Category Archives: Team Updates

Keeping you updated on soccer news

Who Are We Penalizing?: The players, the fans, or both?

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

US Open Cup match

Tuesday, July 11: 3-0 Win

Would you call this a penalty?

I’m not one for complaining about refs. It makes us (the royal us) sound like a bunch of whiny homers, but today I will represent whiny homers everywhere!

This season we have all been PROed! I don’t think this is a controversial statement. The MLS even has a whole youtube video series about missed/questionable calls!

This season has been fraught with PKs both warranted and unwarranted. There have been 68 PKs attempted so far, and of those 68, 53 have been made (Tim Melia has blocked 1/5 of the missed PKs btw. That’s pretty cool.)

A few PK stats: Teams with the most PKs attempted are Toronto FC and Portland Timbers (see the dive above) with 7. Teams with the fewest PKs attempted are Sporting KC and San Jose Earthquakes with 0, because you can’t attempt less than zero. Though if the refs found a way to give Sporting a negative PK then they would have. Sorry. That may have been a bit too on the whiny homer side.

Though there have been 68 PK attempts I bet we can all think of multiple times this season where our teams have deserved a PK that they weren’t awarded. One that really stands out to me was from Sporting’s game against the Timbers when Gerso was pulled down from behind when a Timber’s defender grabbed him by the shoulder.

Watching the play from the (extremely biased) Cauldron one could see that Gerso immediately puts his uninjured arm up to call for help. The referee though looked straight at him and waggled his finger no and ran off. The non-foul was so harsh that it dislocated Gerso’s shoulder. My sister, a certified athletic trainer, said that the hardest way to dislocate a shoulder is for it to be pulled out backwards. That is the direction Gerso’s shoulder went. He left the game, and didn’t start the next one.

Later that game though, Tim Melia was called for a penalty when he used his wizard powers to make Fanendo Adi trip. He must have used magic, because he sure didn’t touch him. Luckily, Timmy blocked the PK for his third PK save this season. It was a nice karma moment. If you believe in that sort of thing.

Now, I’m not saying that all the PKs given against Sporting are wrong. The call against Benny for his foul on Philly’s CJ Sapong was completely warranted. The call against Bes when he “pushed” Vancouver Whitecap‘s Fredy Montero was not. Tim Melia going studs up against DC United‘s Julian Buescher was also warranted. Tim saved those last two penalties as well, btw. Please feel free to share your opinions, thoughts, and commentary below.

Hot Takes:

Sporting defender, Ike Opara, was kicked in the side of the head by FC Dallas forward Max Urruti. We thought Ike was finally going to have a full healthy season after being plagued with injuries throughout his career, but that is obviously not the case. When you watch the play you can see Ike immediately go limp in the air, and fall to the ground.

We received some information that the kick was so severe that Ike may have been seizing on the pitch before he was stabilized. After being strapped to a stretcher, he was able to give a quick thumbs up while he was taken off the pitch. Urruti went to the SKC locker room post game to check up on Ike’s condition which was a pretty classy move.

Ike was released from the hospital on Wednesday morning, and he had his sense of humor back per his tweets. He was diagnosed with a grade 3 concussion, and the team trainers don’t expect him back for at least a month.

Sporting KC has a starter in the All Star Game! Defender Graham Zusi was selected by the fans to the All Star Starting XI. His defensive compatriots, aka one of the best centerback duos in the league, Ike and Matt Besler, were not selected, but could still be named to the full roster along with Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Gerso, and Tim Melia. Can we all agree that Tim Howard being in the Starting XI over Tim Melia is absurd? If you check out this article right here, you can see that everyone loves the good Tim. The right Tim. The Tim you could take home to your mother.

American Citizen Dominic Dwyer has scored two goals for the USMNT in two games. He is basically killing it. Dom, Zus, and Bes all started the first two games of the friendly + Gold Cup schedule, and were effective. There were some defensive blunders in the Panama game, but it was insanely hot in Nashville. Hopefully, the guys get back in for the game against Nicaragua. But since none of them played on Wednesday no one can blame them for the mediocre showing the US had against “international soccer powerhouse” Martinique.

Adorable Hot Take:

Watch this Instagram slideshow of Latif Blessing hugging people! It’s adorable!

View this post on Instagram

Does someone need a hug?

A post shared by Sporting Kansas City (@sportingkc) on

Literal Hot Take:

I have officially moved to Orlando, Florida. It is so hot and humid here! If it wasn’t for the rain (every damn day) the temperature would be unbearable. Luckily, the rain cools it down…at least until the sun comes back out and makes it all steamy again.

Sporting KC doesn’t play again until July 22nd when they take on Real Salt Lake in Utah, so the guys have been getting a much needed rest.

Enjoy the international break! Go USMNT!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Do You Believe in Magic?

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Thursday, July 13: 0-1 Win (US Open Cup Quarterfinals)

In my last article, I mentioned how hard it has been for the New York Red Bulls to defeat the New England Revolution in league play. But they did it. And now, just over a week later, RBNY had to make the trip up I-95 to do it again.

I’M SPOILED: I was in the press box for the last round Open Cup match vs Philadelphia Union, as well as the round before vs NYCFC. So it’s a big change watching the live stream on my tablet at home. It’s much smaller. And I had to make my own dinner. It’s… just not the same.

I can’t say it looked much better up at Jordan Field at Harvard University. Turf field, metal bleachers, threat of torrential downpour. Still, about 75 Red Bull supporters joined the team to cheer them on. It was a familiar sound coming through my tablet when the supporters sang and cheered through the whole match.

CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD: with mainstay defenders Aurelien Collin and Damien Perrinelle entirely of the lineup, manager Jesse Marsch made important changes to the starting XI. Connor Lade was given his chance at Center Back, a spot usually reserved for…uh… well: a *taller* player. But he did an amazing job in the back line alongside Aaron Long, Sal Zizzo, and Tyler Adams, who had the freedom to overlap with Sean Davis on the attack.

A SLOW START: Despite being scoreless in the first half, RBNY held on to the ball well. They went on to claim 56% overall possession and over 400 passes. But I was sure this was going to extra time until: 

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been called “The Ultimate Scoring Machine,” a clever send up of the BMW slogan. Can’t argue that!

BREAK RED: Revs defender Benjamin Angoua was shown a Red card in the 75th minute following a challenge on Bradley Wright-Phillips. The challenge itself didn’t seem particularly vicious, and the usual argument with referee Jorge Gonzalez appeared uneventful. But there was Gonzalez, pointing to the sideline, and captain Lee Nguyen trying to calm an incensed Angoua and escort him off the field. I still don’t know exactly what he did or said to merit the red card, but I’m terribly nosy and will keep looking into it.

BONES TO PICK: I’m not one to complain, but this is my article, dang it. And I know I’m saying these things out of love…

WYD Alex Muyl? Stop scrambling and stay on the ball!

And Gonzalo Verón STILL isn’t getting more minutes? I know strategy is above my pay grade, but

Snl GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hopefully RBNY will be closer to full strength when league play resumes, although Kemar Lawrence and Michael Amir Murillo could still be on international duty. Either way, the boys in red and white should bring the confidence from this win back home to Red Bull Arena. A sprinkling of the magic, if you will.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

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Green and Gold Cup

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Well, folks, it’s Gold Cup time, and you know what that means:

That’s right, the Portland Timbers, along with most MLS teams, are on an international break. While we wait for, oh, I don’t know, half the team to recover from various injuries, what say we peek in at how current and former Timbers players are faring with their respective national squads?

Jamaica

Let’s start with the Reggae Boyz, whose roster includes two current players and one former alumnus. From the current Timbers squad: forward Darren Mattocks and right back Alvas Powell, the player who is the best at simultaneously dazzling and disappointing on defense, sometimes within a five second span. From the ranks of former Timbers: Jermaine Taylor, currently with Minnesota United. Taylor had a decent outing in Jamaica’s first Group C game on July 9th, playing a full 90 with 94% passing accuracy and eight steals. (Hmm, solid defending, good distribution. I wonder who could use that right now….)

Both current Timbers also saw plenty of action during this match, a revenge affair against upstart Curacao, who recently surprised Jamaica by handing them a defeat in the Caribbean Cup just a couple of weeks prior. Alvas Powell got the start, played for 83 minutes, and in classic “That’s So Powell” fashion he had a defensive stop and clearance at 68′, followed immediately by his giving away a corner kick. Alvas, Alvas, Alvas.

Mattocks came off the bench at 59′ but he made it count with this beautiful left-footed volley to score the second goal of the match:

Yes, I know the clip is in Spanish. The key word you’re listening for there is zurdazo. Nice work, Darren. Save some of that hot, sinister scoring for when you get back home, please.

Next up for the Reggae Boyz: Mexico on July 13th. Yikes.

Costa Rica

#RCTID faithful arguably had two players to pull for on the Ticos: aside from the bulldog central defender David Guzmán (yes, he is still my favorite signing this year), many Timbers supporters still have a soft spot for current NYCFC player Rodney Wallace, who signed with the Timbers in their inaugural season and played with us for five years before moving on. Both players have had excellent Gold Cup outings so far. Guzmán demonstrated the tenacity and precision that he has shown with the Timbers, getting ample opportunity to practice his corner kicks in the July 7th match v Honduras at Red Bull Arena. He did get a yellow at 85′, which is classic bulldog Guzmán.

Rodney Wallace also had an excellent game, starting for Costa Rica and going 71 minutes before being subbed. He also had the assist on the only score of the match:

Both Guzmán and Wallace had excellent outings as well when Costa Rica took on Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium on July 11th. Wallace played a full 90 in the 1-1 draw, and Guzmán had, guess what, another corner kick, this time one that led to Costa Rica’s only score in the match:

Guzmán subbed off at 61′, which is probably just as well because he already had a yellow from the previous game; and with the play he is giving Costa Rica they will want him on the field for as many matches as they can get him. But he wasn’t subbed off before this tremendous effort, a beautiful line drive just before the half that ALMOST put Costa Rica up 2-1 and that required Canada’s keeper to make a diving save:

United States

Finally, a word must be said about a beloved former player, “El Sueño” aka Jorge Villafaña, currently with Liga MX’s Santos Laguna as well as with the USMNT. I know I am not alone in rooting for Jorge; we miss his deadly crosses as well as his passion. In the July 8th game v Panama he played a full 90 and created a couple of good chances as a left back. As of this writing I have only seen highlights from the match against Martinique on the 12th, in which Villafaña didn’t play this time (which is probably just as well, given some of the defensive stats I see from the match. Oh, dear.)

Well, that’s all the Timbers Gold Cup news that’s fit to print so far. Keep those cards and letters coming! Reminder that the Timbers have their next MLS match at home on July 19th v Real Salt Lake. Want more Timbers-related Gold Cup news and notes, or something else Timbers-esque off the pitch? Hit me up in the comments below, or on Twitter.

Featured image courtesy: timbers.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

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Goodbye, Open Cup

Allison Sorrell - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Allison Sorrell // @AJSorrell_

Monday, July 10: 3-2 Loss

Now, here’s the thing. I’m going to start off by saying that considering circumstances, this match wasn’t inherently bad. In fact, it could have been much worse. With that statement, I probably lost almost every single one of my fellow LA Galaxy fans and followers reading here. However, let’s break this down.

On Monday night the LA Galaxy took another hard blow and were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-2 loss in San Jose at Avaya Stadium.

Let’s start with the positives here. Brian Rowe is finally back from injury, and it’s comforting to have a little more depth back in the keeper position, and to give Clement Diop, what most of us feel is, a much needed rest to rebuild his personal confidence after a series of defeats between the post for LA.

In addition to Rowe, Giovani dos Santos has made his return after a long stint away on international duty with Mexico, and made his presence known with an assist to Jelle Van Damme’s goal in the 3rd minute, as well as a few convincing chances on goal of his own in the first half. The core of the Galaxy is slowly returning from injury and international duties, and it will be more than welcomed to see how they perform once this unlucky plague of injury is behind us.

However, there are issues that need to be dealt with now. The Galaxy, though seemingly on the upswing, is still stuck with much needed players out on injury. As we all know, Romain Alessandrini has been behind, or at the very least a part of most of the Galaxy’s attacking plays this season, and his absence was very much noticed on Monday. In addition to Alessandrini, Joao Pedro, Jose Villarreal, and Daniel Steres’ absences were all felt.

While Alessandrini and Pedro, who have been training with the team, are on the mend and should be back by the time the Galaxy compete against Manchester United on Saturday (yippee…), the absence of these experienced players in the midfield seems to be a hoop that this team doesn’t seem to be able to jump through. The lack of pressure and possession in the midfield, especially in the second half of this match, wasn’t very hard to see.

By the 60th minute, San Jose were running circles around the Galaxy who seemed to have lost all confidence once again. It isn’t to say that I fully blame them, the past month has been a tough one for this team. Their last win against another MLS side coming almost a month ago on June 21st against Colorado, and confidence is hard to build back, especially for a younger side.

On the contrary, the issue here is that it doesn’t seem like we’re working towards doing anything about it. And while the Galaxy looked drained of confidence and ideas, Chris Wondolowski sure didn’t. Scoring two goals, one in the 16th minute and one in the 51st minute, both assisted by Tommy Thompson. Wondo came to play, and it showed.

A goal from Danny Hoesen in the 62nd minute sealed the Galaxy’s fate, and the match that should have been a redemptive confidence boost for the Galaxy went to the Earthquakes. My hope is that players are well rested and willing to compete for three points on July 19th during LA’s next league match at home against Vancouver Whitecaps. If LA hopes to make a convincing bid for the playoffs this season, now is the time to step it up. We’ve done it before.

Featured image courtesy: @LAGalaxy

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @AJSorrell_

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Drawing Fire

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Wednesday, July 5: 2-2 Draw

Last week I had an excellent opportunity to experience the sharp contrast between loving sports in general…and loving a team.

During my brief vacation over the last several days, I attended three separate sporting events in which I was not at all personally invested–an international soccer friendly, a local soccer charity match, and a major league baseball game. They were all fun, relaxing, entertaining affairs. Each time I chatted with friends, laughed at some plays, groaned good-naturedly at others, and passed a few pleasant hours not really caring about the outcome of the game.

And then I came back home for the Portland Timbers game on Wednesday night.

My match summary is pretty much encapsulated as follows:

Passion for sports is a funny thing. It can exhilarate, devastate, and everything in between.  We had it all in full measure on Wednesday. We went ahead, fell behind, fought back to a draw, dominated play, worked desperately for the elusive go-ahead goal, thought we’d won at the death for a second, only to find that we hadn’t, and by the end of the match I was physically and mentally exhausted, just from watching.

It was taxing. It was frustrating. It was glorious.

Match Recap

It was always going to be a tough match. The Chicago Fire is having an excellent run of form, and we had just completed our fourth game in a row without a win (drawing Kansas City in a hard-fought match just a few days before). Our squad was so decimated that we literally couldn’t field a full eighteen, and most of the guys on the bench these days are pretty much T2 players.

With David Guzman, Alvas Powell and Darren Mattocks out on international duty and Diego Chara, Liam Ridgewell and Jack Barmby all out injured, we kept pretty much the same lineup as we’d had against Kansas City, with the exception of Zarek Valentin starting as right back, something he’s been doing more of lately. Darlington Nagbe played his second shift as a defensive midfielder. Chicago was also without Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger, so at least we had THAT going for us.

Both teams had a couple of near misses early on, with Chicago getting an early chance at about 6′ and with a near miss for us at 17′. Then a handball by Juninho gave us the chance to go ahead at 23′:

(Side note: before I get to the goal, can we just look up at that GIF again and appreciate HOW HIGH Dairon Asprilla can jump? Good LORD. Okay, back to the recap.)

Fanendo Adi lined up at the mark and coolly struck it right down the middle for the score. It wasn’t quite a panenka but it was still gorgeous:

It was the first penalty kick awarded against Chicago all season, and we made it count.

And then barely ten minutes later this happened:

That crazy long shot from Arturo Alvarez made it in as Jake Gleeson was holding for a touch from another Fire player that never came.

Meanwhile, not two minutes later Diego Valeri was busy making a case for Near Miss of the Year with this bicycle kick attempt:

It went wide of the goal but oh, what might have been.

In the second half, we were dominating in all of the stats that are supposed to matter: possession, shots, shots on target. And then this back breaker happened.

Alvarez and Brandon Vincent caught us out in the back and suddenly we were down 2-1, with a devastated, depleted squad. Would we be able to answer?

Yes. Emphatically.

The Portland Timbers posted this beautiful breakdown of the goal. Yes, it was a real team effort; but I want you to pay particular attention to Diego Valeri at the 1:00 mark.

Watch as he squares his shoulders, rotates his hips and torso to his left. EVERYTHING in his body language tells the defender that Valeri is going to send the ball to his left…and then he coolly taps the ball to his right, to a waiting Sebastian Blanco. I probably say this every other week about Valeri, but that was poetry.

The boys worked desperately for the go ahead goal, and for about three seconds during stoppage time, we thought we’d scored it, off this beautiful cross from Marco Farfan to Adi:

Unfortunately it was called back for Adi’s push-off, exhilaration turned quickly to frustration, and the game ended shortly thereafter in a 2-2 draw.

Holy cow, I got tired all over again just retelling that.

Hot Takes

  • Blanco’s work rate continues to be ridiculous in a good way. If he can get in sync with players other than Valeri (with whom he clearly connects well), we might just have something in the tank for the second half of the season.
  • Valentin continues to step up. He had his work cut out for him at right back, and he didn’t disappoint. When Powell gets back from international duty, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod at RB on a regular basis.
  • It was SO rewarding to see Ben Zemanski having a good game. His first touch might not be Nagbe-esque as a defensive midfielder, but he put in a solid effort, arguably his best since before the ACL tear that initially sidelined him a couple of years back.

Off the Pitch

We had a fascinating donation to add to the memorabilia in the Timbers Army fanladen: a joint Timbers Army/Chicago Section 8 scarf from the days before Portland was in MLS:

Check out this story from the Chicago Fire site for more on the back story of the Timbers Army/Section 8 alliance, a significant part of our history as well as our growth/development as an organization.

Thank goodness that crazy stretch is over; now both the boys and I can get a little rest and recuperation during Gold Cup action! And I even have (a little) spare time, since July is pretty much a school principal’s best shot at vacation moments. We’ll see you again when the boys host Real Salt Lake on July 19th.

In the meantime, Let me know if there’s something non-match related you’d like to hear about during the international break: follow-ups on our international players during Gold Cup? Background on our newest signing, centerback Larrys Mabiala? Local history/stories of Timbers Army, either past or present? Reviews of local Portland cideries? Hit me up in the comments, or on Twitter at shebainpdx. Til then, as always, #RCTID.

Featured image courtesy: Portland Timbers facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

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“The good, the bad, and the ugly”

Mercy Payba - Philadelphia Union/mlsfemale
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Mercy Payba // @mercpay

Thursday, July 6: 1-1 Draw

A point on the road is as valuable as a win, at this juncture of the season. Philadelphia Union’s record away from home has been pretty lackluster with the last win being against DC United in May. This was going to be a tough match from the start for the Union, missing key players like Alejandro Bedoya and Andre Blake on the roster. Another player they will be missing due to the call ups is Chris Pontius who will fly out after this game to join the Gold Cup squad.

Sporting Kansas City was by all means and stats, supposed to be the victor of the midweek battle but even though Diego Rubio scored an absolute rocket of a goal that the Union’s backup keeper John McCarthy had no chance of saving, the game ended in a heated draw.

The penalty awarded to Philadelphia brought a skirmish on between the team, especially with the home side dominating possession and being in the lead. CJ Sapong in the box. SKC did not agree with the call which ended with Feilhaber and Haris Medunjanin getting yellow cards. An incident that didn’t get carded was Ilie Sanchez’ hand on Oguchi Onyewu’s throat, but it was definitely caught.

Roland Alberg was the man who equalized the game for the Union in the 69th minute, beating out the ex-SKC man Sapong for the honor. It isn’t all that surprising, between the game against New England last week and this one, Alberg looks determined to show Jim Curtin that he is the man to start over Ilsinho. I’m not sure I agree, even with that fantastic first-touch goal he launched past Revolution’s keeper Cody Cropper.

After all, the Union aren’t playing their regular game with Bedoya in the midfield, and while Derrick Jones has flashes of brilliance, it’s not the same. Perhaps staying on the bench will enable the Union to use Alberg as a cache in the arsenal (not unlike the one expected out of Jay Simpson) especially in this stretch of games coming up after the break.

The man of the match was definitely McCarthy who took a tumble and still had the mobility to go the distance with saves against Daniel Salloi and Latif Blessing. His six saves over the course of the game were crucial to keep it level. Especially with our defense only rallying after being down a goal and our offense not creating much traction at all. 

The next game on the road for Philadelphia Union is against Montreal Impact who are directly below them on the Eastern Conference table. It’s a whole week of regeneration for the players not called up for international duty that should be taken advantage of, if the Union wants a hope at climbing the table. After Montreal, it’s back to back games with Columbus Crew which might bring the tides of change, if positive results are yielded.  

Featured image courtesy: Philadelphia Union facebook

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Oh, Happy Days

Jennifer Denton - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Jennifer Denton // @darkwynds

Tuesday, July 4: 1-3 Loss

It has been an insane couple weeks for the Seattle Sounders.  Two weeks ago we had that miserable game in New York, then the Orlando game that felt like a loss with the goal in the dying minute of the game.  Then we had the Portland game when we go down a goal, and a player, only to come back at the death – so a draw that feels like a win.  We come to last Tuesday, the 4th of July game. 

Colorado Rapids have not been the same since last year when the Sounders faced them in the Western Conference Final.  To start the night, Colorado was below us in the standings, both of us below the red line.  The Sounders started the game short-handed.  We only had 5 players on the bench due to international duty, injuries and suspension.  I would love to have a full roster at some point during this season, but that is a discussion for another day.  We have signed a new player but he is not eligible until July 10th

One would think this would be a horrible game, but actually, it was a great game… for the most part. 

The game starts fast, and the Sounders are moving the ball really well.  It seems like they have actually made progress.   This is a nice change of pace.    In the 6’, Clint Dempsey scores an awesome goal with the assist coming from Jovein.  From there, game goes downhill quick. 

In the 13 minute, Ozzie is taken down by a heavy challenge.  He needs help off the field and is replaced by Kovar.  It gets worse from there.  In the 22nd minute, Chad Marshall goes down hard and has to come out, with an ankle injury.  So even with having a goal lead and Colorado defense being less than stellar, I think all Sounder fans were really nervous.  But the Sounders seem to fight even harder as the game goes on.  Will Bruin gets a stunner of a goal in the 30th minute.  We head into halftime up 2 – 0. 

 

The Sounders come out fighting in the second half.  This has been the best the Sounders have looked in a long time.  Maybe things are turning around.  Kovar comes close to scoring.  Of course, with our patched together defense, can’t stop everything.  Colorado starts to push a lot and finally in the 78th minute they get a goal.  Stefan Frei then has a save that might give The Save a run for its money.  Finally, in the 85th minute, Dempsey scores an amazing goal that seals the game. 

Overall, this was a very good game.  There were ups and downs but, finally, we come home with 3 points and we are back above the red line. 

I am really glad we have 2 weeks off so our players can heal and be ready for a push to the playoffs.  The next game is Saturday, July 8 with a friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt. 

Next MLS game is July 19th at home against DC United

Featured image courtesy: @SoundersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @darkwynds

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ATL’s Lucky Number

 

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

FOUR. Four goals on the 4th of July, bringing Atlanta United up to 4th place in the East. And the ATLUTD Academy U-16s just won a quarterfinal game by a score of 4-0.

Let’s start with our first road win in over two months, though. One of my favorite players, Tito Villalba, scored a brace against Columbus Crew on Saturday to ensure the first away win since April 22.

This might be my favorite tweet so far this season, though:

Anyway, back to the 4th… I’m now convinced that the ATLUTD players are summoning their strength with thunderstorms. Our last three or four home games have been delayed or nearly delayed because of lightning in the area and we’ve come out with three points. I mean, Josef Martínez and Miguel Almirón are superhuman anyway, so it’s a natural assumption, right?

San Jose Earthquakes came in with a surprising amount of energy for a team that played late Saturday night and traveled across the country. A minute and a half into the game, they scored their first goal. The scoreline remained 0-1 for the remainder of the first half. ATL had a bunch of shots, but nothing was getting past David Bingham.

It didn’t take long before San Jose’s schedule caught up with them, though. They were pretty sloppy throughout the game and Kofi Sarkodie was yellow carded in the 10th minute for a reckless tackle on Yamil Asad – a yellow that should have been a straight red. About 20 minutes later, though, Sarkodie picked up a second yellow for dragging Asad down in almost the exact same spot, and was sent off.

There were four other yellows in the first half of the game:

  • In the 15th minute to Anton Walkes for “unsporting behavior” (aka a bad tackle)
  • In the 18th minute to David Bingham for time wasting (who does that in the 18th minute?)
  • In the 42nd minute to Carlos Carmona for persistent infringement
  • In the 45th minute to Leandro Gonzalez Pirez for unsporting behavior

In the second half, there were three more cards:

  • Yellow card in the 74th minute to Jeff Larentowicz for a rough tackle in midfield
  • Yellow card in the 90th minute to Josef Martínez for “delaying the restart of play” (aka taking his jersey off while celebrating a goal)
  • And finally, in the 93rd minute a straight red went to Víctor Bernárdez for stepping on Martínez

So, yeah, it was sloppy all around – except for the goals. Oh, the goals. They were lovely. And Josef learned his lesson about not jumping on the fireboxes after a goal. He ran towards one after his first goal, but gave us in the supporters section a grin and a finger wag before he was swarmed by his teammates. (Although, the fireboxes don’t shoot fire during games after it’s been raining, so it wouldn’t have been a repeat of the last home game, but it’s good to know he learned his lesson after last time)

Here are all of the lovely, lovely goals from Tuesday night:

Additional notes from Tuesday’s game:

  • It was announced minutes before the lineup came out that starting goalkeeper Alec Kann picked up a left quad injury during the Columbus game on Saturday and would be out 6-8 weeks. That’s the same thing they said about Josef’s injury and he was out for 12 weeks. Kyle Reynish started for the first time on Tuesday and did well enough. Once the Gold Cup is over, we’ll also have Brad Guzan in rotation, so we’ll see how that goes…
  • Anton Walkes got his third start on Tuesday night and scored his first professional goal – a header off a set piece.
  • Also, we scored on a set piece! I don’t think that’s happened yet!

The fireworks after the game were really nice, too. It’s been a while since I went out on the 4th to see fireworks (mostly because I have a dog who strongly dislikes loud noises like thunder, fireworks, vacuum cleaners and leaf blowers).

So now we rest up for the last game at Bobby Dodd – and it’s gonna be a big one. ATLvORL for the first time in Atlanta. But first, the Five Stripes (still don’t love the nickname, but I’m trying) head down to Orlando on 7/21 for the first ever meeting between the two teams who’s fan bases are already rivals. I won’t be traveling for that one because my brother and his family (including my two nieces!!) will be in Atlanta for our grandmother’s 100th birthday party that weekend.

I will, however, be at Bobby Dodd for our final game there – and I’ll be taking over the MLSFemale Instagram account that day! I’m excited about taking over the IG account, but it’ll be a bit of a sad day – only because we’re leaving the stadium where we’ve watched our boys play for the last 4 months. Hopefully, there will be a good thunderstorm around 5pm that day so our superheroes can summon their powers and get lots of goals!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

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Crew vs Atlanta and Minnesota

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

This past Saturday, there were fireworks at Mapfre Stadium.  Not because the game was fantastic, but because there were actually fireworks after the game.  It’s a good thing there were fireworks.  Otherwise, the crowd may not have stuck around to watch the whole game as Columbus Crew SC lost to Atlanta United 2-0.

The game seemed choppy from the get go—neither team really finding their flow.  It seemed like there were a lot of tiny fouls that constantly got called, and the passing never really seemed to move.

Both goals were scored by Atlanta’s Hector Villalba in the 27’ and 64’.   Gregg Berhalter tried subbing in Manneh and Jahn to make a difference like in the previous game, but unlike last game, the subs couldn’t turn the game around.  It’s a game that begs to be forgotten. 

Some plays that caught my attention:

  • On Atlanta’s first goal, Mensah missed a header he should have had.  He played more confidently in the second half, winning challenges, and stepping to the ball more, but he still hasn’t found firm footing within the backline.
  • Afful also seemed to have moments of struggle having his pocket picked by Almiron in the 11’ that resulted in a sharp shot off the post.

Then, on Tuesday, Crew SC played another unremarkable game against Minnesota United resulting in a 1-0 win for the Black and Gold.  Berhalter did some significant changes to his formation most likely due to a combination of poor play against Atlanta and the quick turnaround time between games.

He rolled out a 3-4-3 lining up Naess, Crognale, and Abubakar in the back, resting Higuain who didn’t even dress for the 18, playing Jimenez for Afful, and starting Manneh over Meram who came off the bench in the 63’. 

The team didn’t see many chances in the first half, and outside of the last ten minutes of the first half didn’t seem to have much possession either.   Although, I don’t think the lineup Berhalter played is meant to be as possession-oriented as our typical formation. 

In the second half, Minnesota had many opportunities to attack.  Eventually though, Crew SC placed their own attack.  Manneh did a spin move to break away from a Minnesota defender.  No one else stepped up, giving him space, so he made a shot from outside of the 18 resulting in his second goal in three games. 

 

After Meram came in, we seemed to have more of an offensive spark.  He crossed a ball to Finlay in the 66’ that Finlay missed but should have put away.  In the 73’, Meram sent a beautiful through ball to Ola Kamara who just didn’t bend his shot enough to hit the back of the net. 

In the 77’, Meram sent another pretty ball to Ola who sent it back to him, but Meram held the ball probably a step too long.  While he got the rebound off his own mishit, Meram couldn’t put it away.  He had another opportunity in the 80’ when Ola Kamara passed him the ball, but Meram sent it a tad wide of the goal.  Regardless, Crew SC ended the game with a win going into an 18-day break from MLS action.

Some thoughts about this game:

  • Without Pipa and Meram, we really do lack an offensive spark.  There was a different energy when Meram entered the match.
  • I thought rookie Abubakar did a nice job in his MLS debut.  I thought Abu who has been shaky in some of his previous appearances also played a solid game.
  • I was disappointed to see Naess subbed out early in the first half due to what appeared to be an injury.   He hasn’t seen much playing time lately, and I think he is one of our stronger CBs.  So, I was hoping this would be an opportunity for him to earn his way back to consistently starting.
  • This needs to be a formation that Gregg Berhalter uses more often.  We ground out a result, and I feel that if we were more comfortable with this formation it would be even more effective.  It’d be nice to have other options. 

The inconsistency of this Crew SC team always leaves you guessing.  Which as a Crew SC fan can be frustrating, but it also makes every game intriguing.  Who will show up?  We may never know, but I know we will be there cheering for our team.

Featured image courtesy: Columbus Crew facebook

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Last Minute Redemption

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, July 5th: 3-2 Win

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wouldn’t be the reporter I am without my social media presence. Still being relatively new to soccer, I get a lot of context about MLS from the rumblings on Twitter. For example, I learned that the New York Red Bulls (8-8-2, 26 points) don’t usually win on the 4th of July. And that RBNY hasn’t won at Gillette Stadium since 2014. So there was some trepidation on my part going into the game against the New England Revolution (5-9-5, 20 points).

GET WELL SOON: It feels as if the team just got back defender Aurelien Collin and midfielder Mike Grella from injury, and now both are out with injury, with Grella out for the season.

 

PLAY YOUR KIDS: With Grella and Collin out, and defenders Kemar Lawrence and Michael Amir Murillo away on National Team duty (Jamaica and Panama, respectively), RBNY looked to their USL squad to fill out their roster. This resulted in 7 homegrown players available for New York (4 in the starting lineup: Sean Davis, Connor Lade, Aaron Long, and Alex Muyl). RBNY has a solid developmental academy, and the proof is in the lineup. Congratulations to Dan Metzger on his MLS debut.

STAY THE COURSE: What does it benefit RBNY to play against their system just because they’re on the road? The Red Bulls have lacked consistency so far this season, so if that means the team commits to the high press on the road, then that’s how it goes.

BOY THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY: There were three goals in the span of 8 minutes (Teal Bunbury 21′, Bradley Wright-Phillips 23′, Lee Nguyen 27′). Up until the scoring began, the play was so choppy that it was a wonder the ball got anywhere near the net! Going into halftime, the play from the Red Bulls was rooted more in frustration than strategy.

The team ended with 23 fouls and a surprising 4 yellow cards. I have said in the past that if RBNY wants to pull a little of that “Bad News Bears” attitude, I really don’t mind. I’ve met enough of the players to know they’re plenty nice and can go ahead and be a little naughty on the field. The Revolution went hard as well, with 20 fouls of their own, including a foul in the box on Davis that took Daniel Royer to the spot to level the score in the 55th minute.

BIEN TRABAJO: For someone who is 100% Hispanic, my Spanish is not great. But forward Gonzalo Veron is Argentinian, and I’d like to make an effort for him. Veron came onto the field in the 83rd minute to replace BWP and got straight to work. He was everywhere: defense, offense, up and down the field. And then the gorgeous finish on a pass from Felipe in the 90th minute completed the turnaround started by Royer’s converted penalty kick.

Oye, Gonzalo: Me gusto verte trabajar.

 

WHAT’S NEXT?: The transfer window is about to open, and coach Jesse Marsch has already hinted at some changes coming down the pike. I don’t really get excited about this aspect of soccer, because it’s business. I’ve already seen some players come and go, and have to admit that the occasional mercenary can be just as useful as a stalwart mainstay. I’ll take the changes as they come.

The Gold Cup begins Friday, and I’m looking forward to some solid CONCACAF competition. Best of luck to the USMNT and all the MLS players who received call-ups.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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