Wednesday, July 3rd: 4-0 loss Sunday, July 7th: 3-3 draw Sunday, July 13th: 2-1 win
Summertime, and the living is clearly not easy. I’m bogged down with vacation planning, summer reading assignments, extra classes, and upcoming side hustles. And it’s far from smooth sailing for the New York Red Bulls, as well. While getting themselves back to full lineup strength, they have had to deal with midweek games and disciplinary suspensions. In moments, it’s been downright disappointing.
Overall, however, the team is hitting a decent stride. An international roster spot has been opened with Frenchie midfielder Florian Valot getting his green card. The secondary transfer window is now open, and there may be a new signing in their future. (Or not. I’m not in the business of football business.)
You Would End Up Winning
I didn’t like that Michael Amir Murillo was in the starting XI for the midweek clash against the Houston Dynamo. The Panamanian team had just been eliminated from the Gold Cup. He was still in ‘international tournament’ mode. It’s more physical, and the two yellow cards Murillo earned (44′, 83′) proved that. Wasn’t worth it. Houston midfielder Alberth Elis had his way with RBNY, earning an assist and a pair of goals. I’m not one for superstition, but I understand the Red Bulls generally don’t do well in the match nearest Independence Day. It was also a cross-conference match, which softens the blow. Besides, there were bigger obstacles ahead.
We’ll Put You On Your Shelf
Weird how rivalries happen. DC United, one of the original MLS teams along with the Metrostars, is also the original RBNY rival. NYCFC, the regional opponent of the Red Bulls, has made for a sort of rivalry… more on them later. But Atlanta United… man. That rivalry is organic. Atlanta hosted RBNY in their first ever MLS match: they lost. They cannot defeat the Red Bulls in the regular season. And they have yet to score a goal at Red Bull Arena. It’s enough to get under the fuzzy skin of the King Peaches. With another physical bout, Atlanta thought they had FINALLY broken their apparent curse the Sunday after Independence Day. Looks like they had forgotten to factor in Bradley Wright-Phillips. His 93rd minute leveler saved a point for the boys in Red to bring back to New York with them. Not a moment too soon.
We’ve Had Enough
Last season, there were four Hudson River Derby days. It was mentally exhausting, and rather pointless. Sure, NYCFC got themselves a W, but that’s not really enough to elevate the rivalry. Besides, some serious fan issues have overshadowed the boys from the Bronx. There are a good number of stories on that, I have no need to address it. My business is only what’s on the field.
Being on vacation at the time, I was actually reluctant to watch the game. Thanks to notifications on my phone, I felt justified when I saw NYC forward Heber struck first. But ninety-plus minutes is a long time. Daniel Royer not only leveled the game at the end of the first half with a penalty kick, but also provided the go-ahead goal later on to capture the win for the Metro. It was not without controversy; apparently the assistant referee indicated the ball went out for a corner but the center ref overruled him. Midfielder Alex Muyl thew in the ball quickly, standard procedure for the Red Bulls, and Marc Rzatkowski crossed the ball to Royer’s head. Once again, NY is Red.
There is a lot more soccer this summer. I’m looking forward to it. With love, we’ll find a way; just give it time.
After an exceptional run by the USWNT in the World Cup and an improvement in the USMNT during the Gold Cup , it was hard to watch the Crew, in comparison, lose their last three games in seven days. The losses continue to mount and while the Columbus Crew fans are definitely grateful to have a team, that team has been difficult to watch.
On Saturday, June 29, Columbus Crew took on Orlando City. In a game where the Crew dominated possession and limited Orlando to three shots, they still managed to lose the game 2-0. The best part of the game was honoring former club coach and legend Sigi Schmid into the Crew’s Circle of Honor at halftime. The Crew welcomed the Schmid family, watched tributes to Sigi, and presented the family with a beautiful collage of Sigi’s time in Columbus.
Then on Wednesday, July 3, the Crew traveled to Salt Lake City to take on RSL. Due to the three games in seven days, Caleb Porter made some line up changes. He gave JJ Williams the start at forward and Eduardo Sosa an elusive start in midfield; Niko Hansen returned from wherever Porter has been hiding him to play in the midfield, where he was joined by Ricardo Clark; Aboubacar Keita made his MLS debut at center back; and Joe Bendik made a grab for the starting goalkeeper position again.
While Caleb had limited player selection due to injury and call-ups when rotating his squad, it was nice to see some players who have gotten very little to no playing time a chance to prove if they were hungry enough to unseat the struggling starters.
Unfortunately, the Crew were unable to finish any shots, and Sam Johnson finished a beautiful opportunity by beating both Crognale and Keita to a long ball that they both let bounce over their heads.
Returning home this past Saturday, the Crew played the Seattle Sounders. In a game that honestly felt do or die, the Crew couldn’t hold on to an early lead and lost to Seattle 2-1.
With a slight tweak in the line up we have been seeing recently, Josh Williams stepped in at centerback, but JJ Williams and Joe Bendik kept their starting spots from the RSL game, playing forward and keeper respectively.
The Crew had hope for a possible victory after a PK by Pedro Santos in the 13′. However, Nicolas Lodeiro, who spent a lot of time rolling on the grass with dire injuries at MAPFRE Stadium, seemed to be the difference maker for Seattle. He sank a PK in the 56′ and scored a final goal for the Sounders in extra time. At the end of the game, multiple Crew players collapsed to the ground–exhausted from giving it their all, their all not being enough.
Thoughts about the Team:
This is hard. Watching this team is hard. Because I feel for these guys. I believe they are putting everything they can out on the field. If we the fans feel frustrated, then I can’t even imagine how they feel. Do I think part of this is an emotional hangover from the past season and half of off-field drama? Yes, I do.
Did we have a time under Berhalter where we struggled to score goals? Yes, we absolutely did. But in those cases, we typically had a solid defense who minimized the damage the opposition did to us. This is not happening this year. And while I know we are missing Milton Valenzuela to injury, his replacement Waylon Francis is a very good left back. This can not be blamed on injuries.
Is Caleb Porter getting everything out of these guys that he can? I don’t know. I understand we have injuries and call ups, and while I don’t believe every player is elite caliber, I believe they can play a solid game of soccer. However, the adjustment between playing styles has not been as seamless as many thought, including Caleb himself.
However, this isn’t Caleb’s chosen roster. He inherited a roster in January that he had limited time to evaluate and tweak. Do I think a roster blow up is coming? Yes, I do. It’s already started. There will be many players that I will be heartbroken to lose. But to give Caleb a real chance to develop this club into what he thought it could be, it probably has to happen.
With recent additions coming in the transfer window of Eloy Room, keeper of the Curacao National team, Luis Diaz from Club Sport Herediano (Costa Rica) and Romario Williams from Atlanta United, it is hopeful that these players can make an immediate and positive impact for the struggling Crew when they take the field July 13 in a rematch against Orlando.
NYCFC banged out another home victory Wednesday night versus the Seattle Sounders with a score of 3-0. Both teams were missing players due Gold Cup and Copa América call ups, but City, even with injuries to key starters, proved the deeper and more persistent team of the match.
In goal, Brad Stuver stepped up with key saves while usual starter Sean Johnson represents Team USA at the Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Sebastien Ibeagha diffused Sounders attacking chances with ease, sliding in for Alex Callens who is representing Peru in Copa America. (Both US and Peru will be heading to their respective tournament finals. Bam!)
If we are being honest, it must be said that NYCFC midfielder and MLS All-Star Maxi Moralez did not play his best football last night. Yes, I know he scored a goal. However, passes seemed a tad off target, tackles a bit slow. He went down a bit too easily in some one v ones. He’s allowed to have an off night, I mean he’s human right?
In my opinion, NYCFC is a strong and creative team due to Moralez and his vision. He truly does weave a web around the other team, many times leaving them on their heels. It’s particularly fine for him to be off once in a while when the entire team seemed to step up and give 110% to make sure that the attack wasn’t turned over or key counter attack chances were not surrendered.
Did I also mention that New York City was playing without solid starters Héber at striker and James Sands on defense? Héber, out with a hamstring injury, has been a constant goal scoring threat since he joined the team. In the absence of Sands in a central defender role due to a fractured arm, Head Coach Dome Torrent switched up the lineup and has repositioned Maxime Chanot and Ibeagha in dual center back positions. Ronald Matarrita returned to left back from Copa América, mirroring Anton Tinnerholm in the right back role and – despite the lack of “wing back” label which is utilized with a healthy James Sands – both vigorously embraced their dual roles of defending and initiating attacks down the wings.
Goals were scored by Moralez, Jesus Medina and Ebenezer Ofori -another massive banger by the midfielder. Both Medina and Ofori came in as subs for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Alexandru Mitrita, respectively, and delivered for the team.
I like to give out awards (shhhh, don’t tell anyone that they are merely symbolic) and to me the two MVPs for this match were Ronald Matarrita and Taty Castellanos, whose grit, never ending hustle and pressure initiated many of the team’s goal scoring chances. Runner-up was Keaton Parks who was unflappable in midfield.
Next match is Sunday 7/7 at 6:30 pm, when NYCFC hosts Portland after the Women’s World Cup final.
Twenty days after a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Union in league play –and following an even more disappointing loss to the New England Revolution in the Open Cup– the New York Red Bulls welcomed the Chicago Fire.
Thanks to the Gold Cup, the majority of MLS took some time off so group stage games could be played in our soccer-specific stadia around the country. The tournament isn’t over yet, but since it’s down to the semi-finals, league action is back. While Aaron Long (USA), Derrick Etienne, Jr. (Haiti), and Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica) are still away as part of this biennial event, Michael Amir Murillo and Panama have finished their run. Perhaps he’ll just meet the team when they get to Houston this week. I don’t expect him to go out against the Dynamo in their midweek clash.
Let the Music Set You Free
This was the official Pride Night for the club. They really did it up, marking the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Rainbow-numbered jerseys will be auctioned off, ticket sales will benefit Pride Live. But what really made the night was how fun it all felt. People these days are tense. Like, really tense. But the atmosphere was markedly less so…unless you were on the field. That’s really how it should be.
Such a Revelation
I mean… it speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Alejandro “Kakú” Romero Gamarra picks off Kenneth Kronholm on a pass back and scores the first goal just eight minutes in. It wasn’t so long ago that people were grumbling that Kakú wanted out in the worst way. Seems to me that he was in a bit of a dark patch and is on the other side of it now. I remember having two little kids and trying to do my job… wasn’t easy. And I didn’t have to be several countries away from my family and traveling regularly. I can only speculate, but at least things are working well.
If the Rhythm’s Right
Maybe I don’t give goalkeeper Luis Robles enough credit. I wouldn’t be the only one, mind you. He has just three US National Team Caps, and has never been selected for the MLS All-Star Game. The RBNY Ironman made a whopping seven saves against Chicago. SEVEN! The single Fire goal, from Nemanja Nikolic, only came after he collected one of those Robles saves. I can’t even be mad about it. I’m sure Robles can be, but that’s his job. All Robles can do is his job, and he’s damn good at it. I just wanted to make sure I said as much.
I Hope This Feeling Never Ends
Three goals, three goalscorers. This is a regular thing for RBNY. Brian White tallied his fifth goal for the season, sliding between two defenders to peg the ball in at the 59th minute. White was then subbed out to allow for the return of Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has been out with a soft tissue injury. In his 23 minutes on the field, he made the second assist pass to Kyle Duncan, who crossed the ball to Daniel Royer in the 93rd minute for a final goal.
The Red Bulls hit the road against the Houston Dynamo and Atlanta United before returning for (only) the first Hudson River Derby of the season back in Harrison. If the Red Bulls can continue to feel this free, we’ll all be dancing this season.
(PS: I was the Kindergartner singing Madonna songs in the 80s. Sometimes I have to look up the lyrics to make sure I have them right– not so with this one. Enjoy!)
D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara; Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Lucas Rodriguez, Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta (Quincy Amarikwa, 88′); Wayne Rooney
A Match, A Celebration, A Remembrance
Wednesday night saw Audi Field packed for both the matchup between D.C. United and Orlando City SC and for United Night OUT. The win against Orlando made the evening even more special, as D.C. United Captain Wayne Rooney scored from his own half in a feat he has pulled off for each club he’s played for now, including Manchester United and Everton.
Falling just before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a historic moment that sparked the gay rights movement in the United States, this year’s United Night OUT was particularly poignant.
While this year isn’t the first that D.C. United has celebrated Pride, it is the first year that the club has changed its logo on social media in support, and the second-year players have worn rainbow numbers and the rainbow captain’s armband. D.C. United also held a minute’s applause in the 49′ for those who lost their lives in the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando.
I was lucky enough to spend part of the match with Jim Ensor, a D.C. United season ticket holder since 1996 and a member of Federal Triangles Soccer Club (FTSC), the organization that hosts United Night OUT.
United Night OUT is presented by Team DC as part of their Night OUT series. Ensor and FTSC worked closely with D.C. United to coordinate the entire evening, from the coin toss and flag bearers, to the performance of the National Anthem by DC Different Drummers. Through the FTSC website, over 500 tickets were sold, a portion of their proceeds donated to D.C. Scores.
An interview with Jim Ensor
While we all tried to recover Rooney’s first half stunner, and had our fingers crossed that Orlando wouldn’t score, Ensor kindly discussed his thoughts on United Night OUT with me:
Sarah Kallassy: What would you like to see the community to gain from United Night OUT?
Jim Ensor: I want people to feel that they are part of this club, I want them to feel comfortable in the stands. I want them to be excited about the team on the field and feel connected to the organization behind the team on the field. More importantly, I want the team to reach out to the community as a whole…however you identify, we all are the community.
SK: How can someone be an ally or a better ally?
JE: Allies can listen, participate, and really be a part of it.
Listen. Be a part of our peoples’ lives, encourage them to be themselves. Allow them the opportunity to express themselves and create without judgement. We don’t need pandering; we don’t need sympathy. It’s very normal. That’s probably the biggest lesson, is to understand that its normal.
Participate, learn more about what it is we’re going through. Learn more about our history. When we get to a point that parents and family and friends are not worried about someone coming out, or not feeling like they have to be an ally, that’s when we’re in a better place.
SK: What would you like someone to take away from tonight?
JE: The sense of community and being united is the most important part of it. We’ve got a long way to go. We have a very long way to go. I’ll continue to advocate for participation and inclusion, and for us to be united on and off the field.
“I don’t take it lightly that I’m sitting here feeling comfortable in the stands at a professional event, where they feel comfortable acknowledging our existence, acknowledging that we are part of the community. There are a lot of people that have paved the way to this and sacrificed and given up a lot for us to be here and enjoy this moment.”
Jim Ensor, Federal Triangles Soccer Club
Author’s note: A special thank you to Jim Ensor, who was one of the first people in the D.C. United community to welcome me as a reporter to this club. It was an honor to speak with you, and I will always remember what you said about the responsibility of this platform and honoring those who have come before me.
Tuesday, June 11th: 2-3 loss (US Open Cup 4th Round)
Hello, folks. It’s been a while. And while there has been no shortage of soccer on my TV and in my life (U13 Flight Champs!) I’ve had a hard time committing words to screen about the New York Red Bulls.
We used to be Together
First the good stuff: I watched Aaron Long join the US Men’s National Team once again, but this time with feeling. The CONCACAF Gold Cup is taking place around the country, and expectations for the Yanks are guarded but high. The USMNT won it all the last time out, but that was before the overall collapse that kept them out of the World Cup (don’t drink every time someone mentions it– your liver can’t handle it). But the team is scraping their way up again.
Winning their group in decisive fashion, RBNY defender Aaron Long scored two of the team’s eleven group stage goals. They head to Lincoln Financial in Philadelphia (home of the NFL Eagles) to face Curaçao in the Quarterfinals. The hope is continued health and success (but mostly health) for Aaron Long and the rest of the USMNT.
I really feel that I’m losing my best friend
So, as does happen from time to time, my personal life got in the way of me watching the Red Bulls match against the Philadelphia Union. And until someone pays me to not miss this stuff, that’s gonna be how it goes. But I digress.
Relying on Twitter for updates, I was thrilled to see RBNY up by two goals at the half. Union have been at the top of the Eastern Conference for a while, and should never be underestimated. They have often been the team to ‘figure out’ the Red Bulls. But maybe this time would be different.
A come-from-behind win for the Union, including a brace and an assist from Ilsinho, cemented Philly’s position atop the East. But hey- at least there was the Open Cup for RBNY to sink their cleats into.
I can’t believe this could be the end
The Red Bulls usually make a deep run in the Open Cup, even making it to the Final in 2017. They’ve only lost the 4th round match once before, in 2014. They met the New England Revolution at their USL stomping grounds, MSU Soccer Park at Montclair State University. Weird flex, but okay.
The atmosphere actually worked out for the most part. But a Revs goal from Juan Agudelo in the first minute did not make for an enjoyable evening. Goals from Tom Barlow and Cristian Casseres Jr. gave fans hope. Until Teal Bunbury bagged a brace, including one in added extra time, to advance the Revs in the Open Cup over RBNY.
The next game is June 28th. Seventeen days since their last match. Thanks to Instagram, fans could catch a glimpse of players traveling to see family and friends before making their way back to training. Most notably, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips is fully training following a groin injury that sidelined him several weeks. They will welcome former captain, and new dad, Dax McCarty and the Chicago Fire for their first Pride Night event taking place in June. It is not a time for words, but a time for action.
New York sports fans can be particularly salty, but one can do several tequila shooters with fan tweets of late. So as much as fans and press colleagues have missed nights at Red Bull Arena, they are wary of this second half of the season. There are still three trophies up for grabs, but it’s up to the team to do what it takes to earn them.
(P.S. No real commentary other than, “Wow I love this song.”)
After 3 long weeks off for some much-needed rest and recovery during the Gold Cup, the Montréal Impact were back in action Wednesday night at Stade Saputo. Although the break had allowed several players to recover from injury and return to the lineup, the Impact were still short 2 players on the bench. Visiting Portland Timbers were in a similar situation, as they’d done a full squad rotation and had not even brought a full team.
As Orji Okwonkwo and Bacary Sagna returned following injury absences, there remained several question marks around the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. How rusty would the team be? How would they adjust to a 3-4-3 formation, a departure from the usual 4-3-3? Would the players returning from injury be fit enough to contribute meaningfully?
The Impact wasted no time in affirming their desire to create scoring chances. Having referred to the offensive quality as “sterile” or “non-existent” at several points throughout the season, it was truly a breath of fresh air to watch the team set up camp in the attacking third. Okwonkwo and Sagna were notably effective, combining with a chemistry that made it look as though they had played together for months.
After a littany of near misses, Sagna reacted quickly to intercept a pass, deftly sending Okwonkwo behind the defense in the 28th minute. The Nigerian striker put on the afterburners to find himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, and made no mistake, thumping the ball into the roof of the net.
The Impact started the second half a little lethargically, and were made to pay when the Timbers floated in a free kick that Tomas Cocechny headed home to tie the match at 1-1 in the 53rd minute. Montréal promptly woke up and began to play with the intensity they showed in the first half. They were rewarded with the team’s best goal of the season so far, when Victor Cabrera sought out captain Saphir Taïder. Taïder hooked the pass back to Okwonkwo who, from the top of the box, struck the ball on the volley mid-turn, rocketing it into the top corner to score a screamer of a match-winner.
Although the match was very pleasing to watch from a Montréal perspective, especially given how light the squad remains, this 2-1 result should also be taken with a grain of salt. Portland’s approach with a fully rotated squad signified that they were willing to let this match go. Winning a home match is essential, but there will be far stiffer competition to come, and certainly before many Impact players have returned to the lineup.
In the spirit of the condensed schedule, Montréal are off to Mercedes Benz Stadium, where they’ll take on reigning champions Atlanta United who are missing a few of their own key players, but still a tremendously strong team. Yet if the Impact show up with the same hunger that they demonstrated versus the Timbers, anything is possible!
Well, I have been absent from writing due to some work and travel obligations, and it’s hard to recognize the team now that I am back. Between trades, injuries, and loans, this team is a dramatically different one than the one I left six weeks ago.
The Columbus Crew have traded Justin Meram to Atlanta and loaned out Lalas Abubakar to Colorado Rapids for the year. We have picked up David Guzman from Portland Timbers, and David Accam has joined the team from Philadelphia Union for the rest of the year. In addition, Waylon Francis and Harrison Afful are just returning from injury, Josh Williams is hurt, and our major playmaker, Federico Higuain is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
If that doesn’t make your head spin, then keep in mind that during this game against Sporting Kansas City, we were also missing Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes to the USMNT, and Zack Steffen who was also with the USMNT has played his final game in a Crew jersey as he goes to Europe in July.
With a Kansas City team who has also been struggling with injury and can only put six players on the bench, the Crew had an opportunity to win their second game in the last eleven. Jon Kempin has been the starting keeper since Steffen’s exit, and the back four included Waylon Francis, Alex Crognale, and Gaston Sauro. The midfield wings were Hector Jimenez and David Accam with David Guzman and Artur holding down the center of the midfield with Patrick Mullins on top.
The Crew had several opportunities to put the ball in the goal, but they just couldn’t seem to do so. In the 19’, Patrick Mullins had difficulty finishing off a Pedro Santos corner kick that had been sent in to him by Gaston Suaro. The Crew should have had several goals throughout the game as the SKC keeper Tim Melia blocked but did not hold to several shots the Crew made on goal.
In the 48’, SKC’s Felipe Gutierrez headed in a goal without any one between him and the goal off an assist from Gerso. In the 74’, Afful received a red card for a tackle on Gerso that denied an obvious scoring opportunity.
The game ended in a 1-0 loss for the Crew who can’t seem to put a complete game together.
Thoughts on the match:
This has been an incredibly frustrating period of time for Crew fans as the team cannot seem to pull together a win. We have had injuries and call ups, but I do think the majority of the team that was out on the field on Saturday are capable of pulling out a win. Watching the highlights after being at the match, the Crew had a lot of opportunities, but continue to be unable to find the back of the net.
I am not sure about David Guzman. He has replaced Artur as the starter when Wil Trapp is not on national team duty. It doesn’t seem to work. However, I think part of the reason the team has struggled is due to head coach Caleb Porter’s change in how he has Wil Trapp and his midfield partner (Guzman or Artur) play. I think Wil’s and Artur’s play has also declined with the system tweaks that Porter is making and actually weakening what I consider the spine of the team.
However, I am not ready to write Porter off. While I never hide that he wasn’t my first choice for this job and I don’t consider the injuries an excuse, there are going to be growing pains with a new coach. I’m willing to give him more time, but that doesn’t make the growing pains any less painful as a fan. So I definitely do not fault anyone who is looking for a replacement for Porter already.
Let’s hope the team can find some footing this upcoming Saturday against Orlando City. The team is honoring former Crew coach and legend Sigi Schmid with a place in the team’s Circle of Honor at halftime of the game. An additional way to honor Schmid would be for the Crew to get 3 points.
Women are here for soccer, representing an influential 42% of Major League Soccer’s fanbase. We attend matches, we are season ticket holders, we are leaders in our supporters’ groups; we promote and share the sport we love.
Recently, SeatGeek, Official Ticketing Partner of Major League Soccer, developed and released a research report entitled, ‘We Fan’. In cooperation with MLS, the ticketing company sent a survey to 300,000 fans to better understand both their ticket purchasing behavior and how to improve their fan experience. From a diverse group of 1,200 respondents, SeatGeek identified a few of the ways female fans want MLS to recognize their presence.
According to the ‘We Fan’ study, female fans #1 request is to be featured in advertising, representing their legitimate status as soccer fans. One of SeatGeek’s respondents said, “Market to us not as moms or wives, but as fans.” In response, SeatGeek will be turning the spotlight on female fans through a ‘We Fan’ advertising campaign, created by an all-female crew.
Female fans who participated in the ‘We Fan’ survey also wanted MLS to recognize their purchasing preferences. Female fans want more choice. They want merchandise that fits their personality and unique style. Respondents also requested varied concession options at stadiums.
SeatGeek’s ‘We Fan’ study is an important step in amplifying the voices of female fans and celebrating their presence in soccer culture, but the work is far from over.
We Wanted to Ask… You
Our passion for soccer runs deep at MLSFemale. We are a group of all female journalists, who are first and foremost supporters of our teams and the vibrant communities surrounding them. We asked our readers, followers, and staff to share their experiences as female fans with us.
It is a privilege to share their insightful responses with you, as they discuss assumptions, representation, inclusivity, community, and why we need women’s cut authentic jerseys.
On Assumptions: We’re Here Because We Want to Be
“I just want to be a fan; not a “female fan.” And D.C. United does a good job of making me feel that way.”
Laura Kakuk, D.C. United supporter
“Treat me with the assumption that I am there because of my own decision. Often, people assume that you are there with a boyfriend, husband, significant other, kid who plays soccer, etc. There isn’t this acceptance, still, that a female loves the sport enough to show up on her own will.”
Bailey Brown, FC Dallas supporter and ISC Representative
“I haven’t had a problem as a female who’s a fan, though most people think my husband got the tickets and I tag along (I got him into the team).”
Willow Dalton, NYCFC supporter, STH, and founding member
On Why Representation Matters
“When we say we want more representation, I think we’re talking about a lot more than putting women in ads. The way you treat the women and women-presenting folks working for you is far more convincing than an ad campaign could ever be.”
Hope, Seattle Sounders supporter
“I think it’s important to highlight that many MLS fans are women and we support this league just as many men do. I have never given up on the team and I never will.”
Julia Sepe, NE Revolution supporter and STH
“I personally think that D.C. United does a great job of knowing their fans are not just men, and have a wide variety of merchandise, advertisers, and I’ve always felt welcome at the games.”
Emily, D.C. United supporter
“League wide, I think they should focus on having more female coaches, trainers, and commentators. As we all always say… representation matters.”
Dayna O’Gorman, Sporting KC supporter
“I think one thing that could really improve the experience is if the local broadcast teams had more female pundits. When you are watching a sport and everyone who is commenting on it are men, and then you try to have a conversation with someone… I feel like I get taken less seriously because of my gender. The biggest thing for me that I think the MLS can do, is to hire more females, have them be more visible, and that would make the fan experience better.”
Halles Serres, Portland Timbers supporter
“I feel that Minnesota United and the Dark Clouds are very welcoming, and my experience has been overall really positive. I can speak for myself when I say that a few years ago I couldn’t see myself being as heavily involved with Dark Clouds as I am now. I think it helps that there are quite a few women that are in prominent roles in the Dark Clouds, like capo.”
Helen, MNUFC supporter, Dark Clouds SG member
“There definitely could be more representation in marketing at the fan level. By this, I mean, let’s show solo females. I don’t want to always see a female with family or with a male in a marketing sense. Instead, celebrate the women who work in your front office, celebrate the fans, and make this about females who are contributing to the soccer culture in your community in a positive way.”
Bailey Brown, FC Dallas supporter and ISC Representative
About Those Jerseys…
“It seems pretty clear that MLS is marketed to men as a primary audience and women as a secondary audience. One example: It’s been challenging to find a women’s jersey that doesn’t have a deep V-neck cut. Like, I don’t want to be a sexy Timbers supporter. I just want a shirt that fits.”
Kelly Hall, Portland Timbers supporter, 107ist member
“One gripe I have is that the “fun” merch is always in men’s cut. So-called “unisex” t-shirts look awful on me, but all the merch that’s more amusing (like the pigeon shirts) tend to only be in men’s cut.”
Willow Dalton, NYCFC supporter, STH, and founding member
“There is something I’ve been saying from Day 1: CAN WE PLEASE HAVE AUTHENTIC FEMALE CUT KITS?! I get that they would be naturally less “authentic” because the players wearing them are males, so the authentic kit will be the male cut. But I’d love a female cut kit with the special touches – the 4 stars denoting our championships and the button-down neckline.”
Laura Kakuk, D.C. United supporter
“I think they should change the marketing and fit of their women’s jerseys. Not everyone wants a deep neckline.”
Dayna O’Gorman, Sporting KC supporter
“Orlando City as a club are very inclusive of female fans in my experience. Kay Rawlins who is the co-founder of Orlando City is the pioneer and epitome of female inclusion within the team. She is a well-respected part of Orlando from both myself, male and female fans alike. Kay has a very hands on approach and is very visible to the fanbase, interacting with fans on social media and outside of games.”
“Kay is also very supportive of inclusion of [those with] disabilities and LGBT [community] as well. I feel like having a founder with her way of thinking and views, has created the feeling of inclusiveness regardless of your gender, sexuality, religion, age or disability, which is why I love this club.”
Charlotte, Orlando City SC supporter from the UK
“The best part about my supporters’ group and my team is they don’t see gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, or age. We all bleed black and red, and that’s all that matters.”
Karen DiFederico, D.C. United supporter, La Barra Brava member
“The stadium has an indoor fan area with…TVs showing the match. It was always used as a room for breastfeeding babies. That’s a great example of inclusivity for women. I didn’t have to choose between being a mom or a supporter because there was space for me to be both.”
Kelly Hall, Portland Timbers supporter, 107ist member
“It was a Pride Night match. There were rainbows everywhere and I mean everywhere! They were handing out rainbow flags to every single fan. And nobody was declining them or using derogatory language about them. The second I saw our (then) captain Brad Evans step out onto the pitch with a rainbow armband I felt like I had finally, after years of being a sports fan and always leaving because of homophobia, finally, found a team and possibly an entire professional sports organization where I could actually feel welcomed and belong.”
Kara Dannenhold, Seattle Sounders supporter
“I appreciate that the Sounders not only didn’t balk at partnering with a “feminine” sponsor like Zulily but have embraced it. I appreciate the no-nonsense approach to handling complaints about pink kits and players wearing ‘sports bras’ for analytics. The more they treat this stuff as normal the less stigma there is in being ‘girly’.”
Hope, Seattle Sounders supporter and STH
On Building a Community
“What I would like to see as a woman, are more women looking to connect with other women. I seriously don’t know any women that go to games alone like I do most of the time and I end up connecting with the guys. It would be cool to have content that connects us in some way.”
Sara Phillips, D.C. United Supporter and STH
“I’ve actually connected more with the team and the fans because of the away games that I’ve been able to go to; specifically speaking, Angel City Brigade, one of the Galaxy’s SGs, have welcomed me with open arms. I would’ve called myself a lone die-hard fan that traveled to games, but now I’ve found that I’ve made so many friends through traveling to these games.”
Pamela Garcia, LA Galaxy supporter
Author’s note: I would like to thank every reader, follower, and staff member that took the time to respond when I asked for your thoughts. Your insight, strength, and willingness to share has me in awe. This is truly your article, and I am proud to share your story.
As many of you may not know, I’m a teacher by day. Here in the Great White North, we have reached the end of the school year, so it’s time to hand out report cards to the kids before I can kick back and spend my summer at Stade Saputo.
The spirit of the season has inspired me to give a report card to the team at this halfway point in the the season. In lieu of giving individual grades, players will be divided into 3 categories: Exceeding Expectations, Making the Grade, More Effort Required. Players who have featured in fewer than 5 matches/500 minutes will be exempt from grading as there is an insufficient body of work to assess due to excessive absence. (#teachertalk).
Samuel Piette — I doubt the Bulldog from Repentigny expected to become the de facto captain for the Impact in Nacho Piatti’s extended absence. However, he has represented everything a team captain should embody: strong work ethic, leaving it all on the pitch, keeping a cool head, and being a shining ambassador for the club.
Zakaria Diallo — The central defender had spent the entirety of the 2018 season sidelined by a torn ACL, so expectations for him may have been as simple as “stay healthy.” He has done just that and his aerial prowess has proven crucial as the Impact defend set pieces.
Omar Browne — This shock signing screamed of desperation as Piatti disappeared from the lineup. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, many wondered if he was even worth the International Spot the Impact had to buy to sign Browne. We only had a very small sample size to base his performances on before coming to the team, but his contributions, especially in a sterile offense, have been a breath of fresh air.
Shamit Shome — What a surprise Shome’s rise to Starting XI status has been this season! Signed as a 2017 second-round Superdraft pick, Shome had largely been ignored by 2 Impact coaches until April. The injury-ravaged squad allowed him a series of starts, which the central midfield seized with aplomb. His vision for a pass makes up for a lack of pure technique.
Zachary Brault-Guillard — Get out your chequebook, Joey Saputo! The Lyon loanee is a modern fullback in every sense of the word. Fast, young, hungry, keen to contribute to the attacking phase of play, ZBG has been a more than adequate backup to Sagna, from whom he is undoubtedly learning a great deal.
Making the Grade
Saphir Taïder — The Algerian DP can be the best player on the pitch, or he can be a hindrance to the team. Taïder lacks the consistency he played with last season, and continued to play through an injury for several weeks. The team’s final match before the Gold Cup break, a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders, where he scored both goals, was probably Taïder’s best performance of the season. Here’s hoping the break allows him the rest and recovery to return to his best self.
Victor Cabrera — Cabrera has made a regular return to the starting XI this season alongside Diallo. He is still known for the risky tackles. When they pay off, he looks like an All-Star player. When they don’t, his teammates are left in hot water. Maybe it’s a different pairing, maybe it’s just luck, but Cabrera has acquitted himself admirably thus far.
Micheal Azira — Having been bumped from the starting XI by Shome’s more offensive qualities, Azira has proven to be a serviceable, if unremarkable, substitute/rotation player.
Orji Okwonkwo — It remains to be seen if Okwonkwo is best suited to a winger or a central striker role, as the team’s needs have kept him on the wings for the beginning of the season. Okwonkwo’s technique and speed have impressed so far, but he’s been sidelined a few times by injury, and we’d like to see him stay healthy.
Bacary Sagna — What the veteran lacks in stamina, he makes up for with cool decision making. Having had a revolving door of partners on the right side of the pitch, Sagna has done his best to develop chemistry with whoever he’s paired with. However, he’s been a victim of the travel-heavy start to the condensed season and is out injured.
Jukka Raitala — The Finnish army knife continues to slot in wherever needed. Rarely looking uncomfortable, Raitala does not make showy tackles when simpler work does the trick.
Evan Bush — Bush stood on his head last season, setting a team record for saves, and a personal record for shutouts. He hasn’t been as rock-steady so far, but is still proving his worth as a veteran in the squad.
Struggling with their Tasks
Harry Novillo — I don’t think much needs to be said here. Novillo was signed on Rémi Garde’s promise that, although he has much ability, his attitude and off-pitch behaviour were what had led Novillo to the Malaysian second division — but he’s changed! Turns out that might not be the case … Frequently injured or ill, Novillo has had little chance to showcase his abilities, and Garde himself has said the player still needs to demonstrate more professionalism.
Maxi Urruti — It seems cruel to classify Urruti as a player who isn’t doing enough. He runs his guts out without fail every match. However, he’s a striker with only one goal this season (a penalty), and who still looks a bit lost in the box. After 2 seasons of toothless strikers, Impact fans are antsy for something more clinical.
Daniel Lovitz — Nicknamed “Marcelovitz” last season, Daniel Lovitz earned his first USMNT call-up in the January camp. Unfortunately, he returned a shadow of the overlapping, attack-minded player we saw previously. He has played a far more conservative game thus far, and seems to have had the confidence drained out of him.
As I always tell concerned parents at our conferences, this is just a progress report, not a definitive grading! There is still plenty of time for the players who have disappointed so far to improve. Here’s hoping that they rise to the challenge!