New York City FC immediately took control of this game, calmly keeping possession and easily moving the ball around and through the LA Galaxy.This was the pace of the first two-thirds of the game.The movement down the left wing was swift and opened up space for David Villa in the center and for the cross to the right side.Jesus Medina and Rodney Wallace again utilized switching flanks quite a bit which successfully shook up LA’s ability to mark well.
With the fluid ball movement, the elephant on the field was that our offense was continuously distributing balls to Villa in goal-scoring chances in lieu of taking the shot themselves.As this was Villa’s 100th cap for NYCFC, teammates Medina and Maxi Moralez gave him many of their own legitimate chances to score but most of these deferred attempts fell flat.
The first goal of the match was scored by NYCFC when a shot by Villa was poorly cleared by LA and Anton Tinnerholm quickly capitalized on it with a strong left volley at 21:50.And finally, at 32:37 Villa’s one-game goal-scoring drought ended.Medina received a cross from Ben Sweat whose shot was blocked by LA goalkeeper David Bingham, which set up Villa to finish off the rebound.
Already, there seems to be strong chemistry between Sweat and Medina who have successfully set each other up in front of the goal in both games. The NYCFC momentum continued, yet as Villa stated in the post game, “…We couldn’t close the game. In the first half probably we had a chance to close the game. With three nil. Much easier and [with] no pain in the last minute.”
And so the tone of the game changed with an LA Galaxy goal at 60’ by Jonathan Dos Santos.NYCFC began to rush and scramble a bit more and LA was able to put together some offensive attacks. New York was very successful in forcing turnovers in the middle third of the field by swarming each LA player with two to three defenders.
Attacks on the Galaxy continued but when Medina was subbed out, there were numerous opportunities when nobody was on the right post.In the last 20 minutes of the game, Emmanuel Boateng became really dangerous every time LA took possession. Even playing with ten men, (Ashley Cole was ejected for 2 yellow cards), LA managed to heavily pressure NYCFC.
It looked like New York ran out of gas in the last 15 minutes, so when the final whistle blew it was with a huge sigh of relief from many fans.
Sean Johnson is credited with only two saves and one claimed cross but with one possibly saved by his face. They were legit threats and decisive saves.
No VAR used!
Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha’s squatting ball-clearing headers.
H-U-S-T-L-E-R of the match – Rodney Wallace providing that necessary 2nd or 3rd person pressure on LA.
Tinnerholm’s goal celebration = pure joy.
Who did David Villa say in the post-match interview is a “really amazing guy”?
New York City FC started its season at Sporting Kansas City on a sentimental note with captain David Villa’s donning of a “Siemprequini” jersey on the walk out to the pitch- an homage to his recently deceased soccer hero and legend Enrique Castro aka “Quini”.
My take on the game in 200 words
NYCFC dominated SKC for much of the game by retaining possession with movement down the wings and pressing early and hard. We had some good luck when SKC’s early big chance at a goal was headed wide by Roger Espinoza and when three consecutive corner kicks by SKC ended up fruitless.
It looked at that point that the game might even out until Villa fed a ball from the left across the goal where Maxi Moralez finished it.The first half ended with a breakaway by Villa which was ultimately destroyed by SKC’s sprinting defender.
The second half was much of the same as NYCFC dominated possession, capped off by a gorgeous sequence of a backward flick by Yangel Herrera to Ben Sweat on the left who quickly crossed it to the finisher, Jesus Medina.Up 2-0 NYCFC kept the lead by defending well in all parts of the field, quickly doubling up pressure on SKC players.
Restarts out of the back need to be smoothed out a bit.NY continued to pass back to Sean Johnson amongst heavy pressure from SKC. In general, however, the team looked solid.
I will make a giant leap and say definitively that NYCFC blocked more shots in this game than all previous seasons combined.No, I don’t have the stats to back it up, I just know.
NYCFC debuts in this match: Medina, Anton Tinnerholm, Sebastien Ibeagha and Ismael Tajouri.
Despite offensively dominating the match, there were some great saves by Johnson.
Awards!In honor of the Oscars which I did not watch this year…
The oddest throwback to high school soccer moment of the match: The drop ball after the first VAR review.
Worrisome injury of the match: Maxime Chanot and Sean Johnson both on the ground clutching their heads after the collision with SKC’s Ike Opara.And also worrisome is the seeming lack of adherence to concussion protocol.I mean were they even examined before being able to return to play?
