Category Archives: Team Updates

Keeping you updated on soccer news

Sporting KC: 2019 Roster Moves

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City’s roster has undergone some drastic, much needed changes in the past few weeks, including the club making a momentous splash earlier this week with the signing of Liga MX top-scorer Alan Pulido.

First, the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft hit SKC’s roster once again – followed by an immediate trade saw two Sporting KC players sent to Nashville SC.

Jimmy Medranda

Nashville selected Jimmy Medranda, a 25-year-old midfielder, for their 10th and final pick of the draft – ending his six-year career in Kansas City. He became the 11th Sporting player to be taken in an MLS Expansion Draft.

Medranda recorded five goals and eight assists in 108 competitive appearances for Sporting from 2013-2019. The Colombian’s tenure with the club was highlighted by a 2013 MLS Cup title and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2015 and 2017.

But is Medranda another “Latif Blessing level” mistake?

It’s too soon to be certain, but Medranda was a great asset for the team.

Adrian Zendejas

Immediately after the draft concluded, the club acquired $125,000 in 2020 Targeted Allocation Money, $50,000 in 2020 General Allocation Money, and an international roster spot for the 2020 season from MLS expansion club Nashville SC in exchange for goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas.

Zendejas was a prominent backup keeper for Sporting KC and their USL affiliate, the Swope Park Rangers. It has been a rocky season for the young keeper, who, after two years with the club, finally made his league debut in a 1-1 draw over FC Cincinnati on April 7. Additionally, Zendejas conceded four goals in SKC’s early exit from the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Additional Roster Moves

The club announced further roster moves heading into the 2020 MLS season on November 21st ahead of the drafts.

Sporting KC has exercised contract options on the following five players: goalkeeper Eric Dick, defender Graham Smith and forwards Gerso Fernandes, Erik Hurtado, and Daniel Salloi.

In turn, Sporting declined contract options for Seth Sinovic, Benny Feilhaber, and Gedion Zelalem.

Forward Krisztian Nemeth, and defenders Nico Hasler and Rodney Wallace are also out of contract with the club.

But it’s not over yet.

Sporting KC passed for the End-of-Year Waivers process. However, the club made a selection during the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft before passing on the second stage.

Richard Sanchez

Sporting KC selected former Chicago Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez in Stage 1 of the 2019 MLS Re-Entry Draft.

The 25-year-old already has nine seasons of professional experience under his belt, getting his start in the FC Dallas Academy and competing in both the United States and Mexico. Sanchez has spent the last three seasons in MLS with the Chicago Fire – recording 90 saves across 27 league appearances.

According to the club’s statement:

“On the international stage, Sanchez was the starting goalkeeper and played all seven matches for Mexico as El Tri captured the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup title on home soil. He was also Mexico’s starting keeper at the 2013 U-20 World Cup two years later, helping his side reach the Round of 16.”

Sanchez’s signing completes SKC’s goalkeeper roster, with Tim Melia and Eric Dick. Sanchez will likely serve as a great backup, if not occasional starter.

Roberto Punčec

Sporting Kansas City announced they have signed 28-year-old Croatian defender Roberto Punčec. Punčec has inked a two-year MLS contract through 2021 with an option for 2022. He will occupy an international spot on Sporting’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.

The Varazdin native has amassed almost 300 professional appearances across 12 professional seasons in Croatia, Israel, and Germany. He played over 100 matches with Union Berlin in the second-division, German 2. Bundesliga before returning home to Croatia to play the last two and a half years for HNK Rijeka, where he won the 2019 Croatian Cup this spring.

Manager Peter Vermes seemed enthused with the new signing:

“Roberto has significant experience playing in Europe over the last several years,” Vermes said. “He is very excited to be here and we look forward to him integrating into our club and our city.”

Punčec joins four other center backs on the roster: Matt Besler, Botond Barath, Andreu Fontás, and Graham Smith. He will likely serve as a backup to either starter since Fontás has undergone surgery for a insertional Achilles tendon clean up and repair surgery in October – he is expected to be out for 4-5 months.

Khiry Shelton

Welcome back, Khiry!

A familiar face returns to the Blue Hell as the club signed the 26-year-old forward to a three-year MLS contract through 2022 with an option for 2023.

Shelton spent 2019 with German club SC Paderborn 07, returns to Kansas City for his second stint. He first helped the club place in the Western Conference in 2018.

In his first stint with Sporting KC, Shelton started 17 of his 24 appearances in all competitions. Shelton was not prolific in 2018, scoring twice and adding five assists in MLS play but he was part of the record breaking offense that saw SKC sit atop the west with an 18-8-8 record. Sporting KC was 12-3-5 in matches Shelton played. 

With that being said, I feel like this is more of a depth signing for the club, but only time will tell.

Alan Pulido

Last but not least, SKC’s blockbuster signing.

Sporting KC finally found a striker in Liga MX’s top-scorer Alan Pulido. Pulido was acquired for a record fee transfer – a reported $9.5 million – making him the most expensive signing in the club’s history and one of the most expensive signings in MLS history.

“My dream would be to fight for the MLS Cup and to win the title. There’s no bigger dream or motivation than that, and of course I want to bring joy to the fans with my goals. I’d like to grow personally, and I would like to be the top scorer in MLS—that would be a big dream of mine,” Pulido said.

Pulido has yet to arrive in Kansas City and he is already making waves.

Sporting KC kicks off the 2020 MLS campaign on the road in Vancouver. Then will return to KC to open the season on March 7 as they host longtime rival, Houston Dynamo.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Roster Updates, CCL News, Important Dates, Gold Links

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Welcome, Danny Musovski

LAFC finally announced their first signing for the 2020 season as the Nevada native joins the Black and Gold from USL Championship side Reno 1868 FC.

Musovski played at UNLV before being drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes in 2018. He was loaned to Reno for the 2018 season and returned for 2019 after his contract was not renewed by the Quakes. The forward went on to log in 16 goals in 40 games in a two-year span, including 11 goals in 2019.

The 24-year-old is more likely to be a depth signing. But could be used as another position switch experiment like Latif Blessing and Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Bye, Nguyen

Lee Nguyen was selected as the third pick for Inter Miami CF during the 2019 Expansion Draft. In exchange, LAFC will receive $50,000 in General Allocation Money, and the remaining unprotected LAFC players were taken off the table for selection for the remainder of the Expansion Draft.

The 33-year-old attacking midfielder spent most of the 2018 season and all of 2019 with LAFC, making 48 regular-season appearances with the black and gold, scoring three goals and nine assists.

Miami’s selection does not come as a complete shock but is unfortunate due to Nguyen’s contributions to the squad. And he will be greatly missed.

Additional Roster Moves

Like most clubs, LAFC released their contract options on November 21 with a few surprises.

The club declined the options of defenders Lamar Batista and Dejan Jaković, and midfielders Javier Perez and Peter-Lee Vassell. They will all be greatly missed.

LAFC also extended a bona fide offer to goalkeeper Tyler Miller, retaining his rights which made him ineligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft. However, LAFC Central is reporting that Miller is on his way out and could join the Portland Timbers.

Defenders Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey are out of contract and are eligible for free agency.

The club is currently engaged in contract negotiations with several out-of-contract players so we could still see Beitashour and Harvey return for the upcoming 2020 MLS season.

CONCACAF Champions League

The 2019 Supporters’ Shield winner enters their first-ever international competition as LAFC faces Liga MX Club Leon in the round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Image courtesy of LAFC

The Champions League features the top 16 clubs in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, facing off in home-and-away knockout rounds. In each round, the team with the most combined goals at the end of both games advances. LAFC is looking to become the first MLS team to win the tournament in its current format.

The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League will face the champions of the world’s other five confederations, such as the UEFA Champions League, in the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup.

Tickets are on sale now and dates will be released soon.

Mark your calendars!

January 9

The 2020 MLS Superdraft will be held at 9 am PT and streamed live on Twitter by MLS and ESPN.

January 25

It is being reported by multiple sources that the Black and Gold will host Uruguayan club Peñarol at the Banc on January 25, as the Manyas travel to the west coast for a 10-day preseason camp.

February 18 – 20 and February 25-57

LAFC will travel to León for the first match for CCL’s round of 16 series (Feb. 18 – 20), and will host the second leg at the Banc of California Stadium (Feb. 25 – 27).

March 1

Shortly after the second leg, LAFC is set to open the 2020 MLS season on Sunday, March 1, as they host inaugural side Inter Miami CF.

May 19-20

The Black and Gold will begin their quest for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 19-20 during the Round of 32.

July 30

The 2020 MLS All-Star Game is coming to the Banc to face the Liga MX All-Stars for this summer’s marquee match with LAFC’s head coach Bob Bradley at the helm.

Gold Links

  • The 3252 is hosting the holiday toy and sandwich drive and the annual charity art show. Follow the 3252 on twitter for more information.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sporting KC Signs Liga MX Striker Alan Pulido for Record Fee

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City has officially acquired 2019 Liga MX Apertura Golden Boot winner Alan Pulido from Chivas Guadalajara on a club record transfer fee.

The Mexican striker signed a four-year MLS contract through 2023 and will occupy an international spot on Sporting’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.

After years of searching, Manager Peter Vermes finally got his momentous No. 9 for a reported $9.5 million – making it the richest transfer fee ever paid by Sporting KC and Pulido the highest paid player in MLS history. However, it is important to note the club has not officially released any details beyond a “club record”.

“We are very excited to add Alan Pulido to our roster ahead of the new season,” Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes said. “He is a winner, has a terrific work rate and embodies all of the attributes we value at our club. We also want to thank Chivas for being an incredibly professional partner and appreciate the relationship we have created with them. Alan is ready for this new challenge and looks forward to getting started with us on the field in January.”

The highly decorated 28-year-old striker joins Sporting KC having scored over 100 combined goals for club and country. His appearances include five domestic championships, the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League title and 13 caps for the Mexico Men’s National Team. Pulido finished atop the Liga MX scoring charts with 12 goals for Chivas Guadalajara in the 2019 Apertura season (the July to December half) this fall.

Image courtesy of Sporting Kansas City

Alan has earned seven club titles among other individual honors:

  • 40 goals for Tigres in all competitions (2009-2014)
  • 41 goals for Guadalajara in all competitions (2016-2019)
  • Five goals in 13 appearances for Mexico Men’s National Team
  • 2012 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament top scorer (Mexico U-23s)
  • 2014 Copa MX Clausura top scorer (Tigres)
  • 2017 Liga MX Clausura Best XI (Guadalajara)
  • 2018 Concacaf Champions League Goal of the Tournament (Guadalajara)
  • 2019 Liga MX Clausura top scorer (Guadalajara)

Click here to view a full list of honors

El Tri fans will recognize the Ciudad Victoria native from his time with Mexico’s men’s national team after making his senior international debut on January 29, 2014, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 friendly win against South Korea in San Antonio, Texas. He went on to score two additional goals for El Tri and made his last appearance for the senior team in September 2018, featuring in a friendly losses to Uruguay and the U.S.

Pulido is expected to arrive in Kansas City in January.

Featured image: Courtesy of Major League Soccer

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale Holiday Gift Guide

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

December has descended upon us and with it, the pressure to find the “perfect holiday gift” for the special people in your life.  Don’t worry, we’ve got lots of options here for you, whether you or your loved one is a fan of MLS, Liga MX, USWNT or the European leagues. Some of these companies are offering a discount for MLSFemale readers and others still have Cyber Monday/Black Friday deals going on.


Talisman & Co

Whether you are looking for stocking stuffer pins, unique embroidered caps, vintage jerseys from all over the globe, throwback hoodies or tees, Talisman & Co, out of St Paul, Minnesota, has you covered.  They also have beautiful fan gear for your Minnesota United fan.  

For 10% off, use code MLSFEMALE. Talismancaps.com

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Talisman Brandi Cap $35 – Made in collaboration with Brandi Chastain

Away Days Football

Looking for gifts for the younger soccer fans in your life?  Away Days gives your little footie fan the element of surprise in the form of a mystery soccer kit from the 2018/19 season.  Kids sizing ranges from 8-18 and features mostly larger clubs.  Adult mystery kits combine both larger and smaller clubs. All kits are 100% authentic and brand new. Awaydaysfootball.com


De Fút apparel

De Fút’s apparel and goods are “inspired by the culture, icons and heritage of world football.”  Gift options range from women’s and men’s streetwear to sleek water bottles to elegantly designed notebooks and pencils. Use code MLSFEMALE for 15% off your order. defutsoccer.com


On The Volley Apparel

On The Volley Apparel offers a wide range of graphic tanks, tees and sweatshirts with a minimalist flare.  You can even nab a Cooligans “Stay Gully” Talisman Cap.  At the core OTVA believes that “we are all part of football culture. It is not about how good your league is, or about how many people come watch your team play, but about how much you love the game. It’s about the bond created with your team, and the entire football community.”  We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. onthevolleyapparel.com/

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OTVA Owl Hoodie $37.99

Live Breathe Fútbol

Do you have a Portland Thorns or Sporting Kansas City fan in the family?  Check out the merchandise at Live Breathe Fútbol for a variety of stylish apparel appropriate for cold and wet weather as well as great stocking stuffers. livebreathefutbol.com

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Thorns FC Crewneck Sweatshirt $65

Soccer teams III Flip Flops by Havaianas

Who doesn’t love flip-flop weather?  Now you can show pride in your favorite national team while giving your feet some fresh air. US.Havaianas.com

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Soccer Teams III Colombia Flip Flops $12

Upper 90 Gift Card

Upper 90 has everything an active soccer fan could need. With three New York Metro region store locations and an online store, you can get anything from goalkeeper gloves to a personalized Real Madrid jersey.   Not sure what to pick? Give them the gift of shopping for themselves with an Upper90 gift card. U90Soccer.com

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FuboTv Subscription

Most soccer fans never have enough gear but if you or your loved one has limited storage space, treat them to a subscription to Fubotv.  Fubo allows you to stream live matches via channels such as BeInSports, FS1, Univision, NBCSN, SNY and many more. Fubo.TV/Welcome

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Happy shopping soccer fans!

Featured and other images: De Fút , Talisman & Co, Away Days Football, Live Breathe Fútbol, Havaianas, Upper 90, Fubo TV

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Movin’ Out, NYCFC’s Song

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

The MLS off-season is in effect and change is afoot for New York City Football Club.  So much change in fact, that each time I wrote something, it was outdated before I finished. As of Wednesday, here are the big takeaways:

After a disastrous MLS conference semi-final result and some apparent soul searching by Head Coach Domènec Torrent, the team was once again left at the altar by their manager.  The rumor mill is full of theories about why Torrent left with most of them circling around his apparent frustration with the tight purse strings of City Football Group and lack of urgency in moving on targeted player acquisitions. Recent rumors about Torrent’s future hint that, despite his prior frustration with MLS’s schedule and team travel restrictions, he has not ruled out coaching another team in the league.

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According to a report from The Mirror out of Britain, City Football Group are looking to hire Giovanni van Bronckhorst as Head Coach for NYCFC in 2020 as a means to prove he’s an appropriate successor to Pep Guardiola as manager of Manchester City. The Mirror reports that Van Bronckhorst has spent time in New York City and Melbourne – home of sister club Melbourne City FC – in recent months. This has not been announced by the club however, and in fact there is no  head coach listed on NYCFC’s site.

Another huge departure that may speak volumes about the state of the club is Claudio Reyna, Sporting Director, who announced his departure to take the same role for expansion club Austin FC. Reyna has been with the club from Day 1 and has been the face of stability for the team. David Lee, formerly Technical Director, has been promoted from within the organization to Sporting Director.

In other departure news, Ben Sweat was selected in the expansion draft by Inter Miami CF. Sweat is from Florida and it should be a good move for him to potentially earn more playing time, as it became clear through this past season that Ronald Matarrita was the left back of choice for NYCFC.

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Keaton Parks’ loan from SL Benfica is officially over on 12/31.  It’s to be seen whether he will be back to Portugal in the new year or whether the club will attempt to negotiate new terms for him.

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In signings news, Tony Rocha, who became a reliable substitute midfielder, renewed his contract with the club. The club also signed Tayvon Gray, a homegrown 17 year old from the club’s academy, who is the first player from the borough of the Bronx.  Gray is a defender with potential to play a variety of positions.  He played a large role in the back line on the club’s U-19 team who were the first club to win back to back US Development Academy National Championships.

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Tayvon Gray. Image courtesy of @NYCFC

The amount of change does beg the question about the future of the club and how seriously the ownership, City Football Group, actually takes the league and the franchise. It is best summed up by NYCFC fan Coco Kerridge:

“I think it’s fair to say there’s a lot of uncertainty around NYCFC’s next season. On the one hand, we had our best regular season to date: record points, record goals, and top of the East. On the other, we have still failed to really excel in any competition. With the coach changes, and the added pressure of CCL, it’s very hard to predict where we will be this time next year. Then again, we have a strong squad who will hopefully continue to make us proud and play their hearts out. I’m looking forward to seeing what the offseason will bring, and to get right back to cheering on our boys in blue!”

This one is dedicated to Sylvana Budesheim.

Featured and other images: NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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MNUFC Sends Some Signals Ahead of Expansion Draft

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

The third year of the Three Year Plan has passed and, while fans of Minnesota United have seen improvement during that time, what comes next is unclear. Of course, no one expects the club to announce its plans for everyone to hear, but a signal of direction can boost supporter morale and confidence. — Or do the opposite.

With one roster move during the MLS trade window and the protected list released ahead of Tuesday’s expansion draft, let’s take a look at the Loons’ TYP 2.0.

Signal One: Darwin Quintero

When MNUFC signed Darwin Quintero out of Liga MX’s Club America in 2018, big things were expected from him. The club’s first Designated Player was a creator, thus his nickname El Científico del Gol (Goal Scientist). And he took every opportunity he saw to make a goal. It served the Loons well in 2018 — Quintero notched 11 goals and 15 assists in 27 matches, including a hat-trick against Toronto which will live on in MNUFC lore for a long time:

But 2019 saw fewer fireworks from the high-paid Columbian DP (10 goals and 5 assists in 30 appearances) on the pitch and possibly more fireworks off the pitch — Heath benched DQ in the Open Cup final despite his role in getting the club there.

Last week, it was announced that MNUFC had completed a deal with Houston, sending Quintero and a third-round 2020 draft pick south in exchange for $600,000 in TAM and midfielder Marlon Hairston. While new coach Tab Ramos seeks to shore up his Dynamo attacking midfield, Adrian Heath seems to be focusing on youth (Hairston, 25, showed promise in Houston and Colorado but didn’t get much time to capitalize on it) and funds to build up his stagnant striking force.

And so…

Signal Two: A Locked-In Defense, An Attack Set for Adjustment

The list of players made available by Minnesota for the Expansion Draft came as no real surprise to anyone who had observed Heath’s unused sub lists. Miguel Ibarra and Brent Kallman have been on that list for quite some time already. Also not a surprise were those players whose options have already been declined: Carter Manley, Rasmus Schuller, Collin Martin, Wilfried, Moimbe-Tahrat, and Ally Hamis Ng’Anzi.

Wyatt Omsberg, Lawrence Olum, Bobby Shuttleworth, and Marlon Hairston, were not unexpected either — Between loans, bench roles and a lack of history, they are reasonable offseason transactions. The inclusion of Abu Danladi, Angelo Rodriguez and Ethan Finlay, however…

Finlay competed with Kevin Molino for the right wing role all season, but while Molino has a long playing history under Heath, Finlay appeared to be in better form. He would be worth more on the transfer market than the expansion draft, but it has been widely reported that he is set on a starting role (as his work rate deserves) and he has a shot at that with Nashville (more likely than Miami).

Danladi and Rodriguez are puzzling. These were two attackers who Heath was determined to fit into his lineup despite their accumulating injuries. Combined with the Quintero trade, it is obvious that the front office is ready for a change of tack. The attack is wide open.

Here is how the protected players line up in Heath’s favored 4-2-3-1:

Not all of these names are locked in. We can only assume that Robin Lod, Thomas Chacon, and Kevin Molino are set because of the energy and money invested in them. Mason Toye runs hot and cold in Heath’s lineups, but is more consistent than the unprotected strikers. Romario Ibarra is only on this list because Minnesota retained his rights in his loan to Pachuca. Aside from goalkeeper Vito Mannone (on loan for 2019 from Reading FC), any significant changes in the backfield would be somewhat surprising.

While each club can lose a maximum of one player in the expansion draft, knowing who Minnesota is willing to shop around for just $50,000 in TAM as compensation really sets the tone for expectations in the offseason.

Year One: Look for consistency and try to build an identity.

Year Two: Score more goals.

Year Three: Concede fewer goals.

Year Four…. Rinse and repeat?

Welcome to Three Year Plan, 2.0. Brace yourselves for a crazy offseason.

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Seattle Sounders Win Second MLS Cup‬, This Time At Home

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

It was dark. Pitch black, even. As I rubbed my eyes to check the time, my clock showed 5:58 AM. I turned my head to see if my husband was awake, but his side of the bed was empty. As I slowly sat up and peered out the window into the darkness, I saw him in the driveway loading up our SUV with tailgate provisions. Clearly, he was even more anxious than I was.

The enormity of the day was not lost on us, as I know it weighed heavily on the minds of many Sounders fans and the people of Seattle. In the week leading up to the city hosting MLS Cup, there was a buzz around Seattle unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

Even before the giant replica MLS Cup Trophy began popping up around downtown landmarks, the Sounders were all anyone was talking about. Between the insane ticket sales, the pre-game Macklemore concert and the fact that this was shaping up to be the biggest championship game in Seattle history, the buildup was massive.

Seattle Sounders co-owner, Macklemore. Photo Credit: Jill Peck

I drove in to the city around 9 AM, with my almost-3-year-old son in the backseat. We met up with my husband, who arrived hours earlier to tailgate with family, friends, and several hundred fellow Sounders fans. After some cold brew coffee, doughnut holes, and sporadic Sounders chants, we made our way to the ‘March to the Match.’ It was my son’s first time.

Scenes at Occidental Park before the match. Photo credit: Q13 Fox

The scenes were insane. People packed every inch of Occidental Park and it’s surrounding blocks. My husband was at the first ‘March to the Match’ over a decade ago and expressed to me his utter disbelief and joy that this many people would be walking through blue smoke, singing in unison and cheering together.

As we funneled in to the stadium, it was amazing to see it so full, even before kickoff. A typical Sounders game hosts anywhere between 35-42,000 fans. On this day, the stadium would fill to 69,274 people, a stadium record for any sporting event (take that, Seahawks). The Emerald City Supporters put on a show with their tifo as well, pulling off a full stadium tifo to perfection.

Full Stadium tifo. Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC.

As the teams approached midfield and the scarves were raised around the stadium, I looked over to my husband, who was holding our son tightly. While clapping along with those around him, my son yelled, “let’s go boys!” As he had heard his dad yell at kickoff before every game his entire life. I smiled to my husband, so thankful for the moment.

The first half proved to be one of great defensive efforts for the Sounders, which was not what the historical crowd had anticipated or hoped for. The Sounders often looked flat and could not create any offensive threats through anyone other than Raul Ruidiaz. Roman Torres, Kim Kee-Hee, and Stefan Frei were called upon to make several defensive saves. The teams went to halftime tied 0-0.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

As the teams came back on to the field, the crowd energy in the stadium became an overwhelming 12th man of support. The Sounders were attacking, creating chances, and bringing the game to Toronto… and the crowd was louder than ever before. In the 57th minute, Kelvin Leerdam’s shot on goal deflected off Toronto defender Justin Morrow and slid in to the back of the net. The stadium erupted to the point of seismic activity. Fire shot from the goalposts and my sweet son said to me, “mama, the Sounders won MLS Cup!” I smiled and said “not yet, bud.”

Victor Rodiguez, the Sounders super sub of playoffs thus far, subbed in at the 61st minute and completely opened up the game. The Sounders turned on the jets and showed no signs of slowing down. Even when Jozy Altidore was brought on in the 68th minute, it was Seattle who dominated possession, shots on goal, corner kicks, and duels.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

As an incredibly nervous and superstitious fan, a 1-0 lead was not incredibly comforting to me. Even with the increase in quality play, I was anxiously watching the clock tick down. But in the 76th minute, the game’s eventual MVP, Victor Rodriguez, slotted home a long range effort to give Seattle a 2-0 lead with less than 15 minutes to go. It was in that moment, even with the most dangerous lead in soccer, that I knew we were going to win.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

And in the 90th minute, Raul Ruidiaz made sure of that victory with a chip over Toronto goalkeeper, Quintin Westburg. While Jozy Altidore would pull one back in the 93rd minute, the whistle blew moments later and sealed Seattle’s victory 3-1.

The Sounders were officially two-time MLS Cup Champions, but this time winning on their own turf. I couldn’t help but cry as the fireworks exploded around the stadium. I hugged my husband and son so tightly in that moment, knowing it was possibly a once in a lifetime experience for us to have together.

Hometown boys Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris. Photo Credit: Jill Peck

While the Sounders haven’t been the flashiest name in MLS, with the likes of Atlanta and LAFC taking up many of the headlines this season, they proved with this win that they are a team that should be respected. The accomplishments they’ve been able to make in just 10 seasons are simply unmatched across the league.

This MLS Cup championship trophy will go into Seattle’s already stacked cabinet of four US Open Cups, a Supporter’s Shield, and their first MLS Cup trophy from only 3 seasons ago. They also are the only team across the last 10 seasons to make the playoffs EVERY year. And with clutch tactician Brian Schmetzer at the helm and General Manager Garth Lagerway pulling strings, they show no signs of slowing down.

When my family finally got home after staying in the stadium for nearly 45 minutes and celebrating all around Seattle for hours after the game ended, all three of us were emotionally and physically drained. As we put my son to bed and went to close the door, he stopped us and said, “hey mama, hey dada, the Sounders won MLS Cup.” I gave my husband’s hand a squeeze as I responded, “they sure did bud.”

The emotional comedown from this day was intense for me. It took me several days just to put in words what happened and what that win meant to me. And I don’t think I’ll ever have words for what this win meant to this city. Instead, I’ll let Brian Schmetzer attempt to say it for me:

All images:  @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLS Cup Final: Staff Picks

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

We are less than a week away from the MLS Cup Final between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC. Both teams are going for their second league championship, with the Sounders having won in 2016 and Toronto in 2017. Following a new format of single elimination playoffs, the Cup final will be played Sunday, November 10th at CenturyLink Field.

Several members of the MLSFemale staff offered their thoughts on who will lift the trophy at the end of the night. The results are… slightly skewed.


Seattle Sounders

Ashley, Official Sounders Reporter: Because Seattle invented MLS Cup…The team overcame so many injuries this season and not to mention players leaving and retiring. They busted their butts to get to this final and this city deserves to host a championship.

Keira, Official NYCFC Reporter: Sounders because they are a huge reason we have a cool soccer culture in the US. Great teams find ways to win the big games and that’s what Seattle does. Dig deep and find ways to win.

Bridget, Official MNUFC Reporter: I have to go with the Sounders. They have multiple players who peak in high pressure matches and yet nothing about their game plan leans on just these players. It’s a slightly different edge than Toronto.

Eve, Official Montreal Impact Reporter:  If I put my Toronto bias aside, I would say I feel like Seattle have the edge because they have finally been a consistently strong unit over the whole of the season, unlike in their two previous Cup runs.

Aya, Atlanta United Video Correspondent: Seattle because Toronto beat us.

Dayna, Co-founder of MLSFemale: Totally unbiased opinion — I think Seattle will win it. Home field advantage is real in Seattle.

Abigail, Seattle Contributor and USWNT Correspondent: Seattle of course! This team knows how to show up in big moments. Lodiero, Ruidiaz, and Frei are all big game players. This team is built for playoffs especially at home

Sylvana, Official NY Red Bulls Reporter and MLSFemale Social Media Manager: Definitely Seattle. They are a cohesive unit and have been able to execute a game plan. And they were able to put aside the mighty LAFC! They definitely seem to have the advantage going in.

Sarah, Official D.C. United Reporter and MLSFemale Editor-in-Chief: Seattle capitalizes on home field advantage to win the Cup and wow the home crowd, but Nick DeLeon scores some absolute stunners that turn the match into a nail biter.

Toronto FC

Liz, Co-founder of MLSFemale: I’m Canadian and BMO Field was the first MLS match I ever attended which helped put me on the path to co-creating MLSFemale.

Jess, Official Rapids Reporter: This isn’t a final I’m looking forward to because it’s very much more of the same. I would have loved to have seen an LAFC/Atlanta matchup instead. Normally I go with the conference my team plays in, but this time I see Toronto as the lesser of two evils.

Araceli, Official LAFC and Sporting KC Reporter: Toronto FC. It’s a difficult choice since both teams have a long history with each other in the MLS Cup Final. I think Stefan Frei and Quentin Westberg are strong keepers and could keep both sides in the game well into extra time. But I’m rooting for The Reds mostly because Seattle knocked out LAFC.

Kickoff is set for 3pm EST on ABC. MLSFemale will live-tweet the final. Follow along @MLSFemale.

Featured image: MLS Soccer

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The Rubber Match Preview: Seattle Hosts Toronto for Tie-Break MLS Cup

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

December 10th, 2016. I sat on my couch in a Seattle suburb balancing a bowl of popcorn on my belly. It was my due date for my first baby boy, Sawyer, and I was beyond ready to meet him. Due dates are hardly ever accurate though, especially with first pregnancies.

Nevertheless, I sat there that day especially hopeful to be in labor soon, but not for at least another 10 or 15 minutes. The Seattle Sounders had just played 120 long, grueling minutes in their first MLS Cup appearance in club history and were now heading to a penalty shoot out. My blood pressure was through the roof.

But the rest is MLS history. Seattle would win the shootout 5-4 and Sawyer wouldn’t be born for six more days. We welcomed him into a world were the Seattle Sounders were reigning MLS Cup Champions. To this day, I’m still not sure which was the greater joy for my husband.

Photo Credit: Ashley Savage

MLS Cup 2017 was not as kind to the Sounders, as Toronto swiftly defeated them. The postseason of 2018 was not much better, as the Sounders were eliminated by their biggest rivals, the Portland Timbers, who went on to lose the MLS Cup final to Atlanta United.

In the span of those two seasons, my son attended nearly every home Sounders match. He smiled brightly every time the Sounders scored a goal and fire shot from the goalposts. At two, he held his hand over his heart for every national anthem and would mumble sounds that somewhat emulated the lyrics. These games brought him so much joy, just as he brought joy to our family.

The 2019 season for the Seattle Sounders was one that I would not describe as joyful. There were so many injuries. Brad Smith, Kelvin Leerdam, Victor Rodriguez, Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Roman Torres, Kim Ki Hee, Will Bruin and Joevin Jones all spent significant time out injured. Chad Marshall was forced in to retirement prior to mid-season. The team dropped more points at home than any of their previous ten seasons.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

But there were also many moments of magic. Jordan Morris put together his best season in MLS and was rewarded with the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. Stefan Frei was an absolute force in the net game after game. And when it mattered most, the team grabbed enough points to finish second in the Western Conference and haven’t looked back since.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

Raul Ruidiaz has scored three goals and three assists in his playoff appearances this season. Nicolas Lodeiro has two goals and four assists in three post season appearances.

While the Sounders were not dominant in their opening playoff victory against FC Dallas, the team posted a shutout in the next round against Real Salt Lake. Then, they did the unthinkable by traveling to Banc of California Stadium and put on a clinic to near perfection on how to beat the greatest regular season team in MLS history, LAFC.

Now, thanks to a lightening bolt strike from Nick DeLeon that defeated Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Final, Toronto FC are heading to Seattle for the MLS Cup Rubber Match. For impartial fans, this story-line is probably getting old. But for me and my family and the city of Seattle, this is the most anticipated day we could possibly imagine.

The city of Seattle hasn’t hosted many championships. During the 1978 and 1979 seasons the Seattle Supersonics hosted several finals games and the Seattle Storm have hosted in the 2004, 2010, and 2018 seasons when they won their respective titles.

For a metropolitan area of nearly 3.89 million people, hosting this championship means everything. Possibly to no one more than head coach Brian Schmetzer, who was born in Seattle, played for the Sounders USL side and has taken the team to three MLS Cups in his four seasons as head coach. For this city, for this team, and for this writer, this game means everything.

The game will kickoff at 12:08 PM PST on Sunday November 10th at CenturyLink Field and will broadcast on ABC. Tickets for the match sold out in minutes and it’s estimated that nearly 71,000 fans will be in attendance.

One of those fans will be my son, Sawyer, who is now almost three years old and insists on wearing his Nightfall Jordan Morris jersey to every single match. While he was a few days late to witness the Sounders first MLS Cup, here’s hoping he gets to see the Rave Green hoist the trophy in person this Sunday.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders FC

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LAFC Concludes 2019 Season At Home In 3-1 Loss

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club’s record-setting season came to an end Tuesday night in a 3-1 home loss to the Seattle Sounders marking the club’s first loss to Seattle. 

In a high-energy, physical match, Eduard Atuesta gave the Black & Gold the early lead in the 17th minute with a rocket shot off a free kick.

But Seattle’s physicality, energy, and persistence would soon overpower the Supporters’ Shield winners – as they struck back in the 22nd minute. Raul Ruidiaz rounded Eddie Segura and, beating Tyler, ripped a shot inside the near post for the equalizer.

Four minutes later, an unmarked Nicolas Lodeiro took the lead when he received the ball just outside the top of the box and took his time slotting home a grounded shot inside the right post.

Latif Blessing went down with a groin injury just before halftime, forcing LAFC to make a early substitution – Mark-Anthony Kaye made his return. 

In the 53rd minute, still down a goal, Adama Diomande who helped the club advance to the next round replaced Brian Rodriguez.

Much like Lodeiro’s goal in the first half, Ruidiaz found himself unmarked at the top of the box in the 64th minute. But this time, it was Lodeiro who fed him the ball across the middle and before Segura could close the distance, Ruidiaz ripped a shot inside the left post to double Seattle’s lead, 3-1.

LAFC continued to push back against their physical opponent to find the breakthrough. However, they had trouble with converting their chances.

The club would get another opportunity to pull one back in the 54th minute when Diego Rossi picked out Diomande inside the box with a cross but could not connect with the forward. Blackmon got on the rebound to see his shot miss wide of the target.

Ruidiaz’s second goal would become the game winner eliminating LAFC from seeing the MLS Cup Final.

It’s not how we envisioned the season to end. But this club has several accomplishments to be proud of:

  • 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners
  • Carlos Vela won the Golden Boot
  • Head Coach Bob Bradley named MLS Coach of the Year

See you next season!

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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