Category Archives: Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference

Dome said knock you out – NYCFC shuts out Columbus Crew 2-0

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

Photos by Tisha Gale // @TishaGale

Between three home NYCFC games and the final rounds of Wimbledon and the World Cup last week, there was little spare time last week to do anything but take in the sporting spectacles.  And were they long ones- from 6-hour men’s Wimbledon matches to Croatia going to penalty kick shootouts in back to back matches, the key word was stamina.

Our own New York City Football Club tested their own stamina and fitness this past week with three games in seven days and came away with glowing marks earning three wins – all shutouts.  Last Wednesday, while walking into the press box, “Mama Said Knock You Out” was playing in the hallway and I immediately knew it was a good omen.  I mean who could forget the previous visit local legend LL Cool J made to Yankee Stadium?

This past Saturday New York City dug into the depths of the roster and into the magic of coach Domènec Torrent to pull out a huge 2-0 win over the visiting Columbus Crew.  You cannot talk about New York City’s success right now without adding the cherry on top which is that the team is winning without the injured David Villa.  This was unimaginable in prior years.

For the first few years of our club’s existence, he was our Obi-Wan Kenobi – our only hope. In this match the team had to face Columbus without Villa, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Jo Inge Berget – basically the whole forward line. In the absence of many obvious options, coach Dome started Rodney Wallace, Ronald Matarrita and Jesus Medina up top.

Watching the first half of the game at Yankee Stadium behind Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen, I couldn’t keep my eyes off Medina.  He was everywhere trying to create plays, open up space, apply pressure, running at Steffen, making crosses and rebounding shots.  He was working his tail off.

Medina is only 21 years old and I know that NYCFC fans are impatient for a Designated Player to quickly start making “contributions” to the goal scoring rolls but I see a very calculated and cerebral player.  He looks like he’s always thinking and strategizing, yes sometimes to his detriment, but I believe he plays much better when NYCFC coaching and players give him the freedom to be creative on the field.

In the second half of this match, Medina executed beautifully on a pass from Jonathan Lewis,  smartly taking an extra second to hammer a shot accurately past Steffen.  Wingback Anton Tinnerholm added an insurance goal on a counter attack in which he successfully cut past the Columbus defender and Steffen, easily knocking the ball into the goal.  Looks of shock switched to giggles as he celebrated by karate kicking the corner flag.

Despite the score and the smart play of NYCFC, the game could have easily gone the other way as Columbus had 11 shots in the first half with 5 of them inexplicably going over the top or wide.  This was not an easy game by any means.

Much of this depth is due to Vieira’s building of the team last pre-season but the level and versatility of play seems to have improved in the past few weeks under Dome with game results speaking for themselves. Torrent has the expertise to see what the team is doing well and what needs to be adjusted pretty quickly and he must give incredible half-time talks.

All three games went to halftime with 0-0 scores and ended with shutouts. Dome also has been giving young players like Lewis and Kwame Awuah chances to contribute and switched things up by putting Matarrita into a more attacking role, something he’s done very successfully for his previous club and for the Costa Rican national team.

So was LL Cool J there in person last week bringing his previous good vibes or were they coming through via musical inspiration?  NYCFC’s next game is July 26th away at Orlando City Soccer Club.  I’m optimistic that the team can carry this successful momentum to the road. And Mr. Smith, please feel free to come to any and all games.

#SaveTheCrew

Images by Tisha Gale 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Montréal Impact keep on rolling against the tremulous San Jose Earthquakes

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, July 14, 2018: 2-0 Win

After crashing down to Earth with a sobering 3-0 loss away to NYCFC, the message from coaches and players alike was “We want to bounce back.” Saturday’s match against San Jose Earthquakes, who are currently bottom of the Western Conference standings provided a perfect opportunity for the team to accomplish their goal.

After rotating the squad for the mid-week loss, Rémi Garde elected to field his A-team at home. Rudy Camacho, Ken Krolicki, Alejandro Silva, Matteo Mancosu and Chris Duvall returned to the starting lineup. A notable absentee was Rod Fanni, who missed out through illness. Some fans were concerned about whether a central defensive pairing of Camacho and Jukka Raitala would prove as effective as Camacho-Fanni, and there was only one way to find out.