Surprise of the match:1st- How many times VAR was consulted and how long the process takes.Hopefully, that will get faster as the season goes on. 2nd- Chanot’s first tackle in the box not being a penalty kick but the second one just outside earning him a red card.
Unsung hero of the match: Moralez.He was everywhere on the field.Pressing, passing, making runs.
Award for most absurd yellow card:(tie) Medina and Johnson both for “delaying restart”.
Mother of God! moment of the match:The back passes to Johnson to restart out of the back that came in a bit hot in the first half.
Thoughts for the home opener versus LA Galaxy.Who will be in our starting defensive line now that Chanot is out?
And why does the word “Brujo” seem to have only positive connotations but “Bruja” mostly negative?Asking for a friend.
Trees were uprooted, ice and snow swirled, barges on the Hudson River came loose from their anchors and careened down the Hudson River.It was Friday’s anticipatory MLS 2018 Bombogenesis to kick off the season.In most of MLS territory, we start the season with vicious weather and we end that way.
So, as the season kicks off for NYCFC in literally minutes against Sporting Kansas City, I will share my very non-scientific but loosely intuitive predictions for the NYCFC season.(An aside: Anyone else do the Myers-Briggs personality assessment?Fun self assessment.I recall I was an INFJ.But I digress…)
Ten things that may or may not happen in 2018:
1- I say this first so fans can savor every moment, even the bad ones: This will be the last season for David Villa and head coach Patrick Vieira.I think Villa will stay and run his youth academies in the US, perhaps shuttling back and forth to Europe.All conventional wisdom states that Vieira will be offered a team to manage in Europe. He’ll stay the full NYCFC season but this will be it.
2- Maxime Chanot will be injured again relatively early in the season putting Cedric Hountondji and Sebastien Ibeagha into the mix, more fiercely competing for time at center back.
3- Striker Jo Inge Berget will recover from his injury and score a few goals and draw a few fouls.He’ll give Villa a bit of a rest in physical games.(He’s a Viking!) He will become a fan favorite.
4- Villa and Jesus Medina will have some chemistry pains for the first few months with which fans will be frustrated.They’ll get into a groove but Wallace and/or Matarrita will leave for international matches for Costa Rica changing the lineup a bit.
5- Ebenezer Ofori will quickly get playing time and make a positive impact at midfield with his quick pace.Sort of the opposite of Andrea Pirlo.
6- This one is my wildest: Goalkeeper Sean Johnson will have a mild injury and backup keeper Brad Stuver will be in for three to four games due to his good showing in training and the preseason. (See, it wasn’t useless) However, Johnson will come back in full form.
7- There will be terrible calls against our defense by the referees, with continued resistance throughout the league to VAR but it will be used more often than last season.
8- Rivals New York Red Bulls will not be an issue this year.Most of the NYCFC players with PTSD from prior losses to them are gone, so the psychological factor is removed.We will defeat them twice and tie once.
9- Our biggest challenges in opponents will be Atlanta United and Toronto FC.Both LA Galaxy and LAFC will give us good matches with strong play.We will lose to a weaker team like Minnesota United or San Jose Earthquakes.
10- Sorry guys, but I don’t predict that we will win the MLS Cup. This league makes it almost impossible to predict the winner but my money would be on Atlanta.
Enjoy every moment of this season as if it’s our last.And bundle up.For most of us, it’s cold out there.
A lot of focus in the last few weeks in the New York City FC realm has been on both the MLS SuperDraft and on “Jack Harrison Watch”.While all of this was going on, until today, the club has been active with signing new players.
From the Austrian Bundesliga, we brought on goal scorer Ismael Tajouri.Tajouri comes in as a possible wing or attacking midfielder from Austria Wien, the 24-time Austrian champions.Tajouri is a truly international player having been born in Switzerland, moved to Austria when he was 9 and rose through Austria Wien’s youth program.
He was loaned to SC Rheindorf Altach for two years where he helped the team achieve promotion to Austria’s First Division.Austria Wien brought him back where he scored 10 goals in 36 appearances.In the meantime, he also played on the U-20 team for Libya, his parents’ birth country.
