Category Archives: Team Updates

Keeping you updated on soccer news

All That Glitters is Not (Black and) Gold

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The Seattle Sounders are on their way to their 3rd MLS Cup appearance in four seasons after beating LAFC in the Western Conference Final by a score of 3-1. Yes. That scoreline is real.

Vegas gave the odds at 6:1. The pundits and media members called Seattle ‘underdogs.’ Bobby Warshaw of MLS.com wrote in his pregame column that, ” Seattle can win this game. But first, they need to be scared. Being scared is the right reaction here.” But the Sounders weren’t scared. They came into Banc of California Stadium last night prepared, focused, and stacked with experience.

In the 17th minute of the game, Eduard Atuesta struck one of the most fantastic free-kicks of the season, curling the ball around the right side of the wall and past Stefan Frei for the game’s opening goal.

After LAFC took the lead, the Sounders never dropped their heads or slowed their tempo. The play was focused and direct from the Rave Green before the goal and nothing tactically or emotionally changed afterward. Just 5 minutes later, Raul Ruidiaz leveled the game with a hard-fought finish from just inside the box.

A mere 4 minutes after Ruidiaz got on the score board, Nicolas Lodeiro gave the Sounders a 2-1 lead. The back-line of LAFC gave Nico plenty of space to tee up the shot that snuck past Tyler Miller. The Sounders would go to halftime with a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final.

The second half played much like the first. The Sounders allowed LAFC to maintain possession (LAFC would end the game with 69% possession) and were happy to attack on the counter and clog the middle, something Bob Bradley acknowledge in a frustrated manner in his post-game interview.

It was as clear in the second 45 as it was in the first that the Sounders were not playing scared. They were sticking to their well researched and practiced game plan, and honestly, they were having fun. So much so that Lodeiro tried this 12 minutes in to the second half:

In the 64th minute, Ruidiaz broke through with his second goal of the night, sneaking one in near the post and giving the Sounders a 3-1 lead.

While the center-backs, Xavier Arreaga and Kim Ki-Hee, gave Sounders fans everywhere a scare with two incidental contacts in the box, the game ended 3-1 in favor of the Seattle Sounders.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

The Sounders await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final. The match between Toronto FC and Atlanta United will air on FS1 at 5 PM PST on Wednesday, October 30th. If the Canadian side should win, Seattle will host the MLS Cup for the first time in club history. If Atlanta wins, they will host their second consecutive MLS Cup at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Post-Match Take-Aways

LAFC Still Had The Best Regular Season Of All Time

Let’s get one thing straight, the loss last night by LAFC does not take ANYTHING away from the season they had. They are, in my opinion, the greatest regular season team in MLS history. The stats showed that, the style of play showed that, and the individual performances showed that.

Carlos Vela was the most dominant MVP in recent years. If there was a “Most Improved” award, it would be given to Eduard Atuesta and the incredible season he had, pulling strings in the middle of the pitch. LAFC had 3 players voted to the MLS Best XI and probably 2-3 that could have been honorable mentions.

But since the MLS Playoffs were expanded in 2011, only TWO #1 seeds have made MLS Cup, while a #2 seed has made it NINE times. Heavy is the crown of those who win the Supporter’s Shield and while LAFC played an incredibly dominant season on the whole, the Sounders were better than them on the night. And that’s the beauty and chaos of MLS playoffs.

Throwing Beers On Opposing Teams (or anyone) Is Garbage

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Kelvin Kuo

In case the photo isn’t clear and obvious (which neither of those PK claims by LAFC were), this is a photo of Nouhou Tolo kicking away a beer can that was being thrown at him by bitter, lingering LAFC fans. This photo was taken 10 minutes AFTER the final whistle when the Sounders were approaching their away fans to celebrate. This was one of dozens of beers tossed by fans aiming at Sounders players and it cannot be said enough how disgraceful this act is.

Throwing beers, but not cups or cans, to celebrate a goal is one thing. It’s part of the culture and environment of the 3252 and that’s fine. But after play was stopped in the 2018 playoffs because Nick Rimando was being pelted with beer cans during the game, you’d think fans would have learned their lessons. But this happened during the game last night and after the whistle. I’ve been to a game at Banc of California, and those beers are NOT cheap, so at the very least, this seems incredibly wasteful and not financially smart.

But in all seriousness, LAFC fans and team affiliates should take a closer look at these actions. It’s not acceptable, appropriate or a good look for the league as a whole. Please use the beer to soothe your emotions, not physically express them.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders FC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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Migration Questions Begin for MNUFC

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

After losing their first-round playoff match at Allianz Field on October 20, the Loons returned to the training ground in Blaine to regroup and refocus. The off season had officially arrived. And with it came roster news.

On Friday, United announced that it had declined to exercise contract options on five players: Rasmus Schuller, Collin Martin, Carter Manley, Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat and Ally Hamis Ng’anzi. To gain some insight into future plans, let’s run through the cuts, from the mild surprises to the inevitable.

Somewhat surprising

Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat: The left back was signed in July, shortly after Francisco Calvo was shipped to Chicago. The plan may well have been to slot the French national right into that vacant space but, in reality, Moimbe became the depth piece behind rookie Chase Gasper. After Moimbe’s acquisition, coach Adrian Heath talked him up as a skillful player the club could depend on to close out the latter half of the season. So why offload him as soon as the season ends? Well, he started just three matches and subbed on only once. So maybe it’s not that surprising after all.

Carter Manley: Minnesota’s 2018 SuperDraft pick played just nine games for the Loons over two seasons. However, Manley’s form was greatly improved with his loan to Forward Madison, United’s USL League One partner. When recalled for non-league matches, Manley showed well and appeared to be a serviceable depth piece for the Loons’ backline. It’s also obvious that he has a future elsewhere. “Carter played a major part in our quest for a championship this year,” said Daryl Shore, head coach of Forward Madison.

“{Manley] was a great addition to our team and we would welcome him back to Madison should he want to come back. I think the first step is to see if he gets picked up in the waiver draft by another MLS team. If he doesn’t, again he’d be welcomed back.”

Daryl Shore, head coach of Forward Madison FC

Inevitable

Rasmus Schuller: Schuller joined MNUFC in 2017, but didn’t see the pitch much until 2018 when he started 29 matches. His minutes waned as the season went on, a trend that continued into 2019. He hadn’t been shy about wanting to start fresh elsewhere – his resume is boosted by minutes with the Finnish National Team – and also has a year of conscripted military service looming ahead, so his exit was only a matter of time. The Finn had even cut his blond locks in preparation for duty before the playoff match:

Collin Martin: Another of the wing-heavy signings made by Minnesota in 2017, Martin has struggled for playing time with the Loons. His name came to the fore in 2018 when he came out ahead of the Pride match, becoming the only openly gay male athlete in the top five American pro leagues, but he didn’t even get an appearance in that match. Martin made only three appearances for the Loons this season, often going on loan to Madison and Hartford Athletic – at his own request. Martin may not have fit into the system Heath was working with, but the 24-year-old could make a long career in the lower divisions or with an MLS side looking for midfield mobility. If all else fails, he is a fantastic spokesperson:

Question mark?

Ally Hamis Ng’anzi: With a lower-division partner, MNUFC had the freedom to sign a player or two who could train and develop elsewhere, but be available for recall in a pinch. Enter Ally Hamis Ng’anzi, an 18-year-old Tanzanian international. Billed as a “box-to-box midfielder,” Ng’anzi was raw, but scouts leaned on his Africa Cup of Nations resume as a sign of potential. Unfortunately, Ng’anzi struggled to break into the 18 in Madison and questions are now – rightly so – being asked of that scouting process. According to coach Shore, “Ally had a tough time with the transition, being a young player. It’s sometimes difficult for players due to the culture change, the style of play, and the other adjustments that are needed.”

What comes next?

Heath & Co have locked down a spine, with centerbacks Ike Opara and Michael Boxall, defensive mid Osvaldo Alsonso and attacking mid Robin Lod, forming the basis of the favored Starting XI. The club also seems invested in the development of rookies Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson. The backfield needs depth, but that does not have to come with a high price tag and can easily fall into place once the other pieces are arranged.

With Thomás Chacón being groomed for a future front three, the next attacking player decision will signal the path toward that future. Will Abu Danladi get another chance or does Mason Toye get the keys and a sidekick in Angelo Rodriguez? Or do they invest in a tested, fit goal-scorer? That position may (should) decide who stays in the attacking midfield. Darwin Quintero and Miguel Ibarra are still question marks for 2020, but both have shouldered that role in some sense, at some point with the Loons.

One thing is certain: It’s going to be a loony off season.

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

LAFC looks to silence Seattle in Tuesday’s showdown

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.

When: Tuesday, October 29th, 7:00 p.m. PT.

How to watch: ESPN, ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980


After defeating the LA Galaxy for the first time last week to advance to the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Football Club will have the chance to secure a spot in the 2019 MLS Cup in Tuesday’s night showdown against the Seattle Sounders.

LAFC is three wins and one draw in the four-game series against the Pacific Northwest opponents. The draw is at Century Link field and three victories at home in the Banc.

Photo image courtesy of the MLS’ app

The odds seem to be in LAFC’s favor. However, Seattle still proves to be a dangerous threat entering their 11th consecutive MLS playoffs finishing second in the west. And are coming off of two-straight wins against Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.

MLS Comeback player Jordan Morris scored a hat trick on October 19 against FC Dallas. Although he did not score any goals in last weekend’s showdown against Real Salt Lake – Morris could be a pain for the Black & Gold.

Seattle may have playoffs experience but so do we.

Is Tyler Miller a concern?

Miller will likely continue to be the starting keeper for the remainder of the playoffs. Last Thursday, the young keeper produced three saves with a solid first-half performance. However, slight mistakes gave the Galaxy a chance to level the match and cut the deficit.

“I had a good two and half years at Seattle with two MLS Cup runs. Overall, it was a really good experience for me and now being here in the Western Conference Finals – it’s an exciting time,” Miller discussed about his former club during a press conference over the weekend.

Head Coach Bob Bradley had similar sentiments in giving Seattle credit for being “more solid in every way” this season and their past two playoffs competitions. And is aware the Black & Gold will need to be more prepared.

Dio is back!

The forward returned to the roster after a brief stint in the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program to bag a pair of goals late and the game-winner in the second half.

Starting XI predictions:

LAFC: Tyler Miller; Steven Beitashour, Tristan Blackmon, Eddie Segura, Jordan Harvey; Adama Diomande, Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing; Brian Rodriguez, Carlos Vela (C), Diego Rossi

Seattle Sounders: Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Román Torres, Kim Kee-hee, Brad Smith; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan, Joevin Jones, Nicolás Lodeiro (C), Jordan Morris; Raúl Ruidíaz

Featured Image:  @LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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LAFC Advances to the Western Conference Finals in 5-3 Thriller

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club had the last laugh in an eight-goal thriller as they defeated the LA Galaxy, stamping their ticket to their first-ever Western Conference Final.

Brian Rodriguez moved the ball down the pitch, and rounded a Galaxy defender to send in the shot after a slow start from the home side. But as the script goes, the ball flew over the crossbar.

Carlos Vela scored the two opening goals in the 16th and 40th minutes to solidify LAFC’s lead. Cristian Pavon immediately answered the Golden Boot winner to put the visitors on the board and cut celebrations short before the half.

Dominating with 60.8% possession, the Galaxy quickly forced a spry Tyler Miller to save Giancarlo González’s header from the centre of the box shortly after the restart whistle. The 26-year-old keeper came up huge again in the 53rd minute to retrieve a loose ball after both sides scrambled inside the box to get a touch.

Zlatan leveled the match 2-2 in the 55th minute after the ball slipped through Miller’s legs into the net.

Bradley made a double substitution in the 59th minute that saw Adama Diomande and Walker Zimmerman enter the match in place of Rodriguez and Steven Beitashour. The pair made an immediate impact.

Just when it looked like history would repeat itself, Diego Rossi and Diomande scored back-to-back goals within a two-minute span to revive the Black & Gold’s two-goal lead just ten minutes after the Swede’s equalizing breakthrough.

Rolf Feltscher headed in the finisher off Romain Alessandrini’s free-kick to pull one back for the visitors in the 77th minute.

Three minutes later, Diomande dribbled the ball upfield, completely dismantling the Galaxy’s backline to score his second goal of the night and the club’s game winner, making it 5-3.

The final play fell to the Galaxy who continued knocking on LAFC’s door to keep their playoff hopes alive. Zlatan broke through four minutes into stoppage time to score a goal. But the ref disallowed it – sending the host to the Western Conference Finals.

The Black & Gold will face the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday, October 29 at the Banc of California Stadium. Kickoff is at 7p PST.

Featured Image:  LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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NYCFC’s Postseason Ends with 2-1 Loss to Toronto

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club’s playoff bid came to an end at the hands of Toronto FC on Wednesday night.  City’s “home field advantage” was anything but as the match was moved to Citi Field in Queens.  If you are reading this, you probably watched the game so a rehash of the event would be a real downer; this will be brief.

 NYCFC did have a few moments in the second half where they looked like their old selves, but the pace and intensity did seem to come from Toronto.  Toronto came in with confidence while City fans were all wondering aloud when the real Maxi Moralez, the resident playmaker, would make his presence known.   Many things were off about this slide over to the the other city baseball stadium, but it merely puts a spotlight on the elephant in the room:  NYCFC has no home.

The result of the match is heart-wrenching for the remaining die-hard fans.  We stayed to try to help comfort our resident 5 year old fan, Axl, last night as he wept into his father’s arms.  What a scene it became, as behind our group embrace, the sky was raining beer cups.   As Toronto players went to celebrate their victory on the pitch beneath their supporters’ section, from one level above them the angry and bitter NYCFC fans were throwing cups and cups of beer at the players.  It was embarrassing and fed right into the stereotype of what City supporters “are”. This behavior of so-called supporters after the match was deplorable and needs to be addressed as such.

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Image:  NYCFC Twitter

Equally depressing were the online comments and reactions about individual players and their responsibility for the night’s result.  Now, I get that it’s New York and we can love you but will turn on you at any given moment. However, these were particularly harsh and rash reactions, which do nothing but heap more sadness on the players.  These athletes are human beings and they know when they’ve messed up and made mistakes.  They watch them over and over on film.  

The only person these comments “benefit” is that keyboard warrior, for that instant.  I get it — fans were excited to continue on in the season — but someone has to lose in the end.  How does grinding salt into players wounds make anything better?  Think about the worst mistake you’ve ever made professionally.  Would you want people tweeting about how much you suck over and over?  What does that actually do?

Again, back to the no home issue.  Sources say that an announcement is imminent about next season and this will basically state that a large chunk of home games will be played at Citi Field.  This may be an attempt to have more home games on weekends as the Wednesday match situation this past season led to very low fan attendance.  However, the patience of NYCFC fans is wearing thin and the loss at Citi Field last night will only make this an even tougher sell.  The seat “equivalents” between Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were anything but, leaving long time ticket holders separated from their groups and, ahem, putting some raucous City supporters in very close proximity to the visiting supporters’ group section.  

A lot of work would need to be done by the club to address these issues.  Many season ticket holders have already jumped ship or renewed fewer seats in their package.  When the club was sold to the NYC community it was with the understanding that they would be playing out of a baseball field for about 3-5 years and yet here we are with no end in sight.  Or is this the end for fans?

Featured image: NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Sounders Roll Past RSL to Advance to 3rd Western Conference Final In 4 Years

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The 2019 season hasn’t been pretty for the Seattle Sounders. The team has been ravaged by injuries, often lacking an identity on the pitch, and hasn’t had back to back victories since April. But if there’s one thing Seattle fans are learning, it’s that pretty doesn’t matter in the new single elimination playoff format. Win and you move on. And that’s exactly what the Seattle Sounders are doing right now.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

With a quick four day turn-around after playing 120 minutes last Saturday, the Sounders were fired up Wednesday night in front of a home crowd of nearly 38,000 fans. The first half played to a stalemate with Real Salt Lake maintaining the majority of the possession, but the Sounders managing several quality shots on goal.

When play resumed for the second half, the Sounders were forced to make an early substitution as Roman Torres, who has been a powerful presence since returning from suspension, injured his hamstring in the 49th minute. DP center-back Xavier Arreaga replaced the Panamanian. As the second half progressed, so did Seattle’s intensity, accuracy, and dominance.

After Victor Rodriguez replaced Joevin Jones in the 62nd minute, the substitute made an offensive impact immediately. Only 2 minutes later, Nicolas Lodiero swung in a near-post ball from a corner-kick and found Gustav Svensson’s glorious, Swedish head for a fantastic flick in to the back of Real Salt Lake’s net. The Sounders celebrated feverishly, as did the fans packed into CenturyLink Field.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Fifteen minutes later, in the final ten minutes of regulation play, Gustav Svensson played a beautiful ball down the wing to Raul Ruidiaz, who found a streaking Nicolas Lodeiro. Lodeiro hammered in this golazo:

The captain celebrated jubilantly, as did every Sounders player and fan, knowing that with less than 10 minutes left and up 2-0, they were moving on to the Western Conference final for the 3rd time in four seasons.

Frustrations boiled over several minutes later as Everton Luiz picked up a red card for a nasty tackle on Svensson. Players from both teams came together and while Luiz took his time to leave the field, walking through Seattle’s bench and through the towering flags of the ECS, the final whistle blew to secure the Sounders another home playoff victory. Seattle will face the winner of El Traffico, which will be played Thursday, October 24th at 7:30 PM. The Sounders would host LA Galaxy next Tuesday at 7 PM or travel to LAFC on the same date and time, depending on the outcome of the LA derby.

Saying Farewell To A Legend

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

While the Sounders’ win advanced them to the next round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, there was another historic event that occurred as referee Alan Kelley blew the final whistle last night. Nick Rimando, an absolute legend of both MLS and the position of goalkeeper, concluded his final match. Rimando retires as the league leader in wins, shutouts, saves, games and minutes played. He won two MLS Cups with RSL and featured throughout the years with the US Men’s National Team. And from an outside perspective, he also seems to be an absolute class act human being.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders

All other images:  @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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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