The Impact started the match brightly, with some fantastic give-and-go play between Mancosu, Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taïder leading to the Algerian’s fourth goal of the season. The chemistry between Taïder and Piatti was perhaps best evidenced by the first-touch passing between the two, the confidence that the other would be there to receive the ball. Mancosu, despite his abysmal goal tally this season, also deserves credit for his placement on the left side of the opposing 18-yard box when Piatti moved to the centre of the attacking group, as he was, therefore, ready to pass the ball to Piatti who laid the ball off for Taïder.

In the celebration of that goal, Piatti and Taïder came together to hold up an Impact jersey — Marco Donadel’s #33. Donadel was waived by the Impact a few weeks ago, and this match was the last he would be attending before his rumoured return to Italy. Piatti and Taïder chose that moment to recognize the significant role he had played in the team during his three and a half seasons with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir.

Although ‘keeper Evan Bush was called into action at the end of the half, the real talking point of the game would not be the Impact’s superior collective performance.

Instead, all eyes outside of Montréal are on the implosion taking place – very publicly – within the Earthquakes’ team. Two early substitutions, Anibal Godoy and then his replacement Fatai Alashe, perfectly encapsulated the level of discord with that team and likely made the Impact’s win all the easier. The frustrated body language of the visiting players on the pitch betrayed some deep internal problems which undoubtedly contribute to their current position in the standings.

Despite Piatti scoring another goal to end the match on a positive note, with Alejandro Silva notching yet another assist, arguably the biggest highlight of the match would be when the referee tackled Samuel Piette to the ground.

Thankfully, it will take more than that to take out the defensive midfielder! Somehow, the referee escaped a booking for his blatant attempt to play the man and not the ball!

I had the immense pleasure of being present at Stade Saputo this match as well, in Section 132 with the Ultras de Montréal 2002. The capo was on fire, and got several other sections involved in chanting for the team! And woe be unto you if they caught you taking a break.

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Stade Saputo. Image: Eve Powell/mlsfemale

The Impact are about to face a lot of Western competition, with Vancouver Whitecaps visiting Stade Saputo for the first leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final on Wednesday, July 18th. On Saturday, July 21st, the Impact will attempt to improve their MLS road record and take on a stingy Portland Timbers defense in the Rose City. The road trip will wrap up with the second leg of Canadian Championship semi-final at BC Place on Wednesday, July 25th.

Featured image of Samuel Piette: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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New York Red Bulls Over the Rainbow

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, July 14th: 3-2 Win

After what seems like entirely too long, the New York Red Bulls (11-5-2, 35 points) returned to Red Bull Arena. They welcomed Sporting Kansas City (9-5-6, 33 points) for a rematch of the 2017 Open Cup final. The Red Bulls haven’t defeated SKC since 2014.

THE REAL VIKING ARMY: I had promised the members of the Red Bulls Supporter Group the Viking Army that I would stop by and crash their tailgate at some point. So I made my way to the back end of the vacant warehouse on the gentrification chopping block to where their tailgate party is held.

I snapped some pictures and learned some stories.  They talked about jerseys of players traded and gone. They spoke of the moment they fell in love with the team and the passion of a supporter’s group that stands and sings for ninety minutes plus. They shared the sense of family that makes their gatherings on and between game days so special.

LOVE WINS: Does anyone know why the Red Bulls’ Pride Night is in July? Just kidding– I don’t care. They do it right. The rainbow lasers are straight fire. The scarves and running sleeves they gave away are great. And it’s never a bad time to remind everyone that anyone can play.  There was a discussion panel about supporting all athletes prior to the game, and in a time where it is still difficult for people to be themselves, we do need the reminder.

EVENLY MATCHED: Of course Bradley Wright-Phillips scores the opening goal (5′). He’ll hit 100 goals as a Red Bull very soon. But he was called offside. (Drink every time you read ‘Enter VAR’ in my article… or better yet, don’t.) The Red Bulls’ signature High Press tactic often catches an attacker offside, but that wasn’t actually the case here, and the Video Assistant Referee corrected the call. “Goals after VAR, it’s annoying, you don’t get to celebrate,” BWP lamented after the game.

And celebrate, the team could not. Johnny Russell (8′) leveled the match and both sides held each other at bay the rest of the first half. Then Roger Espinoza practically started off the second half getting SKC the lead (51′). Something had to change for the Red Bulls to not let history repeat.

RBNY IS FOR THE CHILDREN: Battling back from injury and fighting for minutes, RB Salzburg exchange student Marc Rzatkowski was subbed in for “Kaku” Romero-Gamarra in the 60th minute. Fans, knowing what Kaku is capable of, were surprised by the move from newly promoted head coach Chris Armas. After the match, Armas explained:

“Marc, he had a great week of training. In every session, he brought energy… Going into the game we thought that he would be a guy we’d rely on in some capacity.”

And boy, did he seize the day! He tallied a brace that leveled and then put RBNY ahead (72′ & 79′). He was named man of the match, and took home the game ball. And yet…

I was part of the huddle of reporters who went to RZA (so nicknamed by fans as a reference to a member of NY hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan) in the locker room after the game. Usually, Rzatkowski ducks out of the locker room as soon as he’s changed while we speak with captain Luis Robles or BWP. He had turned towards his locker to get something and looked genuinely shocked when he turned back around and saw us all there. A real team player, he shared credit with Tyler Adams and Sean Davis, the midfielders who assisted his goals.

(If you don’t catch the reference in the heading, click here)

So: same time, same place, same chance for revenge when the New England Revolution come to Harrison and face RBNY for the second time this season.

Featured image: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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Montreal Impact Test Their Depth … and Fail in NYC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Montréal Impact were coming into an incredibly busy July schedule on a hot streak, with four consecutive wins and 5 in 6 matches. With the impending load of 6 matches in 17 days, eventually Rémi Garde was going to have to rotate the team, whose lack of depth he had previously deplored. The first opportunity to see several players make their return – or their début, as in the case of Shamit Shome – to the starting lineup.

The lineup also featured 5 Canadian players (Piette, Shome, Jackson-Hamel, Edwards and Petrasso) which is of interest as the upcoming Canadian Championship competition requires a minimum of 3 Canadian players in the starting lineup for each team. Whether their presence was preparation for those matches, simple rotation, or a chance for some bench players to compete for more playing time, only coach Garde can say.

What anyone who watched that match can say is that none of the players on the pitch rose to the occasion. The Bleu-Blanc-Noir failed to register a single shot on target and capitulated in the second half to lose 3-0 to a heavily rotated New York City FC.

Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

Although none of the Canadians returning to the lineup will want to remember their performances, two notable disappointments were Homegrown Player Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Raheem Edwards. Jackson-Hamel had made a name for himself last season as a supersub who could come off the bench and score goals late into games. With starting striker Matteo Mancosu’s aversion to scoring goals continuing into its second season, Jackson-Hamel was given a chance to claim a position which is very much up for grabs. Meanwhile, Edwards had lost his starting position on the right wing when Alejandro Silva‘s form picked up, and also had his moment to prove his worth.

Both players had previously been publicly criticized for a lack of effort during training earlier this season. Initially, it seemed, they responded to criticism with strong performances in a 4-2 win over New England Revolution. However, in the pair’s first start since May, fans were subjected to watching them play at a jog, with little effort put into winning 50/50 balls and a distinct lack of creativity and tactical awareness. Coach Garde was equally unimpressed, as Jackson-Hamel and Edwards were both substituted in the 59th minute.

On a final note of interest, owner Joey Saputo was present at the match. Rémi Garde will hope that the man holding the purse-strings appreciated the opportunity to witness first-hand the difference in quality of players on Montréal’s bench and that of NYCFC.

On Saturday, July 14th, the Impact return home to face San Jose Earthquakes, a team whose quality has also been deplored … by one of their players. It should be interesting to see how the two squads crying for an injection of talent face off.

Featured image of Samuel Piette: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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NYCFC make an impact on Montréal, winning 3-0

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City FC has a tight schedule this week and faced the second of its three opponents on July 11th at home versus Impact Montréal.  The game was a snooze fest in the scoreless first half, with very little happening offensively besides some fruitless crosses by NYCFC wing Rodney Wallace and some relentless verbal tormenting of Montréal goalkeeper Evan Bush.

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Something happened during half time though, (besides this wedding proposal, ripe with a “Marry Me” NYCFC jersey!)

The Boys in Grey came out with fire in their bellies and under their feet opening up the scoring flood gates with three beautiful and very different styled goals by Jesús Medina at the 60th minute:

Ronald Matarrita at 65′:

Jonathan Lewis at 76′:

After the second goal, Montréal seemed to lose all their energy, barely pressing forward.  Recently lethal striker Ignacio Piatti did his best to make runs, looking for something magical to come his way but City defenders Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha easily shut him down.  Montréal’s lack of high (or even medium) press, allowed NYCFC to play out of the back for much of the game, which thankfully gave goalkeeper Sean Johnson something to do as he didn’t need to make a single save.

Some intel I learned postgame:

  • Jonathan Lewis, despite being “half English” is rooting for France, admires the playing style of Kylian Mbappe and Raheem Sterling and “said [a while back] that Croatia would go to the [World Cup] finals.”
  • In a week with three tightly scheduled games, Sean Johnson spoke of the importance of rest to stay sharp and the team’s focus on tactics. Interestingly, Johnson regularly incorporates yoga and pilates into his training year-round.
  • Ronald Matarrita is “always trying to score goals” and hopes that we all get to know him a bit better as a player.

NYCFC faces the Columbus Crew on Saturday July 14th at home.  Remember when we had to play them at “home” at Citifield?  Related to that, a New York Times article was released during the Montreal game about another possible stadium site.

Someday we will have our own home…

Images by Tisha Gale and Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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NYCFC squeak past the NY Red Bulls 1-0 at the #HudsonRiverDerby

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

Photos by Tisha Gale (& Keira Smith) // @TishaGale

Sunday, July 8: 1-0 Win

It feels like it’s been a long time since New York City Football Club has played at home in the Bronx. The atmosphere at the Hudson River Derby felt a bit like a huge family reunion, ripe with banners, glitter, costumes, drinking and dancing and the obligatory distant “cousins” who are loud, overly opinionated and wear strange clothing.  And yet, it would be a super boring event without them.  IMG_0154

If we’re being honest, we need to admit that for much of our club’s history, the New York Red Bulls have handed our heads to us on a silver platter. Granted, they’ve had many more years to develop the knife factory.  They figured out how to defeat NYCFC pretty consistently.

A few things going into the July 8th match:

  • This was less of a sure thing for RBNY as both teams had new (ish) coaches with Doménec Torrent having merely two prior games under his belt and with Chris Armas at the helm for the Red Bulls, promoted to Head Coach upon last weeks’s announced departure of Jesse Marsch.
  • The match was at Yankee stadium which is notoriously hard for visiting teams to handle due to its narrow width.
  • NYCFC had both David Villa and Jo Inge Berget completely out of the lineup with Berget’s absence a last minute unpleasant surprise.
  • RBNY were missing Florian Valot, who will be out for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL

The starting lineup mixed in some faces we haven’t seen in a while such as Rodney Wallace on left wing, returning from World Cup duties for Costa Rica and Maxime Chanot as a center back after a string of mysterious absences.  On paper, it also looked like Maxi Moralez had striker duties for this game.  Despite the return of some veterans to the starting XI, it was clearly not the same old tactics in facing the Red Bulls.

For this game, the dyed-in-the-wool “Play out of the back” strategy was not to be seen and instead, replaced by quick restarts of long balls to the wings by goalkeeper Sean Johnson.  Particularly in the first half, this was effective in countering RBNY’s previously deadly high press as NYC kept 61.3% possession and won 54.8% of duels.

However, of the 10 NYCFC shots on goal in the first half, 5 were blocked solidly by RB’s defense, one was saved by Robles and the others were off target.  City could not squeeze juice from the pretty pineapple.

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In the second half, the Red Bulls held much more possession and seemed to be consistently on the attack.  Chanot settled nicely back into the center back role, a position that he shared with Alexander Callens for this game, clearing aerial balls, destroying low shots with sliding tackles and making life difficult for Red Bulls star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips.

And yet there was a point that fans began to think that we would be okay with a draw and taking the one point.  Then Jonathan Lewis came in for Rodney Wallace and the whole offensive rhythm changed with Lewis dancing and weaving, overall giving the RBNY defense more to contend with.  Nine minutes after he came on, Lewis served a ball across the goal to Moralez who buried it.  At that point, it was all hands on deck to defend and protect the lead.  Besides the combination that lead to the goal, it was not a pretty game but it did the trick.

A win is a win – especially without a “striker”.

Pretty fly for a non-striker
Maxi Moralez entering the stadium before the match vs the NY Red Bulls

Next game is Wednesday, July 11th at home versus the Montreal Impact.

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Images by Tisha Gale and Keira Smith

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Montreal Impact Just Can’t Shake that Winning Feeling

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

The Montreal Impact came into their match against the Colorado Rapids riding a three-game winning streak, and had set a new team record of over 340 minutes played without conceding a goal. For a team that was 3-10-0 just a few matches earlier, and that had flirted with the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, things were really coming together for Rémi Garde and his troops.

Alejandro Silva delivered a pair of assists on a Saphir Taïder brace that would seal Colorado’s fate, as the Impact picked up a fourth consecutive win with a dominant performance over a struggling team. However, the clean sheet streak broke at 420 minutes when Colorado picked up a sloppy consolation goal near the end of the match. Considering that it was just six short weeks ago that the Impact, who marked 7 hours kept off the scoresheet themselves, it seems a bit out-of-place to complain about conceding a goal!

Although Taïder would reap the glory as he scored the goals that sealed the 3 points, it would be wrong to ignore the enormous contribution that Silva provided to the team. As is sometimes the case with new players, Silva’s adaptation to the team and the league didn’t happen overnight. As Coach Garde experimented, Silva played in several roles, including right back and the #10 spot, with limited success.

However, he has enjoyed a run of matches starting in his preferred role of right winger. The consistency has allowed fans to discover the dynamic player who they watched in highlight videos upon his signing, but he hadn’t scored a goal despite numerous chances.

In the match prior to the Colorado game, Ignacio Piatti allowed Silva to take a penalty shot. Crossing the threshold of scoring his first goal for the club clearly further bolstered the Uruguayan’s confidence as he took his performance to a new level in the victory over the Rapids, not only with his two assists. Silva’s defensive contributions, vision for open space, and dribbling kept the Colorado players busy and lightened the workload for his teammates.

This match was a special one, not just because the Bleu-Blanc-Noir are finally stringing together performances resembling a competitive soccer team, but because I have made my annual pilgrimage to Stade Saputo. For those of you who are unaware, I am a long-distance fan, as I live in another province.

For this match, I joined one of the supporter groups. 1642 Montréal occupy the end of the stadium with the North Star Bell, which rings for Impact goals and victories. I can’t thank everyone in Section 114 enough for their fabulous welcome and for the ambiance they contributed to the stadium! 90+ minutes of singing, cheering and jumping were enjoyed!

July is a busy month for the Impact, as there are 7 games on the schedule with a combination of 5 MLS matches and 2 Canadian Championship matches to play. The sequence of midweek matches begins as Rémi Garde learns that sometimes in MLS, we play soccer in a baseball stadium as the Impact visit NYCFC on Wednesday, July 11th.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Orlando sees it’s 8th straight L but hey, there’s a new head coach

Shae Beaudoin - Orlando City SC/mlsfemale
Official Orlando City Reporter

By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz

Raise your hand if you witnessed the madness that ensued on June 30th, 2018. There were game upon games between the FIFA World Cup and MLS. It probably got tough to keep up with, so let me break down one match for you, at least. On this day, Orlando City SC traveled north to Atlanta for the rivals’ second meet up this season. And by just three minutes in, I was wondering why we even bothered to make the trip.

Now you know I’m #CityTilIDie, but that doesn’t make swallowing the L pills any easier. Especially not against rivals/arch nemeses. To sum up the game in as few words as possible, we got the ball, we didn’t communicate, we lost the ball, Atlanta scored. Rinse and repeat four times and you’ll have yourself a full 90 minute match.

There’s really not much else to say about our eighth straight loss that we don’t all already know. Instead of focusing on the negative and complaining about what went wrong this game, I want to highlight what went right.

First off, Chris Mueller. I’ve been saying this since the 2018 draft pick saw his first minutes of play time for this team. Mueller is our key. Whether he starts or comes in as a sub in second half, Mueller continuously brings the drive, effort and energy this team so badly needs.

Take this game versus Atlanta, even in the 88th minute while we’re staring at a 4-0 scoreboard, Mueller never stopped putting on the pressure and making attempts on goal. As long as we have a player like that on our roster, I hardly care about results because I know the passion is there. I know the motivation is there. Plus, it’s been a little bit since Mueller tucked one away for us. I know he’s just itching to get his name back on the score sheet. Just wait for it.

Second, Amro Tarek. Tarek was a new addition to our roster during the 2017/2018 off season. He brings strength and size to our severely struggling defensive line. Combined with captain Jonathan Spector, these two are quite the force. Not only did he have several great saves during this game against Atlanta, but he also saw (by my count) at least two close attempts on goal off of set pieces. This needs to be applauded. Nothing is better than defense scoring. But as a former defender, I may be bias in that opinion.

I know, if our defense is so good, why did they allow four goals? There’s really no clear answer here and I wish I had one for you. If you ask me, the problem lies with our formation.

To catch you up to speed, after our devastating loss to Montreal Impact (the first one), Orlando City said goodbye to head coach Jason Kreis. I gave this man a lot of slack for never flexing off the 4-4-2 formation, but that’s more because I feel each team requires a different formation approach. With our interim head coach, we played a 3-5-2. I can definitely appreciate this change but when we take Atlanta, who’s got a strong attacking lineup, I really think we should have opted for a bit more defense and a little less offense. Or even if we wanted to start attacking strong, once we saw 2 (or 3 since they happened back to back) goals with very few chances for comeback, we should have switched up our formation.

I digress. At the end of the day, it was another loss. 4-0 in favor of Atlanta. So Atlanta fans get to continue to gloat and I will just wait patiently for the day we get our revenge.

Now, let’s talk about this coaching situation. We have a new head coach! So many fans were eagerly hoping for Ricardo Kaká to come back to us with the title “Coach” but sadly, that’s not the case. However, we did end up signing on a former Lion. James O’Connor played for the Orlando City team back before we joined the MLS.

He’s young, he’s still growing his resume, so there’s a lot to be nervous about, but I’m willing to give him a chance to prove to us what he can do. We’ve got an amazing roster of players. The talent pool is definitely there. The remainder of the season will tell us if O’Connor is able to rally this squad to success.

Currently, Orlando City has dropped to 9th out of 11 teams in the Eastern Conference standings. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’re not trailing too far behind those ahead of us. There’s still plenty of time to turn this club around and for us to see our first playoff season in MLS. So, hopefully, my next write up is about a win.

Featured image: @OrlandoCitySC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @ShaeEliz

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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June Brings a Month of Highs Following the Impact’s Struggles

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

It has been a roller coaster start to the summer for the Montréal Impact. Fans are used to highs and lows with this team, and as the month of May wound to a close, the Impact were in the depths of one of those lows. They had suffered four straight shut-out losses, Ignacio Piatti was in the midst of his longest goal drought ever at 5 games without a contribution, and players and coaches were losing their tempers at training.

The World Cup break was still a few weeks away, but couldn’t come soon enough for fans who were tired of watching their team be the whipping boys of the league.

With Albert Elis and the free-scoring Houston Dynamo in town, fans were prepared to be the victims of a firing squad, yet the Impact pulled out a win – and their third clean sheet of the season!

The following match saw the Impact make the long journey to face the other Texas team, FC Dallas, who have generally enjoyed great success against the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. An own goal and a penalty saw the Impact wilt in the Lone Star State’s heat to the tune of 2-0.

There wasn’t much time to sulk over the loss though, as the Impact faced a mid-week game against Orlando City SC before the World Cup break. Orlando were also in tailspin, as they came into the match suffering from 5 straight losses. On a rainy Wednesday night, few anticipated much of a spectacle. However, for a rare time this season, luck shone on the Impact. They received an early penalty that broke Piatti’s dry spell, benefitted from an own goal, and sealed the result with a rare late goal, also from Piatti.

Following the international break, the Impact took to the road again to take on Orlando for the second consecutive match, this time in the Lions’ den. A road game in hot weather rarely spelled means anything good for the Impact. Yet Orlando were still reeling from tallying another loss and were now without a head coach to top it off, following Jason Kreis’ dismissal after the match in Montréal.

Another own goal from OCSC followed by Piatti’s third goal in two matches saw the Impact take a comfortable 2-0 result home, although Orlando is clearly a shadow of the team who took the start of the season by storm.

The team has finally begun to creep toward the playoff line, and fans are finding positives to take from matches once again. Although players have finally begun to play as more of a cohesive unit – for each other, instead of just with each other – two players have stood head and shoulders above their teammates in the recent uptick in form.

Rod Fanni’s cool head and clean play as a defender has seen many opposition attacks snuffed out before goalkeeper Evan Bush need worry. Some are also crediting Fanni’s level-headed presence with the improved decision-making fellow central defender Rudy Camacho has demonstrated.

Samuel Piette has endeared himself to fans beyond being a native Québecois by controlling the midfield and intercepting passes like it’s the easiest job in the world.

Although the outcome of this season is still up in the air, there are diamonds in the rough within the team.

Next up: A true test of whether this recent positive form is an anomaly or a step forward – Sporting KC, unbeaten in 7 matches, visit Stade Saputo on Saturday, June 30th.

Featured image: 

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Toronto FC fall to NYCFC 2-1 as Ant-man is swatted away

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

Photos by Tisha Gale // @gale_tisha

Sunday, June 24: 2-1 Win

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Starting XI. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

In New York City Football Club‘s first outing with head coach Domènec Torrent, they successfully slew visiting foe and defending MLS Cup champions Toronto Football Club 2-1 with little on-field drama.

However, in the days leading up to this game, the first after beloved head coach Patrick Vieira departed for his new position at OGC Nice, there were many doubts as to whether “Domè” would obtain work visa clearance in time for this game.  Fans speculated as to who would lead the team against Toronto, should Torrent be delayed.  Luckily, approvals came through and he was able to lead a short team training session on Saturday.  It wasn’t a shock however that there weren’t any big changes to the starting eleven from the draw with Atlanta United on June 9th.

Domènec Torrent
New head coach of NYCFC, Domènec Torrent. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

Although NYC had more possession in the first half, they went down a goal when Victor Vasquez scored in the 37th minute.  The Boys in Blue stayed calm and continued to press and came out in the second half with more energy and verve.  Although City’s possession went down, they won more duals and utilized more crosses.

Fans didn’t have to wait long in the second half for the equalizer.  Jo Inge Berget cleverly and unexpectedly took a heel flick shot behind him on a pass from Jesus Medina and it was as if a collective sigh of relief was released in the stadium.  It was even now and anyone’s game.

At the 68th minute, Maxi Moralez weaved his way towards the goal releasing a centering pass which Berget perfectly placed into the back of the net. The stadium went wild.  A brace for Berget!  Did Domè successfully break the curse of Berget? Hope was alive and kicking with NYCFC fans in Yankee Stadium.

Jo Inge Berget
Jo Inge Berget poses for a photo with a young fan after the match. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

However, any  time we play Toronto, I am nervous about “the Silent Killer” (no not carbon monoxide), Sebastian Giovinco.  Giovinco can strike from anywhere at any time and you don’t see him coming.  Fortunately, NYCFC did an excellent job of containing him.

According to defender Ben Sweat, “Obviously Giovinco is one of the top players in the league.  We knew we had to watch the spacing behind and we knew we had to be smart and be tight with him.  With those kinds of players you have to be super aggressive and I thought the midfield did a really good job with that.  Shutting down Giovinco, shutting down Vasquez today.  It was good.”

Midfielder Alex Ring concurred: “Overall I think it was a good performance.  We played well between the zones and I was able to get a bit more offensive.”

The unfortunate side effect of this match was an injury to captain David Villa, who requested a substitution in the first half.  Details on his injury will be released later this week but Coach Torrent stated, “I spoke with him [Villa] and he told me it’s not serious. We are waiting for the doctor. I think it’s not bad, but maybe he needs one or two games.”  Fans are hoping for his quick and thorough recovery and, based on this performance, are optimistic that the team can continue to be successful even without him on the pitch.

David Villa
David Villa is out with an unspecified injury. Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

One-Timers

It was the battle of the two smallest #10s in MLS. Giovinco’s nickname is “The Atomic Ant” while Moralez has been called “El Frasquito” and more recently “Spider-man”.

Thanks to an introduction by NYCFC president Jon Patricof, I got to meet one of the rare female referees in the world of soccer, Kathryn Nesbitt.  Nesbitt served as an assistant referee in this match.

All images: Tisha Gale @gale_tisha

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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