Category Archives: Western Conference

Western Conference

Water dance of Loons snuff out Chicago Fire in opener

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 17: 2-1 Win

On Saturday night, Minnesota United FC put on a show for the sold-out black and blue and green clad crowd at TCF Bank Stadium, their temporary home on the campus of the U of M. Many feared a repeat of the 2017 home opener, when the Loons made their MLS debut in white-out conditions and gave up six goals, much too easily, to expansion rival Atlanta United. This home opener could not have been more different.

With speedy left winger Miguel Ibarra playing the central-mid role in place of Molino, flanked by Nicholson on his left and Finlay on his right, and communicating telepathically with withdrawn striker Christian Ramirez, the Loons were constantly pressing forward. Behind them, Schuller and Ibson were picking pockets left and right, choosing carefully their opportunities to send the ball forward. It was frustrating to watch that effort come to nothing the first half, especially with Chicago Fire’s attack, led by Nemanja Nikolic, outshooting Minnesota with five shots to two.

A last-second miscue or dispossession would dissolve the Loons’ momentum time after time. But still. They dominated. The shuffled lineup was cause for celebration by fans who were confused up to this point by Heath’s use of the bench. The midfield, in particular, a problem spot all last season and in the season opener in San Jose, earned the glory.

Without Ibson’s ridiculous footwork and dribbling, without Nicholson’s driving shoulder on the wing, without Ibarra’s speed and distribution, without Ramirez’s selfless hold-up plays, without Finlay’s crossing ability…

Ibson notched the first goal when he (for some bizarre reason) found himself on the receiving end of a Finlay cross in the 55th minute. Chicago keeper Sanchez got a glove on Ibson’s first shot but tipped it back his direction. Ibson made good on the second chance.

Chicago drew level at the 59th minute when the Loons’ defense seemed to lose their marks allowing Elliot Collier to rebound on a Nikolic shot and score in his league debut. The draw lit a fire under Minnesota, who all poured forward. Just seven minutes later, Finlay took off down the right wing and crossed the ball into the box meeting Nicholson, who snuck past a Fire line focused on the right wing. The midfielder pounced and launched a header past Sanchez who barely turned his head as the ball whistled past him.

Both sides had chances over the final minutes, but Minnesota’s defense held true and the squad continued pressing forward, refusing to ‘park the bus’, as they say. Instead, they said maybe.

The entire stadium seemed to hold a collective breath through stoppage time. Finally, the whistle sounded and 23,138 people (less the 200 Section 8 fans who traveled from Chicago) belted out Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ with their scarves held high.

Featured image courtesy: Bridget McDowell

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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Time and Patience: Two qualities FC Dallas fans don’t seem to give, but it may pay off

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale
Official FC Dallas Reporter

By Bailey Brown // @baileystaysposi

Sunday, March 18: 3-0 Win

I’m going to start this off by saying that I was shocked that we really put yesterday’s game away. My feeling could be very wrong, but I usually feel like FC Dallas doesn’t do a great job of really killing off teams when they’re a man up. However, yesterday was different. I liked it. I liked it a lot. But, I had a lot of other thoughts on things that I liked about the game other than the score.

FC Dallas had what was arguably the worst fallout of a season in 2017. I feel that going into 2018, fans were wary of what we would see on the field. We had some great offseason signings and the promise of playing some of our kids. Dallas fans are notorious for not being patient and wanting to see changes and improvements: looks at watch… like, yesterday.

One thing we could definitely benefit from is seeing that time on the field for some of these new players and being patient with them. It will benefit everyone involved. I feel like we finally got a glimpse of what we can see from some of these players and it may just pay off.

Anton Nedyalkov: I didn’t know what to expect from this man from Bulgaria when we signed him. I liked what I saw in film and some Dallas podcasts interviewed fans from his former team and we liked what we heard. However, the transition to MLS can be a lot for someone and may take some time. Let’s just say, in the short amount of time he has been in Dallas, Nedyalkov has definitely earned his new nickname, “The Bulgarian Butcher”.

This man is a blessing to our defense. He really seems to not care if he puts someone on the ground and I love every second of it. I tend to feel that MLS usually is about speed and Nedyalkov is there to literally stop someone in their tracks. Not to mention, he is not afraid to completely push up and just throw another team’s defense off. He actually did this yesterday and set Lamah up for his second goal. It was beautiful and I can’t wait to see more.

Paxton Pomykal: Pomykal is one of those Dallas homegrowns I have been waiting to see really get some time. He came in for Jacori Hayes and only played 26 minutes, but he showed us a lot. Paxton has the speed down the side, but also the skill to make defenders look dumb.

There are two plays of Paxton’s that really stand out to me. One of the first runs he had was dribbling down the field and what seemed to be around five different Seattle Sounders players. I was impressed and the crowd seemed to be as well. The next play that stood out to me was when he kept control of the ball and made a great through to Barrios.

Something I think Dallas has struggled with is getting balls to Barrios for him to make the runs we know he is good at. Pomykal can deliver those and it sets us up for success on many levels.

Jacori Hayes: Jacori Hayes supposedly almost didn’t get the start, but I’m sure glad he did. This kid has impressed me. One thing I like about him is that he is just consistent. The FC Dallas midfield is just not as strong as we want it to be. There just seems to be a missing piece.

While Kellyn Acosta is out, we seem to be lacking depth as well. Hayes can hold it down. We still need that connecting piece that makes the ball movement from defense to our forwards more fluid, but I really think Hayes could be a part of that puzzle. With a little bit more experience and time, I think Hayes will take more chances and really make it his own. Not to mention, he took some hard hits yesterday. He is definitely tough physically and mentally.

Our game against Seattle was everything I wanted it to be. Were they without some key players? Yes. Did Dempsey go out on a red because he can’t keep his hands to himself? Yes. But, defeating Seattle always feels sweet. We had some solid plays from Urruti, Lamah, and Barrios, and I hope the team we saw yesterday continues to jell together and puts games away.

Also, congratulations to Oscar Pareja on becoming the winningest coach in the modern FC Dallas era!


Featured image of rowboat celebration courtesy: Bailey Brown

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @baileystaysposi

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The struggle is real for LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Sebastian Lletget, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

With a 4-2-3-1 formation, Ola Kamara was the lone striker, which should have meant getting more touches on the ball, but we just couldn’t quite get there despite our rigorous efforts.

The LA Galaxy played at Yankee Stadium, so I had to listen to my team struggle via the radio and watch per Twitter highlights.  The size of the field, 68 x 106 yards (70×100 meters), played a factor in our performance since it is the smallest in MLS and the smallest allowed by FIFA’s international guidelines. We aren’t used to playing on that, but it’s not an excuse.

With Alessandrini out for the match due to a hamstring injury, it was an opportunity for Sebastian Lletget to shine as the right winger. This was his first start and longest amount of time played (75 minutes) since his long recovery from a Lisfranc injury.  He brought speed and really fought hard to create scoring chances.

We were outplayed in the first half and the first goal came in the 22nd minute from Anton Tinnerholm on a well-timed run that Ciani just couldn’t push out.

This is only the second game in the season, but we can see the Galaxy need to work on keeping it together after substitutions and hang on in the later minutes of the second half until the end of the match. They also need to work on finishing goals because they had plenty of scoring opportunities. Lastly, we need to develop the chemistry between players (we are looking much better), but we need to play the way New York City FC’s Sweat and Medina set each other up.

It was 2-0 by the 33rd minute when David Villa scored on a rebound off Bingham’s save. Their other chances came when players like Yangel Herrera were given too much space, but Bingham really did well saving us most of the evening.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget’s first start and the most minutes he’s played since his recovery

Unfortunately, the match turned sour for the Galaxy when Ciani had to exit with what we now know as a hip flexor injury, but Steres was subbed in.

Set pieces are always opportunities for the Galaxy to score, but we missed those. We also had poor play out of the backline.

Finally, the breakthrough we’d been hoping for came in the 60th minute when Jonathan Dos Santos was able to score. He moved up when Carrasco subbed his brother, Gio, due to an injury ten minutes prior.  Jona had been on the ball but played too deep in his position in the holding mid before the change.

After that goal, the Galaxy had better energy. Skjelvik defended us well. Still, we need to keep from coming undone late in the game.

The last blow to us came when Ashley Cole, our beloved captain, got a second yellow card that resulted in a red and we were down a man. Cole made a challenge that took down Villa with little contact, which should have been up for VAR, but another key player was out.

At the end of it all, we are a more than capable team. As to be expected after the alterations this team has undergone, there’s still work to be done. But, I see us coming together despite this 2-1 loss. Missing key players means the rest of the team has to step up and show up.

Images courtesy:

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @AdorableEars

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A cry of loons bests the pride of lions

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 10: 1-2 Win

Despite an identical lineup, the cry of Loons who appeared in Orlando Saturday was a different animal from last weekend. And this group announced their presence loud and clear.

I choose the collective noun ‘cry’ here over a handful of others for Minnesota’s state bird because the performance of this squad – their grit, heart, and perseverance – against Orlando City SC put a hopeful and enlightened tone on the season, much like the cry of our beloved loon does on a summer day.

Head coach Adrian Heath faced his former club with the same 4-2-3-1 he tried against San Jose Earthquakes last week, but with Christian Ramirez at forward in lieu of Danladi.

Center back Francisco Calvo anchored a backline that communicated well from the first whistle, closing gaps effectively and holding down the box. Ibson, who was not even a shadow of himself in the asylum against San Jose, pressed forward with each possession, pecking away at weaknesses in the Lions’ midfield, but did not take any unnecessary risks.

Mid Sam Nicholson worked the wide open left wing in his best showing to date, creating some hopeful chances of his own. And Kevin Molino was aggressive against his former club, assisting Ethan Finlay on a beautiful 12th-minute goal which spurred an even greater hunger to move forward.

But in the latter part of the first half, despite leading a depleted Lions squad, play went stale. It would pick up a bit after Orlando forward Stefano Pinho (a veteran of the NASL-era Loons) was stretchered off and the countdown to halftime began, only to devolve when an Orlando free kick was rescinded and replaced by a PK, thanks (or no thanks) to VAR, allowing Yoshimar Yotun to level the game for the Lions.

The second half began similarly, with play wallowing like a raft in waves. Molino had to be replaced by Collen Warner after a non-contact left knee injury. Also, Nicholson’s hamstring, a minor issue through the first half, finally saw him replaced by Miguel Ibarra. Ramirez was also pulled in favor of the fresh legs of rookie draft pick Mason Toye.

Toye and Ibarra were immediate factors, laying on the pressure up front and finding wide open shooting lanes. Their efforts were rewarded in the 79th minute when Ibarra received the ball from Toye and fired a cross toward the near post. It was met by a well-timed boot from Finlay for a stunning brace. From there, the Loons went into overdrive with a dopping of defense, dispossessing Lions in the box and forcing shots wide.

With Molino and others uncertain, Heath will undoubtedly have to go back to the ‘loonery’ to shore up his squad before the home opener. The club has a lot of improvements to make, but after watching this entire squad gut out the final minutes of this match, it is obvious that these players are determined to do whatever it takes to make 2018 a successful season.

Next up: The loon will cry out over Minneapolis on St Patrick’s Day. Can a water dance tame the Chicago Fire?

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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LA Galaxy’s refreshing start to the season

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

The Los Angeles Galaxy are back! Home opener at StubHub center vs the Portland Timbers.

Sunday, March 4, 2018: 2-1 Win

Six foreign friends and I waited in anticipation in our chilly seats behind the goal in GA. They compared US soccer to their countries in Europe and South America based on the warm-ups. I wanted them to be impressed and to show them that the MLS can hang in the world of soccer. 

A banner then rolled out over us right before the national anthem. The Angel City Brigade clapped rhythmically, waved their flags, and beat their drums.  Familiar chants roared across the field. Despite being sick with a cold, I cheered right along. Needless to say, we were stoked before the game was even underway.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.



The first half was dominated by the LA Galaxy. It belonged to them.

Both goals were scored in that half. A rather messy goal that was Kamara’s debut where he literally fell into scoring as a Portland defender pushed him from behind, knocking him over the keeper, but the ball was in at the 31st minute.The crowd went wild.

Goal #2 came two minutes later when Alessandrini scored after a second attempt as the ball came off the post when he slid onto his side, got back up and kicked it in. He was quick and determined.

Alessandrini went out after he pulled up with what looked like a right hamstring strain in the 60th minute. Chris Pontius entered the game. We started to come loose at the seams.  Portland had plenty of chances and often times too much space as seen in the second half, such as when Sebastián Blanco was able to score making it 2-1 by the 66th minute.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Portland with a free kick before the end of the first half

Giovani Dos Santos was subbed out in the 72nd minute and finally, Sebastian Lletget, who fans had been calling for, came in.  Lletget brought speed and was fearless as he challenged two to three Portland defenders at a time to win back the ball.

In the 83rd minute of the game, Ema Boateng exited and Servando Carrasco came on for the Galaxy. Another change that altered the dynamic of the team.

There’s currently not an update on Alessandrini from coach Sigi Schmid. Wishing him well, especially since he and Boateng are key players. Once they exited the game, we had trouble keeping it together, we needed to keep calm and play through difficult maneuvers from the other team.

We needed to defend and not worry about scoring. The Dos Santos brothers made good runs for the most part. That said, Ciani has the most improvement with great attack and defense.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
52’ Bingham (Galaxy keeper) with the save off a corner

This LA team in the preseason gave plenty of concerns and there were plenty of times throughout this match that had me asking so many questions (most of them were calls made or not made by the ref).  There’s always room for improvement. Still, The Galaxy deserved this win. They earned it in front of 25,462 fans. This kind of comeback is what I was hoping for and what this club needed.

Overall, our defense was exceptional as well as our attack. We also regained possession quickly. We looked and played the best we’ve been in a long while. This is LA. This is my team. This is the way to come back and open at home.

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @AdorableEars

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Real Salt Lake scores all the goals

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

By Ambrosia Tonkovich // @heyambrosia

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 1-1 Draw

Real Salt Lake finished their first season game with an opener against FC Dallas, ending in a 1 v 1 draw, where RSL effectively scored every goal on the roster, including the one counting against us. Too excited, I guess. But I’ll take the point. Let’s dig in.

First of all, let me say, WHOOOOO the season is back and wow, I didn’t realize how much I needed it this year. While it’s been a very interesting offseason for the team, signing a bunch of young new players, it has been an interesting one for me. I feel like a different person, cheering on a different team, and I, for one, welcome our change overlords.

Within 11 minutes of the game, I realized why it is I loved Mike Petke so much last year. It’s not that that love died, it’s just that I hadn’t seen him coaching a regular season game for so long, I hadn’t seen that fire and passion in his eyes while he sticks up for his players, and yet tells them exactly what’s what all at the same time.

Newly restored faith and love had my heart soaring this game, and I couldn’t have been more elated with the early goal by Joao Plata in the 25th minute. This little dude is FAST and I didn’t see it a lot last year. Seeing him sprint toward that ball and completely confuse Reggie Cannon while he fires it in was just the RSL I have been waiting for.

The weird thing I want to mention was this referee. I am very comfortable saying that there were some fouls on BOTH sides that should’ve gotten more than a slap on the wrist. I appreciate that for the most part, the flow of the game was hardly stopped due to potentially unnecessary stops that would usually happen in another game, but we fouled them, they fouled us, and I feel like at least a yellow or two should’ve been called on each side.

We were grabbing and pulling a player’s arm back at one point – they were grabbing and pulling our player’s jersey to try and keep from scoring (which he didn’t ever go down, so I do get why nothing was called). BUT. I can’t complain too much, honestly. Nothing that wasn’t called would’ve cost the game one way or another.

And now, the sad part. While we had gone most of the game with the 1-0 lead, on the road, against a team that has been playing in the CCL for the past little while so is a little more solid as a team, and against a team that destroyed us the last time we were there – they scored on us. Well, more specifically, WE scored on us.

Apparently, we were so anxious to score some goals, we got one for ourselves, against ourselves. Honestly, there was nothing that could’ve been done against this. Maximiliano Urruti lobbed one in and Marcelo Silva, trying to defend us, slid right in and hit the ball into the net himself. Obvious upset and frustration were seen on his face, and my poor neighbors heard some words they haven’t heard in about 7 months.

Highlights worth mentioning – Damir Kreilach and Shawn Barry played their first season games with the RSL jersey on. Kreilach got pulled off in the 78’ while Barry stayed on for the entire 90+ minutes. I think they both did pretty damn well, and I am going to continue keeping an eye on them.

In addition, Justen Glad. We don’t deserve him, but my god he helped our defense so much this game. This is a kid that I hope continues to grow with our team. I am ridiculously proud of him so far, and he’s so young. He still has a lot to offer.

Also, let’s praise whatever soccer gods are still listening to us out there – Nick Rimando put in a full year’s work just this game. FC Dallas wasn’t ready for him, and our defense wasn’t ready for FC Dallas. Luckily, as usual, Rimando came in strong from the beginning.

Next week we have our home opener against LAFC (who won against the Seattle Sounders, 1-0), I’m looking forward to seeing what Petke can continue to roll out on the Claret and Cobalt carpet for our young players, and our team as a whole.

Featured image courtesy: @RealSaltLake

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @heyambrosia

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Minnesota United kicks off the season vs San Jose Earthquakes

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 3-2 Loss

Had Minnesota United played the first 45 minutes anything like they played the final 20 minutes, the outcome would have been much different, but this one seemed decided before halftime.

While the 4-2-3-1 formation was not a surprise to fans who stuck with the Loons through a disappointing preseason, a few of the starting players in that formation were puzzling. Abu Danladi got the start at forward and Michael Boxall at center back while Christian Ramirez and Brent Kallman sat on the bench.

San Jose Earthquakes had a great chance early when Wondolowski and Hoesen broke through Minnesota’s backline in the 17th minute to flick the ball back and forth within the box. It was an easy save for keeper Matt Lampson, acquired by Minnesota from Chicago Fire in a SuperDraft trade. Minnesota claimed possession for a chance of their own when Ibson saw Ethan Finlay make a beautiful run toward the goal in the 20th minute only to slip within reach of San Jose’s Tarbell.

The game then slipped from reach.

San Jose’s Danny Hoesen was left open in front of Lampson and connected easily with a Wondalowski serve-in to put the Earthquakes up by one at 26′. Just a minute later, Vako was left unmarked and slotted the ball easily out of reach of Lampson toward the far post to go up 2-0.

Ramirez went in for an injured Danladi, got a few runs toward goal, but the Loons midfield just could not create plays. Rasmus Schuller spent more time racing back to collect wayward balls from Ibson than he did pushing forward as intended by this formation. Ramirez nearly left the game himself after a non-contact ankle roll but found his way back in time for a couple of free kicks just before the whistle.

The second half began much the same. A wayward shot (but a SHOT) by Ibson, a couple good looks for Ramirez, a goal… for Danny Hoesen.

With the Earthquakes up 3-0 one hour into the match, Kevin Molino, the Loons’ makeshift No. 10, found a few open lanes, but it took two pairs of fresh legs (Miguel Ibarra coming in for Ethan Finlay on the right side, Collen Warner for Ibson in midfield) before those lanes produced anything.

A cross from Jerome Thiesson in the 82nd minute found Ramirez at the edge of the box. Ramirez tapped it to Molino who drove it in for the first Minnesota goal of 2018. Just three minutes later, Molino found another gap and another easy finish to come within one.

With San Jose switching focus to defense and parking everybody in the box, Minnesota poured on the shots, most of which were easily blocked. Even Lampson came forward to assist with headers in the box, but there were simply too many bodies there.

The final urgency showed that the potential is there, but taking every decent shot in the final ten minutes is worthless without a focused midfield directing the ball forward from the first whistle. And that midfield is worthless without a defense that can’t close in on simple passes in the eighteen.

Minnesota fans, breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t worse. But it has to get better, much better, to avoid a repeat of last season.

Featured image courtesy: 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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And It’s Soccer Time

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

So, friends, it’s March. How is it already March? In a week and a half I’ll be on spring break again, but this time I’ll be on spring break in the place where everyone else goes for spring break. So no Disney for me for awhile. Read more here

Also, I’m really sorry I’ve been AWOL for the past few months. This transition to a new school hasn’t been difficult, per say. I have just been far busier than I was at my old school. I promise that I will be here for the season, so if you look forward to my ramblings they will be there.

I could also treat you to a paper on the history and rise of LGBTQ culture in American musical theatre, or a theoretical comparison of Max Richter’s Recomposed and Vivaldi’s La Primavera…if you’re interested. I can also clinic your concert band. But back to soccer.

Sporting KC has made a good bit of movement during the offseason. We lost Latif Blessing to the Expansion Draft, Benny Feilhaber is gone to LAFC for allocation money, and Andrew Dykstra is off to Colorado for a pick in the 2020 Super Draft.

We picked up quite a few players as well. We drafted Eric Dick a goalkeeper from Butler who was born in Roeland Park, KS, and Graham Smith (yes, we have two Grahams) from the University of Denver. We also signed homegrown player Matt Lewis, a defender from Fordham. Lewis, Dick, and Smith seem like they can be solid loans to Sportings USL affiliate the Swope Park Rangers so they can continue to grow and improve.

There are also three new International Players with some serious soccer chops. Yohan Croizet is a midfield/forward transfer from Belgian side KV Mechelen. He has scored 31 goals since beginning his professional career in 2011.

Another new midfielder is Chilean national team veteran, Felipe Gutierrez. Gutierrez has featured in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2015 Copa America Gold Medal Team, the 2017 Confederations Cup, and 2018 World Cup qualifying. Last season he was on loan to Brazilian team Internacional from Real Betis.


Kirsten Arpin - Sporting KC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Derby County


The last international player is forward Johnny Russell from Scotland. He is a proven goal-scorer with 94 professional goals in both England and Scotland. He has spent the last five years at Derby County in England’s second-division. In addition to his 94 professional goals, he has one international goal in his four caps for Scotland.

Many Sporting fans have been worried about having a consistent goal-scoring threat up front. It seemed like Dom Dwyer was going to be that type of player, but he was never able to recreate his success from his pair up with Kristian Nemeth. Diego Rubio and Gerso Fernandes are both working their way toward that level, but neither has quite reached where the team needs them to be yet.

Russell could be that guy. He has the experience, so if he can translate those skills to MLS he could be a major threat.

Another player to be excited about is veteran MLS player Brad Evans. He comes to SKC as a free agent from the Seattle Sounders where he was part of four Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Championships and one MLS Championship. He is also a former member of the US Men’s National Team having started five matches in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying and competing in two CONCACAF Gold Cups. He will add some depth to a defensive line that took a hit with the departure of Saad Abdul-Salaam to NYCFC and the waiving of Kevin Ellis.

I am optimistic about the season. SKC’s defensive line plus Tim Melia was the strongest in the MLS last season and with the growth of Gerso and Diego Rubio and the addition of Johnny Russell I can see this being a successful season for boys in blue. Ben Baer from thinks we’ll finish 3rd in the West. Let’s show him what’s what, guys. Oh, Captain My Captain, Matt Besler says it’s time for more trophies, so let’s bring some cups home to KC.

Fun Facts

The new alternate jersey is straight fire. I’m 100% serious. The Men in Blazers even think so.

Take a gander at these babies. Modeled by my personal favorite, the Bes.

Image courtesy: @SportingKC

Sporting opens their season this Sunday at home (finally) against NYCFC. You can catch the game on ESPN at 7:30 est/6:30 cst.



Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Is it March 4th yet?

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

After a LONG break, the Portland Timbers are finally opening their regular season this weekend against the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 4th. We’ve said goodbye to beloved players and staff and welcomed new faces in the interim. Let’s take a look at some of the comings and goings as we get ready for Sunday.


  • Darren Mattocks
  • Darlington Nagbe
  • Amobi Okugo
  • Ben Zemanski

Sure, we’ll miss that second string Swiss army knife of a player that Z-man was, and we’ll (maybe) miss watching for flashes of the brilliant national team play that Mattocks had on display for the Reggae Boyz; but by far the player we’ll miss the most is Nagbe. He might have occasionally frustrated a few folks with his tendency to take the safe pass in the final third rather than going for the jugular; but Nagbe, more than anyone, long helped to cover for other player’s shortcomings with his amazing ability to retain possession of the ball under intense pressure and to find the open man.

With us since the beginning of the MLS era (thanks to Vancouver Whitecaps‘s mystifying first pick that left him available for us at second pick), we will sorely miss Darlington Nagbe on the field. I dread the very real possibility that we only too late realize how much he was the glue that held things together, that connected the backs to the midfield and the midfield to the forwards. I understand why we let him go, but MAN it is going to hurt when he helps Atlanta United tear up the field this year.


Not including our draft picks, most of whom will be fighting for time on either the first squad or T2, as of this writing, we’ve acquired the following players during the offseason:

  • Samuel Armenteros, Forward (TAM, loan with purchase option)
  • Julio Cascante, Center Back (TAM, signed via transfer)
  • Andres Flores, Midfielder (signed from NASL/Cosmos)
  • Modou Jadama, Defender (signed from USL/Tulsa Roughnecks)
  • Foster Langsdorf, Forward (Homegrown) (Stanford)
  • Cristhian Paredes, Defensive Midfielder (TAM, loan with purchase option)
  • Andy Polo, Winger (TAM, loan with purchase option)
  • Eryk Williamson, Midfielder (traded GAM & TAM to DCU)

It will be interesting to see which of the new players manages to win starting spots. Cascante definitely has the attitude of a man willing to fight hard for his shot at the XI, and I’m still not sure whether Polo or Dairon Asprilla makes the starting lineup as a winger. By far the player who intrigues me the most here is Armenteros (fun fact, his full name is actually Kristiano Samuel Armenteros Nunez Mendoza Janssen, I am not making this up and I am officially requesting a John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt chant for him).

Armenteros has played most of his professional career in Eredivisie, where he lit up the field with 21 goals in 31 appearances for Heracles Almelo in 2016-2017. Moving to Benevento in Serie A, Armenteros struggled on a team that was fighting relegation, and because he had played in a game with the second squad for his old team while regaining fitness, under FIFA rules he was not allowed to make a move to another club with the same approximate start and end dates in a single season.

This thwarted his desire to move to FC Utrecht (side note: if that team sounds familiar to Portland soccer fans, it should: local hero and USMNT player Rubio Rubin played there from 2014-2017). Fortunately for Timbers fans, though, our season does not parallel that of most of Europe, so Utrecht’s loss is our gain, and we wound up getting to pick up Armenteros on a loan with the option to purchase.

I watched some of the preseason action, and of all of the new players, I’m most excited to see Armenteros on the pitch. Maybe it’s because the rest of the team truly is in preseason form, whereas Armenteros is coming from league play and is already match fit and razor sharp. Maybe it’s because he was on the bench for a while on a team fighting relegation and has something to prove, to himself and to the rest of us. Whatever it is, Armenteros looks like a man on a mission when he is on the field, and that mission is apparently to score goals, which he did several times during the preseason tournament in Arizona:

It will be interesting to see who gets the start, and in what formation, up top. Fanendo Adi is the presumed starting forward in a 4-2-3-1; but he was still in preseason striker form in Arizona (read: he would have had difficulty hitting the broad side of a barn). Maybe the better move is to have both Adi and Armenteros in a 4-4-2? I guess we’ll find out.

Word on Giovanni Savarese is that he isn’t afraid to make substitutions or tactical changes on the fly to suit conditions on the field, and he did change formations mid-game in preseason matches. Still, those were preseason scrimmages. The real test comes this Sunday, and I, for one, can’t wait.

What are you most looking forward to, and dreading this season? Hit me up in the comments below or on Twitter. #RCTID

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Soccer is a part of my life, always

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale
Official FC Dallas Reporter

By Bailey Brown // @baileystaysposi

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to play soccer. My parents always said, “You can only play sports that we are willing to watch.” I guess that shows one the generational sports gap.

Dallas, my hometown, has always had a rich soccer history. Starting with the Dallas Tornado in the NASL, the Dallas Sting, Tatu and the Sidekicks, and finally, the Burn which is now FC Dallas; one simply cannot ignore the impact Dallas has had on soccer with Lamar Hunt’s influence in the United States. I guess all along, this resonated with me whether I realized it or not.

My best friends growing up were all soccer players and we would wear our purple Dallas Sidekicks jerseys. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t realize that there was another soccer team in Dallas at the time, the Dallas Burn. My soccer journey doesn’t really start until my senior year of high school.

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale

My senior year of high school brought a lot of changes in my life. I quit volleyball and started taking German. With my love for the language also came their men’s national team in the 2006 World Cup.

I was hooked and I didn’t want soccer to stop being a part of my life. I started researching some of my favorite players. At the time, Bayern held claim to Lahm, Ballack (who transferred to Chelsea that year), Kahn, and Schweinsteiger. That’s when FC Bayern Munich became my team of choice.

Throughout college, I would wake up and watch them however I could stream the game. This continued to 2012 when I finally got to visit Munich for the first time. This solidified my love of the team who I now have in ink on my right arm. However, even bigger was this was a Euro Cup year. I got to experience watch parties with German fans in Munich and Frankfurt. When I came home, the streaming wasn’t enough. I needed to be in the game.

That’s when I found FC Dallas.

Bailey Brown - FC Dallas/mlsfemale

I went to my first game in 2012, saw the Garden, and instantly bought season tickets for the next year. I didn’t know a lot about the team, but I knew I wanted to be a part of the growing soccer community in the United States. Fast Forward six years: I am now in my third year serving as President for the Dallas Beer Guardians and in my second year of leadership for the Independent Supporters Council serving as Vice President for the 2018 season.

Giving female fans and supporters a voice in the game is a passion of mine. We are a growing audience who don’t just show up because of a significant other. We are fans. We are leaders. We are role models.

I look forward to giving you write-ups from games that not only showcase FC Dallas but how females are impacting the fan culture in the United States every single day.

Featured image: 1984 Dallas Sting Team – Photo credit: Dallas Morning News

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @baileystaysposi

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale