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Columbus Crew SC Recap

Hilary - Columbus
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, May 6: 2-0 Win

Gregg Berhalter started a slightly different line-up when Columbus Crew SC faced the New England Revolution on Saturday night–Waylon Francis and Hector Jiménez as the wing backs and Josh Williams at center back as Nicolai Naess was pushed up into the defensive midfield spot. 

Wil Trapp played the more offensive minded of the two in the center of the field this week as Abu was on the bench and Artur is making his way back from a broken wrist.  These changes could be a result of starters Raitala, Harrison, and Abu not having spectacular games last week (and Harrison welcoming a son into his family this week) or the fact that Columbus has three games in eight days. 

Either way, the changes seemed to work as Columbus Crew SC defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 with goals from Ola Kamara and Federico Higuaín who continues to be a man on fire on the field.

Let’s review the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful of this game:

The Good:  Zack Steffen.  He made some spectacular saves and kept Crew SC securely in the lead.  This young keeper continues to impress me in every game.  Wil Trapp.  I didn’t watch him every minute of the game, but I never saw him make a bad move the entire game. 

Also, I was pleased with the offensive movement of the ball.  A lot of players seemed involved throughout the game, which caused some problems for New England when we were on the attack.  For example, Kamara’s goal started with a nice ball from Mensah to Higuaín who made a deft turn and passed the ball to Meram who passed to Kamara who took a beautiful shot for a goal in the 13’. 

Our second goal was a result of a nice ball from Jiménez to Pipa to Kamara who held it and sent it back to Pipa for a goal in the 53’.   Finlay, Naess, and Trapp were also involved in some offensive passing that resulted in strong shots taken by Kamara and Meram.  If our players continue to involve everyone in the attack, Wil Trapp, and Higuaín continue to perform as they have, and Artur gets healthy, I really believe we will be a force to be reckoned with. 

The Bad:  We still lose possession for long stretches of time, and our defense, while significantly improved from last season, won’t be able to absorb that kind of pressure from every team–as witnessed last week in the loss against NYCFC.  After our first goal, New England kept possession for a good chunk of time and kept trying to force us to make a mistake that would give them a goal.  We were lucky that the crossbar stopped Lee Nguyen’s shot in the 21’ and no New England player got on the corner kick that went right across the mouth of our goal in the 31’.  Realistically, I know we can’t hold possession 100% of the game.  However, we need to find a way to prevent these long stretches of possession by our opponents. 

The Ugly:  Jonathan Mensah’s fouls in the 14’ and 16’ minutes.  I’m truly surprised that Mensah didn’t get a red card after that 16’ foul.  If he had gotten the red, this game could have had a much different result.  These fouls seemed like rookie mistakes from a player who is definitely not a rookie.  Despite these fouls, the rumblings on Twitter and fans’ comments in the stands, I feel like outside these two fouls Mensah had a solid game.  I still think he’s finding his way with the team having come late to preseason and then dealing with injuries.  I think he’s been given less leeway to adjust due to the outstanding play by rookie Alex Crognale, but I’m not ready to disregard what Mensah can bring to this team defensively.

Also ugly, Je-Vaughn Watson’s foul against Niko Hansen who came in for Ethan Finlay in the 73’.  In the 77’ as Niko was making a run and had touched the ball away from himself, Watson essentially clotheslined Niko down.  This resulted in a yellow card which most of the stadium thought should have been a red.  The lack of a red card had Gregg seeing red and after arguing with the ref about the call got himself ejected from the game.  I’m not going to lie; I laughed and a surge of pride flowed through me.  It’s nice to see the usually reserved Berhalter heated about a call.  Now, I don’t think he deserved to get ejected, but I’m not sure that really mattered to head referee Mark Geiger

The Beautiful:  The rainbow bending toward Nordecke in the first half—a sure sign that it was a night for a Crew SC victory.

