Category Archives: Western Conference

Western Conference

Home Stretch for the Portland Timbers

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Sunday, October 15: 4-0 Win

As of this past Sunday, the Western Conference was still anybody’s for the taking. And even now, it’s down to the wire in the west. Coming into the final week of regular season matches we STILL don’t know who will finish on top, and there is even one playoff spot yet to be decided. I think this actual screen shot from awhile back sums it up best:

The Portland Timbers definitely had some other results fall their way this weekend. Thanks to both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting KC drawing on Sunday against their respective opponents, and with their final two games at home, Portland was poised to make up some ground in the table in their matchup last Sunday against hapless DC United. My only fear going into the game was that perhaps the boys would overlook this match in expectation of the showdown next weekend against Vancouver. Fortunately, while it took them a half to get sorted, the Timbers took care of business, at times in spectacular fashion.

The first half was mostly less than remarkable. While the Timbers had most of the chances, DCU did a serviceable job of frustrating the Timbers’ offense, leading to presses that went nowhere in the final third for most of the half. And then…

Welcome to your nightmare

Poor Steve Clark. He had already been on the receiving end of the fastest goal scored in MLS Cup history when he played for Columbus Crew in 2015, thanks to an all-too-casual back pass from a Crew teammate that Diego Valeri scooped up and sent to the back of the net in the 27th second of MLS Cup final that year. History repeated itself for Clark when Chris Korb sent him an errant back pass, which Darren Mattocks was ready to pounce on. Clark had no choice but to take down Mattocks, which earned Clark a yellow and earned the Timbers a penalty kick, which the maestro coolly slotted home for a 1-0 lead going into the half.

Off to the races

Once the Timbers had scored, DC United was forced to come out of their defensive stance a bit in the second half, and the Timbers made them pay. At 50′, Valeri spotted Alvas Powell open on the right and switch played the ball to him at the top of the 18.

I will readily admit that not five minutes before this, I had been grousing to a seatmate, wondering why Powell was starting and not Zarek Valentin. I’ve talked plenty here about the “That’s So Alvas” show, about Powell’s tendencies to follow a brilliant defensive maneuver by a laughable giveaway, sometimes within seconds of each other. And I thought Valentin had earned the starting spot with his consistent performance over the last stretch of games. I had theorized that maybe putting Mattocks and Powell in the game was just to build their confidence before a possible playoff run or something.

And then Powell did this and shut me up:

I watched that shot sail off Powell’s left foot and into the back of the net and my jaw dropped just a little. I still like Valentin for consistency, but my goodness, Powell nailed it.

As stunning as Powell’s score was, the next one was my goal of the match. Check out Valeri’s work with Sebastian Blanco here at 60′:

I saw it unfold right in front of me, and I still couldn’t believe the magic I had just witnessed: Valeri’s three juggles to maintain possession and get the perfect touch on the ball; the tap to Blanco, who took two quick touches and tapped it back to Valeri, who one-touched it back to Blanco, whose next touch was a brilliant strike to the top of the far corner of the net. The beautiful game, indeed.

Blanco sealed the deal at 86′ with brilliant solo work threading through several defenders, including Clark:

It was a beautiful second half of footy from the Timbers. A Chilean friend next to me watching the match watched as the boys moved quickly through a series of quick, short, one-touch passes, tilted his head and observed almost quizzically, “Tiki…taka?”

I know, right? Who’d have thought it from watching us earlier this season?

Final thoughts

Next Sunday is for all the marbles. If we tie or lose, we will ensure that the Cascadia Cup goes to our hated rivals, the Sounders, and we will finish somewhere between 2nd and 4th in the West, depending on all kinds of scenarios involving a bunch of other teams.

If we win, though…

If we win, we win the Cascadia Cup, we win the west and a first round bye.

We know from experience that you can go all the way from a knockout round to the Cup, so a tie or even a loss will see us through. But I know the simplest scenario:

See you all next Sunday, folks!

Featured image courtesy: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

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Vancouver Whitecaps are Rising Up Rain City

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Sunday, October 15: 1-1 Draw

As the season closes in, the Vancouver Whitecaps have wound their way through almost every spot in the standings. Considering this, their play has also represented all of these standings. We have seen them go toe-to-toe with New York City FC, summoning a fire within that brought even the harshest winds to their adversaries. We have also seen them struggle with chemistry, an ever changing starting lineup, and missing PKs that should have been meticulously placed in one of the four corners of the net.

As the San Jose Earthquakes came to town, we once again saw the on again, off again Whitecaps. With a rather slow and unenthusiastic beginning to the game, we saw a goal from Yordy Reyna (Rayna Terror we call them) in the 29th minute that catalysed the entire team. The effect was immediate, the goal was a team effort touching almost all positions on the pitch.

Most of the game was mediocre by the Whitecaps, though we saw some great attacking plays that just didn’t fall. For me, someone who loves to see some playmaking, I felt like we put more pressure on their back end with runs and finding space rather than our usual long ball over the top that gets sent right back. Honestly, I like the way the attacking half was playing.

The Quakes came back with a goal in the 77th min by Valeri Qazaishvili. A devastating blow to the ‘Caps ability to clinch first place in the West.

Most of what we talk about happens to be goals, so I wanted to give a shout out to Andrew Tarbell and Stefan Marinović who were both magnificent in goal. It really was a delight to watch them both.

Now we work to defeat the Portland Timbers who are going to go in strong in this last game of the regular season. So much rides on this last game. Pride in rival games, first place, and home field advantage going into the playoffs. We need the mids to be stronger, faster, and more accurate with their ball skills.  We need the forwards to continue firing at the net. We need to defeat the Timbers! It’s time to #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nkstar9

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Watching a Half of Sporting KC with Kirsten

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Sunday, October 15: 0-0 Draw

Good evening, Sporting KC fans! It’s been a bit hard for me to write articles during school season, so I decided that I would let you in on what goes through my brain while watching a game on TV. This is roughly what I do on Twitter, but I might ramble because I have more than 140 characters so… oh, and I was at a concert for the first half, so this is only the final 45 minutes. We’ll see if that turns out to be a good thing.

If you don’t want to read my rambling thoughts then you can TLDR to the end for some takeaways.

  • How did we spend the entire season near the top of the table, and then at the end sink to fourth? That is unacceptable. We need to get back ahead of Seattle and Seattle South (Portland).
  • Peter Vermes is the best-dressed coach in the league. If you disagree you can @ me, and we can have a grown-up discussion about it.
  • Second half underway. Leonardo Machado may have pushed Zusi out of bounds, but whatever.
  • BENNY! Ugh, so close. Jimmy Medranda feeds the ball straight to Feilhaber who kicked it into the shin of the keeper, Mr. Beard Man. He looks like he needs a razor and a What Not to Wear makeover.
  • They keep showing the Houston coach. He looks a little bit like an angry uncle.
  • Benny yelling a bad word on camera. I’ll let you guess which one.
  • There is going to be a fight by the end of this game. I can feel it.
  • I have said this before, and I will say this again. If your name is really common (like Alex) you can’t just put that on the back of your jersey. There are too many Alexes for you to claim it for just you.
  • I wonder what Tyler Deric‘s middle name is? I love when people have first names as all of their names.
  • Ilie won Sporting KC’s Newcomer of the Year, and there is no one more deserving. This team would not be the same without him.
  • “This ball falls to Medranda” who then promptly actually fell.
  • I love when soccer commentators say “Went to ground” when someone falls like the players are plants or something.
  • How is Mr. Beard Man in the way of every shot? Move Beard Guy! I would like a goal please. Also, VAR, that ball may have been in.
  • Roger Espinoza almost killed a guy. It was kinda awesome.
  • Benny’s ankle turned in a way that ankles are not supposed to turn. He has had some bad luck with ankles this season.
  • Sidenote: husband just returned with Chinese food!
  • Jimmy Medranda with a great chance, but his cross is missed by both Rubio and Salloi. Besler‘s pass to Medranda was a beauty!
  • The ref just got nutmegged. That was kinda funny.
  • An SKC player ends up on the ground in the box, and there is no call. Half of the season in a sentence. The other half would be: Sporting made 3 million shots on goal, and none went in, but they were really good at passing.
  • Why is Tyler Deric Tim Melia-ing tonight? Geesh!
  • Diego Rubio just had a gorgeous strike, but it was deflected off Machado and flew over the bar. The bad words are happening in the Arpin household.
  • Ilie fashion update: After a season of black boots Ilie has moved to a pair of bright orange ones. He is also still in his trademarked long sleeved jersey. Find you someone that is as dedicated to you as Ilie is to not showing his arms.
  • So in the 82nd minute, Sporting was making an attacking run, and the ref got in the way and made us lose the ball. Not cool man.
  • 22 shots so far. None in the goal. #2017
  • Bes motioning for the ref to hurry up and pull the yellow card is my new spirit animal.
  • Ike Opara just headed the crap out of a Dynamo corner kick, and it was the bravest move I may have seen all year. He had that terrifying concussion earlier this season. There is a good amount of concussion checking for both SKC and Houston.
  • Sporting needs to get their crap together because Seattle and Seattle Jr. are both killing it tonight. At least Vancouver drew.
  • Hey Houston, want to actually throw the ball in? Do you need a handwritten invitation?
  • Go go go go go go go go go…or kick it to the goalie. That’s cool too.
  • This ref has been so in the way!
  • Please score. Please! Just something! Anything! How is everything such an almost?
  • And there was almost another fight!
  • Ball right in front of the ball twice and no goal! How?!? Why?!? I am disgusted and annoyed at Sporting’s inability to score.

So here are my takeaways from this game, and the last game, and the majority of this season.

If we can’t start scoring goals we will not make it far into the playoffs. I don’t understand how SKC can score in the US Open Cup, but not in any other game. It’s not for lack for putting the ball on goal, but it’s about getting it past the keeper. There is no excuse for what is going on. Sporting can defend, pass the ball, dominate possession, anything but score. It boggles my mind.

The defense was on it tonight. Besler came back from the Men’s National Team with a score to settle, and he was holding it down. He was getting the ball to Zusi and Medranda all night, but unfortunately, nothing came of them. Zusi was controlling the game from the wing, Ike was a commanding presence in the middle, and Lobato was alright… Dykstra did a great job tonight too. There was rarely a time when I felt the goal was threatened.

With the draw tonight, Sporting KC has officially qualified for their 7th straight playoff appearance which is the third-longest streak in the MLS. SKC fans are looking forward to the next game against RSL to hopefully clinch home-field advantage for at least the first playoff game.

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Saturday, October 7:1-1 Draw

With Tim Howard (USA) and Mekeil Williams (Trinidad & Tobago) called away for international duty and Michael Azira still out with a questionable ankle, the Colorado Rapids had a new lineup this past weekend against FC Dallas. They played their standard 4-2-3-1 formation with Alan Gordon starting up top for the first time since May. Nana Boateng started the game as a center midfielder, and I have to say that I really liked him there. He was decently physical, though he does still need to learn a little restraint.

 

From the first whistle, both teams played fairly lackluster which was surprising considering Dallas needed points to move into playoff contention. The Rapids struck first with Stefan Aigner getting his second goal of the season in the fifteenth minute. Nana Boateng drew the first card of the match when he slid in hard and late on Dallas’ number 37, Maximiliano Urruti. Atiba Harris got the first yellow for Dallas when it looked like he had a late tackle on Stefan Aigner. The card was overturned once it was evident that Aigner dove and Harris never touched him. Aigner lucked out here because he didn’t get carded for simulation. Several attempts and a minute of stoppage time later, the first half ended.

Jesse Gonzalez proved himself vital to FC Dallas’ defense during the second half by making some incredible saves. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s going to be in the MLS much longer with his talent.

At the 53rd minute, Atiba Harris headed in the equalizer off of a corner kick and that would be the score for the rest of the game. Dallas uses their first sub, and Badji gets the second card of the game in the 67th minute. (It should be noted that this is the third game in a row that Badji has started an argument of some sort with the opposing team. With his contract being renewed for another two years, I wonder if this is something that will be addressed or not.)

Atiba Harris gets his true first yellow of the game when he elbowed the Rapids keeper, Zach MacMath, in the face while going up for a header. The contact was truly accidental as neither man saw the other coming because they were so focused on the ball. Once again, Nana Boateng shows just how much power he has when he kicked the ball from the halfway line into the 18 yard box. The tie would stand though, and move Dallas just above the line, while keeping Colorado ahead of L.A. Galaxy.

The Rapids face Real Salt Lake on Decision Day 2017 (Sunday, October 15, 2017) for their last home game of the season.

15’ – GOAL: Stefan Aigner (COL) – 1-0 Colorado

21’ – CARD: Nana Boateng (COL) – yellow

53’ – GOAL: Atiba Harris (FCD) 1-1

66’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Roland Lamah replaced by Tesho Akindele

67’ – CARD: Dominique Badji (COL) – yellow

69’ – CARD: Atiba Harris (FCD) – yellow

70’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Alan Gordon replaced by Mike DaFonte

82’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Maximiliano Urruti replaced by Cristian Colmán

83’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Stefan Aigner replaced by Shkelzen Gashi

88’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Mauro Diaz replaced by Victor Ulloa

Featured image courtesy: Colorado Rapids facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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Colorado Rapids – We Got Three!!!

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Sunday, October 1: 2-1 Win

Y’all. We did it. We finally got three points this weekend against the Montreal Impact. I don’t think I’ve held my breath that much since the USA/Honduras World Cup Qualifier last month. I walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a huge smile on my face, taking deep breaths, and telling my dad how good it felt to have a win. The truth is, this was easily the weirdest soccer game I have ever witnessed.

The first half saw Stefan Aigner getting his first home start of the season as the 10 alongside Marlon Hairston’s 7 and Joshua Gatt’s 11 with Dominique Badji up top. At 9 minutes in, Jared Watts got the first red card of the game thanks to the VAR. It was the right call. He slid into Chris Duvall’s ankle, studs up, in attempt on the ball. It was a bad decision on Watts’ part.

At this point in the game, the Colorado Rapids formation had to change from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-1 to accommodate for the now missing 8. Duvall was subbed out and the game restarted with 10 Rapids players to Montreal’s 11. Montreal’s Daniel Lovitz got the second red card of the game thanks to a stupid decision. Rapids defender, Mike Da Fonte went up for a header against Lovitz and ended up on the ground. As he was getting up, Lovitz stepped through and kneed him in the ribs. From my understanding of FIFA rules, the ref probably considered this a use of excessive force which would be why he was sent off.

As if two red cards in the first half weren’t weird enough, the ref whistled play dead and restarted with a drop ball when he lost track of the ball in the 41st minute. The fourth official indicated that there would be four minutes of stoppage time and in the second minute of that stoppage time, Aigner found the back of the net for his first career MLS goal. From the review of the play, Aigner moved from an offside to an onside with a little stutter step which put him right in line with Mekeil Williams’ pass.

At the 46th minute, the Rapids used their first sub of the game and replaced Mike Da Fonte with Nana Boateng. Kort Ford got his first yellow in the 47th minute, followed by VAR coming to the Rapids rescue in 51st minute. Hairston takes down Ignacio Piatti in the box and the ref called a PK. The play went to VAR which showed that Hairston made contact with the ball and the PK is overturned.

That relief was short lived as Mateo Mancosu got the equalizer in the 61st minute. Axel Sjöberg missed his opportunity to stop the goal when he turned to the side and let Mancosu go right past him. The shot was unsaveable because it went into the top corner of the net, just over Tim Howard’s fingertips. At this point in the game, both teams were playing with ten men on the field, Montreal used all of their subs, and Colorado used 2 of their 3.

Michael Azira caught his ankle on the grass just wrong and it folded underneath of him. Mohammed Saeid came in as the Rapids third and final substitution. Two minutes later, Alan Gordon scored the game winner and got a yellow card for excessive celebration.

Shortly thereafter, Boateng saw an incredible attempt on Montreal’s goal, from the top of the Rapids’ box, go just wide by a couple of feet at most. The weirdness continued when Montreal went down to 9 men after Piatti twisted his knee and dropped to the ground with no players around him. After playing 89 minutes, Deian Bolder was shown off the field by the center referee because he forgot his shin guards. Mekeil Williams went down on the opposite side of the field with an ankle injury and had to leave in stoppage time.

Both teams ended the game with 9 players, but the Rapids came away with the win and 3 points. We finally moved ahead of LA Galaxy in the league standings thanks to a late goal by Kyle Beckerman to cause a draw between Real Salt Lake and L. A. The Rapids will face FC Dallas at DSG Park on Saturday, October 7th.

9’ – CARD: Jared Watts (COL) – red

13’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (1/3) – Chris Duvall replaced by Hassoun Camara

32’ – CARD: Daniel Lovitz (MON) – red

45’+2 – GOAL: Stefan Aigner (COL) 1-0 Colorado

46’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Mike Da Fonte replaced by Bismark “Nana” Adjei-Boateng

47’ – CARD: Kortne Ford (COL) – yellow

62’ – GOAL: Mateo Mancosu (MON) 1-1

67’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (2/3) – Dominic Oduro replaced by Anthony Jackson-Hamel

72’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Stefan Aigner replaced by Alan Gordon

75’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (3/3) – Patrice Bernier replaced by Michael Salazar

79’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Michael Azira replaced by Mohammed Saeid

81’ – GOAL: Alan Gordon (COL) 2-1 Colorado

82’ – CARD: Alan Gordon (COL) – yellow

85’ – PLAYER OUT: Ignacio Piatti (MON) out for an injury

90’+3 – PLAYER OUT: Mekeil Williams (COL) out for an injury

Featured image of Stefan Aigner courtesy: @stevecookeworld@ColoradoRapids

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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A Tale of Two Goodbyes – Colorado Rapids

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Wednesday, September 27: 2-0 Loss

This week has not been an easy one for the Colorado Rapids. Wednesday night’s loss combined with wins around the league has put the Rapids mathematically out of playoff contention. The tie between LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo means we are still in last place of our division, behind by two points now. Again, we are faced with needing the Galaxy to lose while we win in order to not come in dead last in the West. To top this off, the Rapids lost a center forward when Kevin Doyle retired on Thursday.

A win in Frisco would have meant that the Rapids still had the chance to challenge for the playoffs, however, FC Dallas had no intent of letting us off that easy. Like Saturday night, the Rapids again played in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Dallas’ 4-3-3. This match up saw the return of Bobby Burling and Dillon Serna to the starting lineup, and Stefan Aigner’s first start with the Rapids.

The Rapids played half-hearted nearly the full game on Wednesday night as if they had already given up any hope of ending the season with a win or two. Maynor Figueroa (FCD) started the game off with a goal five minutes in after Eric Miller missed a clear opportunity to clear the ball out of the box. Not four minutes later, Miller was beat once again, this time by Roland Lamah (FCD) for the second and final goal of the game.

Bobby Burling drew the first yellow card of the game after channeling his inner hockey player and hip checking Lamah. Colorado got their first opportunity at putting the ball in the back of the net when Matt Hedges drew a card after getting tangled up with Dominique Badji. Two more yellow cards came for the Rapids before the end of the first half when Stefan Aigner mouthed off to the ref and Mohammed Saeid threw the ball at Javier Morales’ head.

The frustration was evident in the second half of the game as the Rapids missed multiple opportunities on goal and, as a result, could not put together a comeback. The Rapids saw a bit of pick up in speed and goal opportunities late in the game after substitutions were made. Marlon Hairston came in for Stefan Aigner and his first touch was an attempt on goal. After being warned about time wasting in the 38th minute, referee Ricardo Salazar finally issued a yellow card for time wasting to Jesse Gonzalez in the 83rd minute.

The Rapids need more central players.

At one point in Wednesday’s game, the entire midfield was left open while players were either at the top of the box or at the midfield line. Kevin Doyle was one solution to that problem and was known for closing down the middle during games. Sadly, he announced his retirement from soccer on Thursday following medical advice from his doctors due to concerns about the risk of permanent damage from further concussions. He had not been seen on the pitch since the second half of the September 2nd game against the Galaxy after getting his second concussion of the season.

Doyle first came to Colorado from Crystal Palace in 2015 and had been a fixture on the Republic of Ireland national team since 2006. He finishes his 16 year career with 63 international caps, and the appreciation of Rapids fans everywhere.

Colorado next faces Montreal Impact at home on Saturday, September 30. Let’s go ‘Pids!

5’ – GOAL: Maynor Figueroa (FCD) 1-0 Dallas

8’ – GOAL: Roland Lamah (FCD) 2-0 Dallas

11’ – CARD: Bobby Burling (COL) – yellow

21’ – CARD: Matt Hedges (FCD) – yellow

44’ – CARD: Stefan Aigner (COL) – yellow

45’ – CARD: Mohammed Saeid (COL) – yellow

54’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Marlon Hairston in for Stefan Aigner

63’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Dominique Badji

69’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Shkelzen Gashi in for Mohammed Saeid

74’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Victor Ulloa in for Mauro Diaz

83’ – CARD:  Jesse Gonzalez (FCD) – yellow

86’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Ryan Hollingshead in for Roland Lamah

89’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Luis González in for Javier Morales

Featured image courtesy: @ColoradoRapids

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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Catching up with the Colorado Rapids

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

This season has been a rough one for Colorado Rapids fans. The end of 2016 saw us lose at home against the Seattle Sounders in the race for the MLS Cup, a victory that has eluded us since 2010. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park had been affectionately nicknamed the “Mile High Fortress,” thanks to their 2016 regular season record at home. This season began full of hope and promise.

And then came 2017.

The 2017 season has been rife with disappointment, losses, and upheavals in staffing and on the field. A team that finished second in the MLS West division to FC Dallas, and the Supporter’s Shield, in the 2016 season was now dealing with life on the bottom of the board. We just couldn’t put together cohesive play to result in more than a handful of wins and the frustration was visible in player interactions on the field.

The offseason saw us sign the likes of Alan Gordon from LA Galaxy, Bismark Adjei-Boateng from the Manchester City system, and not do anything else. Midway through the season we saw the devastating departure of team captain Sam Cronin and Marc Burch to the new expansion team, Minnesota United. In return, Mohammed Saeid and Joshua Gatt donned the burgundy jersey. The departure that seemed to hit the hardest, however, was that of longtime coach and former player, Pablo Mastroeni. The drop in morale was tangible in that first home game since his firing.

There has not been much turnaround for the team under the wing of interim coach Steve Cooke, but Saturday night’s game provided the opportunity for the Rapids to move ahead of LA Galaxy, and out of last place. The Rapids started a 4-2-3-1 against Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place with Jared Watts and Michael Azira playing as a defensive 6 and an attacking 8, respectively, and Dominique Badji at the top as a target player.

The first half saw an early goal go in off of a header from Freddy Montero to put Vancouver ahead 1-nil after Axel Sjöberg was late to the play. Jared Watts (COL) drew the first yellow card of the game in the 14th minute due to a tackle from behind on Yordy Reyna after the ball was gone. Tim Howard then denied Cristian Techera a goal with a sliding save. Tim Parker (VAN) saw an attempt go wide and then turn into a yellow card thanks to his hand ball in the 34th minute.

We finally saw some flashes of Colorado’s defensive capabilities when they denied four consecutive attempts from Vancouver. Dominique Badji scored the equalizer in the 44th minute, megging the keeper, David Ousted. This was his third goal in as many games, bringing him to 9 for the season.

The second half began with a completely incidental collision between Badji and Andrew Jacobsen (VAN), though both got up with a bit of a hobble. Montero had a chance for his second goal, but he went just wide with his attempt. It was a lucky break for Colorado as Howard was down with no chance to make the save. Yordy Reyna beat Howard in the 53rd minute to score the go ahead goal for the Whitecaps.

Tempers soon flared a bit between Marlon Hairston and Tony Tchani, but because of camera angles – we weren’t able to see what happened. However, neither cards nor fouls were issued for the interaction. Michael Azira received the fourth yellow card in the game for pulling down Yordy Reyna. There was no argument from Azira because it was, as announcer Marcelo Balboa called it, “a professional foul”. Despite multiple attempts at the end of the second half, the Rapids were not able to put anything away to bring the score even.

The Rapids face FC Dallas on Wednesday, September 27th in their next round of play. Should the Galaxy lose to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, we will have yet another chance to pull out of last place before the end of the season.

4’ – GOAL: Freddy Montero (VAN) 1-0 Whitecaps

14’ – CARD: Jared Watts (COL) – yellow

34’ – CARD: Tim Parker (VAN) – yellow

43’ – CARD: Mekeil Williams (COL) – yellow

44’ – GOAL: Dominique Badji (COL) 1-1

53’ – GOAL: Yordy Reyna (VAN) 2-1 Whitecaps

59’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Stefan Aigner in for Marlon Hairston

64’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Josh Gatt

69’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (1/3) – Bernie Ibini in for Cristian Techera

75’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Bismark Adjei-Boateng in for Jared Watts

76’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (2/3) – Alphonso Davies in for Brek Shea

82’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (3/3) – Erik Hurtado in for Fredy Montero

86’ – CARD: Michael Azira (COL) – yellow

Featured image courtesy: Colorado Rapids facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

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The USOC: A Displaced Fan’s Perspective

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Wednesday, September 20: 2-1 Win

U.S. Open Cup: Sporting KC v New York Red Bulls

Hello. I’m Kirsten Arpin, and I am a fan of Sporting Kansas City. I was born in Topeka, KS, and moved to Kansas City, MO when I was 11 years old. I have also lived in Lawrence, KS, Manhattan, KS, and Lee’s Summit, MO. None of these places are farther than an hour and a half from Kansas City.

This summer I moved to Orlando, FL for school. Orlando is 18 hours away from Kansas City, without stopping. It has been a huge change from what I’m used to. I used to be able to go to any Sporting game I wanted! Now I’m relying on my in-law’s cable subscription to watch via the interwebs.

This may have been the hardest part of the move for me. I mean, I miss my family, and I miss my friends but being a Sporting KC fan is part of my identity. It is so important to me. I didn’t get to be a part of any of the U.S. Open Cup games this season, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have great memories that they have brought me.

When SKC took on Minnesota United on June 14th I was in Colorado for the University of Colorado’s conducting symposium. It was an amazing experience! I watched that game on my phone in a bar while eating a pulled pork sandwich and donut holes from a food truck. Shoutout to the Sporting KC Uphoria team who gets the game up on the website so we can watch from afar.

This can’t be just me, but whenever I’m by myself in public and following games I am accidentally loud. There are quite a few looks in my direction, and then I have to explain myself to people who are not Sporting KC fans. My husband was at this game, and he said the atmosphere was absolutely crazy. When you can get that many fans to the stadium for a USOC early round game it is pretty awesome. They also got to see a 4-0 win, so that’s not too shabby.

usoctifo
Blatant photo to break up the word wall #1. The amazing tifo painted by the KC Cauldron and tifo team 6.

The next home game was against FC Dallas on July 11th. We finished packing our moving truck and left for Florida on the 10th, so we were still driving when this game kicked off. We got to my cousin’s house in Windermere (about 10 minutes from the Magic Kingdom) by the time the game actually started.

For those of you who didn’t watch, this game didn’t start until extra time. That was when the magic happened. We got to see the two goals by Latif Blessing, Ike getting kicked in the head, and Daniel Salloi sealing the win in the 118th minute. It was my husband’s birthday, and SKC clinching a trip to the USOC semi-finals was one of the best presents he could have gotten. That and the Sporting dress socks I got him.

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Blatant photo to break up the word wall #2. Celebrations are the best.

For the semi-final game against the San Jose Earthquakes, we watched at our new apartment in Winter Park. Sidenote: Florida, for having no winter, sure puts it in a lot of its city names. Winter Park, Winter Garden, Winter Haven, Winter Beach.

This game was tough because Sporting was playing from behind almost immediately thanks to a goal by Danny Hoesen. Luckily, Diego Rubio brought SKC even about half an hour in. The rest of the game was super stressful, but all that stress was for naught because it ended up in penalty kicks.

In Kansas City, there is a love-hate relationship with penalty kicks. They do well with them in USOC games though, and this game was no different. After an uncharacteristic miss by Benny Feilhaber, Sporting made the rest of their PKs including one where Matt Besler slid to the ground afterward.

The hardest part of this game, personally, was how late it was. I’m still not used to this Eastern Timezone thing. The USOC games were starting at 9:00pm here and, with extra time and PKs, the win came around midnight. Trying to unwind after that made for a long night and an early morning.

I was looking forward to the final for weeks, and I was even more hyped after Sporting’s win against New England Revolution the week before. My colleagues got to hear about my love of Sporting for days, and they are probably sick of it. This game was perfectly timed after marching band rehearsal, and both my husband and I were able to get home in time to watch almost all of it. I would like to point out that marching band rehearsal here lasts until 8:30pm, which is so crazy late! Coming from Kansas City where rehearsals happen in the afternoon it was a big shift.

There were so many emotions coming into this game. My little sister got to go and did an awesome Instagram story for MLSFemale. My husband and I were watching from home wishing we were there. When that final whistle blew it was so emotional.

Seeing a team that I love so much win the cup was amazing, but knowing that I couldn’t be there to see it in person hurt. I miss Kansas City every single day, but on SKC gamedays I miss it so much more. That’s my home. That’s my city. That’s my team. I cried that day, and I’m crying now while writing this.

There are some awesome friends back home who know what we’re going through. Big shoutout to our Twitter diva Dayna for going live on Periscope during the trophy celebration and while Bes was painting the wall. It gave me all of the feels.

I apologize for the word wall, everyone. Thanks for reading.

#USOCChamps #PaintTheWall #WeWonTheCup #WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

RSL V Timbers  – We’ve crossed the line!

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

By Ambrosia Tonkovich // @heyambrosia

Saturday, September 16: 2-1 Win

We are over the line for the first time!! It’s been a hard fight folks, and somewhere that a lot of people thought we’d never be this year. When Mike Petke first signed on and people were skeptical of him, this is the place that I wanted to point them to. This is the moment that I want to rub their nose in. Right here. Hey. We’re over the line, man. We went from being the first team to lose to MNUFC to being above the lines and four games away from potentially being in the playoffs. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

Alright. So let’s talk the awesome goal that was Albert Rusnak’s. What a weird volley that was. The foot angle was weird, and I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it? But oh man, he did, and in the 14th minute.

What a way to start of a game against the Portland Timbers, who are up there in the top three of the table. It soared right past former backup keeper for Real Salt Lake Jeff Attinella, and straight in for what was truly a beautiful goal. Crowd went wild, I went wild, and Rusnak celebrated with the ole’ prego with the ball baby victory. I mean, all right, you do you Rusnak. Whatever keeps you getting goals like that, man.

That first half was a magical one, we played well together, like we were actually communicating. We seemed to be pushing forward as a TEAM instead of a few individuals, and we kept possession for most of that first half. We walked out of the first half with a 1-0 lead and probably danced their way into the stands.

The second half opened up quite quickly for the Timbers, with Valeri sending a quick header past Rimando into the goal at the 47th minute. I’ll be honest, that was a pretty one. No idea who was supposed to be marking him on our team but… they weren’t. I saw some choice vowels being formed there via Rimando’s mouth, and I don’t blame him. But a well deserved goal for Valeri and the Timbers.

Savarino. Wooooo boy.

 

Lookit that goal.

That is what beauty is made of. Seriously, I don’t know what Attinella could’ve done about that, but that was so pretty. Jefferson knocked that beautiful goal in at the 61st minute bringing RSL up 2-1 and sending us immediately into a defensive position. Subs were made and Yura remained at the top by himself as the rest of the game was played entirely defensively and I’m definitely okay with that plan.

The Timbers are a good team and us getting a lead on them at home… yep, that was the right call by Petke to play defensively for the rest of the evening, especially with us losing Luis Silva due to right groin injury early in the game.

We came out of this game 2-1, and I couldn’t be more happy. After the Houston/San Jose game we are still barely above the line, but we are there. This is a nice place to be.

We play Seattle next week at home at Rio Tinto Stadium, and I’m hoping we can get as cohesive as we did this game and pull another W to get us higher up in the standings.

Also, side note not related to that game – I’m super worried about Rimando (especially Rimando), Beckerman, and Beltran all being free agents next year… uggggggh. Send me a billion Xanax please.

Game highlights:

14′  Goal! Real Salt Lake 1, Portland Timbers 0. Albert Rusnák (Real Salt Lake) right footed shot from outside the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Luis Silva.

47′  Goal! Real Salt Lake 1, Portland Timbers 1. Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Dairon Asprilla with a cross.

58′  Substitution, Real Salt Lake. Yura Movsisyan replaces Luis Silva because of an injury.

61′  Goal! Real Salt Lake 2, Portland Timbers 1. Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Albert Rusnák.

68′  Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) is shown the yellow card.

70′  Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

75′  Substitution, Real Salt Lake. Brooks Lennon replaces Joao Plata.

75′  Substitution, Portland Timbers. Jeremy Ebobisse replaces Darren Mattocks.

76′  Substitution, Portland Timbers. Vytautas Andriuskevicius replaces Liam Ridgewell.

80′  Substitution, Portland Timbers. Lawrence Olum replaces David Guzmán because of an injury.

87′  Yura Movsisyan (Real Salt Lake) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

89′  Substitution, Real Salt Lake. David Horst replaces Jefferson Savarino.

Featured image courtesy: @RealSaltLake

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @heyambrosia

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Stealing Away

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, September 9: 0-1 Win

My initial reaction to last Saturday’s game:

Somehow, in spite of some blindingly bad defensive plays in the first half and some otherworldly saves by the opposing keeper in the second half, the Portland Timbers came away with a 1-0 win against New York City FC on Saturday, breaking NYCFC’s 10-game unbeaten streak at home and finding themselves ahead on total points in the west by the end of the weekend.

Both teams were missing key players on Saturday. NYCFC in particular missed David Villa in the attack and Yangel Herrera in the midfield; PTFC was without striker Fanendo Adi, central defender and team captain Liam Ridgewell, and starting keeper Jake Gleeson. In addition, both clubs had players coming from recent international duty, with NYCFC’s Rodney Wallace having played 31 minutes for Costa Rica earlier in the week and PTFC’s David Guzman and Darlington Nagbe both putting in 70+ minutes for Costa Rica and the United States, respectively. So it could be considered a test of both team’s depth and ability to adjust to changing lineups.

First half missteps

Misstep #1: Left hand to left leg (No, this isn’t Twister)–Let’s start with one that could have been a LOT worse. At 22′, David Guzman lost a challenge on the left side, outside of NYCFC’s box. Let me preface this by saying I love Guzman, that he has been my favorite acquisition so far this year…but WOW that move he made on Maximiliano Moralez:

That reach with the left hand on Moralez’s leg pained me to watch. I LOVE Guzman but I did NOT love that move. The yellow card he got could easily have been much worse (like, say, a different color).

Misstep #2: Hellacious D–The next defensive misstep was Roy Miller’s to make. At 25′, Andrea Pirlo had a free kick coming, which Jeff Attinella punched away. Unfortunately, Miller was disturbingly blasé on defense, first with an all-too-casual tap that he nearly lost, followed by a lackadaisical pass that Jack Harrison quickly stole away and sent toward the goal. Luckily for us, Moralez and Rodney Wallace pretty much got in each other’s way and allowed the Timbers to clear the ball out; otherwise that defensive error could easily have put NYCFC ahead.

Misstep #3: Speaking of casual–Fortunately, the Timbers weren’t the only ones to play a little too casually for their own good. Pirlo, the embodiment of insouciance (yes, I have now used my SAT word for the day), had a stunning giveaway to Darren Mattocks. While Pirlo stood, half shrugging and half-heartedly begging the ref for attention of some sort, Mattocks ignored him, continued play, and made him pay dearly by finding Diego Valeri for the score:

Diego Valeri (aka Maestro aka Troesma aka San Valeri aka Build The F***ing Statue Already) buried the ball in the back of the net for his 17th goal on the season. The goal also marked the seventh PTFC game in a row with a Valeri goal, tying the MLS record first set in 1997 by Raul Diaz Arce and matched only three times since: once by Wolde Harris in 2000, once by Carlos Ruiz in 2006, and once by Valeri. Yes, I am biased; and yes, Valeri is a legitimate candidate for MLS MVP this year.

And then there was the second half.

Second half: The Sean Johnson Show

Soccer is a funny game. You can have a string of terrible plays, capitalize on a single opportunity at the right moment, and steal a goal. And you can have a string of amazing plays, get stymied by a single player, and come away empty handed. Such was the story of the second half.

After the half, the Timbers seemed to have recovered from their defensive lapses, and they had more than a few legitimate chances to run up the score. And every time, Sean Johnson was there to stop them.

First, there was the 55′ header by Vytautas Andriuškevičius off the Guzman corner, a nice run toward goal that found Vytas pretty much uncovered. Somehow Johnson got a bead on it and saved it.

Then there was 64′, where Jeremy Ebobisse, down on the ground inside the box, still had the presence of mind to redirect the ball off the outside of his left foot to where Valeri was headed. It could easily have been a score but for Johnson’s huge save.

Then there was 74′, where Sebastian Blanco had a shot on frame that was saved by Johnson.

Then at 84′, there was this:

This was pretty much my reaction:

In the end, Valeri’s first half score was enough to hold the lead, and we came away with three valuable points in the home stretch of the season, finding ourselves temporarily atop the Western Conference on total points at the end of the weekend. I will take it, thank you.

Hot Takes

Depth matters. Yes, NYCFC was missing David Villa, and yes, he probably would have made us pay dearly for our defensive lapses in the first half; but we were missing key players as well. In a test of depth, we came out ahead on the day.

Be my Valentin. In a game with more than a few scary plays on defense, Zarek Valentin was solid in right back. I know that Alvas Powell has speed and more potential upside, but Valentin has earned the starting spot. I hope he keeps it.

Attinella. Hey, remember how Adam Kwarasey got injured and then Jake Gleeson played several games and next thing you know he was the starting keeper? I need to talk to my keeper friends who know far more about positioning, reaction saves, etc. than I do; but for my money Jeff Atinella must at least be giving Caleb Porter something to think about at the keeper position. Just saying.

A lot can happen in this part of the season, and the Western Conference race is unbelievably tight. At a time like this, three road points are (green and) gold. Next up: on the road v. Real Salt Lake. See you next weekend!

Featured image courtesy: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale