact, as they snapped into life. In a feat that has been notoriously rare, team MVP Ignacio Piatti scored on a corner played short, allowing the Argentinian maestro to do what he does best—dribble around defenders to unleash a bullet into the back of the net with his magical left foot.

As halftime neared, the Impact were well in control of the match, often enjoying controlled spells of possession—a clear departure from the “sit deep and absorb pressure” tactic employed last season. Diallo had roamed forward from his central defender position to pick up the ball in San Jose’s half and was given an ocean of space to parade forward and launch a mouth-watering low cross to Saphir Taïder who dropped off the shoulder of his defender to give the Impact the lead. There remains some debate as to whether or not the Algerian was offside at the time of the cross. However, neither the linesman nor VAR signaled, and the goal was good.

The second half saw a return to old tactics, as the Impact bunkered and allowed the Earthquakes to essentially lay siege to their half. Evan Bush was called into action on a few instances, but the defensive line held tight. The match ended 2-1, with the Impact emerging victorious from San Jose, much to the delight of players and fans alike.

There are still 5 road games left before the home opener on April 13th. But, as the Impact opened their season on such a positive note, there is a lot more optimism around this long road trip. Next, the Impact again travel to hostile ground—Houston Dynamo—to play on Saturday, March 9th.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @ejp_nb

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Walkin’ in a Rapids’ Wonderland

Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

MLS is back. Finally. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been watching soccer since the MLS season ended. However, I am very happy to have my home team back on the pitch. Down to ten men in the first half while playing in what was the coldest game in MLS history, the Colorado Rapids put on an incredible show for us.

When we last left, our local heroes were two places out of being labeled the worst in 2018, but only by a three point margin. There was a good deal of shuffling in the off-season that saw some old favorites head elsewhere, but saw some potentially new favorites move in.

Fast forward to Saturday. It was cold. Weather reports were saying that anywhere from four to eight inches of snow would fall by the time the game was over. The wind was rough, and it didn’t seem to matter that I had layered. The cold cut straight through me.

The Rapids set up a 4-4-2 diamond formation with two of our off-season acquisitions, Kei Kamara, and Diego Rubio, at the top. The Rapids took the lead in the fifteenth minute after Kamara put a beautiful pass by Kellyn Acosta into the back of the net. The game moved quickly and the Rapids showed marked improvement over last year’s performances.

However, what became most evident was that while the Rapids had improved over the off-season, the refs had not. The best example of this was the red card in the first half that saw Axel Sjöberg off the pitch and the Rapids down to ten men. I am among those that think the ref got this one wrong.

There was definitely a hand ball, I have no argument there, but to decide it was an intentional handball and send him off was incorrect. Sjöberg slipped and his hands were out when he went down. Does he get a card? Yes. According to IFAB, the International Football Association Board, handballs get carded.

At most, he should’ve gotten a yellow. The ref awarded a penalty kick that Tim Howard saved, but Diego Valeri equalized off of the rebound.

Colorado was forced to make a change here in order to accommodate for the missing body on the back line and they exchanged Rubio for Danny Wilson. The Portland Timbers got the go-ahead goal off of a Diego Valeri corner kick in stoppage time during the first half. While Sebastian Blanco got credit for the goal, it almost looks like the ball took a weird bounce off of the pitch and went in.

When they came back from half-time, the field was a mess. Leaf blowers and snow shovels were brought out to clear the lines. The snow was driving into our faces and it stung. The ball took weird hops and the players had to work to adjust to the different ball movement than what they were expecting. There were a couple times in the first half where I was reminded of when the NHL added colored streaks to the puck in their telecasts because of how the snow kicked up behind the ball and gave it a bit of a tail.

The Rapids had a hard time keeping the Timbers out of their end throughout the second half. The stats show that by all intents and purposes, Portland should have won this. Their pass accuracy was higher, they had more possession, and a greater amount of shots on goal. However, Colorado fought harder. There were more than a few times where I forgot that we were down to ten men because of how hard they were working.

Benny Feilhaber scored quickly in the second half to bring the score even, but just twenty minutes later – Deklan Wynne put in an own goal to put Portland back ahead. Colorado made their last substitution in the 76th minute and brought in 5th pick overall, Andre Shinyashiki for Acosta. This turned out to be a great decision because he scored the late equalizer that gave Rapids a point and continued their streak of not losing the home opener.

His positioning was perfect on that last goal and he was ready to take the rebound from Dillon Serna’s shot. Shinyashiki showed some great promise, but also showed his rookie side. (I found myself hollering “GET ONSIDE!” more than once at him.)

In all, the game left me excited for the upcoming season. Yes, it was only one game, but the Rapids did not give up and they showed a physicality that we did not see last season. Like I mentioned earlier, the stats available show that the Rapids should have lost this game. This is when a tie feels like a win though. 

The Rapids will face off against the Seattle Saunders on Saturday, March 9 at CenturyLink in Washington.

Image: John A. Babiak (@photog_johnb)

16’ – GOAL: Kei Kamara (Rapids 1 – 0 Timbers)

18’ – CARD: Diego Chara (Portland, Yellow)

27’ – CARD: Axel Sjöberg (Colorado, Red)

29’ – GOAL: Diego Valeri (Rapids 1 – 1 Timbers)

30’ – SUBSTITUTION: Danny Wilson in for Diego Rubio (1/3 for Colorado)

32’ – CARD: Julio Cascante (Portland, Yellow)

40’ – SUBSTITUTION: Jack Price in for Cole Bassett (2/3 for Colorado)

45’+1 – GOAL: Sebastian Blanco (Rapids 1 – 2 Timbers)

46’ – GOAL: Benny Feilhaber (Rapids 2 – 2 Timbers)

66’ – GOAL: Deklan Wynne, own goal (Rapids 2 – 3 Timbers)

77’ – SUBSTITUTION: Andre Shinyashiki in for Kellyn Acosta (3/3 for Colorado)

86’ – SUBSTITUTION: Andres Flores in for David Guzmán (1/3 for Portland)

87’ – SUBSTITUTION: Lucas Melano in for Jeremy Ebobisse (2/3 for Portland)

90’+4 – GOAL: Andre Shinyashiki (Rapids 3 – 3 Timbers)

Featured image: @official433

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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Opening Stunner Can’t Stop Sounders

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

The newest team in MLS, FC Cincinnati, struck first with an opening cracker of a goal, but it was the Seattle Sounders who ended the night on top sailing to a 4-1 victory.

Prior to kickoff, the Sounders presented Sigi Schmid’s wife and family with the Golden Scarf, a Sounders honor given to a select few members of the soccer or Seattle community. The crowd raised their scarves to honor Schmid, a loss that the Sounders community felt deeply.

As kickoff opened on the Sounders 10th season and FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season, the Sounders pressured early. Raul Ruidiaz sent in a firing header in the 3rd minute, forcing an early save from goalkeeper, Tyton, that hit off the post. 

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

In the 13th minute, FC Cincinnati opened their MLS goal scoring account with an absolute stunner from Leonardo Bertone. However, their lead was short lived when Kelvin Leerdam found the equalizer in the 27th minute after connecting on a deflected cross from Nicolas Lodeiro.

The rest of the game was simply a showcase return for Jordan Morris. After waiting 500 days to start in an MLS match after recovering from ACL surgery, Morris slotted home two goals in 10 minutes. His first goal curled past the keeper in the 33rd minute, ending in a full-team pile up of celebration.

The stadium cheered to one of the loudest volumes in years, rejoicing for the joy of their hometown boy’s return to the score sheet and the field.

In the 43rd minute, Morris powered home a left-footed rocket assisted by Victor Rodriguez to give the Sounders a 3-1 lead. Raul Ruidiaz tallied his own goal in the 87th minute to close the game 4-1.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale
Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Take Aways 

Sigi Started It All

Celebrating their 10th season in the league, players from the inaugural season returned to CenturyLink to be honored in the opening ceremony. They were also joined by Sigi Schmid’s widow, sons, daughter, father and grandchildren. It was a somber moment for Sounders fans to celebrate the team and man that started it all a decade ago. 

The Hometown Boy Is Back

Emotions were high from the start Saturday night, but peaked when Morris first put the ball in the back of the net. When every member of the team joined him in celebrating, their joy was echoed by every fan in the stadium.

While walking back to midfield, Nico grabbed Morris by the shoulders, pointed to him, looked up towards the crowd and cheered. In return, Morris broke away from the rest of his teammates and gave a fist raise and clap to the crowd.

Having an in-from Morris will greatly benefit the Sounders this season, who struggled to get started last season. But if his first game is any indication, Morris and the Sounders are storming into their 10th season.

Featured & all images: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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A New Beginning: Columbus Crew

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Columbus Crew vs New York Red Bulls

On Saturday, the Columbus Crew tied the New York Red Bulls in their home opener.  While the final score line was a 1-1 tie, to many in the crowd, it felt like a victory.  Because at this time last year, there was doubt as to if the Crew would have another home opener in Columbus.  

The former Crew owner, Anthony Precourt, had been trying to move the team to Austin.  But due to a strong Save the Crew grassroots movement, government officials, other city and state leaders, and a new ownership group, the Crew will remain in Columbus, and in two years, the team will be playing in a brand-new downtown stadium.  

As the team warmed up and Jonathan Mensah waved at my section, I teared up.  As the new ownership group, the Haslam and Edwards families, were introduced, I teared up.  When I heard them announce the Crew’s starting line-up, I teared up.  As the team took the field, I teared up.  When I looked around the stadium filled with around 17,900 excited fans, I teared up.  When the game ended, I teared up, but not because it was a tie.  But because my team was still here.  For this reason, it was an emotional game, and for this one moment, the results on the field didn’t really matter.

However, now that I can just worry about how my team is playing soccer and not if they are going to be torn away from Columbus, I can happily talk about the results of this game.  

Columbus’s head coach, Gregg Berhalter, left at the end of last season to coach the United States Men’s National Team.  The new ownership hired former Portland Timbers’ head coach Caleb Porter to lead the Crew in this new era.  Porter has a very solid set of players to build upon as the majority of the players from last year have remained with the Crew. 

There are currently only two changes in the Crew’s starting roster.  Stellar left back Milton Valenzuela is out with a knee injury for the season.  He will be replaced by Waylon Francis who returned to the Crew after a year with Seattle.  Also, Gaston Sauro looks to have locked down the starting center back job next to Jonathan Mensah. 

With a familiar starting line-up, the Crew were the first to concede a goal to a slightly different Red Bulls starting line-up as they are also currently playing in the CONCACAF Champions League. In the 6’, Andreas Ivan finished a ball that went over Harrison Afful’s head putting the Red Bulls up by 1. 

Then, near the end of the first half, the Crew equalized with a Gaston Sauro header set up by a Federico Higuain corner kick.  New York looked to grab the lead in the 76’, but it was flagged offsides resulting in a draw at the final whistle.  

Thoughts about the Game:

I didn’t focus much on the difference between Porter’s style of play versus Berhalter’s.  I did notice that both outside backs did not seem to push up into the offensive third as frequently as they seemed to last season.  Wil Trapp didn’t seem to drop back between the center backs as much as he has in seasons past.  The guys didn’t always seem to know where their teammates would be on the field, which is something I felt was apparent in Gregg’s system. 

However, it is early, and I’m sure some of this is preseason rust and some of this is adjusting to new coach’s strategy. 

I did feel that the Crew had a lot of dangerous moments.  Several players had shots that were close to going in. I am really going to keep an eye on Pedro Santos this season.  While not a Crew favorite, outside of the last play of the game, I felt he played a solid game.  Maybe under a new coach, he can find the confidence that seems to be alluding him.  

Now that everything is the way it should be, I look forward to games where the results matter to me because my team is where it is supposed to be.  Looking forward to 3 points when the Crew take on New England this upcoming Saturday. 

Featured image: Hilary

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Born in ’74

Official Seattle Sounders FC Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Hello, from the Emerald City! My name is Ashley Savage and I am beyond excited to be covering your Seattle Sounders FC this season for MLSFemale.

While I’m new to reporting, I’m well-seasoned at being a pundit. Sports fandom was a way of life in my house growing up. My parents were multi-sport college athletes at the University of Southern California and, as their only daughter, I was heavily involved in both the playing and supporting of college and professional sports teams.

When I moved to a suburb south of Seattle at the age of 6 (shout out to Maple Valley!), soccer instantly became a way of life. I’m fairly certain that it’s an unwritten rule all girls living in Washington State must enroll in soccer for at least one season before age 8. For most of my friends it didn’t stick, but for me, it became an obsession.

Mia Hamm and Alexi Lalas posters littered the walls of my childhood bedroom, much to the disappointment of Devon Sawa, I’m sure. 

Photo credit: Ashley Savage

In my teenage years, my club team would be ball girls for the USL Sounders games. I remember watching these grown men play HARD and thinking they were the ultimate professionals.

When the announcement was made that Seattle would be receiving an expansion team in 2009, I was away at college.

I watched that first game from my couch in awe that the team I used to shag balls for had become an MLS team. A team that in its inaugural season shattered league attendance records, made the Western Conference Semi-Final and won the US Open Cup. How could you not love this franchise?

Photo credit: Ashley Savage
Photo credit: Ashley Savage

After spending a few years abroad teaching ESL in South Korea, I finally returned back to the Seattle area in 2011. Shortly after, I met a guy (an inaugural season ticket holder, he would insist I add) whose love for Sounders was deeper than any fandom I’d ever encountered.

We joined season tickets, got married in 2014 and even wore our wedding attire to the Portland game the following day where we got to be down on the field, high-five legend Roger Levesque and take pictures with DeAndre Yedlin.

In 2016 we met a Future Sounder who had a due date the same day as the MLS Cup Final. He was born 6 days later to a wonderful world where the Sounders were reigning MLS Cup champions, which is the greatest way to give birth to a child, in my opinion.

It’s a beautiful life here in the Pacific Northwest and I’m looking forward to reporting on the greatest franchise in MLS!

Photo credit: Ashley Savage

Featured & all images: Ashley Savage

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

For the Houston Dynamo, It’s Time

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The off-season for the Houston Dynamo seemed short, especially for a team that didn’t make the MLS playoffs. In November, the Dynamo hired a new President of Business Operations, John Walker. He came in ready to listen to fans and made both bold and genuine gestures to prove that he truly wanted to hear from us.

However, his commitment to this process took time. The organizational changes seemed to push back a lot of the typical off-season fluff that carries us through the fallow time. Rumors of kit sponsors, signings and other potential moves sat pending for days and weeks. As off-season became pre-season, at least one fan assumed they missed the kit launch and hit up the team store for a new jersey—only to be informed that it hadn’t yet been unveiled.

For the team, our pre-season was wrought with inconsistencies—wins, losses, red cards, and Coach Wilmer Cabrera’s continuing habit of changing lineups and even player positions for every match. We have a great mix of veteran and young players with experience all over the globe, but fans are never sure who will turn up or where.

But our first test came this week when the Houston Dynamo met Guastatoya in Guatemala for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). Our starters were the token Cabrera expected surprise. Still, as a group of nearly 50 supporters met in a bar across the street from our stadium, we were primed for the match, ready for anything, and hungry for victory.

What came next was every soccer fan’s dream. My family has an often-repeated line that we found on Twitter last year. In response to a tweet by Andrew Wiebe about fouls against MLS teams in last year’s CCL, @andrewsorg responded, “Do you even #CONCACAF, bro?” This has become our shorthand in rough matches to remind us that the beautiful game comes along with grit and guts, that fouls happen, and that the real match comes when the teams want a victory and fight hard for it.

And, yes, we CONCACAFed. We fought hard, and our defense was relentless, never backing down from Guastatoya’s advances. Our offense found a fluidity that challenged past the Guatemalans’ defense. The teams were scoreless through the 80th minute, and Dynamo fans held their collective breath.

In the 2018 MLS season, we repeatedly lost matches in the final 10 minutes when our defense failed to hold. The 2019 season hints at an end to that curse, however, as we earned a corner just past the 80 minute mark. Romell Quioto sent a high ball to the top of the box that our veteran captain, DaMarcus Beasley, read perfectly. With his weaker right foot, Beasley loosed an absolute rocket through a field of players, sinking a goal.

The Dynamo held on to their 1-0 lead through those last moments, so we meet Guastatoya at home next week with one away goal and a win secured.

And that new orange kit will be unveiled just in time.

Featured image: Sean Ringrose, with permission.

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