Coming up:  A mid-week match against Toronto FC and Columbus Crew SC.  Looking forward to seeing what these two teams will do on Wednesday night especially Crew SC without their coach on the sidelines.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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So Much for the “A Game”

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, May 6: 3-0 Loss

MLS is unpredictable. People who want to be more assured of a game ending a particular way will look to English, German, or Mexican soccer. They can be much more confident where their Liverpools, Bayern Munichs, or Pumas will rise and fall, and where they will end up at the end of the season.

It’s just not so with MLS teams. A team like the New York Red Bulls (5-5-1, 16 points) should have sailed into Talen Energy Stadium and taken down Bottom-of-the-table Philadelphia Union (1-4-4, 7 points). Sure, they just came off a loss against Sporting Kansas City. But that was with all sorts of tweaks to their system. Maybe they just underestimated Union’s hunger to win.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though. The familiar faces were back in the starting XI, and the bench included a recuperated Mike Grella. The first half was largely uneventful, with solid saves from goalkeepers Luis Robles and Andre Blake. Defender Damien Perrinelle was in the action all over the defending third, and winger Alex Muyl was on the attack. However, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips seemed to give up the ball in an effort to create chances for other Red Bulls. The Union defensive line figured out BWP quickly and shut him down at every turn.

The second half became the CJ Sapong show. He scored 2 goals in the run of play (74′ & 81′) followed by a Penalty Kick (85′) for a handball in the box by Perrinelle. Despite using all three available substitutions, including Mike Grella, manager Jesse Marsch could not right the ship and the game ended in a shut out of the Red Bulls on the road.

Remember when I said MLS is unpredictable? Well, the one thing the MLS fan can count on is how difficult it is to win away from home. No team has won more than 2 away games so far this season. So perhaps it was inevitable that Philly would win. They have a town hall meeting for season ticket holders this week, and had to have been feeling the heat.

The Red Bulls have another 3-game home stand coming up, beginning with Western conference underdog LA Galaxy. They might not be hungry for their first win, but they could pull out all the stops for a solid road win. The Red Bulls have to snap their slump before it gets out of hand. This promises to be a more important game than originally expected, for both sides.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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Praise to the Prince

Mercy - Philadelphia
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Mercy Payba // @mercpay

Saturday, May 6: 3-0 WIN!

Right, so what can I say that hasn’t been said about this game? As always, the Philadelphia Union managed to surprise me (and probably the rest of the league) with the result on Saturday’s throwback night. I prepared myself diligently to say we made an effort, but couldn’t manage to pull through. Once I heard Richie Marquez, our CB constant, was going to be out of the lineup due to illness, I thought that was it. The New York Red Bulls were comfortably in the top part of the table while we had a 15 game winless streak as our claim to fame this season.

But CJ Sapong, our Fresh Prince of Chest-air, managed to break that streak with a hat-trick of goals in the second half, the third hat-trick in Union history.

Whatever might be happening in the business end of the Union, and as much faith as Earnie Stewart has in our team, this result was a visible step in the right direction. It couldn’t have been possible without Andre Blake in goal and Sapong up top. It couldn’t have been possible without our subs and it couldn’t have been possible without the whole team putting in the effort. Dare I say that the Union was a cohesive unit for the first time in months?

That is what Philadelphia needs to win games and that is what we need to show our potential; the potential that Jim Curtin and the rest of management have been reassuring fans has been there from day one.

I can’t tell you what stars aligned for this to happen. To be frank, the first half was possession heavy for the Union but there wasn’t much action. Our wingers were well-marked by the Red Bulls backline and ineffective overall. Oguchi Onyewu and Fabinho managed to scrape up key clearances and Blake was on top of things as the chances for the Bulls kept coming. The set pieces plays managed to be over-hit every single time by Haris Medunjanin from corners to free-kicks. It wasn’t all bad as Alejandro Bedoya managed to show off some of his skill just outside the box to stop Daniel Royer in his tracks and get a shot saved by Luis Robles.

Union ended up with a clean sheet by half-time, but the second half started with the Red Bulls on the offensive. It was to be expected; they lost in their midweek game against Sporting Kansas City and they wanted some road points to take back home with them. Philadelphia had to sub out Raymon Gaddis and Roland Alberg in the 62nd minute as the game got chippy and both men suffered a knock they couldn’t shake off.

In came the substitutions that made quite a difference to the back and forth play between the Bulls and the Union: Keegan Rosenberry and Derrick Jones. I don’t know if it was just fresh legs or a can-do attitude, but the fans could see a visible regroup by Philadelphia once they got on the field. It was the ‘do or die’ moment or perhaps the ‘join or die’ moment as the club’s motto goes.

Rosenberry had been benched since the home game loss against NYCFC in favor of starting Gaddis. He had something to prove out on the field and he wasn’t going to be stopped by the Bulls. His partnership with Chris Pontius worked in our favor as Bedoya moved into a no. 10 position. Pontius who had seen little of the ball in the first half managed to get in some good crosses to Sapong and put a little more pep in his step around the 72nd minute mark.

Anticipation was building. The air was filled with chants and support. The goal had to be coming and Sapong didn’t disappoint with a rocket to the top left corner of the net.

Seven minutes later, he does it again with help from a knockdown by Pontius with his head. At that point, I had never been happier to hear the DOOP song play again. The last time Philadelphia had a two goal lead at home was back in August of last year against SKC. Incidentally, it was also part of a second half effort with goals late in the game.

After all the excitement of the second goal, the Red Bulls got a corner kick off Jack Elliott. Bradley Wright-Phillips missed his chance, the ball going high above the net. A counter run by the Union ended in a penalty given by Damien Perrinelle’s handball. The man who stepped up to take it was, of course, CJ Sapong.

A hat-trick in a game most had dismissed as clear-cut in favor of the visiting team. Home ground advantage hadn’t exactly panned out for the boys in blue lately and the winless streak had been gaining an edge of optimism but was it really enough for Philadelphia to succeed?

The resounding answer was yes.

By the end of the game, no one could say it was a fluke that Philadelphia won. It was a moment long-awaited for the team and it came in a spectacular fashion. It only took eleven minutes in total for Sapong to give us a win, but it took all eleven men on the field to give us a victory.

As an end note, there was some criticism for the amazing remake of the “Fresh Prince” opening made by the team during the week, but I’m inclined to agree with my friend who said after the win: “It’s that Fresh Prince jawn that did it.” Maybe I’m a tad too superstitious but how could we not come out as winners with this masterpiece throwback?               

Next week: Union goes on the road to the capital. My prediction: A win for the Union. Things are looking up.

Featured image courtesy: @PhilaUnion

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @mercpay

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On the Road, Out of Order

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 3: 2-0 Loss

Mid-week. On the road. Non-conference. Apparently, it was time to change things up a bit.

The New York Red Bulls (5-4-1, 15 points), coming off a successful home stand, hit the road with their first stop in Children’s Mercy Park to face Western Conference powerhouse Sporting Kansas City (5-1-3, 19 points).

Having started a run of three games in 8 days, RBNY coach Jesse Marsch made significant changes to the lineup. Sacha Kljestan gave his captain’s armband up to Luis Robles. Defender (and reality TV star) Sal Zizzo made an appearance at center back, since Aurelien Collin is week-to-week with a groin injury. Panamanian international Michael Murillo made his long-awaited debut for RBNY. Bradley Wright-Phillips took a well-deserved break, making way for Designated Player Gonzalo Veron and Frederik Gulbrandsen to lead the team in a 4-2-2-2 formation.

On the other hand, SKC was not interested in making significant changes. Captain Matt Besler, USMNT notables Graham Zusi & Benny Feilhaber, and the ever-popular SKC striker Dom Dwyer were ready for a fight in front of the KC Cauldron. It’s worth noting that a win for either side would have put them in 1st place in their conference. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem to have been the priority for New York.

The starting whistle was more like a starting pistol for both teams: pace and passing were intense in the first 20 minutes.  Both sides were held scoreless in the first half, despite the solid chances for Gulbrandsen and Zizzo. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia made several saves to keep his side in the game.

Then the second half happened. Sporting KC decided they wanted it more and acted on it. In the opening minute, Feilhaber made a shot into the NY box that Zizzo couldn’t clear and Dwyer sunk the ball into the back of the net. Although the rest was over for usual starters Klejstan, Wright-Phillips, and Dani Royer, it proved to be too little too late: in the 68th minute, the combination of Feilhaber and Dwyer caught the defense sleeping and scored a second time. The game ended in a 2-0 loss for the Red Bulls, and fans were left questioning the lesson that was meant to be learned.

Was it a night for experimentation? If so, Marsch had the right idea putting in Murillo and Derrick Etienne, and starting Gulbrandsen, to see what they could do in unfamiliar territory. Was it worth losing? No one is happy to lose, especially when the chances were there for the Red Bulls. Honestly, this is the first write-up I’ve had to make with a RBNY loss. It’s not fun.

Next game for RBNY is this Saturday, away at Philadelphia Union, who must be very hungry for a win. How will the Red Bulls handle this very different situation?

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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Whitecaps vs Impact

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christina Casas // @nkstar9

Saturday, April 29: 1-2 Win

OK, so I am a bit a lot late, sorry. But, hey, The Vancouver Whitecaps have a game today, let’s get excited.

What did the ‘Caps do last weekend to get the W that can be continued today?

Going down early in the game we continued to find space. So, people who know soccer always say that, but what does it mean?

The Whitecaps used runs by Jordan Harvey and Sheanon Williams to play balls into the middle then back out to the wings to create more space in the middle. This helped to create a ton of opportunities in which we were able to capitalize on. I want to emphasize that these opportunities were capitalized on.

The first Whitecap goal was a beautiful strike from Andrew Jacobson to tie the game at one a piece after falling behind 1-0 early in the game.

Cristian Techera was integral in making sure ball movement was opening up the field. After the initial goal of the game by Marco Donadel, Montreal Impact fell back and packed their defense. This required possessing the ball and making quick movements towards goal. This also led to some dangerous counter-strikes from Ignacio Piatti and the young and fun to watch Ballou Tabla.

The second goal coming from Techera was a beauty and a schooling in patience and tactical intelligence. It made me want to be a better soccer player.

Overall, the ‘Caps had more consistency with the same Starting XI as last game. Created more space with the overlapping of the defensive backs and more patience and possession as prior games.

Playing in Colorado tonight on their second last stop of their road trip, let’s root for them to #riseupraincity and finally, congrats to Fredy Montero for being voted Whitecaps FC player of the Month.

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nkstar9

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ATLvDC

 

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

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, April 30: 1-3 Loss

I am really struggling to find something to write about. There wasn’t much good that came out of Sunday’s game. We scored two goals, but one was an own goal… We dominated the game, stats-wise, but we still lost… No red cards, but we ended up having a player suspended anyway.

Sunday morning started out cloudy and a little rainy. Shortly after noon, the sun came out and brought the humidity with it. I’m not sure it affected the players, but it did affect the crowd a little. Drinking adult beverages for 4 hours at the tailgate + temperatures over 85 degrees (in April!?) made things a bit uncomfortable in the stands. I heard that several people had to be treated for possible dehydration. I drank two bottles of water in the second half alone.

I was, however, really excited about this game because my favorite soccer store set up a tent at the Terminus Legion tailgate and I finally got my training jersey personalized with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez‘s name and number on it, completing my Argentinean trio of jerseys.

The game itself started off pretty well for Atlanta United. We controlled the game for about the first 25 minutes before it all went to hell. Tito Villalba had two shots in less than two minutes – both of which were saved by Bill Hamid. In the 9th minute, Miguel Almiron snagged the ball just outside the box and passed to Greg Garza, who tapped the ball to Yamil Asad. Asad slid to his right to get around a DC United defender and lifted a cross right into the path of Kenwyne Jones, who headed the ball into the back of the net. A few minutes later, Jones had another chance, but the ball went wide of the net.

In the 25th minute, DC got their first goal by way of an unfortunate own goal by Michael Parkhurst. Parky was probably a half step too late to touch that ball and ended up deflecting it past Alec Kann into the net. This was about when the game started to go downhill for Atlanta.

While we still managed to dominate the game (see the graphic below), Atlanta couldn’t manage to get the ball past Hamid. We had 26 shots. TWENTY SIX. And 74% possession. How about that passing accuracy, too? I still don’t know how we didn’t win this game.

Yamil Asad was shown a yellow card in the second half for raising his elbow while going in to take the ball away from Lloyd Sam. I’ve watched the clip a few times and it doesn’t look like any contact was actually made, but DisCo reviewed the tape and ended up suspending Asad for a game anyway. That kid really needs to learn to keep his elbows down (no more listening to Ludacris’ “Southern Hospitality” before games, I guess). I’m considering bringing duct tape to the next home game for him.

I feel like there was something off about our defense this week. Was it because Jeff Larentowicz was out (concussion protocol)? I can’t put my finger on it, but I hope they work out the kinks in practice this week and get it together for NYCFC next weekend.

Our next two games are away – in two of the trickiest stadiums to play in. Yankee Stadium because of it’s weird dimensions and the following week in Portland because of Timbers Army. With any luck, the slightly odd dimensions of Bobby Dodd and the crazy ATL crowd will have prepared the boys for what they’re about to face.

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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A Frustrating Loss I mean… Draw

Allison - LA Galaxy
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Allison Sorrell // @AJSorrell_

Saturday, April 29: 0-0 Draw

I hate to say it, but I dreaded watching this match.

Prematch rumor mill had people talking about the losing head coach getting the axe, and a joke went around indicating that if it’s high stakes and no one can lose, the match might as well end in a draw.

They were right. The LA Galaxy (2-5-1) played to a 0-0 draw against the Philadelphia Union (0-4-4) on Saturday. Curt Onalfo changed up the lineup a bit, going with a 4-2-3-1, which ideally would have helped with the attack that the Galaxy has been lacking all season. To this day, not a single Galaxy forward has scored a goal in the run of play this season, and the Galaxy’s supposedly huge offseason signing in midfielder Joao Pedro hasn’t contributed either a goal or an assist in the eight matches he has played for the Galaxy.

To me, a draw against the team at the bottom of the table in MLS is a loss. With only four points this season (each point coming from a draw), the Philadelphia Union hasn’t won a match since last August. LA should’ve had this match in the bag. But we didn’t.

Despite the change in lineup, the Galaxy just could not put the ball in the back of the net, and it almost feels as if there’s a magnetic field preventing this squad from doing so. Romain Alessandrini’s biggest chance came and went in the second minute when his wide open volley went directly into the arms of Andre Blake, the extremely lucky keeper for the Union, who was saved by the posts in the 21st minute when Joao Pedro’s rocket hit not one, but both goal posts and rolled right back out and into Blake’s hands.

The positive of this match is that Brian Rowe looked ready to take his spot as starting keeper back. In the 19th minute Rowe tipped a great shot from Roland Alberg over the bar and then came off of his line to get the bar out of danger during the subsequent corner kick to keep the scoreline at zero.

The problem here is that I’m not ready to say that the Galaxy is improving at all. Playing at home against a team that hasn’t won a match in eight months, we should have had all three points in the bag here. An improved but still less than stellar performance against the current worst team in MLS does not mean that we’re out of the woods yet, and based on the reaction to this match, I’m not the only one that is still hesitant.

I’ve stated this a few times in previous weeks, but let me reiterate. This Galaxy team is just boring. The second half against Philadelphia was so uneventful that nothing that happened is even worth mentioning here.  We had a couple of good changes, our defense looked a bit better, but the magic, confidence, and the swagger the LA Galaxy has had in previous years under Bruce Arena is completely gone. The longer we keep this up the more I believe that huge changes need to be made before we can ever even think about becoming the best team in MLS again because well, we are, take a look at how many MLS Cups we’ve won. It’s five. 1-2-3-4-5.

But I’m not sure this team knows that.

Next week we take on the Chicago Fire, the team that always steals my favorite Galaxy players. Currently on their roster is former Galaxy starter Juninho, who I will bet just about anything will score a goal at StubHub Center next Saturday. This Chicago team, very surprisingly actually, looks good this season, sitting just under the line at 7th in the east. Hopefully, we’ll finally score a goal and win a match at home for “Throwback Night.” Hopefully, we’re throwing back to when we won matches.

Featured image courtesy: @LAGalaxy

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A Fair Result

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, April 29:  2-2 Draw

It is amazing the number of emotions you can go through in the course of watching a single match. Elation, disappointment, frustration, satisfaction, all within the course of ninety minutes (plus stoppage). That was pretty much the story of this game, which ended with what a dispassionate observer would have to call a fair result in a 2-2 draw in Frisco. And yes, if you had asked me before the game, “Hey, Sheba how would you feel about coming away with a draw?” knowing that we were missing our star player; playing against a team that hadn’t yet been defeated in the league; and against a team that hadn’t yet dropped any points at home, I certainly would have been satisfied.

And yet…

I know. FC Dallas is a powerful team. The weather (lightning delay followed by wind gusts and bouts of downpours) made for a game that was less finesse and more brute force. And yes, we were without star Diego Valeri, sidelined with a hip injury. In the cold light of the next day I can certainly accept the draw. But dang, a win would have been a phenomenal exclamation point instead of a full stop.

Ah well, on with the recap.

The biggest changes to Saturday’s lineup included Sebastian Blanco moving into the number ten spot with Valeri’s absence; and Dairon Asprilla lining up to the right in Blanco’s normal spot. Fanendo Adi was back in his usual spot up top, and Jeff Attinella took his second stint in goal for the injured Jake Gleeson. While OF COURSE I’d rather have Valeri on the field, I was pretty confident that Blanco would be quite capable of taking his spot, since he has played in that position many times before for Lanus and San Lorenzo. And I appreciated having Asprilla’s pace on the wing. (I did worry a bit about Vytautas Andriuškevičius‘s speed in the back against Dallas, but his experience and crossing ability made him the right choice as our left back.)

The game got off to a late start, a fifteen-minute-or-so weather delay that apparently meant no national anthem performed by the hosts. In a class move, the traveling Timbers Army (including the TA regional supporter group Lone Star Brigade) stepped up and sang it for them after the kick.

In the first fifteen minutes or so of play, Dallas did not look as sharp as their record would indicate. Miscommunication and errant passes resulted in a couple of near misses for the Timbers early on. And while the Timbers were not exactly sharp on the ball themselves, Dallas did not look particularly threatening in the first half, either.

I’m not sure why Adi was completely unmarked on the first goal, but um cool, thanks, Dallas. He played it beautifully nonetheless, heading in a free kick from David Guzmán in the 30th minute. Guzman placed a high, curving ball from well behind the 18 on the right, arcing it perfectly for an advancing Adi to head it into the back of the net for the score:

Apparently this irritated an assistant on the Dallas bench enough that he managed to get himself ejected (we have an odd history of this happening with the Dallas assistant coaching staff, by the way).

Dallas equalized for the first time in the 61st minute by former Timber Maximiliano Urruti (we still miss you, Maxi!), with a brilliant, unstoppable ball from the top of the 18 on the right to the top left corner of the goal. Ouch.

And then Blanco got to open his account, scoring a lovely team goal coming off an Alvas Powell overlap. Blanco collected Powell’s pass to the center, took a touch, and coolly fired it home for his first MLS goal:

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last score of the game. Darlington Nagbe  was uncharacteristically a step behind his man on defense (I suspect he was already injured at that point), Powell slipped in front of the goal, and suddenly Tesho Akindele had tied it all up for Dallas. In the end 2-2 was a fair result, but oh, what might have been.

Random hot takes

Where are Dallas supporters? It saddened me to see so many empty seats at the Dallas match. I know it is in Frisco, but Dallas has a talented team that is fun to watch (when they aren’t scoring on us, that is). Not sure what the solution is, but dang, Dallas, you have an exceptional squad. Hope the locals show up for you in the future.

Jeff Attinella, you have my attention. You had a couple of tremendous saves in a game that could easily have been a loss without your solid play. What a quality addition to the team.

Fanendo Adi was more than worthy out there. He took one for the team–eight for the team, actually, in fouls suffered, and with the goal and assist I’d say he put in a solid day’s work.

The Timbers Army continues to travel well. As we have done in every away game so far this season, the Timbers Army traveling supporters have arrived in large numbers, selling out every seat allocated to us in the away supporters’ section, with more of the same to come (we’ve already sold out our away allocation in San Jose, with a long waiting list of folks hoping to join in the fun). Keep it up, Rose City faithful, and TA regional supporters groups around the country.

Despite only taking a point on the road, the Timbers remain atop the Western Conference. Next stop, San Jose next Saturday. See you then!

Featured image courtesy: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

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Insert expletive here.

Ambrosia Tonkovich - Real Salt Lake/mlsfemale
Official Real Salt Lake Reporter

By Ambrosia Tonkovich // @heyambrosia

Saturday, April 29: 3-0 Loss

Well, I don’t know where to start. For the first time in eight matches against Sporting Kansas City, we finally lost to them. With 7 yellow cards between the two teams, the game ended in the 96th minute with a 3-0 lead from SKC.

With both Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando out on injury, I want to say it started off promising for Real Salt Lake fans, but I’ll be honest, it didn’t look that great from the beginning. SKC scored their first goal in the 17th minute (Benny Feilhaber) and boy was it pretty. I have to give credit where credit is due, I know I would’ve been proud if RSL had scored a goal that looked so good, so I couldn’t even be mad when that happened.

After this goal,  we started to gain a little bit more possession, with Joao Plata making sure to send in anything he could, and Yura Movsisyan almost making a shot that deflected off of Plata in the 29th minute. After a quick discussion, referees made the decision that Plata was in an offsides position and the goal didn’t count. The noise that came out of my mouth during that time was… something inhuman. I laughed at the whole thing, but it was understandable. But man it would’ve been nice to at least have one goal.

We still continued our theme of incomplete passes during the rest of the second half and finished the 45th with a 1.0 lead from SKC and a sad, but hopeful halftime gave me time to grieve.

Alas, our second half started off quick for SKC, they gained their second goal in the 52nd minute, courtesy of Dom Dwyer. Soon after that, Movsisyan signaled that he needed to be taken off at the 60th minute due to an injury, and Coach Mike Petke was forced to sub him out but brought in Luis Silva up front for the attack.

At the 90th minute they announced 5 minutes of stoppage time, and I groaned, but hoped that it would go quick. I was wrong. Right toward the end of stoppage, Gerso Fernandez was able to run past Matt Van Oekel who went out to get the ball but missed. There it was, 3-0 and just at the end of stoppage time. As soon as the whistle rang I turned off the TV.

Am I disappointed? Sure. There have been numerous players who have all agreed, everyone needs to step up. However, I continue to stick by our team during these growing pains with new players and 11 players of ours out on injury (the most in the league). Hopefully, we continue some conditional training to keep our current players around and out of injury trouble.

Match Events:

(SKC) 17′  Goal Benny Feilhaber 1-0

(RSL) 39′  Yellow Card Luke Mulholland

(SKC) 49′  Yellow Card Benny Feilhaber

(SKC) 51′  Goal Dominic Dwyer 2-0

(RSL) 51′  Yellow Card Demar Phillips

(SKC) 55′  Yellow Card R. Espinoza

(RSL) 55′  Yellow Card Yura Movsisyan

(RSL) 60′  Substitution: Out: Yura Movsisyan In: Luis Silva

(SKC) 69′  Yellow Card Graham Zusi

(SKC) 70′  Substitution: Out: R. Espinoza  In: Sony Mustivar

(RSL) 71′  Substitution: Out: Danilo Acosta  In S. Saucedo

(SKC) 79′  Substitution: Out J. Medranda In Daniel Salloi

(SKC) 84′  Yellow Card Gerso Fernandes

(RSL) 85′  Substitution: Out: Luke Mulholland In: José María Hernández

(SKC) 90′ + 1′  Substitution: Out: Dominic Dwyer In: Soony Saad

(SKC) 90′ + 5′  Goal Gerso Fernandes 3-0

Featured image courtesy: @RealSaltLake

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Ouch, that Hurt

Hilary - Columbus
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, April 29: 2-3 Loss

Had I started writing match recaps last week, I would have started with, “Ouch that hurt,” due to the two injuries and uninspiring play by Columbus Crew SC against the New York Red Bulls.  And this week, I can start with the same line for a myriad of reasons.

Ouch that hurt.  Columbus Crew SC let a come from behind lead slip away resulting in a 3-2 loss against New York City FC.  NYCFC started off with an early lead in the 8th minute with a goal by Jack Harrison.  Columbus Crew SC answered with a goal by Federico Higuaín in the 29th minute entering into halftime with a draw.

Columbus started the second half with promise taking the lead 4 minutes into the second half with a goal by Ola Kamara.  And then, the wheels seemed to come off.  NYCFC answered with two more goals.  One by Yangel Herrera and a second by Jack Harrison. 

Let’s talk about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful parts of this game. 

The Good:  Federico Higuaín looked like a man driven by a cause for the bulk of this game.  He pressured, he passed, he shot, and he played what I think was one of his strongest games of the season.  This isn’t to say it was perfect.  There were times I felt like he tried to force a few things or put a few too many extra touches on the ball when it should have been passed faster or shot immediately, but it was nice to see his desire to win reflected in his play.  This is the Pipa we need to show up for all of Columbus Crew SC’s matches.

The Bad:  This game was a reminder of a lot of the games we lost last year—bleeding goals at the end of games.  However, I do believe this game might have been salvageable had Gregg subbed a bit earlier than he did.  In fact, I started screaming for him to sub around the 60th minute.  Obviously, Gregg couldn’t hear me from across the field, or I’m sure he would have followed my “expert” advice.  It was evident that after our second goal that we couldn’t possess, and we couldn’t absorb NYCFC’s attack forever.  Had Niko Hansen and Kekuta Manneh been subbed in earlier, this game may have ended up differently.

The Ugly:  NYCFC’s goals.  All three of them were ugly because we should have done better.  Two of their goals were caused by our own bad passes leading to giveaways in our half of the field.  After we lost the ball before their first goal, it seemed as if all the Crew SC players had been paused or put into slow motion as NYCFC tore through our players and scored.  Their last goal was a bad pass into our own box that should have never been placed there in the first place.  This is reminiscent of last year’s defensive woes that we haven’t seen as many times this year.  So, if our defense could just remain in 2017 and not flashback to 2016, we would all appreciate it.

The Beautiful:  Our goals were fun goals to watch.  We just didn’t score enough of them.  Higuaín’s volley from a beautiful Raitala cross was sharp and taken without hesitation.  Not to be outdone, Ola Kamara tried a similar kind of volley a little bit later in the game and almost had another goal.  Our second goal was accomplished by some hustle by Ethan Finlay who rattled a NYCFC defender enough to recover the ball and send it across the middle.  Using some unseen sense, Higuaín let the ball go between his legs with a deft step to a waiting Ola Kamara who sent it into the goal.  I want more of these kind of goals every game, but honestly, I’ll just take more goals than our opponent–even if they aren’t as pretty as these.

All in all, this was a game that should have been a win for Crew SC as NYCFC was missing Pirlo and Villa.  We have a few more home games before hitting the road, and I’m looking forward to seeing who this Crew SC team is.

Featured image courtesy: Columbus Crew facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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