Category Archives: Team Updates

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A New Era Dawns for MN United FC

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

While its quality on the pitch was not all that Minnesota United’s fans hoped to see in its first MLS Cup playoff match, the Loons put on a show on Sunday that helped the fans celebrate a new era in Minnesota soccer. Of course, the fans put on quite a show themselves.

For thine is the Wonderwall

The Dark Clouds’ pre-match meetup at Black Hart of St Paul, just two blocks from Allianz Field, is always full of a mix of nervous energy and excitement. As old and new friends caught up and traded predictions, filled up on cheap beer and warmed their voices for 90 minutes of singing, they also paid their respects to some of the pillars of Minnesota soccer.

Behind the main bar at Black Hart is an eclectic collection of art. Portraits of Buzz Lagos (legendary Minnesota Thunder coach) and Brianna Scurry (the USWNT goalkeeper is a Minnesota native) are flanked by prayer candles with the faces of two former Loons players, Jérôme Thiesson and Ibson, pasted over the saints’. An altar of living saints.

Sunday evening’s pep talk from DC board members concluded with a prayer to these legends, these ‘saints’ of Minnesota soccer. David Zeller shared the prayer in its entirety* on Twitter:

Our Ibson who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Thiesson come, thy will be done on earth as Scurry saves it. Give us this day our daily Lagos and forgive us our back passes, as we forgive those who hand pass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Unkel**. For thine is the Wonderwall, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Go Loons.

*MLSFemale editors have omitted an add-on line to the prayer. You all have Twitter anyway.

**There would be no deliverance from Unkel this night.

Dawn of the Dethloon

Wonderwall’s tifo committee had to shelf a number of tifo ideas this season due to the loss of a temporary build space and unforeseen deployment issues in the new stadium. But with a new space secured toward the end of the season, the committee could actually plan ahead. In the short span between the regular season finale and Sunday’s playoff match, volunteers built six tifo panels, totaling 7,200 square feet.

“We started our call for volunteers the week before our final game of the regular season. At that point we were long odds to miss hosting a playoff game,” explained committee chair David Martin. “I had ordered fabric about a month prior, knowing this possibility was on the horizon and that it takes weeks to get my fabric from Germany. We also had been working on these design in the background since the beginning of the season, and so we were able to pull it out of the file and execute it much more quickly than if we’d started a new concept from scratch.”

In fact this design may never have seen the light of day if not for the home playoff game. A number of issues (funding, build space, deployment complications at the new stadium, etc) saw the committee complete just three of five planned tifos.

“I thought this idea was dead,” said its designer, Scott Demeranville. “It was David who suggested we go back to the idea, but we thought it was going to be for the last home game of the season against LAFC. Practical issues delayed it further.”

Martin estimated that committee members and volunteers put in roughly 500 work hours to compete the display in a record time of five days, despite limited access to the build space during the work week.

Demeranville sketched the original design, a skeletal loon based on the red-eyed bird of MNUFC’s crest. “The Dethloon is very much in the same spirit as the Dark Clouds name where on the surface it looks dark and intimidating, but it’s actually kind of tongue-in-cheek,” he explained. “It’s a little bit of a parody of soccer supporters who take themselves too seriously. Hence the spelling.”

“It means a lot to me see how much work everyone puts into building and deploying a tifo,” continued Demeranville. “It’s a huge honor to be able to design something that so many people put their time and effort into making a reality. Even though it was fairly boring practical issues that matched this design up with this game, it turned out to be a perfect match.”

We’re just happy to be here

The tifo displayed at Minnesota’s inaugural MLS match — that snowy day when the Loons were routed by fellow expansion club Atlanta United at TCF Bank Stadium — was not just a jab at the other United; it was a plea to never forget, or disregard, earlier chapters of this soccer story. “True unity has history.” From the Kicks to the Strikers, the Thunder to the Stars, the NASL Loons to the MLS Loons… Minnesota soccer fans have seen all the highs and lows.

After two horrific years, the Loons showed vast improvement. In Year Three, the Loons made it to the US Open Cup Final and hosted a first round playoff match. Some fans may scoff when reminded of a traveling fan’s sign, at the club’s first MLS match in Portland, which read “We’re just happy to be here.” No one wanted to hold up such a sign during the loss in Seattle which nearly ended Minnesota’s 2019 MLS Cup dreams. And certainly no one was going to say that to Ted Unkel on Sunday night.

But the evening was full of reminders that Minnesota had finally made it. A halftime light show set to Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination,” highlighting the Allianz Field building process and moments from the 2019 season. Video of Loons players visiting patients at Gillette Children’s Hospital. A pre-match concert by the Shredders as the club’s crest was carved from a block of ice. And, of course, the tifo.

Hosting this playoff match wasn’t the very beginning, but in a way it was the culmination of the beginning. The whole season was the culmination of a chapter, but it was still only an early chapter in a long book that is still being written. Things are always darkest before the dawn, but things aren’t so dark anymore. The sun has crept over the horizon, and it’s beautiful now.

Martin concluded, “Maybe the tifo fit the moment better than we planned.”

Featured image: Tim McLaughlin

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

El Trafico: Tristan Blackmon, “It’s a great rivalry for the city.”

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

From spending three loan spells with Phoenix Rising FC to raising the Supporters’ Shield, there is no slowing down for LAFC’s right back Tristan Blackmon.

The Las Vegas native became interested in the game at an early age in part to his mother having played herself in high school and looking up to legends like Ronaldinho, “soccer came second nature” to him growing up.

“[It] was an interesting lifestyle in terms of soccer in Vegas growing up. Playing club there weren’t many teams out there so I found myself venturing to tournaments in California or other states nearby to get good competitive games in.”

Like most, the LA Galaxy was his first MLS experience. Now on the opposite side of the rivalry – Tristan is grateful to be a part of history.

“It’s a great rivalry for the city. I think there’s going to be a lot of historic moments between these two teams in the future. This is going to be a long live rivalry for soccer in America. It’s awesome to be a part of the birth of that.”

Drafted third overall in 2018 MLS SuperDraft on January 19, 2018; signing on February 22 – the 23-year-old is living the player’s dream. Crediting the club’s “family lifestyle” to helping him cope with the growing pressures and successfulness of another season.

“I think coming in – the club welcomed me with open arms which made it very easy for me to transition into this type of lifestyle. All of us are a huge family and every day we are reminded of that coming into the facility. Recognizing that I’m part of something special definitely makes being here a lot easier.”

During his rookie year, Blackmon made his professional debut in a 1-0 win over Seattle on March 4 and earned his first MLS start in a 1-1 draw vs. DC United on May 26. Including, appearing in ten regular season MLS matches, five starts, for 491 minutes played.

While on loan to USL’s side Phoenix Rising FC, he posted eight starts across all competitions including the 2018 USL Cup final. Tristan returned to Phoenix for his third loan spell this season – making his first appearance on April 6 in a 0-0 draw over Fresno FC before returning to LA for the remainder of the season.

“I think the experience of going on loan definitely gave me confidence and getting games in. Just kind of feeling myself out again because I wasn’t playing too much last year here,” Tristan continues. “I’ve been playing a decent amount of games this year. And I feel like the team has helped me pushed to be a become a better player – which excites me.”

Tristan kicked off his second year with the Black & Gold on May 24 in the team’s 4-2 victory over Montreal Impact – posting his first career goal and assist on a memorable night. Blackmon has logged in one goal, four assists, 1377 minutes going into the postseason.

The young defender is fortunate to have veteran teammates like Carlos Vela and Walker Zimmerman to help guide him.

“I think not only on the field but off the field, these guys have really shown a humble side. [It’s] more like a brotherhood. [..] The veterans have helped me along the way in my path and my journey. And hopefully, I can shed that light on some young players in the future the same way they have on me.”

With another thrilling edition of El Trafico looming – Tristan and co. are ready. LAFC has been unsuccessful at subduing its rival in the five-game series. However, Blackmon is optimistic they will finally get the win with the team’s mentality they’ve had all year.

“We want to smash records and make history this year. In doing that we’re going to need to take down [LA Galaxy] – I feel like it was going to end up this way regardless. There’s always going to be an opponent in your way when you’re pushing to get trophies and results. At the end of the day, we want to get a win and we want to set the tone for the rest of the playoffs. But first, we have to make sure we handle business on Thursday night and I think everybody is up for the challenge.”

With a bye week and home-field advantage in hand, LAFC will face the LA Galaxy for a chance to advance to the Western Conference Finals at home on Thursday, October 24. Kickoff is at 7:30p PST.

Featured Image:  @LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sounders Snag Dramatic OT Win Thanks to Jordan Morris X3

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The 2019 MLS Comeback Player of the Year had himself a day on Saturday, October 19th at home in CenturyLink Field. Jordan Morris’ 3 goals lead the Seattle Sounders in their 4-3 overtime win over FC Dallas in Round One of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Raul Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a long-distance screamer, which is not the textbook Rui goal Sounders fans are used to. The damp fans erupted all around CenturyLink as the golazo slid past FC Dallas goalkeeper, Jesse Gonzalez. Morris then doubled the lead less than 5 minutes later from a well-placed Joevin Jones assist.

Within grasping distance of the halftime whistle, FC Dallas got on the score sheet when an unmarked Reggie Cannon slotted a ball past Stefan Frei. Matt Hedges thunderously headed in Dallas’ second goal in the 64th minute, eliminating the Sounders’ 2 goal lead.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Jordan Morris came to the rescue thanks to a Gustav Svensson flick from a Nicolas Lodeiro corner, but the lead would again be dashed by Bryan Acosta just minutes from the final whistle. As the game entered extra-time, it was Morris again for the Rave Green in the 113th minute. Morris’ goal was his third on the day and the final of the game, giving the Sounders a 4-3 victory and helping the team one step further in the playoff chase.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck
Photo Credit: Jill Peck

The Sounders take on their longtime Western Conference (and playoff) rivals, Real Salt Lake, Wednesday October 23rd at 7 PM at CenturyLink Field. RSL come to Seattle after a dramatic win over the Portland Timbers, robbing Cascadia fans everywhere of a playoff rematch from 2018.

Other Highlights

FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was fined by MLS DisCo following Saturday’s game for two separate incidents. The first was hands to the face on Nouhou Tolo, which occured a good 30 yards out of Gonzalez’ own goal.

Following this incident, when Gonzalez’ hand was swatted away by Nouhou, Gonzalez fell to the ground in a heap. MLS also fined him for this incident citing simulation/embellishment.

Besides Jordan Morris (and Stefan Frie, who had an amazing shot-stopping performance), the fan hero of the game was this gentleman who “assisted” in running the clock out in OT.

In typical Seattle playoff fashion, this game was dramatic, rainy and a full display of tough kids.

All images:  @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

LA Galaxy Advance to Western Conference Semifinal

Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Los Angeles Galaxy was the only away team to make it out of the first round in the playoffs on October 20, 2019.

LA Galaxy defeated Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field 2-0 on a chilly, autumn evening. The first half was sloppy and the blue, white, and gold didn’t have control of the ball. Overall, the typical and predictable play had fans worried and doubting they could move forward–both the ball and in the playoffs.

The starting line up featured Perry Kitchen, who hadn’t played with the team in over six weeks, but with Joe Corona out on a toe injury, he was the best bet.  The Galaxy’s defense has been the weak spot for a few seasons now. So, Rolf Feltscher was replaced by Giancarlo “Pipo” Gonzalez. By playing Pipo back and pulling Kitchen deep, pushing up Jonathan Dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget worked. 

Lletget’s breakthrough goal came in the 71st minute.

In the 73rd minute, Romain Alessandrini made his long-awaited return when he was subbed in for Uriel Antuna. Within three minutes, he had assisted Jonathan Dos Santos’s winning goal. He was back in full force and was looking to score. He had a few good runs and chances himself.

LAG conceded a goal late in what turned out to be a physical game, but they’re lucky that’s all because MNUFC had shot after shot and just couldn’t finish the chances they were given, even right in front of net. Per the usual, David Bingham pulled off some major saves. 

As for head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s late subs, the question was, who else could he sub even with two players, Gonzalez and Polenta, with yellow cards in the backline?  Servando Carrasco got subbed in for Lletget during stoppage time. 

There were no Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals this time, but I am more than okay with that because it proves this LA Galaxy team doesn’t rely on him to win and it makes the lion that much hungrier for the next round.

It turns out, LA Galaxy still have a chance to host MLS Cup should they make it to a final against Toronto, which finished the first round with one point less.

The stage is set as the El Trafico saga continues. LA Galaxy are undefeated against LAFC. The conference semifinal is set for Thursday, October 24th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm PST at Banc of California Stadium. Ticket prices are already rising above $200 a person. Watch on ESPN/ESPN Deportes or come to a viewing party.

In 24 seasons, this is the 19th time in club history that LA Galaxy are part of postseason play. Of any team in MLS, LA Galaxy have the most playoff wins, with a record 45, and MLS best five Cup victories.

LA Galaxy are hosting a viewing party again at Dignity Health Sports Park at Legends Plaza. The event is free and open to the public. All fans are encouraged to bring their own seating. Food trucks will be on site. Drink specials include 12 oz Modelo and Corona for $5 and Michelada for $8. Fans may not bring their own alcohol. The clear bag policy is enforced.

Entertainment includes DJ Vick One, the LA Galaxy Star Squad, and Cozmo.

Cozmo poses for photos with fans. Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink

Fans are also given a 20% discount on player products at the LA Galaxy Team Store. There will be a silent auction on site.

Hundreds of fans turned out to the Watch Party on Sunday Oct. 20th at “the Diggity”

I had the opportunity to participate in Sunday’s Watch Party. I felt more appreciated as a fan on this day than even on Fan Appreciation Day. We were given a t-shirt, a $10 food voucher (after signing up for AARP info) and LA Galaxy themed pins (after recommending a family member or close friend as a season ticket member).

At the LA Galaxy Foundation booth, there were tins with secret contents for $20, some of which included a fanny pack, an autographed locker name, or a signed movie-themed poster featuring one of the star players. Unfortunately, the tin was not included. There were other fun festivities such as raffles, and a spin-the-wheel for a chance to get a Galaxy Koozie, pop socket, or key chains.

Fans received a free t-shirt voucher upon entering Legends Plaza. Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink
LA Galaxy Foundation featuring cellular auction and $20 mystery prizes. Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink
Spin-a-wheel for free items. Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink
Yours truly with her haul of pins and a Koozie (pop socket not pictured). Photo Credit: Michelle Huitink
Your official LA Galaxy reporter for MLS Female, Michelle Huitink. Michelle is wearing a shirt with Lletget’s name on the back and believes it brought luck for him to score and will be wearing the shirt again Thursday. Photo Credit: Delmy Barillas.

I couldn’t help but reflect on being a part of previous playoffs and ultimate MLS Cup wins at home in 2011, 2012, and 2014. I know we fans have been deprived of this exhilarating feeling for two seasons. It’s good to be back with such a stellar roster, whose reputations exceed the club’s name, and to have a real chance at adding a sixth star to our jersey. We get to witness history again, and I hope the Galaxy can bring the competition home.

Featured image: LA Galaxy 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Weekly Roundup: El Trafico, Dio Returns, Playoff Rally

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Playoffs Week is here!

El Trafico is coming back to the Banc for the Western Conference Semifinals.

Minnesota United fell to the LA Galaxy last night in a 2-1 loss at Allianz Stadium – advancing the Galaxy to the semifinals.

LAFC will host the much anticipated matchup on Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 PST.

Dio returns!

Major League Soccer reinstated Adama Diomande this past week. And he is eligible for selection for Thursday’s intense matchup.

Dio voluntarily entered MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program on September 20 and was assessed by SABH program doctors.

He has been cleared to resume all team activities, including competition. Dio was even seen training with the team last weekend during a special event for the fans.

Roster Injury Updates

  • Six minutes into Canada’s Concacaf Nations League match last Tuesday, Mark-Anthony Kaye exited with an apparent leg injury. Although it has not been determined what type of injury the midfielder has acquired – Kaye is on a day-to-day basis as he continues to receive treatment.
  • Walker Zimmerman suffered a concussion after colliding with Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara in LAFC’s 3-1 win over the Rapids on Decision Day. The injury kept the defender out of international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team. According to Vince La Rosa, Zimmerman returned to full training last Wednesday and needs to get in as “many training sessions as possible to regain his fitness level” ahead of the playoffs.

The hype surrounding the playoffs is real!

LAFC players have been making numerous appearances around town all week in celebration of the upcoming playoffs.

Fans also attended a playoffs rally last night at the Banc to show their support for the Black & Gold.

Fans had the opportunity to enjoy live music, games, drink and food specials, and take photos with the Supporters’ Shield. They were also able to write a message for the players on the special “#ForLosAngeles” wall.

LAFC goes virtual

The club announced its official entry into eMLS, Major League Soccer’s competitive gaming league competing in the EA SPORTS™ FIFA franchise on October 17.

LAFC will host an “online selection qualifying tournament” in search of the club’s first-ever esports player to represent the club in eMLS competitions.

There will be three qualifying round competitions that will take place on October 26, November 1, and November 3 – top performers in the first three rounds will square off in the final on Wednesday, November 6.

Gold Links

Featured Image:  LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Red Bull Life on the Highway

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, October 20th: 4-3 Loss (Added Extra Time)

Folks, scratch one off the soccer bucket list.

With a couple of emails, I got a press pass to Talen Energy Stadium to see the first round of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. My first away match.

Of course, I would have much preferred to see this match in beautiful downtown Harrison.  But that is how it goes when the Red Bulls land in 6th place ahead of a single elimination tournament.

We Won’t Hesitate

Josh Sims, the stunner from Southampton. His first goal for the boys in Red came just six minutes into the match. Just another name to add to the long list of 2019 goalscorers for the Red Bulls. Tim Parker doubled the lead with a header than bobbled into the goal in slow motion. While Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya pulled one back at the half hour mark, the Red Bulls kept the game in their hands. Tom Barlow restored the two-goal lead in stoppage time. It was all going so well.

When There’s One Day Here and the Next Day Gone

Sims got hurt and had to leave the match. Alejandro “Kaku” also left the match in pain. Add to that Marc Rzatkowski and Kemar Lawrence getting banged around quite a bit and Parker going full ‘Brute Squad’ and getting himself in yellow card danger… I’ve said it before: when one piece of the puzzle is lost, the whole thing suffers.

‘Suffers’ is a pretty good way to summarize what happened next.

There’s Not Much Time Left Today

Actually, there was a ton of time. Because thanks to goals from Jack Elliott and Fafa Picault, the game was 3-3 at 90 minutes and went into extra time. This was the third game of the first round that went for 120. It was just enough time for Philly to bring on Marco Fabian to seal the deal for the Union. His cross floated into the net at the end of the first half of extra time. I think he was just as surprised as anyone. Try as they might, New York couldn’t get that fourth goal, something they had trouble doing all season.

I Loved You Now Like I Loved You Then

Yeah, but aside from that…

Look, it’s sad to see the Red Bulls exit like this. They didn’t have what it takes to get through the playoffs. I’m sad but not surprised. But it’s not the end of my world. At the risk of adding a second song to this article, my love for the team doesn’t cost a thing. My hopes are not hung on what silverware they hold. Red Bull fans want their team to finally get a MLS Cup because it’s an outward symbol of the passion they have had, the fight they have shown.

If anyone who calls themselves a fan says they’re going to find another team to support, they were never a fan.

I pondered these things on my two-hour drive up the Turnpike. And they will not leave me as I look to the conclusion of this post-season tournament. But I’ll be there when the light comes in. Just tell ’em we’re survivors.

P.S. I really hoped you’ve enjoyed the playlist I built over the course of the season. It’s been an important creative exercise for me. Here’s Tom Cochrane’s version of the song, although Rascal Flatts’s version is good, too.

Featured image: John Perdicaro

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Red Bull Playoffs: Do You Really Believe in Magic?

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

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

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

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

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

I can’t stand waiting around to dance

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

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

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

When will you stop wondering who you are?

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

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

But you can only change yourself

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

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

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

All your friends, they got the nicest things

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

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

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

Featured image: New York Red Bulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

D.C. United’s 2019 Season Comes to a Close with a 5-1 loss to Toronto

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

The Match

D.C. United’s 2019 season has come to a close with a steep loss at BMO Field in Toronto. Black-and-Red supporters will not see Wayne Rooney hoist the MLS Cup, or in fact, play another match at Audi Field. It was a bitter end to a season that started with such high hopes.

Toronto’s Marky Delgado opened the scoring of the match early in the first half, and D.C. struggled to find their own scoring opportunity, even with both Wayne Rooney and Ola Kamara on the field. There was no dirty play, and no controversial calls were made by referee Allen Chapman, tonight simply wasn’t D.C.’s night.

In the dying moments of the match, Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez found the elusive equalizer. Weaving through the chaos surrounding Toronto’s goal, Rodríguez capitalized on a corner kick taken by Rooney. The Argentine’s goal tipped the match into extra time and gave everyone behind the Black-and-Red something incredible after almost 90 minutes of nail-biting – hope.

Unfortunately for D.C., Toronto quickly racked up the goals in extra time, creating a deficit that proved impossible to overcome. Bill Hamid’s clean sheet record mattered for naught as Toronto lobbed ball after ball into the back of the net.

The shot with the most sting, however, came from a spurned Nick DeLeon. DeLeon’s shot flew past Hamid into the high right corner of the net, tinged with a sense of poetic justice.

A D.C. substitution prior to the final 15 minutes of extra time saw Wayne Rooney leave the field for the last time as a D.C. player for Leonardo Jara. It was apparent the match and season were both over. There would be no final minute miracle for the Black-and-Red.

Looking Forward

2019 began with high hopes, as D.C. United beat the reigning MLS Champion, Atlanta United, in their very first match. As the freezing rain poured down at Audi Field, the Black-and-Red showed their fighting spirit and emerged tenacious, gritty, and hungry to win. While many are somber at the departure of superstar Wayne Rooney, and surely feeling the sting of loss as the season comes to a close, it’s time to reflect.

This season has been special. We’ve seen living legends, like Robert Gillespie and Tony Quinn, honored for their part in building our rich culture. We’ve been part of the magic that is a Wayne Rooney own half goal. We’ve witnessed Alejandro Bedoya of the Philadelphia Union speaking out against gun violence. We’ve had an all-female broadcast crew at Audi Field.

We’ve witnessed our players become parents, struggle with loss, and start new endeavors. We have seen them grow and succeed, both on the field and off. And soon, we will welcome back Yamil Asad to our fold.

Our supporter community has grown as well, with many faces welcomed into the Black-and-Red family this season. Throughout 2019, we have come together to battle illness, stand against intolerance, fight hunger, and make our community a better place. 

Tonight was not the ending to our 2019 season that any of us would have chosen, but there really is so much to look forward to. Together.

Vamos United!

Featured image: D.C. United

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

LA Galaxy Playoff Set in Minnesota

Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

September 29, 2019 was fan appreciation day and the last home game of the season at Dignity Health Sports Park, yet fans were left disappointed as LA Galaxy lost to Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3. 

LA Galaxy then finished in 5th place on Decision Day after a 4-2 loss in Houston, Texas on October 6th. Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t get the golden boot and the team failed to get home advantage for their first playoff game in two seasons. 

The extreme heat and humidity in Houston were definitely a factor. Water breaks were given. The Galaxy’s backline didn’t do its job to even when the team was up 2-1. Zlatan couldn’t finish in front of net. In the stands, fans were nearly suffering from heat stroke.  It was a very familiar feeling to last season and one to be forgotten.

Fans stood in sweltering heat and humidity to cheer on LA Galaxy for 90+ minutes

The team is now headed to Minnesota and contrasting weather conditions; it had already snowed some, the forecast predicts rain, and temperatures have dipped to the 40s at Allianz Field. Kickoff is scheduled for October 20 at 5:30PM PST. 

Rapper MURS collaborated with LA Galaxy to hype up fans as the journey for the sixth championship begins

LA Galaxy have set many records in the league. Final numbers on 2019 MLS attendance had more LAG supporters travel this year than any other club, with a league high of 27,118. 

The new MLS playoff format begins with single game eliminations. If LA Galaxy advance, the bracket still gives them a chance of hosting the Western Conference Final or MLS Cup. 

Efrain Alvarez had been called up to the Mexico National Team for the U-17 World Cup, so LA Galaxy need to make it to MLS Cup final on November 10th for him to be back on the field, otherwise, this ends his season.  

Boca Juniors loan, Cristian Pavon, has made quite the impact and can service the ball to feed the lion in ways that still don’t reflect statistically since he joined late in the season. His presence on the field really has made all the difference to fans and to the LA Galaxy’s attack with assists and three goals of his own. 

Romain Alessandrini is expected to be available after being out most of the 2019 season recovering from knee surgery, though another key midfielder Joe Corona is questionable since his toe was injured in Houston.

To further wrap up the regular season, 2019 LA Galaxy Team Awards include Player of the Year to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  Diego Polenta was officially awarded LA Galaxy’s Defender of the Year. Back up Goal Keeper Matt Lampson gets Humanitarian of the Year. 

Additionally, Ibrahimovic had the most sold jersey in MLS. Teammates Alessandrini and Sebastian Lletget were also top sellers.

LA Galaxy has what it takes in the race to seis. Don’t miss history being made and support the Gs at the Dignity Health Sports Park watch party.

Other viewing parties are available. Check below for your area: 

Featured image: LA Galaxy 

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Montréal Impact End Season with More Questions than Answers

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Montreal Impact

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

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

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

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

Featured image: @ImpactMontreal

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