Category Archives: Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference

New York Red Bulls Keep my Fascination

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 22: 2-2 draw

Who doesn’t love a midweek non-conference match-up that runs right up against evening rush hour?

Okay, maybe not a lot of people. But I made the effort to see the New York Red Bulls take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. I just love me some “O Canada!”

And he was there, smiling and waving to fans who have never stopped loving him. Even though he tried to do to the Red Bulls what he had done for them not too long ago.

It seems a little time is needed: I am leery of any sport that adults can play with a quick turnaround, even multiple games in one day (I’m looking at you, baseball…). So it’s important to point out that a midweek game sandwiched between a Sunday match and a Saturday match is pretty rough. Not to worry! says the coaching staff. The “next man up” mentality is vital to the Red Bulls and their pressing play, so they tried something different. While there is no such thing as an unimportant game, this was a chance for Chris Armas to show what could be accomplished in an unusual situation.

Decisions to be made: No Parker- no problem. Sean Nealis went in after Tim Parker was sent off Sunday, so bringing him in for Parker’s suspension made total sense. Aaron Long still smarting from a hamstring pull? Amro Tarek will do just fine. Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo need a rest? Bring in Connor Lade and Kyle Duncan. When you want to give some time off to Sean Davis, look no further than Alex Muyl, utility player extraordinaire. Brian White and Derrick Etienne, Jr. got in a much-needed shift up top, especially as Etienne heads to the Gold Cup for the Haitian national team. But no one in the starting lineup was any sort of stranger to the pitch. This could have been a joyride.

The best of plans mislaid: Literally ANY time a team thinks that this should be easy is when it’s not. A massive counterattack just before the half-hour mark put the Whitecaps ahead, with Scott Sutter scoring the opening goal.

In an old familiar way: And get it back, they did. Tarek and White got their heads on a ball to level the match before halftime. White also crossed the ball early in the second half that Vancouver defender Andy Rose got a foot on before going into the net. I’m a generally positive person, so I would prefer to call it a brace for Brian White rather than an own goal. I’m also not a statistician, so I don’t have to be all that accurate.

And so the conversation turned: Reminiscent of the matchup against Sporting Kansas City, the Red Bulls ended up tying when they really could have won. The ball grazed Nealis’s arm in the box– and here’s my first time actually saying this for this season– and ENTER VAR. Vancouver was awarded a kick from the spot, which Fredy Montero converted to bring the game level again. Although Armas brought out some trustworthy attackers like Davis and Daniel Royer, as well as Tom Barlow, nothing found the back of the net for the remainder of the match.

So yeah– it’s a draw that feels a little like a loss. But maybe it was worth the stumble. We’ll see who and what the team has to offer Saturday, when they head out to Ohio to face FC Cincinnati (which I know how to spell now). RBNY scraped out a win their last meeting this season, so hopefully they can keep their fans feeling fascination.

Featured image:  @BillTNJ

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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D.C. United’s Rough Week On the Road

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. v Toronto: 0-0 and D.C. v Houston: 1-2

D.C. United had a rough week. Three matches in 7 days rough. The Black-and-Red pulled a win, a draw, and a loss, and logged some serious frequent flyer miles as the team flew from the District to Toronto, and then on to Houston.

Ben Olsen Shakes Up the XI

D.C. United Starting XI against Toronto FC. Credit: D.C. United

D.C.’s starting XI aren’t usually a surprise, especially to those familiar with the team. Head Coach Ben Olsen is a man of habit, which sometimes brings him criticism (unless of course D.C. United is winning, in which case the ranks of Olsen’s Army swell). For the May 15th midweek matchup against Toronto FC and former D.C. United player Nick DeLeon, Olsen had some serious considerations to make in terms of his lineup. 

In a move of genius, or not (depending who you are), Olsen made massive changes to the XI. Leaving Captain Wayne Rooney, Acosta, Arriola, Jara, Pedroso, and Rodriguez to rest on the bench, we saw Jalen Robinson, Akeem Ward, Chris Durkin, and Quincy Amarikwa (finally) get some significant minutes on the pitch. 

Unfortunately, D.C. was unable to score against Toronto FC, but the Black-and-Red were able to withstand the immense pressure they were placed under, keeping the match at a 0-0 draw. Which leads to the fact that…

Bill Hamid is a Brick Wall

Undoubtedly, Bill Hamid was D.C.’s biggest asset during their trip north. Toronto FC took an MLS record 35 shots during the match, however Bill Hamid set a record of his own. Logging a career best 12 saves, Hamid’s shot stopping ability clearly kept the match at a draw, rather than allowing it to turn into a humiliating loss.  Can the man get his USMNT call up, please?

Temperatures and Tempers Flare in Houston

With D.C.’s starters somewhat rested, the team headed to steamy Houston for the final match of the week to face the Dynamo. The Houston Dynamo were, and are, unbeaten at home. 

A collision between D.C.’s Steven Birnbaum and Alberth Elis of the Dynamo in the early minutes of the match left the latter so injured he couldn’t continue. The first half continued scoreless with D.C. and the Dynamo heading to halftime at 0-0. 

D.C. United Captain Wayne Rooney issued a wakeup call to the Dynamo with the first match goal scored in the 46’. With the Black-and-Red up 1-0, Houston rallied. Taking advantage of a lapse in D.C.’s defense, Houston scored an equalizer in the 67’ and another goal just a minute later. 

With tensions rising and the time left on the clock dwindling for D.C. to seek another opportunity on goal, the match became even more physical. D.C. United’s Paul Arriola was booked with a red card in the 85’ for violent conduct after a foul and subsequent tangle up with the Dynamo’s Lundqvist.

With D.C. down to 10 men, they continued to chase an equalizer in the final minutes, even bringing in striker Quincy Amarikwa in stoppage time. Unfortunately for D.C. United, there would be no equalizer and the match ended in a Dynamo victory, 2-1.

Looking Forward

The week’s results were surely not what D.C. United had hoped, especially given that the top spot of the Eastern Conference is at stake. Captain Wayne Rooney has been openly critical of his team, saying, “We were not good enough . . . we need to learn, and if we can’t learn when we’re top of the league, then we never will.”

D.C. United will host an international friendly at Audi Field on May 22 against Spanish side Real Betis but won’t see any MLS action until next week’s match against the NE Revolution on May 25. 

Here’s hoping the Black-and-Red bounce back after a challenging week. Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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New York Red Bulls Are the Storm

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, May 19th: 1-0 win

This may come as a shock to you: Soccer reporting is only a small part of my life. Outside of this, I’m your quasi-typical soccer mom. And quite frankly, the weather has really been cramping my style lately. So when I saw the weather forecast for Sunday, I didn’t hold back:

But it all worked out. My sons had their regularly scheduled games. I was able to go to Red Bull Arena to watch the New York Red Bulls face Atlanta United. The promised thunderstorm politely waited until I was home safe that night.

And boy, am I glad I made it!

You would always win, always win: Against the expansion team, RBNY has usually done well. Their tendency to falter in away legs– something they haven’t completely overcome– did them in during the 2018 playoffs. But Atlanta has never scored on them in Red Bull Arena. Something something fortress. I’ll let it slide.

And I threw us into the flames: The first half was mostly a whole bunch of nothing. Both teams were clearly determined to get out in front, which moved the game much like a tennis match. But in the 35th minute, Tim Parker received a straight red for a foul on Josef Martinez. Having already lost Aaron Long to injury, this match was shaping up to be a daunting task. But the team gave a collective, “hold my electrolyte squeeze bottle.”

And as it fell, you rose to claim it:  Tom Barlow, bright-eyed and full of promise. A midwestern collegian and SuperDraft pick. A powerhouse for the USL squad who had made the big time. His second outing, his third touch of the night. Substitute Sean Nealis supplied the ball to Danny Royer, who sent the ball across the face of the goal. A header that bobbled past Brad Guzan. Yes, *that* Brad Guzan. The only goal of the night, which led to Barlow being named Man of the Match.

But there’s a side to you:  Of course this match was touted as an opportunity for revenge. Particularly for Kemar Lawrence, who was injured in a match at Mercedes-Benz Arena and had to be taken to the hospital. Then a knee injury kept him out of the playoff series that Atlanta won on their way to the MLS Cup. The flu kept him sidelined for a few matches this year, and the team felt the absence more often than not. So nothing was going to hold him down in this matchup. I’ve spoken to Lawrence in the past, and he is, as they say across the pond, “cool as you like.” But he was all fired up as the game ended!

