Category Archives: Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference

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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Sacrifice Saturday for RBNY

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, March 17th: 1-0 Loss

Raise your hand if you enjoy losing!


But sometimes it’s gonna happen. It’s not fun, but perspective is necessary at times like this.

The New York Red Bulls traveled to Rio Tinto Stadium for a cross-conference matchup with Real Salt Lake, coached by former RBNY player and coach Mike Petke. Coming off a huge loss to LAFC, RSL was hungry for a home win, especially against a team that is riding high after decisive wins in two competitions.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Utah= snow. The official ball was Day-Glo orange just in case of accumulation of the white stuff during the game. While there was precipitation in the 2nd half, it was mostly rain which drastically affected RBNY’s passing game. The Red Bulls were able to maintain over 60% of the possession during the game, but the passes got shorter and interceptions increased over the course of 90 minutes.

Uphill Climb: Carlos Rivas‘ foul just inside the box resulted in a penalty kick that became a goal for Albert Rusnák (4′). This means the Red Bulls were chasing the tie for 86+ minutes. And while they possessed the ball, passed well, and had several breakaways, nothing came of it. Credit to the team that frustration only set in at the very end, most notably from midfielder Tyler Adams.

It was all Yellow: While none of them gave RBNY a chance to level the score with a penalty kick of their own, there were 4 yellow cards given to RSL players. And then there was the **possible** handball by an RSL defender in the box. Maybe it would have been called out with the same VAR that pointed our Rivas’ error, but it was not implemented.

But we mustn’t dwell.


So, the Red Bulls did well.. in nearly every way. Except for the one that matters as the season goes on. Is it as bad as a rivalry loss? A multi-goal thumping? No. But it sure don’t feel good.

Well, onward and upward. A Minnesota United team that is enjoying their ride this season. A powerhouse known as Chivas Guadalajara. Time to get back on it.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

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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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I saw him playing there – at Red Bull Arena

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, March 10: 4-0 Win

Seeing as I’m willing to watch pretty much any MLS match, and I got my fill of Week 1 games, one might think I would meet the home opener for the New York Red Bulls as they faced the Portland Timbers with decorum and aplomb.

One would be wrong.

I raced to the game and to my seat because I was ready for the new season. I had already seen the team advance to the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League in a rather decisive fashion at Red Bull Arena. How was the team going to go from that to MLS action and back again so quickly? The answer had been there all along, hiding in plain sight.

BABY YOU’RE A FIREWORK: Starting the season with a real bang, the fireworks and flashpots were out and firing as the starting lineup took the field. The players were all in red, the color kit that was a long time coming.

In his MLS debut, midfielder Alejandro Romero Gamarra could be spied just taking it all in. Indeed, several of the members of the starting lineup were making their MLS/RBNY/First Team debut. So okay– fans aren’t going to see Bradley-Wright Phillips or Aaron Long much, if at all.

Who are these guys in their places? Didn’t the club just sign Kyle Duncan, and they’re playing him already? Aren’t they facing the Timbers, the team that has 2017’s MVP, Diego Valeri? Is this even going to work?

GO ‘HEAD, HAITIAN MESSI: Well… when Derrick Etienne Jr. pulls off something like this, how can you not call him that?

He was a force to be reckoned with the entire first half, although it didn’t quite yield the desired result. Many chances and shots, but no goals. No reason to worry, though. Now is the time to hammer out the perfect pairs up top, and his match might be Danny Royer. It remains to be seen.

WELL, HE WAS JUST SEVENTEEN: No. Really. Starting midfielder Ben Mines, just seventeen years old and wearing #17 on his back, made his MLS debut and opened his goal-scoring account for the season… at 17 minutes, 17 seconds. He played for the full 90 minutes, getting knocked around by the opposition and earning himself a yellow card in the 72′ for time wasting. I daresay he ended up having the full MLS experience in one night. And he took home the ball he scored with to give to his mom. How could I cheer for another?

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL: Once Wright-Phillips was subbed on for Etienne and Tyler Adams for Romero Gamarra, there was a noticeable shift forward in the game. Wright-Phillips was able to convert a corner from defender Connor Lade with a header into the net in the 77th minute. And after several frustrating attempts in a 5-minute span, 23-year-old forward Carlos Rivas scores not one, but TWO goals (80′, assisted by Vincent Bezecourt & 90’+, assisted by Lade).

This month has roared in like a lion for the team, between the start of league play and the work that has to go into the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. But it sure seems like the team is ready to take it all on.

**PERSONAL NEWS** In case you’re one of the 5 people I haven’t told yet, I slipped on some ice recently and fractured my ankle. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Red Bull Communications Department and the Arena security staff for helping me get around and not have to miss out on the 1st match of the season.

