Category Archives: Team Updates

Keeping you updated on soccer news

LAFC dominates in 5-1 win over Sporting Kansas City

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

After a stunning road loss in Colorado, the Los Angeles Football Club bounced back in a big fashion with a 5-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park in a midweek matchup on Wednesday night.

After falling to Sporting KC twice last season and reclaiming revenge in a 2-1 season opener win in March – the match saw the return of Mark-Anthony Kaye following Canada’s elimination from the 2019 Gold Cup. And Bob Bradley wasted no time in putting him back in his usual midfield position.

Kaye almost earned the black-and-gold the early lead off a header from a Carlos Vela free kick in the ninth minute, but his attempt went straight to Tim Melia and eventually cleared out.

Stricken with an injured roster once again, Sporting KC dominated possession and kept Pablo Sisniega alert early in the match. However, most strikes from Gerso were deflected from Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour before reaching thenblack-and-gold’s net.

In the 28th minute, Christian Ramirez set the tone for the match after he drew blood first with a cheeky move off a set piece. The 28-year-old opted to send the ball underneath the wall, flying under the feet of Ilie Sanchez and Nicolas Hasler straight into the back of the net.

The trio (Gerso Fernandes, Felipe Gutierrez, and Krisztián Németh) were close to finding the response by developing a sequence of passes to get in the penalty box but had trouble connecting – ultimately sending the game into halftime trailing by one.

Moments after the restart, Diego Rossi doubles the score by sending a rocket past Melia into the right post.

Beware of the left foot. In the 63rd minute, Vela scored his 17th-MLS career goal so seamlessly with his signature left-footed curler.

Pablo Sisniega continues to be a standout with an incredible performance recording five saves. In true Miller-esque form, the 23-year-old keeper commanded the goal to thwart SKC’s efforts, including making a double-save within seconds of each other in the 71st minute.

With LAFC leading 3-0 – Sporting KC caught a break as Beitashour was called for a controversial handball in the 78th minute; after the ball ricocheted off his leg up to his hand on a sliding tackle – awarding the host a penalty kick. Daniel Salloi stepped up to convert. But Sisniega saved it from the Hungarian keeping a clean sheet.

In the 85th minute, Yohan Croizet pulls one back for Sporting KC in an attempt to spark hope back into the team. But it wouldn’t last long.

Just four minutes later, the Mexican captain gave Fito Zelaya the best birthday gift as he sends him a pass inside the penalty area to slide home, earning his first goal of the season.

Mohammad El-Munir finished a perfect night as he scored his first MLS-career goal during stoppage time – securing all three points for the black-and-gold.

Now sitting atop of the Western Conference standings with a nice cushion of 40 points – LAFC continues a congested schedule with a quick turnaround to host the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend.

Featured Image: Peaty Romano

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Full Strength Houston Dynamo Come Home With A Vengeance

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

With their full squad back from international duties and back home after a cross-country tour plagued with losses, the Houston Dynamo came to BBVA Stadium on Saturday, June 29, needing a win. The men in orange did not disappoint and stunned the New York Red Bulls with a 4-0 victory. This win maintains the Dynamo’s unbeaten home streak and breaks the winless streak that has plagued them since mid-May.  

Houston’s Starting XI featured the return of Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas up front and Maynor Figueroa in the back, all of whom were expected to shore up the struggles of a June that showed little success on either end of the ball. 

The New York Red Bulls are a great team with a comfortable spot in the Eastern Conference standings, and I really expected a close match. The Dynamo came out with a fire in their bellies, however, and dominated the match from the start. The Red Bulls seemed to really enjoy the efforts of the BBVA grounds crew, as they took many opportunities to get a close look at the grass.

There were plenty of fouls for both sides, but the New York players seemed particularly keen to go to ground. While I was concerned that the constant restarts would affect the flow of the match or that the frustration of the calls would get in the heads of the Dynamo players, the laser focus of Houston was unshakable. 

Whether it was the confidence gained in being back home or having key players back on the pitch, the team that stepped out at BBVA was almost unrecognizable as the team that I watched in June. The players were tough and decisive. The passes were quick and well-placed. The chemistry of the team was amazing for how little time they had to work as a squad ahead of this match. And while I was thrilled with the results and wowed by the level of play, I can’t help but wonder how the team can maintain this level of confidence through the season without shouldering it on just a few individuals. 

The Houston Dynamo must figure out a way to have confidence as a squad and not be crippled by the loss of a key player. GM Matt Jordan is a brilliant scout who has worked hard this year on improving depth, but no amount of bench depth is going to save a team that sees that depth as a supporting cast for a single star. The reality is that introducing stars like Elis and Manotas to MLS may pay off in transfer fees before it pays off in trophies.

Barring any updates from the MLS Disciplinary Committee, the Dynamo will test their confidence again without defensive playmaker Maynor Figueroa in Cincinnati on Saturday. After only one match back from Honduran national duty, he and New York’s Kaku were each sent off after an off-ball conflict in the 94th minute. I expect to be pleasantly surprised by the Dynamo again, and look forward to telling you all about it next week.   

Featured images: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

How Deep Is Your Team? NYCFC Bests Seattle Sounders 3-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

NYCFC banged out another home victory Wednesday night versus the Seattle Sounders with a score of 3-0. Both teams were missing players due Gold Cup and Copa América call ups, but City, even with injuries to key starters, proved the deeper and more persistent team of the match.

Ebenezer Ofori celebrates his goal.

In goal, Brad Stuver stepped up with key saves while usual starter Sean Johnson represents Team USA at the Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Sebastien Ibeagha diffused Sounders attacking chances with ease, sliding in for Alex Callens who is representing Peru in Copa America. (Both US and Peru will be heading to their respective tournament finals. Bam!)

Goalkeeper Brad Stuver applauds the supporters.

If we are being honest, it must be said that NYCFC midfielder and MLS All-Star Maxi Moralez did not play his best football last night. Yes, I know he scored a goal. However, passes seemed a tad off target, tackles a bit slow. He went down a bit too easily in some one v ones. He’s allowed to have an off night, I mean he’s human right?

In my opinion, NYCFC is a strong and creative team due to Moralez and his vision. He truly does weave a web around the other team, many times leaving them on their heels. It’s particularly fine for him to be off once in a while when the entire team seemed to step up and give 110% to make sure that the attack wasn’t turned over or key counter attack chances were not surrendered.

Did I also mention that New York City was playing without solid starters Héber at striker and James Sands on defense? Héber, out with a hamstring injury, has been a constant goal scoring threat since he joined the team. In the absence of Sands in a central defender role due to a fractured arm, Head Coach Dome Torrent switched up the lineup and has repositioned Maxime Chanot and Ibeagha in dual center back positions. Ronald Matarrita returned to left back from Copa América, mirroring Anton Tinnerholm in the right back role and – despite the lack of “wing back” label which is utilized with a healthy James Sands – both vigorously embraced their dual roles of defending and initiating attacks down the wings.

NYCFC lineup. Image by MLS

Goals were scored by Moralez, Jesus Medina and Ebenezer Ofori -another massive banger by the midfielder. Both Medina and Ofori came in as subs for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Alexandru Mitrita, respectively, and delivered for the team.

Keaton Parks supports Jesus Medina.

I like to give out awards (shhhh, don’t tell anyone that they are merely symbolic) and to me the two MVPs for this match were Ronald Matarrita and Taty Castellanos, whose grit, never ending hustle and pressure initiated many of the team’s goal scoring chances. Runner-up was Keaton Parks who was unflappable in midfield.

Next match is Sunday 7/7 at 6:30 pm, when NYCFC hosts Portland after the Women’s World Cup final.

Featured and other images:  @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

A 16 Year Old Scored the Game Winning Goal and You Can’t Tell Me Otherwise

Sounders top Whitecaps 1-0 in Seattle.


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Image: Jill Peck

The Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps met for the second time this season after a scoreless draw up in Vancouver in March. The Cascadia rivals met on Saturday with both sides somewhat depleted by international call-ups. For Seattle, 16-year-old Danny Leyva made his debut start, the third youngest player to start in MLS behind Freddy Adu and Alphonso Davies.

Along with the debut start of Leyva, USL veteran Justin Dhillon made his Rave Green debut. The Sounders signed Dhillon to a first-team contract after Will Bruin sadly tore his ACL in training and while Raul Ruidiaz is still away on international duty with Peru. Seattle’s only other forward on roster is 17-year-old Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, who made his substitute debut in the 90th minute.

While both teams were goalless through the first half, the Sounders showed significant pressure in the second half and tested Vancouver goalkeeper, Zac MacMath. In the 60th minute, MacMath came off his line to shut down a breakaway from Dhillon. The ball deflected off of MacMath (after what can barely be defined as contact with Dhillon) and fell to the feet of teenager, Danny Leyva. From 30 yards out, Leyva picked his head up and lobbed a ball in past not 1, not 2, but 3 Whitecaps defenders.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

After the Sounders thoroughly celebrated Leyva’s debut goal, the stadium fell to a murmur, then a roar of boos as referee Alan Kelly motioned for a VAR check of the goal.

For this. This “contact” from Dhillon, who had full possession of the ball and took a shot on MacMath, who made no intentional contact with the ball except for it deflecting off his body.

When the ball fell to the 16-year-old only a split-second later, he had the composure to do this:

But the goal was called off for what the referee referred to as “sportsmanship”, claiming Leyva should have played the ball out upon seeing MacMath on the ground injured. However, the referee himself did not blow the whistle to stop play and MacMath’s injury was not a head injury. Nevertheless, the youngster was robbed of his debut goal by Alan Kelley and Zac MacMath, who both heard it from the Sounders faithful the remainder of the match.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

With 8 minutes of stoppage time added on for the MacMath/VAR antics, in the 96th minute Kelvin Leerdam and Brad Smith combined with a stellar passing sequence capped off by Leerdam slotting home his 5th goal of the season to give the Sounders a 1-0 victory.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Celebrating A Legend

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Before the match, Chad Marshall was honored with a brief retirement ceremony and given the Golden Scarf. As a fan, it was daunting to watch him stand out on the field for the very last time while he spoke briefly, teared up slightly and walked away to the blaring tune of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. It was perfect but still felt too soon. You can read my extended take on Marshall’s retirement here:

Featured image: @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Clasico Calamity For LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy Contributor

By Debbie Haar // @GalaxySoccerMom

The LA Galaxy took on the San Jose Earthquakes in front of 50,850 at Stanford Stadium in the first of this season’s California Clásico  games on Saturday, June 29. The Clásico is notorious for last-minute action and this game was no different.

The Galaxy was missing five key players, leaving the team on the back foot before the game even began. Romain Alessandrini is still out recovering from his April meniscus root surgery. Uriel Antuna, Jonathan dos Santos, Rolf Feltscher and Giancarlo Gonzalez were all unavailable due to being called up to their national teams so the Galaxy with few options on the bench.

LA struggled to find their rhythm from the very beginning of the game. Eleven minutes in, San Jose dealt their first blow when Vako sent in a ball from outside of the box that was just too fast for David Bingham to react to. Vako has been hot recently, scoring 6 goals in the last 4 games.

In the 38th minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic passed the ball to Dave Romney for a failed shot on goal. Ibrahimovic appeared slow and uninterested on the field and was not effective on either end which contributed to the chaos and inability for the Galaxy to make anything happen.

Throughout the game the Galaxy’s midfield was overrun and outplayed, spotlighting just how much Jonathon Dos Santos was missed. Efrain Alvarez came in for an injured Sebastian Lletget at halftime, but the midfield chaos continued for the Galaxy.

It’s tradition to wait until the end of the game for all the excitement to surface in a California Clásico and this one did not disappoint. In the 82nd minute, Shea Salinas doubled San Jose’s lead with a shot from the right side of the box that made it into the bottom left corner of the goal.

Just three minutes later the Earthquakes struck again when Salinas set up Tommy Thompson for a shot that deflected off of Perry Kitchen resulting in a goal. Although David Bingham made five saves during the course of the game, it just wasn’t enough.

This win was not only important for the Quakes due to the satisfaction of beating an interstate rival; this win also helps them continue to advance up the Western Conference table after finding themselves in a playoff position earlier this week.

Next up for the L.A. Galaxy is an Independence Day home game against Toronto FC at 7:30 PST.

Featured image: Noel Danseco // IG @drive_x_strike

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @GalaxySoccerMom

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

New York Red Bulls Get Into the Groove

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Friday, June 28th: 3-1 Win

Twenty days after a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Union in league play –and following an even more disappointing loss to the New England Revolution in the Open Cup– the New York Red Bulls welcomed the Chicago Fire. 

I’m Waiiiiiting

Thanks to the Gold Cup, the majority of MLS took some time off so group stage games could be played in our soccer-specific stadia around the country. The tournament isn’t over yet, but since it’s down to the semi-finals, league action is back. While Aaron Long (USA), Derrick Etienne, Jr. (Haiti), and Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica) are still away as part of this biennial event, Michael Amir Murillo and Panama have finished their run. Perhaps he’ll just meet the team when they get to Houston this week. I don’t expect him to go out against the Dynamo in their midweek clash.

Let the Music Set You Free

This was the official Pride Night for the club. They really did it up, marking the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Rainbow-numbered jerseys will be auctioned off, ticket sales will benefit Pride Live. But what really made the night was how fun it all felt. People these days are tense. Like, really tense. But the atmosphere was markedly less so…unless you were on the field. That’s really how it should be.

Such a Revelation

I mean… it speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Alejandro “Kakú” Romero Gamarra picks off Kenneth Kronholm on a pass back and scores the first goal just eight minutes in. It wasn’t so long ago that people were grumbling that Kakú wanted out in the worst way. Seems to me that he was in a bit of a dark patch and is on the other side of it now. I remember having two little kids and trying to do my job… wasn’t easy. And I didn’t have to be several countries away from my family and traveling regularly. I can only speculate, but at least things are working well.

If the Rhythm’s Right

Maybe I don’t give goalkeeper Luis Robles enough credit. I wouldn’t be the only one, mind you. He has just three US National Team Caps, and has never been selected for the MLS All-Star Game. The RBNY Ironman made a whopping seven saves against Chicago. SEVEN! The single Fire goal, from Nemanja Nikolic, only came after he collected one of those Robles saves. I can’t even be mad about it. I’m sure Robles can be, but that’s his job. All Robles can do is his job, and he’s damn good at it. I just wanted to make sure I said as much.

I Hope This Feeling Never Ends

Three goals, three goalscorers. This is a regular thing for RBNY. Brian White tallied his fifth goal for the season, sliding between two defenders to peg the ball in at the 59th minute. White was then subbed out to allow for the return of Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has been out with a soft tissue injury. In his 23 minutes on the field, he made the second assist pass to Kyle Duncan, who crossed the ball to Daniel Royer in the 93rd minute for a final goal.

The Red Bulls hit the road against the Houston Dynamo and Atlanta United before returning for (only) the first Hudson River Derby of the season back in Harrison. If the Red Bulls can continue to feel this free, we’ll all be dancing this season.

(PS: I was the Kindergartner singing Madonna songs in the 80s. Sometimes I have to look up the lyrics to make sure I have them right– not so with this one. Enjoy!)

Featured image:  @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston Still Working Out Kinks, Fall to New England After Comeback

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

NEvHOU: 2-1

The Houston Dynamo are deep into a tough summer schedule. After losing in San Jose Wednesday night, they traveled over 3,000 miles to meet the New England Revolution less than sixty hours later. This is their third road match in eight days and they have yet to find the back of the net in the series

Head coach Wilmer Cabrera played serious jazz with the starting lineup. As a coach known for regularly shaking up lines and combinations of players, he was still able to surprise fans with many of his Starting XI decisions against the Revs. 

The fan response on Twitter was a typical barrage of negativity (seriously, don’t read the comments), but Cabrera’s big shake ups have worked before. Chris Duvall got his first MLS start and Michael Salazar, a recent USL transfer, was rewarded for some quality sub-in minutes with a center forward start.

The first 45 minutes of the match were magical for the Houston Dynamo and showed that the lineup changes weren’t the terrible choice that many expected. The Dynamo’s defense was effective, and the Dynamo had good chances in the first half hour.

Romell Quioto launched crosses trying to find Salazar at the far post and while the pairing didn’t pay off directly, a resulting corner kick found defender Darwin Ceren. The defender landed a ball in the back of the net for the game’s first goal in the 25th minute. Houston’s offense dominated the first half, and confidence was high going into the break. 

In an interview at the start of the break, Rev’s coach Bruce Arena recognized their shortcomings and the changes needed in the second half. He must have given New England just the right updated game plan. The Rev’s offense came back with the answer to Houston’s defensive tactics, and the Dynamo were simply not prepared to shift their play.     

With the second half direction switch, New England dominated the same half of the pitch that the Dynamo owned in the first. Corners made the difference for both teams as the Revolution scored off their own corner in the 51st minute.

Milnar was able to get his head up over Kevin Garcia and deflected a stunner of a ball into the net. With the match tied, the Dynamo created some offensive chances between then and the hour mark before conceding control of the match back to the home team.  

Just when it seemed that the Dynamo might find their road point in New England, the exhausted defense got too sloppy in the 91st minute. Adam Lundqvist gave Bunbury too much space in the box, and the Dynamo fell to New England 2-1. 

While the match was a Houston loss, I don’t think it was a total loss for the team. They showed so much promise in the first half, and scoring the first goal of their road series and of the match provided some confidence. Cabrera’s lineup changes have potential and simply need to improve on flexibility and endurance through tactical changes.

The Dynamo have another short break before their next matchup, but they are finally coming home to their newly re-branded BBVA Stadium to host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

D.C. Draws with Toronto, Sending Nick DeLeon Home with A Point

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Chris McCann (Marquinhos Pedroso, HT’), Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara; Russell Canouse, Lucas Rodriguez, Ulises Segura (Quincy Amarikwa, 80′), Zoltan Stieber (Chris Durkin, 66′); Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta 

Sunset at Audi Field, we are underway. Photo credit: Sarah Kallassy

If you felt a sense of deja-vu after D.C. United’s matchup with Toronto FC this Saturday, you’re not alone. In their second meeting in as many months, the two teams yet again split points as they drew, 1-1.

Black-and-Red supporters and pundits alike were banking on Toronto arriving in the District with a squad depleted by international duty. No one doubted that D.C.’s heat and humidity would put the visitors at a further disadvantage. It almost came as a surprise when Toronto scored early in the first half.

Toronto’s goal scorer was none other than former D.C. United player Nick DeLeon. In the 19’, DeLeon slotted a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Bill Hamid to put Toronto on the board and leave the Black-and-Red seeking an equalizer.

A nasty foul brought D.C. defender Fred Brillant down in the box and led to a penalty kick that would put the Black-and-Red on the board. In a deviation from his usual technique, Captain Wayne Rooney drove the shot dead center to equalize the match. 

D.C.’s Captain was far from elated though. Toronto gave the Black-and-Red a difficult time from the start. Head Coach Ben Olsen said, “they are a tough team to prepare for, because they throw you for a loop with a false 9 in Pozuelo, and we didn’t think they would go that way and it took us a little while to adjust.”

 As a result of Toronto’s clever tactics, D.C. United were left chasing a single goal for the entire match. Were it not for Rooney’s successful penalty kick, Nick DeLeon would have likely headed back to Toronto with three points.

Even with a draw at home, Olsen, said, “I was proud of the second half and the effort to get something out of it… it wasn’t the end of the world.”

D.C. United hits the road this week for what Olsen says will be “a very tough game July 4thin Dallas”, where temperatures are predicted to soar into the 90s with a high percentage of humidity. 

Head Coach Ben Olsen has been lamenting the challenges brought by ‘summer soccer’, but D.C.’s Captain remains nonplussed. Wayne Rooney said, “yeah, its hot in Dallas, I was there a few weeks ago and experienced the heat there. We’ll be fine I think.”  

With the impending return of Moreno and Arriola from international duty, we can only hope that Rooney’s confidence is contagious, and D.C. is able to nab three points on the road. 

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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A Goal Epiphany: MNUFC Sees The Other Side Of A Goal Windfall

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

Saturday, June 29: 7-1 win

Starting XI: Vito Mannone, Chase Gasper, Michael Boxall, Ike Opara, Hassani Dotson, Osvaldo Alonso (Lawrence Olum 70′), Jan Gregus, Miguel Ibarra, Darwin Quintero (Kevin Molino 61′), Ethan Finlay, Angelo Rodriguez (Mason Toye 62′)

Minnesota United FC have struggled to find the back of the net this season, winning low-scoring games and losing on the back of a stale attack. Any Minnesota sports fan will tell you not to count on a shaky expansion side like FC Cincinnati to pad your goal average, but just 30 minutes into the match everyone in blue and orange was sweating and not just because of the 95 degree heat index.

Sure, scoring 4 goals in 45 minutes is less impressive when it comes against a squad depleted of internationals, players the club relies on to stave off overwhelming defeat. Scoring 7 in 90 minutes against said club… Well, that’s not expected from a club that used to be that club.

Despite a low 38% share of overall possession, Minnesota United pulled out a 7-1 win over the newest expansion club, with 6 different Loons making the score sheet and 2 forwards sharing in the spoils.

For the first time in a long time (or ever) Adrian Heath’s go-to slogan, “Goals change games,” was a positive reflection of his squad’s performance. With a trio of first half goals sinking Cincy’s possession-based momentum. True to recent form, backfield players were credited with those goals, continuing the Loons’ offensive drought.

All 4 were beautiful goals, but the most impressive perhaps came from rookie Hassani Dotson. Cal Williams, calling the nationally televised game for a local radio audience on SKOR North, called it “a pure Minnesota Black-and-Blue belter.”

Cincinnati came out of the locker room after halftime primed to slow Minnesota’s momentum. They made one substitute at the break, taking advantage of a lopsided 3-0 scoreline to give midfielder Tommy McCabe his MLS debut before the regulars return from international duty. It wasn’t long before their quick movements bore fruit. Midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma was able to slot a quick shot past Vito Mannone to put the visitors on the board in the 56th minute.

Typically, conceding an early goal is enough to damper any offensive moves from the Loons. Cue another Heath standby: “I said to the players at half the first 15 minutes will dictate the other 30. Which it does. Because we conceded a sloppy goal. You know, there’s no way we can dress that up because it was a poor goal to concede.” Indeed. But Saturday was far from typical, as Heath added, “The response from that was terrific.”

Unbelievable and beautiful were just some of the words heard around in the press box and on the broadcasts to describe the Loons’ second half offensive renewal. Following a 70th minute brace from Opara, Mason Toye finally scored his first goal for the club in MLS competition in the 75th minute.

I’ve been trying to score goals since I got here. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for me, a bit of a mental game. I’ve just been trying to work hard and I’ve heard the goals will come. So, it feels really good that my hard work is paying off.

Twelve minutes later, he added an assist as Kevin Molino, fresh off of a Gold Cup stunner for Trinidad & Tobago, poked his way into the box to put the final nail in the coffin.

It was a true team effort. Defensive mid Jan Gregus, back from Slovakia national duty, tallied a gentleman’s hat trick, assisting Dotson, Opara and Toye. Darwin Quintero marked 2 assists and very nearly made a couple goals of his own. Rookie Chase Gasper made his first career start and stood tall for a full 90 minutes on the left flank.

Midfielder Miguel Ibarra still had energy to burn in the waning minutes of the game, sprinting the full length of the pitch as if the Loons were down a goal rather than up by 6. Opara stunned his Cincinnati counterparts with his first career brace.

FC Cincinnati’s defenders look on helplessly as Ike Opara heads in his second goal of the match in the 70th minute. Photo by Louis Livingston-Garcia

“Sporting Kansas City didn’t want to win,” people said after the Loons’ Fourth Round Open Cup victory. “Houston wasn’t at their best,” they said after the Round of 16. “It’s only Cincinnati” was a justifiable reaction after the first half. Seven goals. Six, beautiful, perfect strikes – and one off of Opara’s… thigh? This match wasn’t ‘just’ anything in any way, shape or form. 

Goals change games. Goals also change mentality, spirit, drive, confidence. Goals change hearts and minds. Goals from those who were brought in to score them and score them often earns trust. Goals from players not thought of as ‘strikers’ in any sense earns respect. Goals are what fans at Allianz Field and dozens of travelling supporters should have been witness to from Day 1 of the 2019 season.

On Saturday, 19,778 fans witnessed goals galore. “Downright bizarre,” said Williams. Downright glorious. And the Loons go marching on – to two matches that will set the tone for the rest of their season.

MN United FC hosts fellow Western Conference playoff contenders San Jose Earthquakes before a cross-conference trip to Montreal Impact on Saturday.

Featured image: Louis Livingston-Garcia // @LouisGarcia12

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

United Night OUT Sees D.C. Best Orlando

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United v Orlando City SC: 1-0

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara; Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Lucas Rodriguez, Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta (Quincy Amarikwa, 88′); Wayne Rooney 

A Match, A Celebration, A Remembrance

Photo credit: D.C. United

Wednesday night saw Audi Field packed for both the matchup between D.C. United and Orlando City SC and for United Night OUT. The win against Orlando made the evening even more special, as D.C. United Captain Wayne Rooney scored from his own half in a feat he has pulled off for each club he’s played for now, including Manchester United and Everton.

Falling just before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a historic moment that sparked the gay rights movement in the United States, this year’s United Night OUT was particularly poignant.  

Photo credit: D.C. United

While this year isn’t the first that D.C. United has celebrated Pride, it is the first year that the club has changed its logo on social media in support, and the second-year players have worn rainbow numbers and the rainbow captain’s armband.  D.C. United also held a minute’s applause in the 49′ for those who lost their lives in the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando.

I was lucky enough to spend part of the match with Jim Ensor, a D.C. United season ticket holder since 1996 and a member of Federal Triangles Soccer Club (FTSC), the organization that hosts United Night OUT.

Photo credit: Jim Ensor

United Night OUT is presented by Team DC as part of their Night OUT series. Ensor and FTSC worked closely with D.C. United to coordinate the entire evening, from the coin toss and flag bearers, to the performance of the National Anthem by DC Different Drummers. Through the FTSC website, over 500 tickets were sold, a portion of their proceeds donated to D.C. Scores.

An interview with Jim Ensor

While we all tried to recover Rooney’s first half stunner, and had our fingers crossed that Orlando wouldn’t score, Ensor kindly discussed his thoughts on United Night OUT with me:

Sarah Kallassy: What would you like to see the community to gain from United Night OUT?

Jim Ensor: I want people to feel that they are part of this club, I want them to feel comfortable in the stands. I want them to be excited about the team on the field and feel connected to the organization behind the team on the field. More importantly, I want the team to reach out to the community as a whole…however you identify, we all are the community.

SK: How can someone be an ally or a better ally?

JE: Allies can listen, participate, and really be a part of it.

Listen. Be a part of our peoples’ lives, encourage them to be themselves. Allow them the opportunity to express themselves and create without judgement. We don’t need pandering; we don’t need sympathy. It’s very normal. That’s probably the biggest lesson, is to understand that its normal. 

Participate, learn more about what it is we’re going through. Learn more about our history. When we get to a point that parents and family and friends are not worried about someone coming out, or not feeling like they have to be an ally, that’s when we’re in a better place.

SK: What would you like someone to take away from tonight?

JE: The sense of community and being united is the most important part of it. We’ve got a long way to go. We have a very long way to go. I’ll continue to advocate for participation and inclusion, and for us to be united on and off the field.

“I don’t take it lightly that I’m sitting here feeling comfortable in the stands at a professional event, where they feel comfortable acknowledging our existence, acknowledging that we are part of the community. There are a lot of people that have paved the way to this and sacrificed and given up a lot for us to be here and enjoy this moment.”

Jim Ensor, Federal Triangles Soccer Club

Author’s note: A special thank you to Jim Ensor, who was one of the first people in the D.C. United community to welcome me as a reporter to this club. It was an honor to speak with you, and I will always remember what you said about the responsibility of this platform and honoring those who have come before me.

Featured image: @unitednightout

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