Is it the most sporting thing to do? Maybe not. But no one was hurt, and fans can have an appreciation for the passion. No one was penalized, so it clearly wasn’t that big of a deal. Now the team prepares for a midweek bout against former teammate Felipe Martins and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

You and me together nothing gets better: Also….the morning of the match, I had to drive my oldest son to his game. He just turned 15. While his team lost 5-1, he at least scored the one goal for his side. And the next night his team advanced to the semi-finals of the MCYSA League Cup.

(P.S. If you ask nicely– and buy me a drink– I’ll sing this for you at Karaoke night)

Featured image: Sylvana Budesheim

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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In Piatti’s Absence, Montréal Impact Emerge Successful but Unsatisfying

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Most recent results: 5/18: Montréal Impact v NE Revolution 0-0, 5/11: Montréal Impact v FC Cincinnati 2-1, 4/13: Montréal Impact v Columbus Crew 1-0

It is no secret to anyone who follows MLS. Sure, the coach prepares his tactics and sends out the strongest team at his disposal. Sure, it is an eleven-man team, not a one-man team. But in Montréal, there is one particular player who consistently makes the difference between a loss and a draw, or a draw and a win. That overwhelming influence falls on the shoulders of Ignacio Piatti.

The Impact have been incredibly lucky. In Piatti’s time with the club he has missed remarkably few matches due to injury. However, the 2019 campaign has not been so kind to the player.

Following the third match of the season, when Piatti scored his second and third goals for the team, he was sidelined for a total of ten matches due to injury, and then a setback in his rehabilitation.

For those of us who had followed the team since his 2015 arrival, we began to sing the familiar chorus of “No Piatti, No Party” — losing your leading goalscorer and team MVP for nearly a third of the MLS campaign is bound to hurt anyone, but when a team is so dependent on one player to provide their goals, it hurts even more.

The Impact’s 4-4-2 record in Piatti’s absence came as a surprise to just about everyone on the outside looking in, particularly taking into account that seven of those matches took place on the road. Although coach Rémi Garde and the players have preached a collective effort and mentality, history was not on their side.

During Piatti’s absence, the Impact have both recorded their first-ever MLS regular season win at Red Bull Arena, and have also been humiliated with a 7-1 drubbing in Kansas City. They’ve recorded six shutouts, but have also only scored 9 goals in the aforementioned time period.

In the absence of their primary goalscorer, all eyes have been on the Impact’s more offensive-minded players to see who would pick up Piatti’s torch. Indeed, Omar Browne provided flashes of technique and scored a goal before falling to injury. Anthony Jackson-Hamel got off the mark before de facto starting striker Maxi Urruti. Urruti, remains stuck at one goal on the season, despite notching five assists.

Garde’s former protegé, Harry Novillo, has been a resounding disappointment, while Bologna loanee Orji Okwonkwo has used speed and power to overcome a series of fullbacks on the right wing. Still, all of that potential has by and large fallen short in that crucial moment in front of the goal.

Undoubtedly, the saving grace for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir is the fact that the team has been more defensively sound this season. Although the team has been on the receiving end of several results that are anything but flattering, Evan Bush is already more than halfway toward catching up with his personal best 10 shutouts that were recorded last season.

Again, it feels wrong to complain about a totally respectable record, taking into account how many other players on the team are carrying injuries and not playing at full fitness. Yet somehow, it still doesn’t feel like enough. The Impact’s third place in the Eastern Conference feels far from set in stone, especially with many teams climbing up the rankings with matches in hand.

With Piatti’s return, here’s hoping his presence is the impetus for the Impact to get their scoring mojo back before the mass exodus of players for the impending Gold Cup.

Next match: Friday, May 24th at LAFC.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Paul Arriola Leads D.C. United to a 1-0 Win Over Sporting Kansas City at Home

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Paul Arriola, the tenacious 24-year-old Californian, made the game winning goal for D.C United in the 78’ during a tough match against Sporting Kansas City. Attendance at Audi Field was not at its best Sunday night, with a recorded total of just over 12,500. Any variety of factors could have been to blame: Mother’s Day, Game of Thrones, or the chilly weather that belonged back in early March. 

With numerous Sporting KC starters missing due to injury on the team’s first visit to Audi Field, it would have been easy for D.C. United to underestimate the depleted team. Instead, the Black-and-Red exhibited a real sense of urgency on the pitch, as D.C. needed a win to keep pace with the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference Standings. (Both teams currently are in possession of 23 points.)

The first half of the match saw a focused D.C. United trying to break through holes in Sporting’s defenses and the veritable brick wall that is Tim Melia. Sporting’s Dániel Sallói was shown a yellow card early, in the 11’, for dragging D.C.’s creative Leonardo Jara back.

Shortly after, Captain Wayne Rooney took a beauty of a free kick in the 14’, only to have his effort thwarted by the talented Melia. The first half continued to slip away, with both D.C. and SKC unable to find an opening. At halftime, the score stood at 0-0.

As the second half started, the weather deteriorated further and pouring rain pummeled the pitch. While the Black-and-Red faithful remained, many in ponchos, a good number of fans exited Audi Field, unwilling to suffer any longer. The pitch became slick, sending players sliding and giving both D.C. and Sporting a tough time. Medics were called onto the field numerous times as players went down hard. Although there were a few scares, everyone emerged from the match relatively unscathed. 

Just when it looked like D.C. would have to accept a draw, Paul Arriola curled the ball in past Melia. The shot was the ‘something special’, in the words of Ben Olsen, that the Black-and-Red needed to surpass Vermes’ team and take three points for the District. For fans that had been braving the elements all evening, Arriola’s goal immediately injected a sense of warmth into the crowd at Audi Field. Defender Russell Canouse, said, “It was unbelievable. Once it left his foot, we had the feeling that it was going in.”

After scoring, Arriola immediately sent up his love to his late father, Arturo, who passed away late last year. Lifting his cleat to his ear and pointing skyward, there was no doubt who Arriola was dedicating his goal to.

Arriola’s goal is his third this season, bringing him even with Luciano Acosta. Only Captain Wayne Rooney has scored more in 2019. Arriola said, “This time last year, I don’t even think I had a goal. So, it feels good…But more importantly, today was a complete team performance. In the end, it’s not about who wins it, it’s which team wins it.” 

According to Head Coach Ben Olsen, Arriola is establishing himself as a viable option in terms of scoring goals for D.C. United. ‘Lucharoo’ (Acosta and Rooney) have been systematically marked in almost every match, making it more difficult for the duo to create chances on goal. Their dynamic partnership led to D.C. United climbing the Eastern Conference Standings in 2018 to a playoff berth and other teams have taken note. Arriola’s ability to create chances and to distract from the pair remains an incredible asset for D.C. United as the season progresses.

Sunday night was a true team effort for D.C. United, with every player contributing substantially to the team’s success. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid logged his 60th career clean sheet (and 6th this season), placing him 11th in all-time shutouts in MLS.  Ulises Segura and Chris Durkin saw minutes in the second half. Talented homegrown player Durkin will head off to the U20 FIFA World Cup later this month. 

Marquinhos Pedroso, D.C. United’s recently acquired defender from FC Dallas, put in a solid 90-minute performance, adding much needed coverage to the backline. Pedroso brings a wealth of international experience to the team. He has played in his home country of Brazil, as well as Hungary and Turkey. Olsen was pleased with Pedroso’s performance in the match, saying, “I certainly enjoyed watching him.” The defender’s presence allowed D.C. to return to their comfortable formation on the pitch with a four-man backline.

D.C. United is about to hit the road for two matches, on Wednesday against Toronto and on Saturday against Houston, in what Olsen calls ‘silly scheduling.’ When asked how he would deal with his first true travel test since coming to MLS, Captain Wayne Rooney just smiled. “When you’ve got four kids at home, and you’re used to flying with four kids, yeah, any flight is easy without them.” 

D.C. United plays Toronto FC this Wednesday, May 15th, and then moves on to face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, May 18th.

Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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New York Red Bulls Dance On

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, May 11th: 1-3 Win

Just three days after their home loss to the Impact, the New York Red Bulls went to Deepinaharta, Texas…. okay, Frisco. FC Dallas, coming into the match in fifth place in the Western Conference, wanted to bounce back from a loss to the Houston Dynamo. But like a gift from the heavens, the Red Bulls turned things around and are bringing home three points.

A piece to the puzzle that falls into place: If you correctly predicted the Starting XI for the Red Bulls, you should go out and buy a lottery ticket. Word is that captain Luis Robles stayed home. I can only imagine an injury kept him out, even though he was not listed on the injury report. Weird flex, but okay. Ryan Meara has been amazing before, particularly in the Open Cup. The team was in good gloves.

Every soul in the room keeping time with their hands:Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Casseres, Jr. hasn’t made the starting lineup too much. But his goal in the twelfth minute should really make a case for him going forward. Also, Andreas Ivan with the assist was a thing of beauty.

The devil himself could be pulled out of me: When I first started following RBNY, stoppage time was nervewracking. They most often conceded goals in those last few moments before the whistle. That was what made the leveler from Jesus Ferreira so upsetting. Going into the half tied, while better than chasing the game, was not ideal.

There were drums in the air: Sean Nealis, the Hofstra graduate and 2019 draft pick, stepped up at centerback with Aaron Long recovering from a hamstring injury. While technically Michael Amir Murillo nailed the ball to the net in the 58th minute, Nealis got the credit for putting his noggin on it.

You could tell how we felt: Brian White also made a goal to sew up the game (85′). This was White’s second goal this season.  No Bradley Wright-Phillips? No Royer? NO PROBLEM! Let’s see if anyone from this lineup dances on into the night of the 19th, when Atlanta United rolls into town.

P.S. I had it in my head that playing Dallas called for a little Carlos Santana. Don’t give me a hard time about Chad Kroeger– for this song, it works.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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NYCFC find their groove against the Galaxy, winning 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club continued to show its developing form in its unexpected win over LA Galaxy.  With a return of anchor defender James Sands from injury, the team looked calm and settled.  One slight change to the lineup was the swapping out of the injured Ebenezer Ofori, out with a core injury, for Tony Rocha in a center midfield role.  NYCFC faced a Galaxy who were without Jonathan Dos Santos, Rolf Feltscher, Romain Alessandrini and showed some struggle to gather attacking chances particularly without Dos Santos.

The Boys in Blue excelled in their passing accuracy in the attacking half and the final third and this kept them steady and in control of much of the game.  New York City did an excellent job of defending but the clear and obvious strategy by LA of always trying to serve the ball up to Zlatan Ibrahimovich made the Galaxy seem predictable and easier to defend.  Where LA did a good job of accurately crossing the ball, the NYC defenders knew how to position themselves in order to quickly destroy the play.  Alex Callens was particularly efficient at slowing down or destroying LA’s attempts to propel their attack.

New York’s first goal was scored by Héber on a rebound of an Anton Tinnerholm shot.  Héber has clearly settled into his #9 role, making a go of any loose balls in the box.  He has scored 3 goals and had 3 assists in the 7 games he’s played since he joined the team.  Not only does Heber do his job well, he looks like he’s enjoying himself the whole time.  

The second goal was scored on a play in LA’s box that was first called as an offside on City but ended up as a handball call on LA via VAR.  Incredulously, Maxi Moralez stepped up to take the penalty kick, leaving most fans screaming at their screens “No!  Anyone but Maxi!” as Moralez’s last two attempts at PKs this season were failures.  

Moralez ended up burying this ball in the back of the net.  For the record, Héber should take these PKs but perhaps out of respect and seniority he deferred to Moralez.

img_8009

NYCFC has successfully and repeatedly made good use of the wingback role, with particular ease when the roles are executed by Tinnerholm and Ronald Matarrita. The match did end on a strange note with a seemingly frustrated Ibrahimovich and NYCFC’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson in a tangle of alleged body bumps and hands to the neck resulting in both players being booked on yellow cards.

It’s still early in the season but NYCFC have now moved up to 4th place in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia, DC and Montréal with their next call to arms on 5/25 in another away match versus Chicago Fire.

All images:  NYCFC twitter

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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D.C. United Weekly Roundup: Match preview, Injuries, Call Ups, and Marquinhos Pedroso

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Match Preview: D.C. United v Sporting KC 

D.C. United is set to host Sporting KC for a Mother’s Day matchup at 7pm EST May 12that Audi Field. The match will be nationally broadcast on FS1 and FOXDEPORTES.

While D.C. is fresh off a 3-1 home victory against the Columbus Crew, Sporting KC just fell to Atlanta United 0-3 in a shutout match. Sporting KC currently is sitting in 10th place of the Western Conference. In addition to the spate of injuries that have plagued Sporting, this is the first time the team will hit the road in a six-match stretch. 

For D.C. United, a position at the top of the Eastern Conference hinges on winning this home match against SKC. Currently, D.C. is tied with the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact for first place in terms of points, however, the Black-and-Red occupy second place due to goal differential.

Although SKC is depleted and having a tough run lately, D.C. should not take them lightly. Sporting’s offense is dangerous, having scored 19 goals this season, and has only been without a goal in one match, their most recent faceoff with Atlanta United. SKC has also recently reacquired midfielder Benny Feilhaber from the Colorado Rapids. Whether he will take the pitch against D.C. is up for debate.

Injuries

D.C. saw the recovery and return to play of Russell Canouse and Leonardo Jara, two integral players who have regularly appeared in Head Coach Ben Olsen’s starting XI. However, homegrown player Donovan Pines is sidelined due to a sprain in his medial collateral ligament sustained during D.C.’s most recent match with the Columbus Crew. Pines has started in the last two matches for D.C. United and has shown valuable speed and accuracy, able to bail out the Black-and-Red defensively.

Call Ups

D.C. United homegrown player Chris Durkin has received a call up to compete in the U-20 FIFA World Cup in Poland. The U-20 FIFA World Cup kicks off May 23rd. Striker Griffin Yow, D.C.’s newest homegrown signing, just helped the U-17 USMNT to a 8-0 victory over Guadeloupe. The team will advance to the Concacaf U-17 Championship Quarterfinals where they will face Panama.

New Player Marquinhos Pedroso

D.C. recently acquired left back Marquinhos Pedroso from FC Dallas for $100,000 in GAM. The 25-year-old Brazilian began his professional career at Figueirense, and has since played in the Brazilian top flight, and in Turkey and Hungary. Pedroso was a regular starter for FC Dallas throughout 2018 and fills in a critical defensive gap for D.C. United, as Joseph Mora is still unavailable due to injury. The acquisition of Pedroso also allows Olsen to keep Paul Arriola forward, where he is able to create scoring opportunities for the Black-and-Red.

As always, VAMOS UNITED!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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New York Red Bulls Fall Apart

 

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 8: 1-2 loss

Having missed a heck of a show last Saturday (a 3-2 win over the mighty Galaxy), I was looking forward to the team going three in a row at home. They’ve had a rough go of things so far this season, with only three wins. But their fortune was turning around, and another win against a Piatti-less Montreal Impact would set them up for a positive road trip to Dallas.

Don’t look now; things just got worse.

I got my wings: The RBNY pipeline has multiple channels. Tom Barlow, selected in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, cut his teeth in the USL squad and made a big impression. He has already put up six goals this season for RBII, so Sporting Director Denis Hamlett gave him the big call-up: he signed a first team contract. Just hours after the official announcement, Barlow found himself in the Starting XI.

It was a bit of a surprise to the Missouri native. “I was supposed to go to Canada with the USL team and I tried handing in my passport and they said I’m not going.” (Red Bulls II played to a 1-1 draw against the Ottawa Fury the same day as the MLS match).

With striker Bradley Wright-Phillips still out with an injury, it was time to ‘shop the closet’ and bring in someone the organization hopes is ready for the next level. Keeping his USL number 74 jersey, he also played 74 minutes.

While he didn’t score the hat trick I was of course expecting, he made a good showing. The only way for a player like Barlow to get used to being in MLS is for him to actually be in MLS. This is admittedly easier said than done, especially when the team overall isn’t doing well. But that’s not on Barlow. I’m excited for the kid… and I know how ‘Soccer Mom’ that makes me sound. I’m not ashamed.

When things start to feel right: For the third straight game, a defender tallied a goal for RBNY. This time, it was Aaron Long, 2018 MLS Defender of the Year. Our own Captain America. His header off Marc Rzatkowski’s free kick was perfection. It was the kind of set piece goal that had been New York’s signature threat in seasons past. All they had to do was continue in that vein for the second half.

You can count on me to start to doubt it: When Maxi Urruti put an inswinger to Zakaria Diallo and Diallo leveled the match, it was a small disappointment. The game was just past the hour mark– plenty of time to renew the attack, or at least hold the tie and get a point.

But Aaron Long’s over-emphatic defense on Anthony Jackson-Hamel resulted in a penalty kick for the Impact. Urruti took the kick from the spot, opening his account for the season with the conversion. Another defensive move from Long moments later sparked a hamstring injury that forced him off the field.

Manager Chris Armas had already spent his three substitutions on attacking options, so the team was forced to play with only ten men for the last ten minutes of the match. Thankfully the Red Bulls were able to keep Montreal from capitalizing on the advantage. Granted the damage had already been done. So now the Red Bulls head to Dallas trying to put it back together.

P.S. When the Red Bulls were winning, I was all set to use one song. Then I chose another when they were tied. I was at a loss when the team… well– lost. But thanks to my satellite radio for coming in clutch.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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Happy Birthday Ben Olsen: D.C. United Takes 3 Points at Home

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United win over the Columbus Crew 3-1 at Audi Field.

Starting XI:

D.C. United seem to have gotten their swagger back this weekend, beating the Columbus Crew for the second time this season. D.C. also ended their winless streak at Audi Field, giving Black-and-Red supporters an exciting Saturday night. While thunderstorms threatened and a light rain fell, the weather held, seeming like a good omen for D.C. United. 

Russell Canouse and Leonardo Jara were both back on the pitch, having recovered from recent injuries. As the match progressed it was clear just how much their presence was missed. Also starting was 23-year-old homegrown player, Donovan Pines. In his second start of the season, Pines who stands 6’5” has proved to be a real asset with his speed and accuracy, augmenting D.C.’s defense nicely.

The Black-and-Red were strong in possession from kickoff, doing a solid job keeping the ball away from Federico Higuain and company. However, Pedro Santos of the Crew made an early goal. 

Referee Ted Unkel and Video Assistant Referee Kevin Terry Jr. spent several long minutes deliberating the goal’s validity, as D.C. United insisted Will Trapp of the Crew had fouled Luciano Acosta. The goal was struck, bringing the score back to 0-0. However, many are insisting that it was Unkel himself who got in the way and committed the foul, not Trapp. 

Immediately after, Trapp did actually commit a foul, and D.C. United captain Wayne Rooney was awarded a free kick that Acosta, assisted by Jara, put in the back of the net. VAR was called upon again, to determine if Acosta had been offsides when he made the goal. D.C.’s goal was allowed to stand, putting the Black-and-Red up a point. 

After all of the minutes spent with the VAR, the first half naturally went into stoppage time. Four minutes in and Unkel returned to the video screen. The determination was made that Trapp was guilty of a handball (clearly Saturday was not Will Trapp’s night). Wayne Rooney squared up for a penalty kick, and, in what felt like sweet retribution for his miss during the playoffs, earned D.C. another goal, sending the team into halftime 2-0.

Columbus came out of the locker room ready to turn the match in their favor. However, D.C. United’s Brillant, Canouse, Pines, Jara, and Rodriguez joined goalkeeper Bill Hamid in creating a brick wall against the Crew’s attacks. 

In the 61’, tenacious Paul Arriola broke through the Crew’s defense to sink the first uncontested goal of the match. The third D.C. United goal of the night was Jara’s second assist for the evening. Columbus used up their substitutions as the second half waned.

D.C. scored again in the 75’, unfortunately, the goal was to the benefit of the Crew. After putting in a rock-solid performance all evening, goalkeeper Bill Hamid saw the ball slip through his grasp for an own goal. The drizzle falling on Audi Field surely played a role in ruining Hamid’s clean sheet for the night.

D.C. Head Coach Ben Olsen made only one substitution, Ulises Segura for Arriola in the 85’. Another three minutes of stoppage time were added to the second half; however, the Crew would not see the chance to equalize; the Black-and-Red were too far ahead. At the final whistle, D.C. United won, 3-1, and stayed tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference Standings with the Philadelphia Union.

Olsen was beaming post-match, while Columbus Head Coach Caleb Porter was certainly less than thrilled. Porter said, “it was a fair goal. The referee fouls Acosta and then goes and looks at the television to bail himself out.” Speaking to the press in the locker room, Acosta stated he had indeed been fouled by Trapp.

D.C. United took a much-needed morale boost with the home win. When MLSFemale asked Donovan Pines how he will prepare mentally for next week’s match, the soft spoken 23-year-old smiled and said, “I just take it one day at a time. I think we have two days off now and I’ll just rest, make sure I’m doing the right stretching and preparing my body for practice and then watch film, progressively get better, and get ready for the game coming up.”

Keeping a positive mental attitude will be critical as D.C. United heads toward a faceoff with Sporting Kansas City Sunday, May 12.

Vamos United!

Featured image: D.C. United

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