Category Archives: Team Updates

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ATL on the Rise

Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini

Saturday, March 18: 4-0 Win

Atlanta United’s second ever home game was even better than their very first game in MLS for a few reasons. First, ATL won 4-0 in front of another sellout crowd – and over 100,000 people have attended the first two home games. Second, the stadium crew had a slightly better handle on conditions in the building and it was a much better experience, at least from my perspective. Third, the vibe in the stadium was, as I’ve seen many times in the last 24 hours, electric.

Atlanta United got their first shutout and potential MLS Golden Boot winner (yep, I’m going there) Josef Martinez added another two goals to his tally. Martinez now has five goals and leads the league. His goals yesterday were spectacular.

The first came in the 60th minute when Miguel Almirón squeaked a pass through the gap that Martinez had left between Chicago Fire’s central defenders. Martinez took two touches, one drifting just far enough to his left to get around Jorge Bava, and it was in the back of the net.

His second goal in the 82nd minute saw him once again splitting the central defenders, this time with a pass from Yamil Asad. Martinez took one touch to get around Bava and then took a shot from a seemingly impossible angle.

The first goal of the game was an own goal for Chicago. MLS Rookie Julian Gressel nabbed a pass from Hector Villalba at the edge of the box and played a cross in front of the goal that was deflected in by Chicago’s Brandon Vincent.

The third goal was my personal favorite because it was my favorite player, Hector “Tito” Villalba who scored in the 67th minute to officially open his MLS account. Greg Garza sent a pass up to Martinez, but it was deflected by a Chicago defender and dropped right at Tito’s feet. After one touch to get in place, Tito launched that ball off his left foot right through Bava’s outstretched hands and into the back of the net. I’m not sure I’ve ever cheered as loud as I did at that moment.

While most of the crowd was busy celebrating the Goal-a-Palooza in the stands, others standing in line at the concession stands said that the lines were so much better this time around. At the home opener, there were not enough concession stands open and what was open was slow. I got in line for a hot dog and a bottle of water about 30 minutes before the game started and gave up about 25 minutes in. I left some money with a friend of mine in line and went back to watch the pre-game ceremonial stuff. The friend I left in line finally came by to hand me my food AFTER Atlanta’s goal (which was around the 25th minute of the game). She also nearly got in the middle of a fight in line. To say this week’s experience was an improvement would be a huge understatement.

There’s no doubt that the improved concessions in the stadium helped the mood of the crowd – maybe not as much as those four goals did, but nonetheless, the crowd was really into this game. The capos in the supporters section kept the chants simple and the sections were loud enough to get the rest of the stadium going. The A-T-L thunderclap and the “Atlanta! United!” call and response were SO LOUD. In person it was amazing to see the crowd coming together like that. When I watched videos last night of the chanting and watched the game again this morning, I may have shed a tear of joy. My friend Jason Longshore of Dirty South Soccer said it best in his Daily Dirt sub-heading today: “Atlanta United’s supporters earn an assist yesterday.”

As of 9:30pm ET on Sunday, Atlanta United are at the top of the Eastern Conference. ATL is also leading the league in goals scored with 11 and are currently in third place for the Supporters Shield. If anyone had asked me a month ago where I thought ATL would be in the standings three weeks in, I don’t think I could have predicted this.

Our next MLS game at Seattle on 3/31 will be a huge test. Three of the four ATLUTD players (Almiron [Paraguay], Martinez [Venezuela], Jones [Trinidad & Tobago], and Carmona [Chile]) that have been called up to their national teams this week are starters. How will the international break affect the team, especially against the defending MLS champions? Sure, we beat them 4-2 in preseason, but the Seattle Sounders played all of their bench and trial players. A few of their starters got subbed in late in the game, but we didn’t really get a sense of how ATL would fare against the Seattle starters.

Only time will tell, but I will be biting my nails off at a bar with my Terminus Legion family in 12 days anxiously watching the Five Stripes (not sure I’m in on this nickname yet, but I had to try it) take on Dempsey, JMO and that Seattle crowd.

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @robynsaghini

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

One Point None The Richer

Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon @lukacharms

Saturday March 18: 1-1 Draw

Some draws may as well be wins. A last gasp equalizer against a rival team. A hard-fought level scoreline that could have gone the wrong way too many times but miraculously didn’t. A point, better than nothing, just enough to keep you afloat on the table. A push into extra time when tournament advancement or silverware are on the line. A reminder that the beautiful game can turn on a dime, to not get too complacent, to fight until the end. A little salvaged pride.

Then again, some draws feel barely a step above a loss.

New York City Football Club scraped out one point against Montreal Impact on Saturday, in what were essentially two separate games.

The first half was all NYCFC. While the boys in blue weren’t quite as explosive right out of the gate as they were last week, they still enjoyed playing aggressive attacking football. Everyone had their moments to shine, but Jack Harrison rose above and put on his own clinic. It would be quicker for me to tell you how many times he didn’t dance his way out of a cluster of Impact defenders, leaving them frustrated and dogging his heels. To simply give him Man of the Match would be doing a disservice to how stunning he was today.

Rodney Wallace image courtesy: @nycfc instagram

Rodney Wallace scored the lone goal of the match. After providing Alex Ring a cheeky backheel, Ring shot for goal and was summarily dismissed by Impact’s keeper. However, RodWal was there — he stayed composed, collected the ball on the rebound and made his mark for the second match in a row. I don’t think that’s a coincidence at all. Wallace is dedicated in his pursuit of the goal, and he sticks with the play until it’s thoroughly complete. He creates chances in those precious seconds after it looks like the opportunity has finished, and I love him for it.

By contrast, the second half was Impact’s game to lose. Aside from a stunning play between David Villa, Wallace and Maxi Moralez that somehow didn’t end in a goal, there wasn’t much to be done. You could feel the inevitability of an equalizer in the air. Sure enough, Montreal played a ball over the top and caught our defense in dire straights with just enough time for Dominic Oduro to chest it down and score.

At least NYCFC didn’t give up. They stayed hungry for goals right up until the final whistle, especially Tommy McNamara, whose header off a free kick in the dying minutes of the game sadly went over the crossbar. The scoreline wasn’t for lack of trying. NYCFC battled until the end, and that’s what makes the draw sting like a loss.

Well, that and the fact there was a lot of sloppy chaos in front of Impact’s goal. The first half saw three sitters where Harrison, Ring and Andrea Pirlo just couldn’t find the back of the net, while Villa chipped the ball up and over to the wrong side of it. Maxi shot his attempt in the second half just wide. It’s never fruitful to play the “what if?” game in soccer, but at the same time, it’s difficult to deny that the match would have gone in a different direction had we scored even one of these chances.

This wasn’t lost on Patrick Vieira, who remarked after the game that “it will be important for us to take our chances because we are not going to create a lot of chances like that in a lot of games.” I foresee more finishing drills in the future.

What popped into my head during this match? Well…

  • Wasn’t I just talking about Ethan White? What a game he had! He was solid at right back, and even pushed forward well in the attack a few times. Montreal nearly managed to catch us on a counter in the first half, but White beautifully blocked Ignacio Piatti‘s attempt at a goal. He’s been the unsung hero of our defense over the past two matches.
  • Color me well and truly shocked that Pep Guardiola let two injured Manchester City players out of England. Ilkay Gündoğan and Gabriel Jesus were present for the match and seemed to have a blast despite the result. Maybe they snuck out after curfew and Pep wasn’t supposed to know. Maybe Pep was still busy frantically rewriting the rules of the Premier League and just didn’t notice. Maybe the story is better in my head.
  • Jon Lewis made his NYCFC debut! I enjoyed what little we got to see, and I’m sure it won’t be the last of him. Congratulations and here’s to many more games with us, Jon.
  • I dozed off between halves and had a dream (nightmare?) Tancredi Palmeri was commentating the match. So… that’s where my subconscious is at these days.

Happy international break! I’m one of those rare fans who prefers international soccer to club. My heart just beats in a different way when it comes to the worldwide stage. So I love international breaks — provided all our players return injury-free, of course. If you’re hankering to watch your favorite NYCFC players represent their countries, I’ve got you covered!

  • Miguel Camargo (Panama): 3/24 vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 3/28 vs. USA
  • Maxime Chanot (Luxembourg): 3/25 vs. France
  • Yangel Herrera (Venezuela): 3/23 vs. Peru, 3/28 vs. Chile
  • Rónald Matarrita, Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica): 3/24 vs. Mexico, 3/28 vs. Honduras
  • Alex Ring (Finland): 3/24 vs. Turkey

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @lukacharms

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

USMNT World Cup Qualifying Roster Reveal

By Abigail Gerken: @abigailgerken22

Head coach Bruce Arena has just announced the 24 men that will take on Honduras and Panama in order to hopefully qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

USMNT Roster by Position

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan, Tim Howard , Nick Rimando

DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley , John Brooks,  Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez , Michael Orozco, Tim Ream , Jorge Villafaña, Walker Zimmerman

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta , Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley , Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Sebastian Lletget , Dax McCarty, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore , Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris , Bobby Wood

Key notes:

DeAndre Yedlin: The 23 year old right back was left off the roster because of an injury he picked up with his club Newcastle. They are awaiting a second opinion on his thigh injury. This is a key loss to the USMNT since DeAndre has been a consistent part of the team with 43 caps since 2014.

Clint Dempsey’s return: After being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat causing him to not be with the USMNT since the 2016 Copa America, the Clint Dempsey is making his way back into the national team. This is a major bonus for the USMNT as they get their 2nd all-time leading goal scorer back into their artillery.

Christian Pulisic: The 18 year old has been on fire lately. He scored 3 goals in 4 matches for his club Borussia Dortmund . Including the opening goal in a 3-0 win in UEFA Champions League play. He became the youngest person to score in champions league for Borussia Dortmund This is great momentum going into these crucial games for his country.

The USMNT play Honduras at Avaya Stadium on March 24 (10:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás) and Panama on March 28 (10 pm ET | beIN Sports).

Cover picture courtesy: @nickrimando

Follow and chat with me here: @abigailgerken22

Snow Day!

Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini

Sunday March 12: 1-6 Win

I can’t begin to tell you how many weather reports for Minnesota I saw last week. Will it snow? How cold will it be at kickoff? Will it break a record? Turns out that Sunday’s Minnesota United vs Atlanta United game did break a couple of records – and not all due to the weather.

Lucky for me, I was warm and toasty at Fado Irish Pub in the Buckhead section of Atlanta with 100 or so of my closest friends watching the game. It was actually a bit chilly outside (in the 40s), but nowhere near as cold as it was in Minneapolis.

The weather did play a major factor in the game. The temperature hovered in the low 20s at kickoff, making it the coldest game in MLS history, just beating out the MLS Cup Final in Kansas City a few years ago. And the snow started to fall just before the game started and started sticking about 20 minutes in. It was so bad at one point that Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, ATLUTD’s left back, had to change his shoes because he couldn’t stay on his feet.

The other records, though, were of the goal variety.

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez didn’t look remotely fazed by the weather as he opened his MLS account, probably because he spent some time playing in Switzerland. Three minutes into the game, Martinez ran straight through the Loons defenders and tapped the ball around John Alvbage. Ten minutes later, Miguel Almiron lofted a ball over Alvbage’s head into the roof of the net to make it 2-0 in favor of Atlanta. A quick pass from Almiron to Martinez in the 27th minute gave Josef a brace.

In the 30th minute, Jeff Larentowicz brought down Kevin Molino in the box and Minnesota were awarded a penalty, which caught Alec Kann going the wrong way. Kann did make up for it in first half stoppage time, though, with three back-to-back saves after a Minnesota corner kick that bounced around the box a few times.

The second half saw more goals by ATLUTD. Tito Villalba tried a cross to Martinez in the box, but it was deflected and bounced right in front of Almiron, who launched it into the back of the net with his (rather dangerous) left foot. Martinez earned his first hat trick after barreling through the Loons defense and skirting around the keeper again in the 75th minute. In the waning moments of the game, Greg Garza got a cross to a completely unmarked Jacob Peterson, who headed into the net.

I’m not much of an analyst – yet – but I can tell you Minnesota’s coaching staff needs to give some serious thought to their defensive strategy. There was no way their slow CBs were going to be able to keep up with our hyper-fast front line, snow or no snow. They were beaten – badly – every time. We’ll see where these two teams stand when they meet again later this season. In the extreme heat and humidity of Atlanta in August. One weather extreme to another.

The final tally was 6-1 in favor of Atlanta. A hat trick for Martinez, a brace for Almiron, and one goal for Peterson. Atlanta is the first expansion team to score six goals in a game their first season. It was the coldest game on record for MLS. And Martinez, Almiron and Garza all made the MLS Team of the Week, and coach Tata Martino was voted Coach of the Week. Not bad for some newbies!

The boys are back in ATL next Saturday for a 4pm game vs Chicago Fire. I am off to watch the highlights for Chicago’s first two games. I hear they’re starting off this season pretty well, so I’m eager to see how ATL does next week. See y’all then!

Featured image courtesy: Atlanta United FC facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @robynsaghini

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

USWNT vs France Recap

US Women’s National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

March 7, 2017

Final Score: 3-0 France

Lineup: 3-4-1-2

Alyssa Naeher

Becky Sauerbrunn, Allie Long, Casey Short

Rose Lavelle (Mallory Pugh, 45), Morgan Brian(Julie Johnston, 70) , Samantha Mewis (Lindsey Horan, 70), Tobin Heath

Carli Lloyd (Captain) (Kelly O’Hara, 78)

Christen Press (Crystal Dunn, 45), Lynn Williams (Morgan Brian 70)

10 minutes in. 2-0 France. If you know anything about the United States Women’s National Soccer Team you would be very surprised with this scoreline. You wouldn’t have expected the United States (yes the same team that went 520 minutes without conceding a goal in the 2015 Women’s World Cup) to be down 2-0 that early, even to an opponent as quality as the French national team.

In the 7th minute, France slipped the ball in between 2 of the United States defenders, causing Alyssa Naeher to try to stop the one on one with Eugénie Le Sommer. She mistimed her tackle and clipped Sommer’s feet instead of grabbing the ball. This resulted in the first yellow of the night and a penalty that Camille Abily converted.

Image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

2 minutes later in the 9th minute, the United States was caught in transition while France played a ball over the USA’s backline. Eugénie Le Sommer beat Allie Long in a foot race and slotted it home to double their lead.

In the 63rd minute the French had a great 3 player combination down their right side to beat Casey Short and send in a cross that Camille Abily tapped in.

The United States best chance came in the 56th minute when Mallory Pugh cut inside and hit a near post shot forcing Meline Gerard to make a save.

Although the USWNT used all 6 substitutes to try and get back in the game, the French women held onto their 3-0 lead to win the game. This win put them in first place of this round-robin tournament, evidently winning them the title of the 2017 SheBelieves cup champions.

Whats next? :

The SheBelieves cup is officially over so the next time you will see the USWNT is April 6th in Frisco, Texas. If that is too long to wait, the USMNT is playing in a huge World Cup qualifier against Honduras on March 24th.

Featured image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

Follow and chat with me here: @abigailgerken22

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes

Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas @nkstar9

Saturday March 11: 3-2 Loss

We are off to the races with our second game of the season. Vancouver Whitecaps were hosted by San Jose Earthquakes, leaving their fans to sulk in the rain.

Full disclosure, I wasn’t able to see the game on Saturday, but I watched multiple highlight reels and here are my top 5 takeaways:

  1. It is too early in the season and it was too early in the game for David Ousted to risk a red card saving a goal. Also, they were up by 2. Down to 10 men we go.

  2. Wando (Chris Wondolowski) is ever the catalyst.

  3. The wrong substitution(s) can cost you the game. Especially when you are down a man. Strategy is the name of the game.

  4. Did the Whitecaps even make any changes or adjustments at Half-time?

  5. The Whitecaps did make some sacrifices for Tuesday’s CCL game. But, we could have won this game too, we just needed to play smarter.
It’s time to #riseupraincity
Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC
Follow and chat with me on twitter: @nkstar9

Portland Timbers vs Los Angeles Galaxy

Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson @shebainpdx

Sunday March 12

Week two, and time for our first road game of the regular season, this time against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Last week’s home opener/smackdown was delightful, but what did we have in store today? With an already thin back line plagued by injuries midweek, I wasn’t sure what we were going to see. Would the dazzling offense put on another show? Or would we continue our road woes of 2016?

The good.

All the Diegos. People say “box to box” all of the time like they know what it means. I have only been closely following this sport since maybe 2003 and I hear that term thrown around a lot. Today Diego Chara put on a box-to-box clinic at StubHub Center. The last time Chara’s head was involved with a score, also in Carson, it inspired this wonderfully unique tribute video by the Tokyo contingent of the Timbers Army, Tokyo Yosaku. This time, Chara started the run behind his own six and sprinted downfield. As Sebastian Blanco made a long, beautifully chipped aerial pass, Chara barely broke stride as he headed the ball expertly to Diego Valeri on the left, who graciously squared it back to Chara for the score. I could watch this perfect sequence all day. Way to go, Diegos.

Sebastian Blanco. He is indeed All That. That dude is EVERYwhere. When the ball was banging around in the box early on, it was Blanco that cleared it off the line. He hustles back on D, and is just as quick to capitalize on the counter (see “All The Diegos” score above, for example). Maybe it’s just me; he still looks like he mostly connects best with Valeri. When he learns what it takes to feed everyone in the front, I like our chances.

Reaction save. I have a soft spot for Jake Gleeson ever since his magical unbeaten season with the U23 Timbers; but I have always wondered if he would be able to live up to his potential. And I will readily admit that I was not delighted to lose Adam Kwarasey. But Jake did well to keep a clean sheet on the road this match, especially with that reaction save in the 94th minute. It is hardly fair to judge him on a performance behind a back line held together with mostly chewing gum and baling wire, but he did the job today.

Marco Farfan. The Centennial HS senior had his debut MLS start today, and he did not disappoint. He largely owned the sideline in front of him. The bar where I watched the match started serious conversations about what the Timbers Army should get Farfan as a graduation present. This response on Twitter was my favorite.

The bad.

The game plan. All right, I Know Nothing About Soccer, but goodness sakes, what was that game plan today? Even my cats knew going into this match that we were stronger up top and in the middle, and weaker in the back, where we had Alvas Powell at fullback; two new starters (Roy Miller & Marco Farfan); and Lawrence Olum in the center, who is an acknowledged placeholder for “Awesome Centerback We Are Totally Bringing In During The Summer Transfer Window, I Promise.”

So. When we go up 1-0 and we are also miraculously up a man, do we play to our strengths in the middle and up top? No. For some reason we mysteriously sit back, leaning on the acknowledged weakest part of our lineup, for the better part of the match. I cannot remember the last time I was more nervous and full of dread when we were ahead and up a man. Somebody can maybe explain to me in the comments why, instead of pressing when were were up in points and people, and had the clear advantage in the center of the field, we seemed to be parking the bus, especially when the back line was less of a bus and more of a Yugo.

The ugly.

The red card. I’ll say it. Jelle Van Damme should not have been sent off. I don’t think David Guzmán was simulating, he was genuinely injured, but it had nothing to do with Van Damme. I watched that play a dozen times, and while he was late to the tackle, I really don’t think it warranted a card. Yes, he was hard done by referee Baldomero Toledo, but Van Damme should only have been sitting on a yellow for (legitimate but still cardable) dissent for the first call. I shudder to think what the game would have looked like with Guzman out and Van Damme still in the game. I think Toledo got the call wrong, though as we all know what goes around comes around.

Speaking of Toledo: I hate it when refs become the focus in any match. And, while I have complaints about him, Toledo’s early red to Van Damme actually seemed a bit out of character. I sometimes compare Toledo to that substitute teacher who is terrible at classroom management, who lets everything go to heck in a handbasket until about 1pm, then suddenly starts sending everybody to the office for ticky tack stuff like tapping their pencils on their desks.

My Toledo complaint is usually that he fails to establish control of the match early, then makes up for it with Oprah-like card awards late in the game. This match was kind of the reverse of that pattern. Still a bad call IMO, but as a Timbers partisan it is hard for me to be sympathetic (especially because it was Van Damme). Nonetheless, it was the wrong call.

Other stuff.

The 225+ Timbers Army away traveled well. The Southland Irregulars are a large and active branch of Timbers Army away support, and they did an excellent job. In addition to setting up the prefunk and bringing the noise in the stands during the match, they worked with the LA Galaxy front office to organize a Books and Boots drive to benefit local kids. Props, Southland Irregulars. Way to represent.

Ugly wins are still wins, and somehow we still sit at the top of the table with that road win monkey off our backs. I’ll take it. Next stop: Houston at home. See you all Saturday.

Featured image courtesy: Portland Timbers facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @shebainpdx

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

A Good Four-Nothing

Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon @lukacharms

To expect a home opener as good as this one would have been hubris.

Last week, I mentioned the major takeaway was that if nothing else, New York City FC looked comfortable. No early season jitters to be found, plenty of confidence, just some unfortunate luck in front of the goal. Turns out it wasn’t a fluke!

NYCFC had it all this week. Possession, space, patience, hunger, and goals. Rodney Wallace opened the score sheet just eight minutes in, attacking the ball Jack Harrison ricocheted off the woodwork. For the third consecutive year, David Villa scored in the home opener — and for the second consecutive year, he scored a brace at that. What a mighty fine captain. And just as everyone was getting comfortable with all this talk of how Maxi Moralez contributes everything but goals, he picked up a gem of a pass from Villa and snuck it coolly into the net.

I ceased to exist on this physical plane somewhere around Sean Johnson‘s fourth save of the day. Not to get too presumptive, but I have to wonder if he really is the answer to NYCFC’s goalkeeping woes (all the love in the world to Josh Saunders, of course, but let’s be honest).

While he’s still working out how to best communicate with his defense — on top of the defense still learning how to gel into a cohesive unit — I’m already impressed by his skills and can see that he’s going to be a key man in many matches. A self-assured, stalwart keeper can do everything to boost the morale of the whole team. If Johnson keeps putting on performances like that shutout, the trickle-down effect will be glorious.

Five of the starting eleven were making their debut appearances at Yankee Stadium. Aside from the goals by Maxi and RodWal and the brilliance of Johnson between the sticks, Alexander Callens and Alex Ring also put on a stunning show for their first match at home. Ring was everywhere, making beautiful recovery runs like they were easy as breathing, and Callens proved solid in defense. Welcome to Yankee Stadium, boys!

Image courtesy: @rodwallace22

Our home matches are a blessing and a curse. Everyone is well aware by now that we have the smallest pitch in MLS. That means one well-placed pass can take the players practically from box to box. When that works in our favor, as it did this week, it’s great. But when we get a taste of our own medicine and get caught on a counter, it can be disastrous. Good news: That didn’t happen this time! Defense put in work. I’m so proud.

As always, here are a few random thoughts that struck me throughout the match:

  • Rónald Matarrita reminded me, for the umpteenth time, that I really need to buckle down and write a profile on him before he inevitably takes his prodigious talent to another club. Mata was easy to mistake for one of our attacking players in this match, and yet he never wavered on his defensive duties. He’s the whole package. He’s perfect. I guess I should confess that he’s my favorite NYCFC player! (Also, his celebration dance with Wallace was adorable. Pura vida!)
  • I respect Frank Lampard, and I appreciate everything he did for us, but I can’t say I miss him much. This squad is already looking much stronger than last year’s.
  • Thomas “T-Mac” McNamara in the captain’s arm band. That is all. Powerful heart eye emojis over here.
  • Special shout out to Ethan White, who replaced RJ Allen at right back as the only change from last week’s lineup. While his style of play isn’t as thrilling as other defenders, I’ve always appreciated his quiet, steady presence. There’s no player more willing to step into any role NYCFC needs and do his level best. (Including photographer!)
  • I feared for Maxi’s life several times throughout the match, but none more so than when he was swarmed by his own teammates after scoring. As a fellow vertically challenged person, I’m well aware that the Group Hug Forest can be a terrifying and unwieldy place. So many torsos and limbs at face level. Be careful with frasquito, guys.
  • No, you cried when everyone chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” after Villa’s second goal.

Kick your feet up and settle into Yankee Stadium, folks, because we’re here through the rest of the month. On Saturday we face Montreal Impact before the first international break of the season. (Which reminds me, I have a list of Croatian internationals I’d like to see on NYCFC, but that’s an impassioned plea for another time.) Until then, keep soaking up the win! We earned it.

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @lukacharms

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Don’t Tread on the Sounders

Official Seattle Sounders FC Reporter

By Amber Rocha @amberrocha

The first official Seattle Sounders match of the 2017 MLS Season was a bittersweet moment for me. The reigning MLS Cup champs started off the season with an away match in Houston, coming away with 0 points after a 2-1 loss to the Dynamo.

The sweet part of bittersweet comes from the fact that Clint Dempsey, who has been out since August 2016 with a heart condition, made his regular season return and let it be known that HE. IS. BACK. The lone goal scored by the Sounders was a beautiful setup by Joevin Jones that was finished by Dempsey. (Yes, I screamed and scared my family when Clint scored his goal. It was a very emotional moment.)

During the first 45, the Sounders struggled all the way around. Though they attempted to keep possession, the offense was rusty and shots on goal were a nonexistence. The defense took a while to adjust to Houston and their attacking plays leading to two Houston goals (Erick Torres 20’ and Romell Quioto 42’).

However, in the second half, the Sounders came back refreshed and looking completely opposite than they did in the first half.

They dominated the Dynamo in every way and Joevin Jones was excellent on the left, creating chances and eventually winning THE Dempsey goal (58’).

Those second half Sounders are what I liked to see. Those are the Sounders that went from last in the West to MLS Cup champs in the 2016 season. And though they struggled in the first half, I am so glad they came back in the second and proved they are still that team.

Sure, a first match win would have been great, but it’s just that: a first match. The guys are getting back into the swing of things, warming up and getting ready to aim to be the 2017 MLS Cup champs. I, for one, can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the season, especially with Clint back at full strength.

Featured image courtesy: Seattle Sounders facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @amberrocha

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Helping Grow MLS in the US

Official Seattle Sounders FC Reporter

By Amber Rocha @amberrocha

If somebody told me 3 years ago that today, I would be a huge soccer fan, traveling around the U.S. to soccer matches, meeting as many soccer players as I can, religiously watching any soccer game I can find on TV whether my favorite team is playing or not, I would have laughed hysterically.

A self-proclaimed soccer hater, I had always loved football and baseball but was disinterested whenever anybody brought up soccer. It was not until the Summer of 2014 that I discovered why soccer is called the beautiful game and fell fast and hard.

Sitting in a bar in Italy, watching the great American player that is Clint Dempsey completely destroy any opponent that came at him during the 2014 World Cup, I was hooked. I wanted more. That led me to Dempsey’s club team, the Seattle Sounders.

Me and Clint Dempsey

As a Southern California native who did not follow soccer in the slightest, the only team I had ever heard of was the LA Galaxy. With their extensive number of MLS Cups and clear infamy in the MLS, you would think I would jump at the chance to be an LA Galaxy supporter.

However, in LA Galaxy territory, I am an Eternal Blue, Forever Green, Sounders ‘til I Die supporter. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What started as an infatuation with Clint Dempsey turned into a full blown love affair with the Seattle Sounders FC organization. Every single player played with everything they had. Every trainer and coach and staff member was kind and strong and great. Most importantly, every Sounders supporter loved the team through the ups, the downs, the good, the bad, the easy and the tough. I had never experienced anything as passionate and huge as being a supporter of a football club.

It’s a feeling I wish every American could experience.

My name is Amber Rocha and I’m a 22 year old soccer lover. How anybody could be disinterested in the sport is now unbelievable to me. I am so excited to be a part of MLS Female and contribute, even in a small way, to the growth of MLS in the U.S.

Come chat with me on twitter: @amberrocha