Featured image courtesy: Sylvana Budesheim

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

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Oops, we did it again breaking ALL the records in Atlanta

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, March 11: 3-1 Win

After a miserable season opener at Houston last week, Atlanta United FC redeemed itself by breaking the “raccoon witch curse” and the fans proved once again that soccer is thriving in Georgia.

In 2017, ATLUTD could not manage to scrape together a draw against DC United, let alone a win and the “raccoon witch curse” was born. Those raccoons at RFK Stadium obviously performed some unholy magic that somehow allowed the second-worst team in the league last year to defeat ATLUTD all three times they met.

In our home opener for 2018, though, the tables turned. Coach Tata Martino made some adjustments to the formation (more on that in a bit) and ATLUTD wins 3-1, with goals from Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Tito Villalba. My friend (and Mouths of the South podcaster), Jay Riddle had a theory:

ATLUTD played in a 3-5-2 formation this week (different from the usual 4-2-3-1) and Tata put Jeff Larentowicz (aka “Larry”) back as a defensive midfielder, Miggy back in at CM, and moved Greg Garza to left wing and Julian Gressel to right wing.

I’m usually a bit leery when Tata starts changing things around, but it was easy to see the guys had much better control this week. I was still nervous with only a 1-0 lead at the half, but then Miggy scored. And not even two minutes later, Tito scored (and I missed it because I was posting a picture of T.I. on the supporters stage to the MLSFemale IG story, which is how I got caught on ESPN, so there’s that).

Our old pal Yamil Asad may have scored DCU’s first goal of the season, but he wasn’t much help to them this weekend. Asad got some applause from the early fans when he walked into the stadium and hugged all of his former teammates when DCU came out for warmups, which nearly made me cry. However, he did have some trouble getting past Gressel and Franco Escobar on the right. The only goal for DCU was scored by Darren Mattocks, who slipped by Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and somehow managed to get a shot by Brad Guzan.

For a third time, ATLUTD broke the MLS single-game attendance record with 72,035 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. The club also announced on Monday that they will open the full stadium for a fifth game (Oct 21 vs Chicago Fire, the final regular season game) this season. A friend of mine did the math and said this will bring us to just over 900,000 people at ATLUTD games in 2018. I’d like to see them open it up two more times (for a total of seven full-stadium games) so we can go over 1,000,000!

In other news this week, Julian Gressel made the MLS Team of the Week (with Almiron on the bench), and Miggy’s goal is up for Goal of the Week. I think ATL fans broke MLS’s system last year, so now you can only vote once (instead of once per hour like last year).

This coming Saturday, 3/17, ATLUTD host the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have an impressive streak of 18 road games undefeated. Vancouver got the best of our boys last year, but so did DCU – until they came to the Benz, so we’ll see what Tata and the boys do this week. I’m not betting against my boys and the home crowd, though. 😉

Featured image courtesy:

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @robynsaghini

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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__

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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

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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

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Obstacle for New York Red Bulls: Olimpia

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

CONCACAF Champions League, Round of 16
Leg 1: 1-1 Draw
Leg 2: 2-0 Win (3-1 agg.)

Before MLS kicked off for the 2018 season, the New York Red Bulls began their campaign in the CONCACAF Champions League with a trip to Costa Rica to face the Honduran club Olimpia in the first leg of the Round of 16.

That 1st leg, played in an empty stadium at a neutral location, was not particularly a stand-out match. Forward Daniel Royer scored in the 31st minute, only to have the score equalized by Brayan Moya in the 79th minute with a penalty kick following a hard tackle by defender Aurelien Collin. While the Away Goal Rule was in place, which weighted RBNY’s goal a little more, going into the 2nd leg with a draw allowed for the drama to play out at Red Bull Arena.

And play out it did.

Adeus meu amigo: While rumors had swirled in recent weeks, it was only when the gameday roster of 18 was announced that it became clear Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins was no longer part of the team. It was not until 2 days later that the trade was made official, sending Felipe to the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for defender Tim Parker (and a bunch of GAM TAM THANK YOU MA’AM that I’m not going to bother to explain). Like the other recent departures from RBNY, there’s sadness among fans, but the general consensus is that it was time to move on and we wish him well… until he comes back to face the Red Bulls.

Visa- not quite everywhere you want to be: Moya, as well as 2 other players for CD Olimpia, were prevented from traveling to Harrison for the 2nd leg due to issues with their visas. I don’t know who should have taken steps to ensure that all players would be able to travel, but it should have been handled.

Willkommen: Marc Rzatkowski (shh-KOFF-skee), on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, made the starting XI in the midfield. And he shined. I loved every second he was on the ball. Unlike other players who have joined the squad in recent seasons, Rzatkowski’s integration was seamless and immediate.

“He was fantastic, I mean his work ethic, the thing that you’ll see with him, the best of any player I’ve ever seen is with the ball and any movement within the game he comes back and thinks about closing down space and second balls, he’s incredible.”

–Coach Jesse Marsch

Dos a Cero: Following a well-moving but scoreless first half, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips opened his account for 2018 competition with a laser shot in the 54th minute that the Olimpia goalkeeper was sure was going to go wide. The pace was markedly faster after the goal from both sides.

Midfielder and RBNY Academy product Sean Davis doubled the lead with a goal in the 64th minute.

If anyone was worried about what was going to happen to the Red Bulls midfield following the exit of the likes of Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, and now Felipe… it seems the kids are alright (Davis, RZA, and Tyler Adams).

#HolaKaku: Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who couldn’t travel to Costa Rica and instead played with Red Bulls II in the final match of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, made his RBA debut in the 64th minute. He replaced Alex Muyl, who deserved the rest following 4 total shots at ridiculous angles.

Kaku was credited with 2 shots and a respectable 81.3% passing accuracy. His slightly off-frame shot in the 84th minute was inches away from instant legendary status. It will have to wait for another day.

The Red Bulls face Club Tijuana in the quarterfinals and will be back at Red Bull Arena on the 13th, but will also open their MLS season against the Portland Timbers this weekend.

Featured image courtesy: Sylvana Budesheim

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

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So that happened to ATLUTD…

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 4-0 Loss

Atlanta United‘s preseason was…not ideal. They managed a single win against soon-to-be MLS rival Nashville SC in some crazy weather conditions and then a loss (vs Columbus Crew) and two draws (MNUFC and USL side Charleston Battery) during the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, SC.

During the week between the final game in Charleston and our first regular season game at Houston, it was announced that our brand new toy, Ezequiel Barco, sustained a quad injury in training and would be out for 4-6 weeks. This brought back nightmares to the ATLUTD faithful, as Josef Martinez suffered a similar injury early in the 2017 season while playing for the Venezuelan national team.

Barco’s injury and the fact that Michael Parkhurst was still recovering from an injury forced coach Tata Martino to make some pretty big changes in the lineup for the Houston Dynamo game.

Miguel Almiron, who has made the most impact at central attacking midfielder was pushed out to the left to cover for Barco. 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year Julian Gressel was slotted in to replace Almiron, Chris McCann was added as a defensive midfielder, and Jeff Larentowicz was pushed back to center back to replace Parkhurst.

This was, however, our first regular-season lineup with offseason acquisition Darlington Nagbe in it. We saw some lovely things from him in the preseason, but this game didn’t go as well for him – or any of the midfielders or CBs, for that matter.

It pains me to say this, but Leandro Gonzalez Pirez probably played his worst game ever. He ended up with a yellow card (Despite saying he was trying to get fewer cards this year; not such a great start there, LGP) was subbed out late in the first half with a hip contusion.

Maybe he was still hungover from his birthday celebration earlier in the week? Or he was distracted by the fact that he’s going to be a first-time dad later this year? I don’t know what got into him, but he was not himself this weekend and while ATLUTD is reporting that he’s day-to-day (did not practice on Tuesday) with this hip contusion, he could easily be out for 1-2 weeks or more.

While our list of injured players grew longer, at least our defense managed to shore itself up in the second half of the game on Saturday. After giving up four goals (!!) to Houston in the first half, the second half was scoreless. This is the first time ATLUTD fans have been on this side of a score like that. And it was not fun. My social media timelines were not a pleasant place to be on Sunday.

Thankfully, it was just the first game of the season. We have 33 more games to go and I have faith that they’ll figure it out soon enough.

In the meantime, we have our first home game of the season to look forward to (or not) this Sunday vs the only team that got the best of us three times (*angry emoji*) last season, DC United. DCU snuck around during the offseason and picked up Yamil Asad on loan from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina.

If you read any of my columns last year, you’ll know Asad was a fan favorite here in Atlanta in 2017. He will always be remembered for scoring the very first regular season ATLUTD goal and throwing ‘bows out on the field early in the season. He even went on to score DCU’s first goal of the season last week at Orlando (ha!).

ATLUTD take on DC United this Sunday, 3/11 at 3pm ET at home in front of a potentially record-breaking (again) crowd. The upper level will be open, which means 70k+ in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Featured image courtesy:

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @robynsaghini

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale