Category Archives: Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference

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

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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NYCFC’s Postseason Ends with 2-1 Loss to Toronto

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club’s playoff bid came to an end at the hands of Toronto FC on Wednesday night.  City’s “home field advantage” was anything but as the match was moved to Citi Field in Queens.  If you are reading this, you probably watched the game so a rehash of the event would be a real downer; this will be brief.

 NYCFC did have a few moments in the second half where they looked like their old selves, but the pace and intensity did seem to come from Toronto.  Toronto came in with confidence while City fans were all wondering aloud when the real Maxi Moralez, the resident playmaker, would make his presence known.   Many things were off about this slide over to the the other city baseball stadium, but it merely puts a spotlight on the elephant in the room:  NYCFC has no home.

The result of the match is heart-wrenching for the remaining die-hard fans.  We stayed to try to help comfort our resident 5 year old fan, Axl, last night as he wept into his father’s arms.  What a scene it became, as behind our group embrace, the sky was raining beer cups.   As Toronto players went to celebrate their victory on the pitch beneath their supporters’ section, from one level above them the angry and bitter NYCFC fans were throwing cups and cups of beer at the players.  It was embarrassing and fed right into the stereotype of what City supporters “are”. This behavior of so-called supporters after the match was deplorable and needs to be addressed as such.

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Image:  NYCFC Twitter

Equally depressing were the online comments and reactions about individual players and their responsibility for the night’s result.  Now, I get that it’s New York and we can love you but will turn on you at any given moment. However, these were particularly harsh and rash reactions, which do nothing but heap more sadness on the players.  These athletes are human beings and they know when they’ve messed up and made mistakes.  They watch them over and over on film.  

The only person these comments “benefit” is that keyboard warrior, for that instant.  I get it — fans were excited to continue on in the season — but someone has to lose in the end.  How does grinding salt into players wounds make anything better?  Think about the worst mistake you’ve ever made professionally.  Would you want people tweeting about how much you suck over and over?  What does that actually do?

Again, back to the no home issue.  Sources say that an announcement is imminent about next season and this will basically state that a large chunk of home games will be played at Citi Field.  This may be an attempt to have more home games on weekends as the Wednesday match situation this past season led to very low fan attendance.  However, the patience of NYCFC fans is wearing thin and the loss at Citi Field last night will only make this an even tougher sell.  The seat “equivalents” between Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were anything but, leaving long time ticket holders separated from their groups and, ahem, putting some raucous City supporters in very close proximity to the visiting supporters’ group section.  

A lot of work would need to be done by the club to address these issues.  Many season ticket holders have already jumped ship or renewed fewer seats in their package.  When the club was sold to the NYC community it was with the understanding that they would be playing out of a baseball field for about 3-5 years and yet here we are with no end in sight.  Or is this the end for fans?

Featured image: NYCFC

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Red Bull Playoffs: Do You Really Believe in Magic?

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, October 6th: 3-0 loss to Montreal

Season: 14W-14L-6D, +2 GD, 48 pts.

With a reportedly lackluster finish to the season (I’ll admit, I didn’t watch), the New York Red Bulls ended the 2019 regular season in 6th place in the Eastern Conference. Twenty-three points down from last year’s record-breaking, confetti-showering, champagne-puddle-making, Supporter’s Shield-winning season,  it was nothing to write home about.

They say the playoffs are a whole different season. Frankly, that’s what I can’t stand about them. But, here we are.

I can’t stand waiting around to dance

A solid two weeks and an International Break between the end of the season and the playoffs. Unavoidable, but still annoying. Defender Aaron Long put in another good shift for the USMNT, who is taking part in the CONCACAF Nations League. They trounced Cuba 7-0, as expected. But they also lost 2-0 to Canada. CANADA.

I don’t meant to be rude or anything. Canada’s MNT is on the upswing. The US… not so much. People blame it on the number of ‘meaningless’ games they’ve played since the match that must not be named. But meaningless matches don’t have to equate to meaningless mentalities. If everyone called up played as if they could never be called up again, we might see a huge difference.

RBNY midfielder Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra bagged a goal for Paraguay in this break as well. And it was lovely. Striker Omir Fernnadez put in some time with the US Youth National Team. Here’s hoping the same can be said for club as for country.

When will you stop wondering who you are?

Something I hear from manager Chris Armas, captain Luis Robles, and a number of other club members following a result is whether or not ‘we looked like us.’ When they utilize their signature high press, force turnovers, and pounce while not in possession, they look like themselves. When they play more direct, hog the ball, and allow the opposition to stretch them wide, they don’t look like themselves.

Guess what? They usually win when they look like themselves. Begs the question: why do they ever allow themselves to not look like that?

But you can only change yourself

There has been a fair amount of grumbling amongst fans this season. See my first paragraph for the main reasons why that is. More than one season ticket holder, voting with his or her dollars, has canceled to say they’ve had enough of waiting. Pundits are predicting a shake-up in the club.

But there are still multiple buses heading to Chester for the playoff match. Many more are headed down the Turnpike on their own. Morale may be low, but belief has not wavered.

What can’t happen in the off-season, win or lose, is nothing. Don’t sit around and complain about it.

All your friends, they got the nicest things

Shout out to my colleagues whose teams are also in the playoffs. Let’s enjoy this post-season.

(Spoiler alert, I’m finishing this article right before I head down to Talen Energy Stadium. The first day of matches have happened, and I watched most of them. Check out the subsequent articles, if you could.)

P.S. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it. I’m happy I got to use it.

Featured image: New York Red Bulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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Montréal Impact End Season with More Questions than Answers

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

For the third year in a row, a disappointing Montréal Impact season has come to an end on the last day of the regular MLS season. A shiny Canadian Championship is a band-aid over the bullet wound that is a third consecutive year with no playoffs, and with a totally mysterious roster status.

As it was finally confirmed on the last day, the Montréal Impact at least chose to go out in style, beating New York Red Bulls emphatically 3-0 in front of Stade Saputo. Most notably at the end of the match, 34-year-old talisman, Ignacio Piatti, was substituted off, and his teammates gathered to embrace him, as chants of his name rang round the field. Was this because Piatti is leaving, despite a club option for 2020 existing on his contract?

Nobody knows. Those who might have expected the post-mortem press conference held two days later to shed some light on Piatti’s situation, and those of many other players in the last year of their contracts, would be disappointed. In an event that rather summed up the season, expectations were swiftly dashed. Wilmer Cabrera, who had coached a whopping 9 matches with the team, and who does not know if he will return next year, was sent out alone to face the media. Team administration was nowhere to be found.

Players answered questions in groups of three, but they didn’t seem particularly prepared for the day either, several venting their frustrations against former coach Rémi Garde and wondering aloud whether they need to start packing their bags. To cap off the bizarre conference, moments before Piatti was expected to appear, Impact PR announced he had left the building after he was told the team will exercise their option on his contract.

Image credit: Montreal Impact

It was truly a microcosm of a season, and the season was a microcosm of an era within the organization. Poor planning, reactionary decision-making, and emotional investment have led the Impact to regularly mire in mediocrity, often being so close to achieving success and punching with the heavyweights, but left just short by bad signings, hasty firings, and a total lack of structure within the organization.

It finally seems that some of these issues are being handled. Owner Joey Saputo, who adores his club — for better or worse, stepped back this year to allow now-president Kevin Gilmore to make business decisions. Walter Sabbatini was hired in Italy to oversee both Bologna FC and the Impact’s sporting structures. Finally, Belgian Olivier Renard joined as technical director in late September. The task of releasing, re-signing, and searching for new players will fall to him. As he is new to the club and MLS, one can logically afford him a little more time to get acquainted with the roster and its rules.

That being said, it will be more than difficult for fans to swallow another “transition” year. Last season, Rémi Garde was slow to adapt to MLS, and some blamed this year’s shortcomings on a change in administrative structure, which led to Gilmore’s firing of Garde with only 7 MLS games left in the season and hasty hiring of coach Cabrera. The downward trend in performances and the accumulation of disappointment at certain sporting and business decisions have left relations between the Impact and even its most diehard fans at an all-time low, with last week’s shambolic press conference leaving many feeling insulted by their club. It goes without saying that as the Impact return to the CCL for the first time since 2015, the onus is on the organization to make a strong statement in the off-season.

Nobody knows if icons Piatti and Samuel Piette will be back, nor if the Impact will rely on a consistently out-of-form striker (Maxi Urruti in 2019, Matteo Mancosu for the two seasons prior) for a fourth year in a row. Will veteran goalkeeper Evan Bush retain his number one position, or will Clément Diop be re-signed to unseat him? The status of beloved defenders Bacary Sagna and Rod Fanni, both of whom are in their late 30’s, is a mystery. These are but a few of the many players whose situations are up in the air. However, one gets the feeling that the Bleu-Blanc-Noir who step on to the pitch for that first match in 2020 will be a far different team from what we saw this year.

Featured image: @ImpactMontreal

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Match Preview: NYCFC at Philadelphia Union

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

For the last regular season game of the season, New York City Football Club will  face Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday.  The Union has been a constant threat in the Eastern Conference all season and are currently locked in a tight battle with Atlanta United for second place in the conference.  Both teams have 55 points, with 33 games played but Atlanta currently hold one more win than Philly.  Both Atlanta and Philadelphia also have 1.67 points per game.  Needless to say, Philadelphia will be throwing all their efforts behind an all out 3 point victory to climb over Atlanta.

Not surprisingly, the Union has a very similar record to NYCFC with a large number of draws this season, particularly when away, and have only lost two matches at home, compared to NYCFC’s one home 2019 defeat. NYCFC’s sole home loss was to Portland Timbers while Philadelphia lost to Toronto FC and (shocker!) Portland Timbers.  Historically head-to-head at Philadelphia, the Union have three wins while NYC have two.  Earlier in the  season when these two teams met in the Bronx, City defeated Philly 4-2.

Philadelphia is expected to rely on striker Kacper Przybylko, who carries the bulk of the team’s goals scored with a tally of 15. And it’s a deep bench:  Marco Fabian and Ilsinho, who commonly come on as subs, are the next top scorers with 6 and 5 goals respectively.

Again with the similarities on paper, NYCFC’s leading goal scorer Héber, also has 15 goals scored.  Héber is expected to return to his role both setting up his partner-in-attacking-crime, Taty Castellanos, and finishing balls anywhere near the net.  I anticipate that the team will be playing to win but will need to be cautious to prevent any further injuries going into the playoffs.  In the last match, a loss at New England (0-2), Héber was just returning from an injury and played more than was optimal, likely due to the lack of Castellanos in that game.  

Castellanos was ineligible to play due to yellow card accumulation.  For the New England match the team also played without Alex Ring and Maxime Chanot – both due to card accumulation – and also without Anton Tinnerholm, out with a concussion.  Chanot and Ring will be back in the lineup for this match.

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NYCFC’s starting formation will depend a lot on the status of Tinnerholm.  His abilities and attacking mindset at right back allow the team to successfully utilize a 3-4-3 with him in a forward-moving wingback role. The team has found a rhythm and balance when Ronald Matarrita fills this role on the left and Tinnerholm is on the right.  Without Tinnerholm, there is a lot less momentum on the right side and the team needs to rely heavily on the center and left side, making the attacks more predictable and easier to defend by the opposition.  

Erik Miller was brought in to be a back up for Tinnerholm in this role and time will tell whether he can slot in fluidly but, for now, Sebastien Ibeagha has done an excellent job defending and destroying plays in the position of right back, particularly in the match against Atlanta United.  He’s indicated that he is working on his transitions to attacking with overlapping runs down the right flank.  City is going to defend hard and rely heavily on its midfield, especially Maxi Moralez, to get balls to the two headed attacking dragon of Castellanos and Héber.

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The season will certainly end on an exciting note with NYCFC still in first place in the eastern conference.

All images: Tisha Gale

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New York Red Bulls Make the Big Time (Again)

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, September 22: 2-0 Win

Hi there!

Did I miss anything?

I’ve been kinda busy. You’ve heard that one from me before. But you deserve something from me, Dear Reader.

I’m On My Way

The Red Bulls have made the playoffs every year since Red Bull Arena opened. Ten seasons now. Will it be different this time? The team has entered at the top and the bottom of the bracket in those years. But the MLS Cup eludes them. Their style of play has always seemed to blow up in their faces during the post-season. If even one piece of their complex puzzle is missing, the entire thing is for naught. That cannot happen again… unless it does.

Be a Big Noise

The Red Bulls welcomed the Philadelphia Union for Hispanic Heritage night. Having won their last game against the Portland Timbers, RBNY needed to use that momentum. Problem was, they didn’t. Not really. They were sluggish in comparison to that last game. Although, to be fair, I was sluggish after that game, too. 10:30pm kickoffs are no joke! But I digress.

Tom Barlow scored just after the half-hour mark and y’all… it was pretty sweet. That mid-western kid is making things happen. Officially, he hails from St. Louis- not a “small town.” But the big city is putting him up with the big boys.

So Much Larger Than Life

The Red Bull back line came up big, in the way fans have expected them to. Aaron Long’s goal line clearance and Tim Parker’s ability to completely trounce opponents are a thing of beauty. Kemar Lawrence sacrificed himself repeatedly to make the necessary runs and tackles. Kyle Duncan, who scored midweek against Portland, went the full 90 and proved he is ready for more.

I Greet Them With the Widest Smile

Winning by one goal is fine, but having a second is really nice too. There were plenty of opportunities throughout the game. When Bradley Wright-Phillips entered the match with 29 minutes left, one might expect he would add to the scoreline.

And he did… by assisting Danny Royer in the 96th minute.

(I’d love to get the backstory on every tattoo he’s got.)

I’ve Got to Make it Show

Red Bull fans are now starting D.C. Hate Week, when they give voice to the rivalry that fosters the Atlantic Cup (all apologies to my editor-in-chief and lovely colleague). Then a jaunt up to Stade Saputo and the Montreal Impact to end the regular season. The potential to host a playoff match is on the line. A home field advantage is, well… big.

(P.S. Remember when music videos were an art form?)

Featured image: New York Red Bulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same At Montréal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

How do you even begin to sum up the past ten days if you’re an Impact fan? After a slew of dismal results and worse team performances since the beginning of the summer, the axe fell on Rémi Garde on Wednesday, August 21st. In the same press release that announced Garde’s dismissal, the Impact presented his replacement: Wilmer Cabrera, who himself had been let go by the Houston Dynamo the previous week. Beloved team captain Patrice Bernier was brought back into the first team, this time as an assistant coach.

From L to R: GK coach Remy Vercoutre; asst coaches Patrice Bernier and Wilfried Nancy; and head coach Wilmer Cabrera

There was little time to adjust, as arguably the worst circumstances possible loomed for a new coach to jump in — the Impact’s annual visit to BMO Field, home of Enemy Number One, Toronto FC. Having all but lain down to hand TFC a win at Stade Saputo, would a new coach provide the desired electroshock to wake up a sleepwalking team?

In short, the answer was no. For all of Cabrera’s talk of wanting the team to take risks, some combination of Garde’s old defensive mindset and the lack of belief that come with so many poor results meant that a hesitant Impact allowed their rivals to control the match and overtake them in the playoff race.

As the time wound down before the Impact’s next match against the equally slumping Vancouver Whitecaps, the shakeups in the organization weren’t over. A twenty-six-year fixture, in nearly every role one can hold in a professional sports organization, Nick De Santis left his position as VP of international relations. De Santis had been one of the few constants amid the Impact’s revolving door of coaches and players, so this is a sign that more big changes are coming.

Vancouver came to town, beloved local product Maxime Crépeau was welcomed back to his old stadium, and it looked as though the Impact were finally coming together. Having nearly gone 2-0 down within 25 minutes, the team was saved by Evan Bush’s penalty-save heroics. The team came back to win 2-1 and it felt like there was some life in this side.

But Vancouver is not DC. And although the three points taken that Wednesday were such a relief, it is impossible to deny that Saturday’s match against DC United was a true six-pointer — whoever won this match would likely send the other below the playoff line and could turn a poor summer back into something promising.

Lo and behold, it was not the Impact who saw out Vancouver who took to the field, it was the same team fans had come to dread watching over the course of July and August. Lack of initiative and hopeless defending saw the Bleu-Blanc-Noir concede 3 goals in under 25 minutes, allowing DC to cruise to an effortless win. TV analyst and former player Hassoun Camara was nearly lost for words, and decried a lack of love for the jersey following the match. For all of the team’s shortcomings in the past, we were never left in doubt of their pride in playing for Montréal … Until now.

The level of toxicity in the air is off the charts. Fans have become accustomed to booing at the end of matches — even mid-match as was the case on Saturday — and crowds are dwindling. No member of the organization is safe from scrutiny. From an outside perspective, it seems that in their eighth MLS season, the Impact are still winging it in so many departments, and it feels like the administration is growing more and more out of touch with the supporter community.

Of course in such a period of turbulence. it is hard to feel encouraged or hopeful, particularly when the changes haven’t produced the desired results. We’ve lived through a lot of reactive decision-making and instability up til now with the Impact, but it finally feels like fans’ patience is running out.


Time to see if the team and administration is ready to respond appropriately.

Montreal’s next visitor will be FC Cincinnati, on Saturday, September 14.

Featured image: @ImpactMontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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Montréal Impact: Masters of Their Own Downfall

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

It’s not a tune fans haven’t heard before: Set piece defending. However, we’ve been subjected to seeing the Impact’s fatal flaw on display every single match for the past month, bar none. Saturday’s 3-3 tie versus FC Dallas was no exception.

After taking a 3-0 lead into the 60th minute, the Impact would go on to capitulate. They conceded the game-tying goal in the 90th minute, as yet another player went unmarked and rose above a flat-footed Bleu-Blanc-Noir while goalkeeper Evan Bush was helpless on his line.

It feels as though this season’s team is a dam threatening to burst. A leak springs early, in the form of a barren offense in Nacho Piatti’s absence, and the team manages to plug that hole by compensating with a tightened-up defense. A new crack appears in the form of player conduct. The troublemakers are sent off during the summer transfer window. Now, after a blissful early-season reprieve from late-game set-piece meltdowns, this is the latest hole we are waiting to see the team paper over. Since the Gold Cup break, the Impact have conceded 22 goals in 9 MLS matches, with only two wins in that stretch.

The Impact have been susceptible to lackadaisical corner-kick defense for as long as I’ve been following them. Across four seasons and two different coaches, it’s been one of the few constants in the team. But the propensity to concede goals from set-piece opportunities is not really what you want to associate with your team. With Saturday’s result, the Impact officially became the worst team in the league with regard to set-piece defense: 19 of the 50 goals they’ve conceded to date have come from such a situation.

How can they fix this problem? I don’t know; tactical training is far from my area of expertise. Having only two central defenders healthy surely does not help. Having a goalkeeper struggling with commanding his area doesn’t help. Being in the midst of the most congested month yet of the schedule probably doesn’t help. But as the Impact have entered what appears to be the race to avoid the playoffs for a third consecutive year, something’s got to give.

It’s a bit late in the season for a coaching change, and any additional defenders would have to come as free agents since the transfer window is now closed. It seems like the best we can hope for is for more of the most important players to get healthy — and have their game time well-managed to ensure they stay healthy — and count on some conference rivals to drop points.

I wish I could have spent this space singing the praises of Lassi Lappalainen, who scored his second Impact brace in our most recent match. But I also wish I had seen my team keep its focus long enough to finish a match, and I felt that was a more important issue to address, as have so many others in Impact community. This isn’t a position I’d expected them to be in even ten matches ago. It’s not a feeling I savour, but I suppose it’s all part of the wild ride that is supporting the Montréal Impact.

Next up, what better for a team in a tailspin than a trip to their bitter rival’s stadium, where they’ve only won twice? Toronto FC host the Impact on Saturday, August 24th. If ever there were a moment for the team to come together and have a statement performance … it’s now.

Featured image: Montreal Impact Facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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NYCFC at a Crossroads

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club seems to be at a crossroads now with three games ahead in tight succession between Saturday and August 24th.  The talk amongst fans is how many points is reasonable to expect from these matches and where the season will go from there.

I don’t like to jinx things but…

Despite NYCFCs drop in the rankings after Sunday’s game, I’m not concerned. New York City still has 3 games in hand with 23 played while Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia and Atlanta have played 26 and 25 respectively.   If NYCFC can keep its act together in the next three matches, important points can be gained and they can climb up the table. 

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Sunday’s match versus Atlanta United in “Atlan-turf” ended with a 2-1 loss, with momentum and possession clearly with the home squad.  It was a ticky-tacky match with a lot of contact, simulation, and aggression. 

NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent stated after the match that “You have to be brave to play Atlanta” and it did appear that the team was intimidated by the former champions. Perhaps it was the uncertainty about the fitness of midfielder Maxi Moralez and striker Héber but City did not play with confidence. 

Nevertheless, a home field Atlanta is theoretically supposed to win.  They consistently draw a huge crowd, are on an upward swing with their season and are very accustomed to playing on artificial turf.

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Upcoming matches

New York City travels to face FC Cincinnati on 8/17

It’s no  secret that FC Cincy sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.  Is this a potential trap game?  With Maxi Moralez perhaps not at 100%, Dome Torrent will may keep him rested and play him only if needed.  NYCFC should completely dominate FC Cincinnati but Dome may be playing to ensure everyone is healthy to face…

Columbus Crew at home on 8/21

Columbus has not had a great season but it has very talented players and they are capable of slaying giants.  (See their win over Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.) Victory is not a foregone conclusion and City will need to balance strong defending of Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos while playing the tight possession-centric style that has served them well. 

RBNY at home on 8/24

We need to talk about the strange voodoo powers that RBNY seems to have over NYCFC.  City faces them year in and year out and it seems that NYC either gets completely trounced or barely squeaks by.   (We also see this in the western conference with LAFC versus LA Galaxy.  LAFC can have the best record in the league but just can’t beat the Galaxy.)

There are two ways to look at this game:  Everyone is fit and prepared to go all in and get a win, no matter how many limbs are left on the field or the team plays for a draw, keeping most players from getting injured and look ahead to the rest of the season. 

A lot of the noise in players’ heads will be determined by the results of the two prior games.  If they handedly beat Cincinnati and Columbus, I predict that they will walk onto the pitch with chests puffed out and ready to go for a big win. If not, they will play tentatively and will be lucky to gain a point.  

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 All images including featured image by NYCFC.com

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Hell Is Real: Columbus Crew Meet New Rival

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

On a beautiful summer Saturday night in Columbus, the Columbus Crew took on FC Cincinnati in the first ‘Hell is Real’ match. The name of this new rivalry rose organically from fans in reference to a giant billboard displaying the phrase as you travel between Columbus and Cincinnati on 71. With a Columbus Crew team that has struggled and was just finally finding an improvement in form and a FC Cincy team who has struggled to find its footing in its first year in the MLS, this was a battle of the bottom of the table.

Prior to kickoff, both teams and the stadium as a whole took a moment to honor the victims of recent gun violence in Dayton, Ohio. The stadium held a moment of silence, both teams wore black armbands throughout the match and posed with a #DaytonStrong banner, and both supporters’ groups were silent in the ninth minute of the game.

The Match

The Crew rolled out the familiar 4-2-3-1 line up. One of the major differences in this line up compared to those of recent games was that of Connor Maloney at left back. Maloney has been on the team since 2017 but is usually loaned out. However, since left back seems to be the position where the Crew has a plethora of injuries, Maloney got the start.

The Crew’s recent improvement in form seemed to have disappeared in the first 30 minutes of this game–with Cincy getting on the board twice. In the 16′, Darren Mattocks headed in a corner kick without being marked. In the 23′, Emmanuel Ledesma finished off a cross from Roland Lamah that skipped across the field and past both Crew center backs into the backside of the goal.

Before halftime in the 43′, Gyasi Zardes earned a PK as he was fouled by Maikel van der Werff while on the receiving end of a cross from Harrison Afful. Gyasi took and finished the PK pulling the Crew within 1 at halftime.

In the second half, FC Cincy had a few opportunities, but the Crew seemed to control most of the second half. They scored the tying goal in the 62′ off a restart from Afful to Will Trapp. Trapp passed the ball to Pedro Santos who sent a curling ball to the top left corner of the net from outside the 18.

In the 90′, two new players made a gallant attempt to get the Crew the winning goal. Romario Williams sent a ball to Youness Mokhtar, who made his Crew debut subbing in for Luis Diaz in the 54′. Mokhtar sent a beautiful cross to Zardes who at 3 yards out skied the ball into the cross bar and over the open net. In the 93′, David Accam shot the ball into a FC Cincy defender which then again hit the cross bar. In the 99′, the Crew was denied when Zardes hit a header from a Afful cross that was pushed over the net by the Cincy keeper Przemyslaw Tyton. And finally, in the 100′, Zardes was once again denied a header off a Mokhtar corner kick by Tyton.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie with both sets of fans hungry for more. The second part of the ‘Hell is Real’ rivalry will take place on August 25th.

Thoughts on the Team

I said this on Twitter, and I will say it again. This is a game we should have won. However, it was a very fun game to attend. It was a sold out crowd with passionate fans there for both sides. It felt like a playoff match. This will be a fun rivalry.

Outside of David Guzman, I am very happy with the players Caleb Porter has brought in throughout the season. This includes Youness Mokhtar who in his debut looked sharp, hard working, and put in some great crosses.

We need to continue to work on not giving up goals on set pieces–especially corner kicks. Leaving men unmarked during corner kicks is unacceptable and needs to stop. We also need to get more men in the box on the attack. I can’t tell you how many times we’d be crossing in a ball and the only person there was Zardes. This will not get us goals.

Also, we need to play the first half like we play the second half. Porter is making great adjustments at halftime that have resulted in better results recently. However, we need to come out prepared if we really want to be a formidable team in the long run.

Finally, I really believe Caleb Porter needs to figure out what is causing this high number of injuries. With the injuries to Milton Valenzuela, Waylon Francis, and Hector Jimenez, we had to rely on a fourth string defender who struggled. Ever since Steve Tashjian left to work for Gregg Berhalter as the head performance specialist of the USMNT, our injury count has dramatically risen. It’s worth investigating.

Let’s hope we continue to get healthy and continue to improve as we take on Toronto FC this Saturday.

Also, shout out the Columbus Crew groundskeeping crew. The field was flawless.

Featured image: Hilary

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