Category Archives: Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference

Midterm Report Card: Montréal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

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).


Exceeding Expectations

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.

View this post on Instagram

1/3 played. So far so good, but hungry for more.

A post shared by Samuel Piette (@samuelpiette) on

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!

Featured image: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @ejp_nb

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

D.C. United Turns Up in Extra Time to Win Over the Philadelphia Union 2-1

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Christopher Seitz; Joseph Mora (Chris McCann, 97’), Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Jalen Robinson (Quincy Amarikwa, 90’); Antonio Bustamante (Griffin Yow, 73’), Leonardo Jara, Ulises Segura, Lucas Rodríguez, Luciano Acosta; Wayne Rooney. [Note: Originally Chris Odoi-Atsem was in the XI, however due to a pulled muscle in warmups, he was replaced by Jalen Robinson.]

If you weren’t at Audi Field this Wednesday for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match between D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union, and many weren’t, you missed out on one of the best nights of soccer the District has seen in quite a while.

A nail biter that went into extra time, the fourth-round match saw D.C. and Philadelphia battle it out for 120 minutes before the Black-and-Red were able to claim their victory. In classic Audi Field style, rain began to fall just before the match went into extra time, lending to the drama and testing the Black-and-Red faithful who were posted up in the supporters’ section. 

Notably, Joseph Mora made his return to the pitch, logging over 90 minutes of playing time as he continues the journey to full fitness after being out since the end of March with a broken jaw. Mora’s comeback comes at a wonderful time for D.C. United, as the team is currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Heading into the second half of the season D.C. will look forward to a run toward a playoff berth, making every player critical to the team’s success. 

Joseph Mora is BACK! Photo Credit: D.C. United

Goalkeeper Chris Seitz and homegrown midfielder Antonio Bustamante made their competitive debuts for the Black-and-Red against the Union. Bustamante told MLSFemale, “When I was subbed out, it felt like I just woke up from a dream. My adrenaline was high, it was very exciting.” Bustamante was replaced by 16-year-old Griffin Yow in the 72’, a homegrown favorite and member of the U-17 MNT team.

In the 90’, the match remained scoreless. Coach Ben Olsen brought in veteran striker Quincy Amarikwa, in a smart move that bolstered D.C.’s attacking front. With two 15-minute halves added, the two teams continued to battle in the pouring rain as they each sought just one goal to end the match and avoid dreaded penalty kicks.

Chris McCann sending one home for the Black-and-Red! Photo Credit: D.C. United

When the Union scored in the 113’ it seemed the match might be over with D.C. defeated at home. Black-and-Red supporters cranked up the volume as D.C. United rallied. In the 118’, defender Chris McCann scored the equalizer, slamming a well-placed ball by Captain Wayne Rooney into the back of the net. The crowd in Audi Field roared with approval. Just moments later, in the 119’, our Captain buried a penalty kick to clinch the match for D.C. United.

The dreaded penalty kicks were avoided, and D.C. United emerged victorious, moving on to the next round of the U.S. Open Cup. Will D.C. United claim another Open Cup? A fourth trophy would certainly be a nice addition to the Black-and-Red’s collection.

D.C. United faces off against NYCFC at home on June 19that 7pm in the next round! Vamos United!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

New York Red Bulls Show Their True Colors

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, June 1st: 4-0 Win

Welcome to June! I hear it likes to bust out all over… but I decided against Broadway musical themes this season, so I’ll just leave that there. The New York Red Bulls hosted Real Salt Lake in a cross-conference match at home in Harrison.

In a world full of people…

From the moment I arrived, there was a celebratory vibe outside the Stadium. There were Cirque du Soleil performers and traditional Portuguese dancers. I walked past a freestyle exhibition and games for kids. Music was playing, and fans were chatting. This is nothing new. But it felt…different. There were more kids than usual, probably indicative of the school year coming to an end. The fans were excited… because they hadn’t seen the team play in a week? Because former RBNY coach Mike Petke was returning to his old stomping grounds? Because fireworks were expected after the match?

Because fireworks of a different sort were expected during the match?

Don’t be discouraged…

The first half was rather sloppy on both sides of the ball. RBNY had twice as many shots on goal as RSL, but nothing found the back of the net. Red Bulls also had majority of possession, but it didn’t mean much of anything. And while I’ve touched a little bit on what the High Press style means, I may not have pointed out that it actually does not rely on possession. However, I know that in the last few games, the scales have tipped to New York in terms of possession. Maybe I just don’t know what things mean anymore…

Don’t be afraid to let them show…

Just when it may have seemed that nothing was going to happen… a lot of stuff happened. It all started with the forced own goal, courtesy of Michael Amir Murillo, in the 58th minute. Then, before the red smoke cleared, Daniel Royer caught a pass from Alejandro “Kakú” Romero Gamarra and scored the second goal just about one minute later. Not content to have only kinda caused a goal, Murillo came back for more. He scored the third goal in the 64th minute.

And that’s why I love you…

That really could have been the game, just at the 64th minute. Three goals in seven minutes would pretty much do it. Soon after the flurry of goals, defender Amro Tarek had to come off with an injury, with Sean Nealis replacing him. Royer and Alex Muyl made way for Omir Fernandez and Andreas Ivan. In the 83rd minute, Ivan crossed the ball to Fernandez, who buried the ball in the net for one last goal. So yeah– that could have been the game, nearly twenty minutes earlier. But that’s not how RBNY played it. They just kept going. And that is what fans want from their team.

RBNY travel to Talen Energy Stadium next week to face the Philadelphia Union.

(P.S. The kids out there will more likely know the Justin Timberlake/Anna Kendrick rendition for the movie “Trolls.” But this original is the one associated with the Pride movement being celebrated around the league in the month of June.)

Featured image:  Sylvana Budesheim

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Elephant is Out of the Room and Running Wild for the Montréal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Montréal’s got some problems. They’ve been bubbling below the surface as the team remained high in the standings in the opening half of the season, but it all feels as though the alarm bells are sounding loudly. Some of these problems are more of the same, and some are new concerns.

Following an abject 3-0 humiliation at the hands of 10th-placed Orlando City SC on Saturday, a glaring light has been shone on the team, from players, to technical staff and the upper management.

Here are but a few of the most pressing matters to address:

Ignacio Piatti will miss 8-12 weeks with a knee injury. The saying goes “No Nacho, No Party” for a reason. If he’s not playing, there’s a good chance the team has to work far harder to score fewer goals than when he is in the side. The logic of relying on a 34-year -old player to play week in, week out in the new condensed schedule format was a risky bet at best, but the team is now stuck between a rock and a hard place, hamstrung financially without much of a draw to the stadium.

As the Montréal Impact are finally enjoying their first homestand of the season, Omar Browne scored a remarkable goal in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake. The goal was remarkable because it was the Impact’s first first-half goal since March 16th. Of course the lack of offensive punch is partially attributed to Piatti’s absence, but it is an issue that must be addressed by the coaching staff … and perhaps the recruitment staff as the secondary transfer window looms.

  • But wait! The contracts that Montréal currently have on their books leave them rather hamstrung when it comes to looking for quality players to improve their squad and help with the ongoing offensive issues. Benchwarmer Rudy Camacho is bringing home a $700K salary. Maxi Urruti, with one goal in 17 matches, is reportedly earning over $1 million. They are but two of several big-money players who are not justifying their salaries.
  • In a salary-cap league, you have to spend your money wisely, especially with an owner who is very much set on not adding a third Designated Player. It feels as though it’s been a good 3 or 4 years that we have to wait for a player’s contract to expire just so the cap space can be freed for someone who hopefully will perform better.

Saturday’s non-performance against Orlando City left many with such a poor taste in their mouths that they’re asking why make the financial and emotional investment in a club that simply doesn’t show up. For those who don’t have the Impact entirely woven into their souls, they still need a certain level of spectacle to justify their commitments. While the results have (sometimes) been there, the show certainly hasn’t, and it seems as though the team who were a solid unit with an “esprit de corps” was but an early-season dream.

Even for those of us who are Bleu-Blanc-Noir through and through, as I watch the heads drop and the arms raised in frustration on the pitch, I have to question my own sanity in continuing to follow this mess of a team.

The Impact have the third match of their homestand on Wednesday, June 6th against Seattle Sounders. Between injuries and international duty, there will not likely be 18 players fit to field.

Featured image: @mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @ejp_nb

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC Leads the League in Draws

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club concluded its long road trip with another draw versus Columbus Crew SC on Saturday.  This result comes a week after another midwestern road tie versus the Chicago Fire.  This particular match was a celebration and farewell party to Crew keeper Zack Steffen, who is heading off to Manchester City, (but not before New York City put two goals past him.)

The match started a bit flat for NYCFC with most early momentum carried by the Crew’s Gyasi Zardes.  A foul in the box called on City’s Alex Callens resulted in a successful Zardes  penalty kick, putting the Crew up 1-0 in the 28th minute.  Héber made it level for New York at 57′ when he scooped up an errant touch by Maxi Moralez off a centering pass by Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.  Héber has been doing a bang up job of anticipating the rebound and putting himself in a position to capitalize on these balls.

img_8235-1
Taty Castellanos – photo credit NYCFC

Columbus jumped ahead again a few minutes later when David Accam found a wide open Pedro Santos who buried the ball past Sean Johnson.  There seemed to be some failure amongst defenders Callens, James Sands and Maxime Chanot in marking Santos, leaving Johnson a bit defenseless.  

Moment of the match for New York City happened in the 75th minute when Alex Ring’s steady defensive pressure allowed him to collect the ball and find a wide open Taty Castellanos who scored a stunner from about 30 yards out. If the team can continue to scoop up scrappy goals in the box and score from way outside the box, the season is looking up. Despite the lack of a win, walking away from that game with a point doesn’t feel bad.

If it seems like it’s been a while since NYCFC played at home, well that’s because the last home appearance was on April 27th.  This past four-game away streak brought the team 8 points via 2 wins and 2 draws.  City now has the title of the team with the most draws in the league with 8.  Nope, there is no crown for this “honor” but next in line to the throne would be both Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver Whitecaps which have drawn 6 times thus far this season.  

Another statistic to keep in mind is that the Eastern conference standings are relatively meaningless when there are huge discrepancies in number of games played.  NYCFC (currently sitting in 6th place) has only played 13 matches, while Montreal Impact (ahead in the standings by one position) have played 17.  Obviously, City can potentially gain more points and move ahead in the standings, however the matches in early July could be challenging in the form of Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and our friends from across the river, the Red Bulls.

Featured image:  @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

 

Frustration as D.C. United Draw with San Jose

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United Substitutions: Russell Canouse (Leonardo Jara, 25’), Steven Birnbaum (Chris Odoi-Atsem, 62’)

D.C. United’s Captain, Wayne Rooney, was noticeably frustrated post-match tonight. After two consecutive draws against the NE Revolution and Chicago Fire (which should have been a win for D.C.), D.C. United drew again against the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-1. 

The level-headed Englishman described his irritation with the constant mistakes made by match officials and their inability to get even the simple calls right. Unfortunately, such officiating mistakes had cost D.C. United three points just a few days earlier, when an offsides call was botched. PRO Referees issued a statement, however the points were still lost.

Audi Field was packed with just over 18,000 supporters, ready to see the Black-and-Red emerge victorious before they head toward a break until the end of June. The team has played more games during the first half of the season than any other team, and fatigue is starting to creep in. After a trying stretch, a win at home would have set D.C. up nicely before they continued on into the second half of the season.

With Paul Arriola back on the pitch after a two-match suspension, things seemed to be in D.C.’s favor. Beginning the match with a tenacity and energy reflective of high spirits, D.C. United was well in control of the pitch, containing San Jose. The Earthquakes began to pick apart D.C.’s defense, making their way dangerously close to the Black-and-Red goal. Then, defender Russell Canouse rolled his ankle early on, removing him from the match.

As D.C.’s control of the first half disintegrated, San Jose pelted D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid with attempt after attempt. Hamid saved five shots on target in the first half alone. However, he was unable to stop a well-placed header by Chris ‘Wondo’ Wondolowski that sailed into the back of the net in the 36’. Wondolowski, the top scoring player in MLS history, netted his 151st goal.

D.C. United’s failure to sufficiently mark Wondolowski was clearly a mistake, as he was able to sneak in behind defender Jalen Robinson to open San Jose’s account. As a result, the Black-and-Red were sent to halftime down 0-1. Perhaps most unsettling was that San Jose totaled seventeen shots (6 on target), from 9 players while D.C. totaled only 3 shots (0 on target) from two players during the first half.