Clearly, his attacking skills and mindset (he was directly involved in more shots on goals than any other player in Austria’s Bundesliga last season), made him an attractive addition to NYCFC as we hope for more finishing up top.Head coach Patrick Vieira also noted that Tajouri brings power, pace, good 1 vs 1 skills on offense and a really good work ethic.Sporting director Claudio Reyna added that Tajouri has a lot of experience for his age.
Another addition from Europe to hopefully take some of the goal scoring pressure off David Villa is Norwegian striker Jo Inge Berget.Berget concluded a three-year contract with Swedish champions Malmö FF where he scored 25 goals in 77 appearances.He was in talks to join Orlando City FC earlier this fall but may have been enticed to join NYCFC by the chance to play with his former Malmö teammate, defender Anton Tinnerholm.
Coincidence that we have two Malmö players?Probably not. Vieira seems to have a pattern of bringing in pockets of players from the same country, team or culture, presumably to accelerate the formation of the all-important, yet intangible chemistry.Vieira spoke highly of Berget’s versatility, competitiveness, winning mentality and, of course, work ethic.Reyna agreed with these strengths and added that Berget brings stature, (he is over 6 feet tall), to NYCFC’s attacking areas.
Berget started his footballing career in Norway, first at Lyn Toppfotball before being sold to top division team and three-time league champions Molde Fotballklubb.In Berget’s team debut for Molde, he scored a championship-deciding goal against Tromso.
After spending three years with Molde and scoring 17 goals in 63 appearances, he followed his manager across the channel to Cardiff City and then was on brief loan to Celtic before signing onto the three-year deal in January 2015 with Malmö.Berget also played internationally for Norway, first for their U-21 team.
This Friday the MLS SuperDraft commences in Philadelphia. Although the SuperDraft’s importance has likely decreased in comparison to youth academies and foreign player signings, especially at New York City FC, it still is an important piece of the MLS team composition puzzle.
The SuperDraft began in 2000 and was a major avenue for teams to acquire talent. Utilizing a draft is, of course, unique among soccer leagues worldwide but very common in American sports. In fact, the MLS’s format is very similar to the NFL’s draft. Players are eligible to be drafted if they played for an NCAA team and are not part of an academy system.
The SuperDraft follows a player Combine which is an event to give these players the opportunity to show off their skills and coachability. This year the Combine was held in Orlando at Orlando City SC’s stomping grounds.
The event is comprised of four rounds with each team getting one pick per round. So, this year, each round will contain 23 picks for a total of 92 players being selected. The order in which a team picks is based on how they finished the prior season, with the “less successful” teams being able to pick players earlier each round than teams who went into the postseason, with expansion teams picking first.
In 2018, expansion team Los Angeles FC will get #1 draft pick each round. Due to NYCFC’s 2017 Conference Semi-final finish, we have the 19th pick in each round. We have an additional draft pick in the 3rd round that we acquired by trading RJ Allen to Orlando. As it stands now, we pick 19th (first round), 42nd (2nd round), both 52nd and 65th (third round) and 88th (fourth round).
While the draft is still potentially a source of talent for MLS teams in general, arguably NYCFC’s most productive SuperDraft was in 2016 when we never actually drafted a player. Jack Harrison was selected as the #1 pick by Chicago Fire but minutes later, they traded him to NYCFC for their #4 pick and General Allocation Money. In the second round, we traded our pick to Montreal Impact for Mr. Mustache himself, Jeb Brovsky. Third round, we traded our pick to FC Dallas for Andrew Jacobson and finally in the fourth round we acquired Kwame Watson-Sirboe in a trade to Real Salt Lake.
While the lasting impact of the final three players (mustaches withstanding) was minimal, “Jack Flash” has been an integral part of the team from the second he overcame his fractured pelvis, an injury that was announced right after the 2016 draft.
With the growth of the US academy system, who knows how long the SuperDraft will continue to exist. For international soccer fans, it seems like an anomaly, yet it does maintain an element of tradition to tie it in with other US sports and may be hard to relinquish. Plus, until the preseason games kickoff next month, the draft provides us with some soccer news and a few new names to learn.
Just as the ink was drying in my last column lamenting our lack of a definitive center back comes today’s news.(It’s as if they heard me!)
New York City FC today announced the signing of Cedric Hountondji. Hountondji comes to us most recently from Gazelec Ajaccio, a Ligue 2 team in Corsica.He previously played at Chateauroux, Auxerre, and Rennes and has taken the pitch internationally for both France and Benin.
As many have discussed, the club had been seeking a more (literally) sizable presence in central defense. Last season, Maxime Chanot played a pivotal role in anchoring the defense but an injury took him out at the end of the season. 23-year-old Hountondji is listed as 6’5”, making him the second tallest player in MLS, behind the 6’7” Axel Sjoberg of the Colorado Rapids.
Full disclosure, there are seven other players in the league who are also listed as 6’5” but still, it’s rare.Head coach Patrick Vieira called Hountondji “a strong player who is dominant aerially and physically” and his addition to the team will give him more options “to strengthen our back four”.
Sporting director Claudio Reyna summarized the attractiveness of this acquisition most succinctly in describing Hountondji as “a tall, athletic defender with a very good understanding tactically on how we want to play and will adapt with how we want to defend as a unit.” Two other strengths worth highlighting, according to Reyna, are that he can “compete for a place to play” which we know is critical to playing for Vieira and he “will be able to adapt to MLS”. Hountondji joins other recent defensive acquisitions Saad Abdul-Salaam and Anton Tinnerholm.
Hountondji is the club’s fifth offseason signing, joining Jesus Medina, Brad Stuver, Abdul-Salaam, and Tinnerholm.Seeking out young international players with their best years ahead of them is definitely the strategy that the club is utilizing.
My two cent observation: Our team seems to gel when we have at least two Francophones in the defensive line and at least two Spanish speakers attacking up front.
And the winner of the SuperDraft trivia question was Twitter handle @bellenbaum with Chicago Fire as the team who drafted Jack Harrison in 2016.We had many correct answers but he was first to respond.
When it’s mind-numbing and skull-crushingly cold, I always look to the prospect of spring to give me hope. I can easily conjure up the smell of thawing soil and the sight of our New York City FC players slipping on the overwatered turf in just about every second half of every home match at the Stadium, especially on the grass that covers the Yankee stadium infield.
These thoughts of greenery keep me going through the white, grey and black of January and February. As NYCFC fans we have roughly two months until our season opener in Kansas City on March 4th.
Things are far from frozen with our club, especially with our new DP Jesus Medina arriving in New York last week. The young Paraguayan with the wicked left foot checked out his new home and future NYCFC training facilities, although they were covered in snow. I am sure he had to use some of the imagination and creativity we hope to see on the pitch. It will be interesting to see how his offensive strengths, he scored 17 goals in 74 appearances for Club Libertad, will gel with Villa, Harrison, Wallace, and Moralez.
We also recently acquired Anton Tinnerholm and Saad Abdul-Salam to firm up our defensive line. We still seem to be lacking a definitive Center Back outside of Chanot but it seems Coach Vieira will have plenty of options and combinations to try albeit with a lot of new faces. Rumors of the addition of Yaya Touré have been quashed, at least for now, with the addition of Medina. Many are still hoping that some creativity can bring Yaya here as a non-DP – I guess we will have to wait and see. Personally, I am not sure how that would work.
While there isn’t any actual soccer until NYCFC’s first preseason friendly in Mexico on February 13th versus Club Atlético de San Luis, closer on the horizon is the MLS SuperDraft, which starts on Friday 1/19. Remember 2016, when Jack Harrison was the #1 pick in the SuperDraft? I am happy to announce that I will be reporting to you from Philly at this year’s SuperDraft on 1/19. Follow me on instagram @keirams
Excitement seems to be building for the new secondary kit. The players were traveling to Abu Dhabi this week for an “exciting Etihad NYCFC video project”. Perhaps this project is tied to the release and marketing of the new kit. I loved the inaugural all black secondary kit, let’s say I didn’t hate the more recent “swirly jersey” – but I am still looking forward to its replacement.
So until next time when we talk even more about SuperDraft,- adiós!
Peace, love, soccer.
Without the use of Google, who can tell me the name of the team who drafted Jack Harrison in 2016? Be the first one to tweet me the correct answer and I will send you an NYCFC prize/tchotchke. (This is the honor system, I trust you!)
Hey MLS fans near and far!Keira Smith here, excited to be reporting on my favorite team, New York City Football Club.
I’ve been obsessed with soccer, first as a player and then a fan, for most of my life.I love NYCFC but even more so, I love the game.The speed, the finesse, the power, the intense training needed to merely survive for 90 minutes.
I love how the sport is player-driven with very little actual coaching during the matches.No timeouts and once you’re subbed out, there’s no going back.I love how soccer is played everywhere in the world and in all climates.Is there any other sport in which you wonder what language the players are speaking to each other?
The growth of MLS in the US brings tears to my eyes when I stop and think about it.Growing up in the ’80s, soccer was not on tv.We had to drive 30 minutes to an Italian Barbershop to see an international game on satellite.(That was basically the only place you could buy good cleats as well).
My dad would drive my teammates and me hours to see both national teams if they were playing somewhere “close” by.This is night and day to the accessibility of MLS games in most of the country today.
NYCFC games have become our family’s tradition.All four of us, which includes a teenager and an almost teenager, happily (and nervously- hey, we want to WIN) attend almost all home matches in pretty much all types of weather.
We’ve made fans out of families who had previously never gone to a single soccer game in their lives.The level of play is just that good and the fever-pitch excitement in the stadium is contagious.
I look forward to sharing NYCFC news and fandom with you.You can reach me at @keiramunsmith on Twitter and @keirams on Instagram.
A collaboration by official reporters of MLSFemale @MLSFemale
With Major League Soccer, there is no greater prize than the MLS Cup. Twelve teams, 6 from each conference, are vying for the chance to lift the ultimate prize of the league’s 22nd season. Here’s a quick rundown from our MLSFemale squad:
Toronto FC: AND NOW YOU’RE GUNNA BELIEVE US, we’ve gone and won the league! Suffice it to say the city of Toronto is over the moon with our accomplishments this season and we are looking forward to what we hope is a great playoff run. Michael Bradley succinctly put our season in summation by saying “…we went after every game from 1 to 34 like it was the only thing that mattered.” (source)
I think they can be proud that they never really wavered on that goal and it paid off. As a member of the Kings in the North, one of the official protectors of the Supporters’ Shield during it’s stay in Toronto, I look forward to spending some time up close and personal with it.
Our playoff future looks bright; one is left hoping that we take that same winning mentality into the playoffs and consider every opponent and every game with care. Finishing off the regular season at Atlanta was also a good test for us to end on. Fresh to the league, they were the one team I felt we hadn’t had a proper chance to sound out back in April. Having seen their house and how they feel about our players (your hate makes them strong, our love makes them unstoppable), I now feel confident that Toronto FC has the arsenal to make a successful playoff run. And as Giovinco has shown, this team is ready for whatever is thrown at them. So bring on our second (okay fine, third) go at it, we’re here to win it all!
*NYCFC: Not gonna lie: this team gets measurably better every year. With head coach Patrick Vieira, the Pigeons have made it to their 1st MLS post season in style, with a bye for the knockout round. Legend David Villa and newcomer Jack Harrison, as well as the rest of the squad, are going to face their first opponents well rested and ready for a run. Just how far can the boys in blue go their first time out?
Chicago Fire: Nine months ago Fire fans were excited for the club’s new signings– with Dax McCarty, Juninho, Niko, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, certainly the Men in Red wouldn’t finish last place again – would they?
By early June, fans knew that not only were the Chicago Fire going to dig themselves out from the bottom of the table, but the likelihood that they would be playoff contenders looked promising.
David Accam, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juninho, amongst others have been battling injuries, just returned from injury, or will return from injury for the playoffs. Is the squad recovering at the appropriate time? With key players on the bench over the last couple of months, other players gained experience – this will certainly help strengthen roster options when Veljko Paunovic looks to his bench for substitution options.
Who will get the nod for the goalkeeper position? Matt Lampson, who has been with the team since February of 2016 and a total of 34 games played for the Fire? Or will Richard Sanchez start in net after only recently signing with the Fire?
We supporters are excited for the playoffs, for the opportunities that lie ahead, and for a home game, but we’re also realistic, especially after the last two unfortunate seasons.
Atlanta United: Well, here we are…The new kids in the league are in the playoffs. A 4th place finish to the regular season is better than where I thought we’d be at the beginning of the season. This gives us home field advantage for Thursday’s knockout round game – and home field advantage in Mercedes-Benz Stadium could be significant. We’ve also won both games against Columbus (#SaveTheCrew!) earlier this season – although we did lose to them in the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup in February.
This team is much stronger now. They’ve now had an entire season to get to know each other. We have a solid starting lineup – even with a few subs because of injuries. And with over 70,000 people expected at the game on Thursday to cheer them on, I think Atlanta United has a really good chance at hoisting that cup in December.
The boys are ready for this. Atlanta is ready for this.
Columbus Crew:In the middle of the season, the Crew was struggling and looked unlikely to make the playoffs, but Berhalter seems to have the magic touch with his team at the end of the season.The tie against NYCFC took the Crew’s unbeaten streak to 10.It kept the team in the 5th spot while a win could’ve put them in 2nd place.
The team is dealing with a lot of distractions with a fan base who passionately loves them and is distraught that an owner would take them away.(#savethecrew)However, if the team can keep their form and absorb the passion the fans are showing them, they actually have a chance against Atlanta.Although, it will be a tough away game.The fans really need them to win, so we have a home playoff game to show how much we love the players.
New York Red Bulls: Whew! Just made it in under the wire. But RBNY is in the playoffs for the 8th season in a row. Always the bridesmaid, RBNY is the only MLS 1.0 team (originally the NY/NJ Metrostars) never to lift the MLS Cup. Coach Jesse Marsch has said that the team has been the favorite during the playoffs to no avail and that it’s time to be underdog.
I’m expecting a solid performance from Tyler Adams and the rest of the back line as well as more attacking from Daniel Royer. Defender Aurelien Collin has been working his way back to full health, and Jesse hopes to be able to bring him back into the 18. Dax McCarty and the Chicago Fire are the first obstacle in the knockout round, and another edition of the Hudson River Derby is practically guaranteed after that. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having ever is. Fight Together.
Portland Timbers: It is not an overstatement to say that for the Timbers this Sunday’s game was the most important game of the year up to this point. The Cascadia Cup was on the line, as was the chance to win the conference and a first round bye.
With a Portland win, they have won the West and a first round bye. They also take back the Cascadia Cup, the coveted supporter-owned trophy awarded to whichever northwest team has the best finish among the three Cascadia-area squads. If Portland had tied or lost, Seattle would have taken the Cup, and Portland would almost certainly have dropped to third or fourth place, hosting a midweek knockout round game.
As I expected, Attinella remained in goal, with Vytas and Powell on the wings, and Mattocks up top as we wait for Fanendo Adi to be match fit. And with PTFC’s Mattocks being a former Whitecaps player there was plenty of opportunity for a knife-twisting match finish as he gave us the go-ahead goal to seal the deal. Now we wait to see who makes it out of the knockout round.
Seattle Sounders: It is finally time to defend our cup.This year has been such an up and down year.There are days where we look like the team from last year’s run.And then there are games where we look like a team that hasn’t even played together before.
The game against FC Dallas gives me hope that maybe we are turning a corner.With a win on Sunday gives us a much needed bye.This will give the team time to heal up.I can’t wait for this run at the MLS cup.I really hope the top team in the East loses so we can host the cup this year!!
Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps were able to pull themselves above the red line in a very decisive way, landing themselves in 3rd place in the Western conference after flirting with the top spot for a hot minute. They will meet the San Jose Earthquakes in the knockout round at home in Vancouver. This is a decided advantage for the Whitecaps, as BC Place has been a fortress for the team this season.
*Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo played VERY well at home this year, giving up only one game at home at BBVA during the regular season. And they have to be looking forward to the opportunity to take on Sporting KC again, having just beaten them at home less than two weeks ago and drawing them in Kansas City shortly thereafter. If they manage to pull it off, their next opponent will be one of the top two finishers in the West, Portland or Seattle.
Sporting KC: I am not pleased with how this season ended, and I am not pleased that Sporting fell from 1st to 5th in the West over the last third of the season. If we’re going to make it anywhere in the playoffs we have to do one thing…score goals. It seems like that should be pretty easy, but obviously it’s not since SKC scored just 3 goals in their last 5 games.
If the Sporting team from the beginning of the season comes back then we could be in good shape, but the run will be hard since we have no home field advantage. Hopefully, with this being the third game against Houston in a two week span we’ll have them figured out. Sporting, don’t make this city regret all the energy you put into the US Open Cup. We need some of that magic for the playoffs.
*San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes had a wild finish to the regular season, with the winning goal coming three minutes into stoppage time against expansion side Minnesota United. Now they travel to Canada on only three days rest for a single game elimination round. They may still manage the upset against a Whitecaps squad that is struggling to put games away at precisely the wrong time in the season.
If San Jose can pull it off, they will face Portland in a conference semifinal, a team they’ve beaten at home twice during the regular season.
(Teams marked with a * do not have an official reporter from MLSFemale. If you support any of these teams, find your inner reporter and contact us!)
New York City FC walked into yet another meeting with their bitter cross-state-lines rivals this weekend. Though it was only the fourth time they’d confronted the New York Red Bulls this year alone, it felt like the fortieth. Before the whistle blew, everyone formed a circle on the hallowed ground of Yankee Stadium and held their hands, alternating blue and red, blue and red, blue and red. They solemnly vowed to not meet again until next season because enough is enough, and then the whistle blew.
The boys in blue enjoyed a rousing game of aggressive football. Though Bradley Wright-Phillips did his best to one-up David Villa goal for goal, he was no match. Their nemeses exited Yankee Stadium with defeat bitter on their tongues as NYCFC celebrated their comeback win.
“It’s possible you are a robot whose sole purpose in life is to play football,” a reporter told Villa after the game before his thought petered out into a nervous laugh. “But that’s crazy, right?”
With no life behind his eyes and the chants of the crowd still ringing in his ears, Villa smiled. “Yes. So crazy.”
He resisted the urge to say he was human, because that’s exactly what a robot would say.
All looked to be peaceful at last in the land of New York… Until Don Garber rode in on his highest of horses and slammed his ruby-and-sapphire-encrusted staff into the ground.
“No!” he bellowed to the heavens, shaking the cherubs (who, strangely enough, all looked like Yangel Herrera before he grew his baby beard) from their slumber. “No, I demand more rivalry weeks! I demand revenue! I demand MLS be taken seriously, but mostly I demand revenue! You shall meet again! YOU SHALL ALL MEET AGAIN.”
He disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The horse remained.
“I don’t particularly want to be doing this again,” Jack Harrison said in his piping voice, like a lovely caged songbird who will inevitably be released soon for a lot of money.
Patrick Vieira lifted his gaze to the skies, searching for any sign of their overlord only to find none. “We must,” he sighed Frenchly. “The Don commands it.”
“It won’t be so bad.” David Villa threw everyone a roguish grin. “You have me, so.”
Yes, he was indeed the hero of the night. Not one goal, not two goals, but three goals found their way from his anointed foot to the back of the net. His first hattrick! Surely there would be much jubilation tonight. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but you’d never know it by looking at their captain, indefatigable and effervescent as ever.
“Somebody should probably take care of that horse,” Alex Ring pointed out, because he’s perfect and the only one with his priorities straight.
“I want to ride it.”
“Maxi, that’s dangerous.”
“Let me ride the horse.”
“No, Maxi. He’ll stomp you. You’re a quarter of his height!”
With no warning, the horse let out a mighty whinny and shook its glorious star-spangled mane. From its tresses fell– a check for extra allocation money to sign a new right-back?
No. No such luck. It was merely a note straight from The MLS Mechanism Room. With the collected calm of a man no longer burdened by his own flowing locks, Tommy McNamara picked it up from the ground and read it aloud to the group:
THE NEXT TIME YOU MEET WILL BE IN LESS THAN THREE WEEKS. THE HUDSON RIVER DERBIES WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES. NO GODS, NO MASTERS. IN NEW YORSEY WE DIE LIKE MEN.
Andrea Pirlo awoke from his nap just in time to hear the news. “Very ominous,” he deadpanned. Nobody knew if he was being sarcastic or not. Nobody dared to ask.
For as much as they may have wanted to rally against the forces of the universe, they knew deep into their hearts that it would be futile. No man can supersede The Don. Many among their own ranks had tried, and where were they now? Gothenburg. Salt Lake City. Orlando. Retired, which everyone knows is a code word for something much more sinister.
No, to stay alive in New York City, one must play the hand they’re dealt. And if that means every other match being a Hudson River Derby to appease the whims of a fickle federation, then so be it. They had to accept their fate, prepare for their trip to the west coast and begin to brainstorm a way to defend their derby title, short-lived as it may be.
Still, nothing could take the night’s victory from them. As they headed out into the dusky evening, nineteen men and one mysterious horse, they did so with one immutable truth burning at the forefront of their minds: