Category Archives: Western Conference

Western Conference

Win With Pride

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

June. The month that brings us the middle of the season, the beginning of summer, and the end of school.

June also brings us something much more important…Pride.

Teams all around the country have been celebrating Pride this month to show their support for the LGBTQIA community. Not just MLS teams, but also USL teams, NWSL teams, and even the US National teams have participated. There have been tifos, scarves, t-shirts, team warm ups, fundraisers, and jerseys.

MLS may be the league that embraces the meaning and spirit of Pride more than any other American sports league. Sporting Kansas City had this to say about their Pride night:

As an organization that prides itself on creating an inclusive environment for all, Pride Night has always been an important initiative for us. If you’ve ever been to a match and sat in the Cauldron, you know that our supporters are extremely welcoming to new fans regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Pride Night is just an extension of that and another way to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our supporters.

I was able to talk with a couple of Cauldron members and see what Pride night meant for them:

[June 1] meant to me community, acceptance, and love for one another even with our differences and backgrounds.
Brandy Peed

Having a Pride themed game may seem like a small (or unnoticed) event for the fanbase as a whole, but it goes a long way in showing support for people that are often underrepresented in our community, soccer or otherwise. Showing support for all types of human beings is a great gesture, and one that we should be proud of. Hopefully, our show of support was inspirational for people that may feel excluded or afraid because of who they are, and  that will lead to a greater sense of community in our amazing group.
Elliot Arpin

When the National Team decided to use the rainbow numbers I read some of the Twitter and Facebook comments, and it was a really bad idea. There was so much hate and disdain there that it was almost sickening, but beyond that people were saying that the National Teams should stay out of politics and stick to soccer. But this shouldn’t have to be a political issue, it should be a humanity issue. By the USMNT and USWNT showing their support they are setting a precedent for the rest of American sports.

Keep being prideful soccer fans! Don’t let this sense of camaraderie and community end with June! Pride month should be every month. Acceptance and equality are for every month.

#PrideMonth #LoveisLove #AllAreWelcome #WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

SLIP-N-SLIDE IN NYCFC

Kaitlyn O'Rourke - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Seattle Sounders Key Contributor

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke 

Saturday, June 17: 2-1 Loss

The Seattle Sounders lost 2 goals to 1 against New York City FC on Saturday in a wet and slippery Yankee Stadium. Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris (USMNT) Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago), Oniel Fisher (Jamaica), and Roman Torres (Panama) are all back from their national teams. The Sounders lined up in their typical 4-2-3-1, playing all their returning internationals but Roman Torres.

Stefan Frei

Oniel Fisher, Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones

Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan

Harry Shipp, Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey

Jordan Morris

The game kicked off just as fans in Seattle were waking up, fans in New York were being poured on. The teams settled in, with the occasional chance resulting in someone looking like they were on a slip-n-slide (seriously, check out the photos and GIFS from the game. They’re hilarious). Both teams had trouble with the standing water on the field, the ball would stop and players had trouble kicking it. Neither team had a dangerous chance until the Sounders struck first with a goal from Cristian Roldan in the 40th minute.

The New York defense turned the ball over near CR7, who passed it to Harry Shipp, who then passed back to Roldan. The ball deflected off a defender then off Clint Dempsey and found its way to Roldan’s feet. Roldan kept running with the ball, and opted not to pass to Dempsey and scored the opening goal (seriously why is this guy not on the national team??).

In the second half, the ref awarded a penalty for Oniel Fisher “pushing” David Villa in the back. While I don’t think he dove, I don’t think he was pushed, my thought is that he slipped with all the water (but hey, I’ll always have a soft spot for Villa as a Barca fan ;)). Anyways, Villa equalized so congratulations on your 50th goal for NYCFC David*.

The Sounders subbed in Will Bruin for Harry Shipp, moving Morris back to play Shipp’s role and Bruin to be the lone striker. The Sounders had several dangerous chances following the sub, but didn’t capitalize on any.

In the 77th minute, David Villa scored again* for NYCFC on a cross from Jack Harrison. This sunk the Sounders ship for good, Seattle never found an equalizer.

*seriously Villa, you couldn’t have waited until you play Portland?!?!?! ok i’m over it

Takeaways and notes

  • Cristian Roldan deserves to be on the USMNT*.
  • Stefan Frei got his US Citizenship on Tuesday so — 1. Congratulations!! And 2. He’s now eligible to play for the USMNT
  • The game should’ve been stopped at half time, it was said during the broadcast that if the ball stopped moving due to rain/standing water that the game would be stopped. The ball did stop moving several times.
  • Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris need to work better on the field. They should go fishing or dancing or something. **
  • The Sounders play again Wednesday against Orlando (which happens to also be their pride celebration)
  • I don’t know if this is just me, but can we do something about these game times?
  • The game Saturday started at 1pm ET, which meant many Sounders fans had to wake up earlyish for a game.
  • The game against Orlando starts at 7:30pm PT, which means many Orlando fans have to stay up late on a weeknight.  

*seriously Cristian Roldan should be on the national team. He and Jordan Morris could use their BFF powers for good. They could be like Captain America and Wonder…Man? And maybe it’s just me, but I would LOVE to see a USMNT that had DeAndre Yedlin, Cristian Roldan, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, and Christian Pulisic all playing together.

**Maybe the Sounders need to start dancing after games again. It worked last year.

Featured image courtesy: soundersfc.com

Chat with me in the comments section

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Who Are Those Guys?

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, June 10: 2-0 Win

That’s what I imagine FC Dallas was asking after they were soundly defeated at Providence Park last Saturday. The Portland Timbers, already missing two players on international duty (Darlington Nagbe and David Guzmán), lost two more in the course of the match. The match finished with several players who weren’t regular starters, and two right-footed defensive midfielders at center back: and somehow the team didn’t just win, but won decisively.

The lineup was predictable. With Nagbe away with the USMNT, Dairon Asprilla once again got the start on the wing; and with Guzmán away for the Costa Rican national team journeyman Lawrence Olum filled in at defensive midfield behind Diego Chara. Alvas Powell is apparently still in the doghouse for his poor decision-making on the field, giving Zarek Valentin the start again at right back. The other eight starters were more or less the usual suspects.

Adi Bomaye

At first it appeared that Fanendo Adi’s finishing might still be jinxed. With a beautiful feed from Liam Ridgewell, Adi chested the ball and fired at 5′ but was stopped by Dallas’ Jesse Gonzalez, who sent it over the bar for a corner kick. Gonzalez stopped Adi again at 15′ after Diego Valeri sent the ball through to him for another shot. Finally, though, at 32′, Sebastian Blanco fed Adi on the left. Adi stayed on his feet and sent it to the center of the goal for a score, ending his goal drought:

When Adi DOES score in a match, he’s just as likely to score a second, and he didn’t disappoint, putting away a beautiful score at 72′ to add to his total of braces in MLS:

As beautiful as both Asprilla’s cross and Adi’s cool, calm, collected finish were, my favorite part of the goal was the guy who didn’t touch the ball: Diego Chara. Watch that play again. Chara’s dummy in front of the goal is fabulous, drawing the defender away from Adi and forcing Gonzalez to stay to his left to prevent Chara from the easy score, which leads to Gonzalez leaping desperately to his right in a vain attempt to stop Adi when he realizes that Chara doesn’t touch the ball. Gonzalez’s dive to the corner of the box leaves him on the ground and helpless as Adi calmly takes another touch and sends the ball home.

“Disallowed Goal of the Year”

It was glorious to come away with a convincing 2-0 win; but oh, what might have been. Take a look at Valeri’s beautiful work on an almost-goal that was ultimately ruled a handball:

Poetry. Sheer poetry. I agree with @totalmls’s assessment that this might very well be the disallowed goal of the year.

The Replacements

I also have to give a shout out to the guys in the lineup who haven’t been starters for most of the season. Dairon Asprilla put in a solid game. Besides the assist on the second goal, he was a scoring threat himself, nearly putting it in at 41′ and forcing Gonzalez to tip it over the bar for the save.

And Zarek Valentin–oh, my goodness, did he put in a night’s work. He had a brilliant clearance off the line at 22′ after Jake Gleeson initially had the save but the ball continued to roll toward the line:

Finally, a word for our defensive midfielders and center backs (who in this case were mostly the same people). After Ridgewell went down at about 25′, Olum slid back to the center back position and Amobi Okugo came in at defensive midfield. Then, when Roy Miller took a knock from a pileup with Maxi Urruti, he never completely recovered and had to leave the game at 61′, leaving Okugo to slide back to the other center back position and bringing in Ben Zemanski as the third player during the match to line up at defensive midfield. It was crazy: we started the game with two left-footed centerbacks in front of our goal and ended it with two right-footed defensive midfielders in their place.

And yet, amazingly, they pulled it off. With only six regular starters on the field for the last 30-plus minutes, they managed to hold down the fort, protecting the clean sheet and leaving Dallas to look at the lineup and wonder:

 

Off the Pitch

With Pride Week in full effect, the Timbers Army had a tremendous display of support for equality in the stands:

And in the community, we also had a great deal to be proud of. The Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters (the supporters group for the Portland Thorns) marshalled a crew of volunteers and together completed two visitation rooms for foster children and their families at the DHS offices in Beaverton:

And, in a beautiful example of paying it forward, among the many volunteers were immigrants and refugees from IRCO’s Africa House. You may remember reading here earlier about the Timbers Army sponsoring IRCO teens at futsal back in March and April. Many of those same teens wanted to return the favor, and when they heard about the opportunity to volunteer for the foster care room makeover project, they jumped at the chance:

Finally, our match day drive was to help stock those foster care visitation rooms with supplies for kids:

Team. Town. Timbers Army. What a wonderful week, and a wonderful win. See you again after Tuesday’s Open Cup match!

Featured image courtesy: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid youtube

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Atlanta United

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Saturday, June 3: 3-1 Win

Let’s just start off with a slow clap for those who thought the game was out of town and didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t going. Yea, I am looking at me. Good thing I was able to record the game and watched it with the comfort of rewind to assure my amateur reffing skills are up to par.

Vancouver Whitecaps battled it out at home with Atlanta United, both teams sat at 7th place in their respective conferences, clawing their way into a playoff spot. It’s a long season, but every game is mission critical.

Whitecaps have put in a lot of extra time on the pitch with the beginning of the season bringing the CONCACAF champions league playoffs and recently adding two games, and travel, playing in the Canadian Championship. Now with the time to focus on the MLS, it seems like chemistry and rapport are starting to come together.

Last game came with some major frustration with it being one of those games where the ball just wouldn’t fall. One of those games that was decided with a single blow of a whistle. The goal post was a foe and the force was against us. The silver lining? The ‘Caps came out and they wanted it. Though, sometimes it’s double or nothing and the Caps felt that pressure with an early Atlanta goal.

The Costa Rican captain, Kendall Waston, takes on the task of getting the boys back in the game. Waston has been disciplined, calculated, and uplifting this season, as he steps up from the back to bury one when it was needed most. Scratch that, with the momentum of the first goal, he steps up to bury a second goal in just a 14 minute span. This time off a corner from Cristian Techera.

Going into the second half ‘Caps have a 2-1 lead. But what do you know, it wouldn’t be a Whitecap game without a penalty against us. The whistle while the ball is in your box is enough to paralyze any player, let alone looking up, and seeing the man in the middle pointing to that very distinctive spot just a few feet away from your keeper. It also wouldn’t be a Whitecap game with a little bit of drama. Drama here is defined by a referee calling a penalty, having 22 sweaty angry men surround you, then talking to the linesman, then saying JK JK. It’s all good, let’s forgot about what I just did and all play together in harmony.

The third Whitecap goal was icing on the cake, but also provided a bit of confusion. Did Tim Parker score? Did Fredy Montero score? I can tell you one thing, the Whitecaps scored!

Montero got the credit and Vancouver in all it’s glory got the lift in standing and in spirit.

Until next time, #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nkstar9

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Back in the Game

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Friday, June 2: 2-0 Win

I’ll readily admit to being both testy and trepidacious (read: grumpy and fearful) going into this match. Of course I was grumpy: WHOSE bright idea was it to schedule a Friday 8pm game? Yeah, I know that a later game means that people can probably more easily make it to the match in plenty of time, but holy cow that makes for a long day for some of us. And fearful? Yeah, sure I was.

We had a string of five ties or losses in a row. Not a good look heading into a stretch where we will be missing players on international duty AND getting in a couple of games before our Open Cup match (against Seattle Sounders again, naturally). And let’s be honest, the last time we played San Jose Earthquakes, we were, let’s just say, less than stellar (read: we got our butts handed to us).

On the other hand, our players are pretty much healthy, we were playing at home, and San Jose has not yet managed a win against us at Providence Park. I had my fingers crossed that we could continue THAT streak, at least.

Match Recap

Our lineup was close to the usual starting eleven, with a couple of predictable exceptions. With Darlington Nagbe away on international duty, Dairon Asprilla started in his place on the right wing. This would surely mean a change in the flow of the game: Dairon has pace and is an attacking threat, but he lacks Darlington’s ability to control the ball and make connections. Porter appears to be as tired of the “That’s So Alvas” show as I am, benching right back Alvas Powell again in favor of Zarek Valentin.

We certainly had our share of chances from start to finish. As early as 4′, Vytautas Andriuškevičius had a beautiful cross to Asprilla that gave him a legitimate chance to open the scoring; but his header hit the post and bounced out. Barely two minutes later, we had our second shot at the net, with Davíd Guzmán‘s corner kick finding Roy Miller for a header that was well struck and headed for a score but for a brilliant save by Earthquakes’ keeper David Bingham. Asprilla had another shot at goal around 21′, but he sent it skyward (in Portland, we might say he “Palmered” it; ask around).

Things got interesting after the Earthquakes’ Darwin Cerén got two yellows in quick succession. His first yellow, on a late tackle/shove in the back to Guzmán at 35′, was an unnecessary move and an easy call. The second, a shoulder to Sebastian Blanco as they both went for the ball at 37′, was much less clear cut.  When I watched it live, it looked legitimate; on the replay I’d have to say that Blanco sold it well. (We talk about “professional fouls;” is there such a thing as a “professional sales job?”)

As an elementary school principal who deals with a fair amount of playground discipline, I also have to wonder if Cerén would have had that yellow called if he hadn’t just plowed into Guzmán from behind not two minutes earlier. In any case, that second yellow meant that San Jose would be down a man for the remainder of the match.

At stoppage in the first half, forward Fanendo Adi had a couple of chances to put it away when Blanco headed him the ball. Adi’s header hit the post and bounced out. Adi tried to make the rebound play, but his toe poke was unsuccessful. Bingham scooped it up and we were once again denied.

After the first half, I was pretty frustrated. We were up a man, we had MORE than our share of chances, but had nothing on the scoreboard:

Finally, in the second half, we had something to show for all of that offensive effort. At 50′ Valentin found space in the middle of the field, drove forward, and made a beautiful pass to El Maestro, Diego Valeri on the left. Valeri chested it, ran onto the ball, and drilled in a bank shot off the post and into the back of the net. WHEW.

We had another chance at 60′, when we had numbers on the counter. Asprilla and Blanco both had chances to put it away but didn’t manage the task. Adi AGAIN found the post instead of the back of the net at 94′. Fortunately for us, it was once again Valeri to the rescue, who followed up in the box (you know, like you’re SUPPOSED to do when a teammate takes a shot), cleaned up Adi’s near miss, and put the game away.

It was 2-0 at the death, and the final whistle blew. Thank goodness. Yes, my mood at the end of the second half was considerably better than it was at the end of the first half.

Hot Takes

Decent defense. Yes, I know we played a man up for over half the match; but even before that, keeper Jake Gleeson didn’t have a whole lot to do in front of our goal. Vytas continues to look sharp, protecting the left flank well and delivering crisp crosses. Miller and Liam Ridgewell handled the back well. Ridgewell was even more active than usual this game, pushing up when appropriate and still ably covering his territory.

And Valentin continued to make the case for more play time, making smart plays and contributing a key assist. While it’s clear that Powell has more pace and raw talent than Valentin, Powell’s decision making/giveaways were KILLING us on the right wing. I’m okay with Valentin in that spot, though I worry that a speed burner on his side of the field might make him pay dearly on a quick transition.

The post giveth, and the post taketh away. Yes, we know all about posts here in Portland. And Friday’s post action was nowhere near as dramatic as this. But it was still a pretty impressive collection: Asprilla with a post miss at 4′, Adi with a first half stoppage header post miss, Valeri with the post-and-in goal at 50′, Adi AGAIN hitting the post and missing in stoppage at the second half (with Valeri subsequently putting it away). Hopefully the posts are a bit kinder to us next weekend. Speaking of next weekend:

Our finishing continues to be worrisome. At the beginning of the season, looking at all of that firepower, I was pretty confident we would have a season of high-scoring games–and we did, for a time. But that certainly hasn’t been the case lately. And without Valeri’s finishing, we would still have walked away with only a point to show for our efforts, at home, against a team that was misfiring on offense even before they went a man down.

We have a lot of players who should have been able to put together a string of passes and finish. I love Valeri but he cannot be our only scoring threat. Not sure what the solution is, because Asprilla, Blanco, Adi et al seemed to be making good moves and getting plenty of chances. We just need to be able to count on lots of people being able to actually get the ball into the back of the net.

Off the Pitch

Last week was heartbreaking for the city of Portland.

Two men were killed in a stabbing on a MAX train Friday when they tried to intervene as another man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, including one wearing a hijab, police said.

A third passenger who tried to help was also stabbed, but is expected to survive, said Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

We ache for the slain and injured and for their familes; and team, town, Timbers Army alike were compelled to honor their memory and their bravery. Players wore black armbands for the game. The stadium held a moment of silence before the anthem. And the Timbers Army raised a special tifo remembering the names of the fallen: Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche; and survivor Micah Fletcher. The front banner is a line from a poem that Micah wrote while in the hospital recovering from his wounds:

We have seen both the worst and the best of humanity in stark relief. If I have learned anything from the Timbers Army, it is that even in the worst of times, the best of humanity can also break through. Here’s hoping we continue to find and build on what is best in each of us, on and off the pitch.

Featured image courtesy: Nicole Barker/Timbers Army

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

I’m Still Here

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

By Ambrosia Tonkovich // @heyambrosia

Wednesday, May 31: 5-1 Loss

Hey, it’s me again. It’s been a while, I’ve been on vacation. I’ll be honest, I’ve been glad I’ve been vacation. My team has… not been very good. We had a couple of wins, sure. But overall, it’s been pretty bad. This last game was a pretty good indicator of our performance.

I didn’t get a chance to watch this game live. I had made plans to go to a friend’s house ahead of time, and right before I was about to leave the house, I got a lovely notification three minutes into the game: Houston Dynamo 1, Real Salt Lake 0. But that’s not all. It was an own goal. Our very own Justin Schmidt scored an own goal to start what turned into what could be described as an embarrassment against RSL 3 minutes into the game.

I’ll be honest, I’m not the only one to label this game as such. Our very own coach, Mike Petke has said it, our player Tony Beltran has said it… we were a mess. I chose that moment to turn off most of the notifications for the game, head over to my friend’s house, and try to finish the evening in as blissful a bubble as I could. I kept checking my watch anyway, updating my friends (who don’t care since they don’t watch the sport), and slowly sinking more and more into the chair and a depression as time went on.

5-1 was the final score, with Houston dominating over RSL. Am I surprised? No. Is that frustrating? YUP. I’m pretty disappointed with the team’s performance this year. With the coach switch out, the younger players, and the slow but steady return of injured players I’ve been secretly hoping for a better, healthier team.

A couple of wins while I was on vacation kept me in light spirits. I didn’t completely want to get my hopes up, but eh, you win some, you lose some. But holy cow, I just finished watching the game just now and man… I heard ambulances going back and forth during the game and I can only imagine it was to help the obviously burned players off the field at the end of the match. 5-1 is just… painful.

Anyway, I do want to focus on a couple of things. Joao Plata did have a gorgeous free kick. Soared right between two Houston players, right over their shoulders, right into the goal. No one could do anything about it. It was his second goal of the season (I’m sad I wasn’t able to report on the first, he’s been obviously hungry for it), and I’m happy for him.

That was beautiful. The unfortunate part about his play this game though was his defense (or lack thereof) on the second goal that Houston scored. I’m not sure what happened, but there was a weird clearing, like the soccer ball was Moses and RSL players were the sea. Everyone just sort of… stopped. Cleared a path for that ball to go right on in the goal. I watched it a couple of times, and I still don’t get it.

The other thing I want to focus on, well, Matt Van Oekel did have a couple of good saves. Obviously that’s weird to type knowing that the scoreline is 5-1, but he did. It wasn’t just him back there, there is a defensive line for a reason, so he came up strong sometimes when they didn’t, and for that I need to give him props.

So… Anyway. All of this sounds like a big bash to my team. It’s not. Am I disappointed? Yep. For sure. Do I love them any less? Hell no. I’ve loved them for God knows how long. I’m not gonna stop now. Yeah, this is frustrating, but hey, way to help me build some thick skin, RSL. I’m still going to go to games, still going to chant, still going to lose my voice every home game, even when we lose.

Events this match:

3’ Goal (own) Schmidt 1-0

15′  Goal Alex 2-0

45′  Goal M. Manotas 3-0

52′  Goal E. Torres 4-0

54′  Yellow Card Sunny

57′  Yellow Card J. Cabezas

62′  Substitution: Out: M. Manotas In: B. García

63′  Goal Joao Plata 4-1

63′  Substitution: Out: Joao Plata In: Luis Silva

66′  Substitution: Out: Albert Rusnak In: José María Hernández

68′  Goal Leonardo 5-1

71′  Substitution: Out: A. Elis In: V. Sánchez

73′  Substitution: Out: Kyle Beckerman In: Omar Holness

79′  Yellow Card B. García

Featured image courtesy: @RealSaltLake

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @heyambrosia

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Well, that was frustrating.

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Saturday, May 27: 1-0 Loss

73% possession, 24 shots, 8 corner kicks, no yellow cards

Normally this combination of stats would lead to a win, but not this time.

Sporting KC went to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park last Saturday to take on the Colorado Rapids, and frankly they dominated the game. It seemed like they could score at any time! They just didn’t.

The game changing moment was when Ike Opara “fouled” Dominique Badji. I would like to note the quotation marks. Many soccer analysts have stated that it should not have been a foul. This is not just an angry fan moment. Ike was going for the ball. Sorry you fell down. But the “foul” led to a free kick that was taken by Shkelzen Gashi. Gashi’s cross found the head of Kortne Ford for his very first MLS goal.

Now, regardless of the validity of the foul, Sporting should have defended better. There were lots of eyes on that cross, and not enough on where it could have been going. Defending crosses is one of our weaknesses, and going into the time when we’ll be down two defenders due to being called up to USMNT it will be even more crucial to remedy this problem.

The rest of the game was really frustrating. Our little Memorial Day family gathering kept getting our hopes up for a goal, but it just wasn’t happening. Our shots were a little too high or a little too wide. We are really missing Dom Dwyer. I’m hoping that he can get back onto the field soon. He started light practice this week, and Peter Vermes thinks that he may be a game time decision on Saturday against Minnesota United.

Bobby Burling did receive a suspension for a hit on Benny Feilhaber in the 23rd minute. He got a yellow for it in the game. This marks the third time this season that an opponent has gotten a suspension after the fact as opposed to in game. Someone did the math, and if those players had gotten red cards when they should have Sporting would have played a total of 216 minutes against 10 men teams.

Some good news from this week is that the Fan Vote for the MLS All Star Fan XI opened up. Sporting KC got eight players onto the ballot:

Goalkeeper: Tim Melia
Defenders: Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi
Midfielders: Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber
Forwards: Dom Dwyer, Gerso

You may notice that Ilie is not on the list. This is a travesty! He’s so good! His presence in the midfield has been so strong this season, and if you’ve watched Sporting games in the past you should be able to see the difference he makes.

This season I have been a huge proponent of our defensive line, and seeing that three of them made it into the voting made me quite pleased. It’s easy to see why Ike is on there. In the games where Ike doesn’t play we are not as likely to win. His strength and height put him up with the top defenders in the league.

Matt Besler made it! I knew he was in all star form! His ability to see how plays unfold, and to put not only himself but the rest of his line in the right places is amazing. If he doesn’t eventually end up as a coach then there is something wrong with this world. He is so smart (soccer and book wise…he graduated pre-med!)

Graham Zusi has been getting a lot of flack this season because of his move to defense. With Sporting’s formation they play their two outside defenders up as almost midfielders, and they play the center midfielder in more of a defensive position. This suits Zusi well since he can still be a scoring threat and make assists. Zusi became just the second player since 2010 to complete 100% of his passes and create at least 5 chances in the same game when Sporting played the Vancouver Whitecaps. Take that, haters.

Fun facts

Four members of the Sporting KC roster have been called up for their respective national teams. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi for the USMNT, Roger Espinoza for Honduras, and Tyler Pasher for Canada.

Erik Palmer-Brown has captained the US U-20 squad into the knockout round of the U-20 World Cup! They will take on New Zealand on Thursday morning (after I finish writing, but before posting)…fingers crossed for a good result!

Graham Zusi threw out the first pitch at the Colorado Rockies game on Tuesday, and a few of his USMNT teammates, including Bes, were there to cheer him on!

On Wednesday night my husband and I, and two other Cauldron members, played sports trivia in a fundraiser for the Victory Project against some SKC players. Benny, Ike, and Seth Sinovic made up Team Cavs in 7. We were team Children’s No Mercy Park. We didn’t win, but we had a good time!

This Satuday, June 3, Sporting KC takes on Minnesota at Children’s Mercy Park. The Cauldron will be celebrating Pride Day with special t-shirts and scarves to support the LGBTQIA community!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Catching Stride Away From LA

Allison Sorrell - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Allison Sorrell // @AJSorrell_

After the LA Galaxy‘s last home-stand (a 2-2 draw to Chicago Fire), a four week road trip didn’t seem like a good idea this season for a Galaxy team that’s been struggling more than they have in the past 10 years. With twelve points on the table available on this road trip, it wasn’t extremely misplaced to say the Galaxy wouldn’t come home with many points. I personally, frustrated from the team’s struggles, honestly thought we might end up with two or three. I wasn’t the only one.

We were wrong.

Here we are, two matches in, having accumulated 6/6 points available. I never want us to play at StubHub Center again. For a team that has historically held a fortress at home, and struggled on the road, this is a little weird to watch, but then again, so is this whole season under the watch of Kurt Onalfo. Either way, I’ll take points any way I can get them.

Last Sunday’s match at Minnesota United (3-7-2) had the Galaxy facing a team in a bit of a similar situation. Both teams in question started the season slowly (to put it lightly), and had similar ranking in the western conference. Despite this, once again, the Galaxy came out swinging, winning with a 2-1 scoreline.

I’m going to start with the negative, because this time, there weren’t many. Baggio Husidic’s injury, which has been ruled a broken leg has him out for around two to three months per Onalfo. With the center midfield spot left open by two injured players now, after the midfield was finally finding its form after the match at Red Bull Arena, Rafael Garcia came in to fill in and surprisingly, contributed well to the attack after being subbed in at the 8th minute.

Though there were many chances, the first ball that hit the back of the net for the Galaxy came from Giovani Dos Santos in the 38th minute, only his second in the run of play all season. The Galaxy dominated the rest of the half and for the beginning of the second, until Minnesota’s Christian Ramirez snuck one in at the 66th minute. Thankfully, he did the Galaxy a favor as well in the 84th minute with an own goal to give us the win.

Moving forward, it will be interesting who takes the spot left open by Jermaine Jones, and then again by Baggio Husidic. Jaime Villarreal, the younger of the Galaxy’s homegrown brothers made his first team debut this match. He’s been creating a lot of chances and finishing a lot of balls for Los Dos (LA Galaxy II) in the past few years, and I think he and his brother, who has been MIA for a bit from the first team 18 most of the season, could do some good with all of the injuries currently plaguing the midfield of the first team.

Saturday at San Jose (5-4-4) should be another challenge for a team that’s just now catching their stride. Though San Jose hasn’t had the greatest month, only catching one win out of the four matches played in May, the Galaxy’s real challenge comes in the form of creating chances in the midfield, with players like Garcia, Villarreal, or even Raul Mendiola filling in.

I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I think we can run away with three points at Avaya Stadium, as well, if we keep the form we’ve had these past two matches.

Featured image courtesy: @LAGalaxy

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @AJSorrell_

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Gerso Vain…You probably think this game is about you.

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Wednesday, May 17: 3-0 Win

But I mean, if you are going to score a hat trick against the reigning MLS Champs then this game can be completely about you! #Gershow

Last Wednesday the Seattle Sounders came to Kansas City to take on Sporting Kansas City on our Retro Night. The festivities started off with so many ’90s songs. It was amazing! As a child of the mid to late 90s I was all for it. Though they didn’t play No Diggity by Blackstreet until the game was over, so that sucked.

There was no looping. There was very little diggity-ing…? That’s not a word. Oh well. There were also not a lot of things happening in the first half, but that will come later. Before the game Mo Johnston was inducted into the Sporting Legends Wall of Honor.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the pics above you can see the awesome tifo that Tifo Team 6 painted for the occasion, when Mo came over and shook hands with the Cauldron‘s very own capo Cowboy Brandon, and our owner Robb Heineman serving up free beer in the #HeinemanBeerCorner. Now, I’m a fan of our current mascot, Blue the Dog, but our throwback mascot Dynamo the Dragon was killing it! He has the big hula hoop stomach like KC Wolf from the Chiefs, he was sassy af, he played the crap out of that drum, and he can wiggle his nose!

Now if you were to look at the reports about the game then you will find very little written about the first half of the game. That is because not much happened during the first half of the game. It was a frustrating half of soccer. Tim Melia made a few really big saves including two in the last minute of the half. That was actually pretty worrisome, but by the time he had saved the goals the half was over. I hadn’t ever seen a half with no stoppage time, but I have now. The whistle blew at 45:04.

Knowing Peter Vermes, as we all do, we can probably guess what went down. Yelling. Lots of yelling. This was actually corroborated by Gerso in the post game. Per Sam McDowell from the KC Star at the press conference Gerso said, “Basically, Peter had to scream at us…” Peter’s response, “That’s true.”

Going into the second half you could see the difference in Sporting’s game. In the 55th minute Benny Feilhaber served a corner kick straight to Ike Opara whose header almost made it under the crossbar, but Stefan Frei got his fingertips on it and pushed it over the bar. This led to another corner from the other side of the field. The attempt this time got deflected out to Gerso who took the ball back in for a shot that bounced off the leg of a Seattle defender and into the goal. #1

Two minutes later Jimmy Medranda took the ball up the side, and sent a cross into Gerso who launched it off of the post. Luckily the defender it bounced to couldn’t control it. Gerso got the ball back, and sent it past a sprawling Frei. Assist to the post…? #2

In the 69th minute Sporting strung together a beautiful sequence of passes to get their third goal. Benny brought the ball up the middle, passed it to Graham Zusi on the edge of the box, Zusi then passed it to Gerso back in the middle who finished with a huge right-footed slam into the top of the net. #3

Good thing this wasn’t a hockey game or there would be hats all over the field! The last time SKC had a hat trick was back in 2010, in the Wizards’ era, by Birahim Diop.

Then last Saturday Sporting traveled up to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps. I would like to note that this was four days after their previous game, and their sixth game in 22 days. It has been quite a run, and in those games SKC did go 3-2-1 which is not bad.

We are still on the top of the table, we have 3 more points and have allowed 11 fewer goals than the next team, and the only team who has given up fewer goals than us is FC Dallas who also has the same goal differential.

In Vancouver there were some lineup changes due to injury and rest. Peter Vermes does not like to play Ike on turf fields or in the third game of the 3 in 8 streaks due to the higher risk of injury. We do not want Ike to get injured. He is in top form right now! Dom wasn’t starting due to a knee injury, and Benny and Jimmy got a bit of a rest…but just a bit because they both came on in the second half.

The roster choice that was the most vexing was Tyler Pasher starting in place of Jimmy. T-Pash is a mainstay on the Swope Park Rangers roster as a defender. I understand that the current defensive line is going to be hard to break into, so maybe Vermes was giving him a chance elsewhere. It was just an odd decision that didn’t pan out at all, and he was pulled for Jimmy at half.

Vancouver had two goals during the game both off of crosses. Why can’t we defend crosses? Is this going to be a thing? It’s kind of already a thing. I want it to stop being a thing. Moving on. Vancouver’s Cristian Techera had a really gorgeous ball that he played off of the chest of Christian Bolaños. It didn’t touch the ground. It went straight to his foot and into the goal. Ugh. Later in the game Tim Parker scored his first goal of the season off of a free kick from right outside the penalty area. Sporting should have scored. There were multiple chances where we were right at the goal and couldn’t put it away.

There were a few good things from this game. Tim Melia was outstanding again. He stopped a penalty kick! That does not happen every damn day! Sporting’s defense also made some pretty amazing plays (minus the goals). Seth Sinovic made a diving steal/clearance that was awesome, and after the saved penalty kick there were some fast feet by the defense to get that ball cleared.

I know there’s been a lot of talk about Dom getting onto the USMNT, but Matt Besler needs to get a serious look. He has been so good this season! I was excited to see Cameron Porter sub in for this game. I’ve been waiting to see him play in a big game for awhile, and he did alright. It’s nice to see some height on the attacking front. It was also his birthday on Tuesday the 23rd!

Fun Facts!

The US U-20 team is on their World Cup campaign, and Sporting defender Erik Palmer-Brown is captaining the squad. If you’re up super early you can catch them between the hours of 3am and 7am central standard time. When he gets back hopefully he can make some starts when Ike needs a rest.

Tim Melia and Gerso Fernandes made it onto the MLS Team of the Week, and Tim was in the lead for Save of the Week last time I checked!

Children’s Mercy has this cool robot named Rex that is used to help kids who aren’t able to go to the games due to medical conditions be a part of the gameday experience!

I started this article on Tuesday, and made it a sentence in. Between starting and finishing this I have played two games of bar trivia, watched a whole season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, eaten a pint of Halo Top, and done three loads of laundry. I guess I type better at night…it’s 2:50 in the morning right now, and 1,351 words later I am done! Thanks for sticking with me!

Sporting KC travels to Colorado this Saturday to take on the Rapids. Look for a huge Cauldron presence to turn Dick’s Sporting Goods Park into Children’s Mercy West!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

The Boys Are Back In Town

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Saturday, May 20: 2-0 Win

The boys are back in town. They are looking good after their long road trip across Canada and as far south as Houston. Lots of miles (or kilometers if you will) and here we are in the most beautiful weather Van City has seen since last summer and it feels like home.

Tim Parker is looking strong. He has been training and you can tell. He is winning 50/50 balls being the rock that defense needs. He is also stepping up in the front, getting his head on the end of free kicks and corners. Parker got on the end of one to score the second goal of the game.

Let’s talk about the offense for a second. Can we all please note that MLS marked the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Saturday goal as the 2nd best assist in the league this week. Second? Nope, I say it is #1 and a beauty it was. On a quick, Waston to Williams, off the chest of Bolanos and volley by Techera. This put the ‘Caps up 1-0 late in the first half.

Early in the second half we saw an all too familiar scene. Fredy Montero missing the 2nd PK of the season. First one, we let pass since he followed up and finished it off. This one, was one too many, time to pass the torch.

I like Fredy Montero, but he seemed a bit frustrated and a lot flat footed. He was a step or two late to the ball and letting the defender step in front each time.

We want Brek, say it with me, “We want Brek”. After Brek’s shaky start with the ‘Caps, the fans seems to like him a lot more since he is finding the back of the net. He even scored his mom a goal on Mother’s day. We only got to see him for 6 minutes this game. I think a sub for Montero should have come a lot sooner.

Speaking of moms, my Mother-In-Law was in town, she called them the Snowycaps and I think it is just adorable.

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Vancouver Whitecaps

On a serious note, the Vancouver Whitecaps lost one of their own recently. An incredibility talented young man, Travis Salje. At just 17 his life was suddenly taken by a car accident. The Whitecaps and supporters of the team wanted to #standupfortravis, and we did. The community sends our love to the Salje family.

A win, a beautiful goal, and a boost of confidence. #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nkstar9

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017