The second half was punctuated with knock after knock for D.C. United. Defender Steven Birnbaum took a nasty crack to the head that saw him escorted off the field by medical staff. Minutes later Luciano Acosta was also down on the field, holding his face. Defender Fred Brillant was thrown into San Jose’s goal, and struggled to get to his feet, noticeably limping away.

D.C.’s Acosta was able to find the equalizer in the 67’ bringing the score to 1-1. Bolstered by Acosta’s goal, D.C. United began to put San Jose under more pressure, but remained unable to find another opportunity, even in seven minutes of stoppage time

Tensions flared between D.C. and San Jose, the match becoming increasingly physical as both teams struggled to find just one more goal. Spats could be seen between players both on the field and on the sideline, with heated words being exchanged at close range.

D.C. United hangs on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but a rising Atlanta United is only one point behind. Hopefully the next month will provide the Black-and-Red with a chance to rest and regroup before embarking on their 2019 push for a playoff berth.

D.C. will play the Philadelphia Union on June 12 in the US Open Cup and will resume the regular MLS season when they face Orlando city SC on June 26that Audi Field.

Note: Steven Birnbaum received stitches and passed concussion protocol. He was available for interview and doing well after his injury.

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

New York Red Bulls’ Not-So-Cruel Summer

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

May 25th: 0-2 win

It’s Memorial Day weekend! The unofficial start of summer. And there is so much soccer to be had in the coming weeks. While I’m waiting for the match to start, I wanted to take some time to reflect on RBNY-adjacent information.

I sit around trying to smile: Legendary striker Bradley Wright-Phillips has been out for most of the season so far with a groin injury. I had that problem once, and while I most likely wasn’t anywhere near as athletic at the time as BWP is now, I can tell you it’s a tricky thing. You think you’re okay, so you try to get back to normal and you end up back where you started. So, while I can’t say with any certainty that this is what’s keeping him out of the gameday rosters, it would be totally understandable.

And the team is still afloat despite his absence:

Leaving me here on my own: Six players have been called to international duty: Aaron Long & Kyle Duncan*, USA; Kemar Lawrence, Jamaica; Alejandro Romero Gamarra, Paraguay; Derrick Etienne, Jr., Haiti; and Michael Amir Murillo, Panama. That’s… a lot of RBNY defenders. Tim Parker, Amro Tarek, Sean Nealis, and Connor Lade will have to stay healthy and focused. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alex Muyl return to the back line as necessary.

*Duncan could be held back by the team, but I don’t think that will happen.

The city is crowded: Now on to the match… I’m not alone in saying that I am very happy to see Cincinnati in MLS. The stadium was hopping, and so was the ball. Seriously– control was very difficult with the artificial surface. But it looked like a good time in the crowd. The Orange and Blue was prominent and the fans were plenty loud.

You found yourself: And it’s a good thing something was entertaining in the stadium, because the on-field action was mostly a huge yawn. For over seventy minutes, RBNY were unable to even get a shot on target. It took some clever substitutions from Chris Armas to turn things around. Alejandro “Kakú” Romero Gamarra scored in the 78th, and Brian White assisted Omir Fernandez to a goal in the 91st. All three of those players came off the bench. I mean… that’s just amazing. It’s like they pulled the win out of…. ahem– thin air.

It’s too hot to handle: Nineteen goals on the season; fifteen different goalscorers. The Red Bulls leapfrogged into third place in the Eastern Conference. It wasn’t long ago they were languishing in the basement. Like, I think it was last week. MLS is a fickle mistress, and we’re just along for the ride. Let’s hope the Red Bulls can keep this from being a cruel summer.

P.S. Let’s enjoy some ’80s-tastic tunes, shall we?

 

Featured image:  @BillTNJ

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

New York Red Bulls Keep my Fascination

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 22: 2-2 draw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured image:  @BillTNJ

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

D.C. United’s Rough Week On the Road

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

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

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

Ben Olsen Shakes Up the XI

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

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

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

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

Bill Hamid is a Brick Wall

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

Temperatures and Tempers Flare in Houston

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Forward

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

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

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

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

New York Red Bulls Are the Storm

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, May 19th: 1-0 win

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

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

And boy, am I glad I made it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured image: Sylvana Budesheim

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale