LAFC kicks off Rivalry Week with 4-0 win over San Jose

Official LAFC Reporter

fBy Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club is closing in to win their first-ever Supporters’ Shield thanks to goals from Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela, and Josh Perez. Together, they have kept the club atop of the standings and undefeated at home, most recently in a 4-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Despite having an excellent outcome, the match did not kick off to a strong start as poor passing from the home team led the Quakes to the door of LAFC’s goal. Fortunately, the shot went wide.

A breakthrough came just six minutes in with Rossi getting the early lead off the rebound. Eduard Atuesta sent a through ball from the midfield, landing to Perez. Perez one-timed a curled shot towards the far post that was saved, but Rossi was there to bury it.

The nightmare began for the visitors as LAFC was awarded the penalty after Anibal Godoy blocked Lee Nguyen’s shot with his hand and was called for a handball. Carlos Vela stepped up to convert, and score his 25th career goal, after VAR confirmed the penalty. 

In the 37th minute, Vako went to score at close range, but Jordan Harvey made a diving save in front of Miller to deny the Quakes’ player.

And then… insanity broke out.

If the match wasn’t already crazy enough, the Quakes’ head coach, Matias Almeyda, was visibly distraught as the referee rejected his request to review the play – alleging Harvey committed a hand ball. A similar call awarded LAFC a penalty moments earlier. Kevin Stott ultimately ejected both Almeyda and his translator. After four minutes of protesting, the coach agreed to leave, but not without stopping to yell back at a fan.

In the midst of the spectacle the sidelines, the captain put LAFC up 3-0 in the 41st minute, scoring his 26th career goal.

While LAFC was busy running up the score, San Jose did produce an equal amount of opportunities and Miller came up huge every time.

Early in the second half, Cristian Espinoza found space on the right side of the box and lasered a shot near the post that was firmly blocked out by Miller.

Wearing a protective mask, Mohamed El-Munir came on to replace Harvey in the 62nd minute to make his first appearance since suffering a facial fracture on July 19. The next minute, Adama Diomande subbed on for Rossi. 

The Quakes desperately continued to try to get on the scoreboard but the New Jersey native kept them at bay. Miller made a fingertip save on a Quakes’ shot that clanked off the post in the 78th minute. Guram Kashia pounced on the bouncing rebound but put it over the net for a goal kick.

Josh Perez had a total of five chances throughout the match, and his moment finally came in the 80th minute when the 21-year-old scored his first ever goal for the club off a pass from Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Diomande scored late into stoppage time but the ref called him for a foul and took back the goal. Despite the call, the Black-and-Gold secured another three points, putting them up to a total of 61 points.

The win, without a doubt, gave LAFC even more confidence before they host the LA Galaxy in the second edition of this year’s El Tráfico on Sunday.

Just like how fans were chanting, “We want Carson!” following the win, LAFC is presumably ready with a lineup at full strength. But, is it enough beat Zlatan’s mental antics?

Featured Image: LAFC

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Rivalry Week: Sporting KC hosts the friendliest rivalry in the Midwest

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS.

When: Thursday, August 22th, 8:30 p.m. CT.

How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes, 810 WHB, ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM

Every point matters. And Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United are not taking the match tomorrow likely.

For the better part of the last decade, Sporting KC has been the team to watch in the Western Conference. Minnesota United has struggled to get out of the bottom places for the first two years of their existence.

This year, the tables have turned for these two Midwestern teams. Sitting in second place with 42 points in a tight race, the Loons will be looking to secure their first-ever playoff qualification, in addition to hosting a playoff game at Allianz Field.

SKC’s turbulent season has been frustrating for both the players and fans. Still stuck in alternating positions below the line and with nine games left, SKC is desperate to keep their streak of eight straight postseason appearances alive.

Both teams will meet for the first time in league play this Thursday for the “friendliest rivalry” in MLS after the Loons eliminated Sporting KC from Round 4 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this year.

The match will also serve as reunion when SKC favorite, Ike Opara returns to CMP. Despite wearing the wrong jersey – Opara continues to be a dominant defender and has been critical in guiding the Loons.

To help get a better insight on the Loons and their club history, I interviewed my colleague at MLSFemale and Minnesota United reporter, Bridget McDowell.

Araceli Villanueva: Minnesota United struggled for their first two years of existence. Now sitting in second place, how do you think they’ve been able to turn things around this season and can they keep up the momentum with playoffs just around the corner?

Bridget McDowell: Minnesota has finally started to build an identity and team chemistry. The new veterans (Ike Opara, Ozzie Alonso, Lawrence Olum) have added a new level of accountability (something which was building last season, but often dropped off with each poor result). Their guidance has led the squad away from the in-fighting seen often in ’17 and ’18 and towards a more positive approach.

Players may show frustration, but typically discuss what led to a mistake and help one another improve. I’ve seen quite a few post-match discussions in the locker room, with players huddled around phones watching a replay or getting a teammate’s perspective on an error. The rookies are also upping the standard and pushing the whole squad to work harder.

Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson bring fresh attitudes and their work ethic and adaptability seems to be pushing the others. These players have all been key pieces in the gutsy, gritty victories (and draws) that have landed Minnesota in 2nd.

AV: Thursday’s matchup has been dubbed the “Friendliest Rivalry” for this week. What is your take on the title?

BM: Minnesota Soccer Twitter got a kick out of [Sporting KC’s] tailgate video in which fans shared their views of United fans. “Oh yeah, those guys” and “they’ve got a nice place up there” is a taste of the neutral rivalry this has become. United has drawn Sporting as a USOC opponent since the NASL days so when that trend continued as Minnesota moved into the same league, the same conference, as Kansas City. It’s kind of a forced rivalry. I think it’s become a parody rivalry of sorts.

The first face-off I witnessed was the 2016 USOC match played in Blaine. I stood with the supporters who were screaming at the ref, banging on the boards and frustrated to tears with the result. Sporting’s first visit to TCF Stadium in 2017 served as the bitter rematch. Minnesota got revenge despite GK Bobby Shuttleworth having his nose broken by Dom Dwyer. By the time that USOC draw came around, United fans could only say, “Those guys again?” I’ve talked with many United fans considered SKC their MLS club before MNUFC made the jump. With similar histories, it’s a team and fan base we look up to and a match-up we circle on our calendars every year. If the league is going to call that a rivalry, we may as well have a little fun with it. But if MLS really wanted to invest in this ‘rivalry’, it would pitch in a little money to speed up the endless construction on I-35.

AV: Kevin Molino and Darwin Quintero are a few players that stood out from the last match against the Rapids. Do you think this duo could deliver similar results again on Thursday? Or which players should Sporting KC fans should be cautious of?

BM: They stood out against the Rapids, but not so much against Orlando when they played again at Allianz on Saturday. Molino and Quintero are definitely a strong attacking partnership.

New [young designated player] Thomas Chacon could shake that up on Thursday, though it is not clear how involved he will be. (MNUFC has said he will travel, but haven’t said in what capacity. He’s a likely sub though, with Angelo Rodriguez injured.)

SKC fans should know exactly who to be cautious of: Ike Opara. Many soccer writers and pundits have pointed out recently that SKC has yet to fill the gap left by Opara, leaving that defense uncharacteristically weak while Minnesota’s has been uncharacteristically strong. Opara is a clear leader in this squad so his return appearance will be motivation to win, maybe more so than the ‘rivalry’ atmosphere. Other players? Gasper, Jan Gregus and Ethan Finlay are all on every opponent’s radar each week; this one will be no different.

Bonus question: What is your score prediction?

2-1 Loons. Luck has played a distinct role in Minnesota’s recent successes. That, combined with a struggling SKC defense and an eager Opara, will drive United’s attack, but – true to the “Nicest Rivalry” moniker – it won’t be a complete blowout.

Featured image: Andy Witchger

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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NYCFC cuts off the Columbus Crew 1-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club faced off against an inconsistent Columbus Crew and managed to pull out a win.  As I’ve said recently, I was nervous about how this game would play out. As low on the table as Columbus sits, they have recently taken down good teams on the road, such as during their match with the New York Red Bulls.

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The Good

Defenders Alex Callens and Anton Tinnerholm returned to the lineup from minor injuries.  The first half was smooth sailing for NYCFC as they maintained tight possession in the middle and attacking third –  70% possession in fact.  

The attacking partnership of Héber and Taty Castellanos looked strong with both attempting through balls and diagonal runs in or around the box. Sometimes the passes were a hair off, but it looks like they are getting more and more in sync each game.  Castellanos also continued his goal scoring run by putting one in off a pass by Maxi Moralez in the 36′.  

The NYCFC attack was complemented by the left wing runs of Ronald Matarrita, which opened up space in the middle.  It must be noted that the eternally peppy Mata will attempt to chase down any and all passes.  In this match, his aerial crosses were not necessarily hitting their target, but they worked to scramble the Crew’s defense in front of the goal.  Columbus Crew’s goalkeeper Eloy Room worked very hard in the first half to keep it to one goal allowed.

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The Bad

The immediate reaction after the match was that NYCFC played terribly in the second half.  The main difference was Pedro Santos being subbed into the game for the Crew.  He played on another level from the rest of the fielded Crew team last night and is incredibly hard to predict and defend.  

Santos’ bursts of speed and runs into open space set NYC’s defense on their heels causing the team to lose patience with their tried and true plan of tight possession which had been set forth by head coach Dome Torrent .  Once Santos entered the equation, the team seemed to get impatient and would send long balls or crosses too soon and then were quickly needing to deal with the ensuing counter attacks.

A bit more good, though

With James Sands out for 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone and Ebenezer Ofori out with a knee injury , Tony Rocha started at midfield and looked like he’s been drinking the Dome Kool-Aid.  With his short quick passes to and from Maxi while making diagonal runs and his physical defensive pressure, he appears to be settling into the lineup.

Maxime Chanot defended extremely well throughout both halves, while goalkeeper Sean Johnson had to become very active in the second half.   At one point fans were worried about both of them as they  were down and clutching their heads after saving an attempt on goal.  Minutes later, Johnson saved a goal just outside the box with his own head.

So many questions

I can say that home fans breathed a sigh of relief to escape that game with three points.  Next up is a match with regional rival NY Red Bulls on Saturday.  

How will NYCFC deal with the typical RBNY high press?  Will they stay patient and stick to their game plan?  With RBNY’s physical style, will Matarrita start with a yellow card on his back?  Will RBNY be able to start the seemingly injured goalkeeper Luis Robles? Will any of this matter as Red Bulls seem to be the LA Galaxy to NYCFC’s West coast counterpart LAFC?

All photos by Juan Carlos Rubiano // IG: @ohcitysaidi // Twitter: @OhCitySaidI

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Rivalry Week: Red Bulls Hit With Their Best Shot

MLSFemale Social Media Manager
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, August 21: 1-2 Win

Ah. Rivalry Week. We meet again.

With a Long History

For those of you playing at home, you are probably aware that I am relatively new to RBNY (and MLS) fandom. But one of the first things I learned was that when Red Bull fans hear ‘rival,’ they think of D.C. United… the Pigeons are an afterthought. So even though this was the second match of the night, the Red Bulls at Audi Field was the first real rivalry match of the special presentation.

You’re a Real Tough Cookie

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that this was going to be chippy. And that doesn’t even factor in Felipe Martins’ return to the East coast. But both teams had to deal with ejections before halftime! Wayne Rooney gave Cristian Casseres, Jr. an elbow to the face, and didn’t even look like he noticed doing it.  Then Amro Tarek took down Paul Arriola and got himself a second yellow card.

Did I see the first yellow card? No. It was a blur. But am I okay with the ejection? Also no.

Let’s Get Down To It

The goal that almost wasn’t. Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra caught onto a ball that Marc Rzatkowski crossed towards Daniel Royer. I know that because when Royer didn’t get the ball, he did his signature ‘facepalm’ thing. But Kaku never gives up– Kaku finds a way!

Sorry… that was too easy.

Fire Away

It wasn’t smooth sailing for New York in the remainder of the match. There was a lot of pressure and missed opportunities.  Then Ola Kamara, a newcomer to D.C. United, hit a shot that was nothing short of amazing. The curve on that ball’s path defied physics and completely avoided goalkeeper Luis Robles.

Knock me Down

I’m a teensy bit biased. So when the referee called a penalty for RBNY, I was cool with it. But the first time I saw the replay, I was taken aback. Did Murillo get tripped, or did he just trip on himself? Then I saw it again… he was tripped by the D.C. defender. He just got an extra step before he went down. Royer converted the kick from the spot, and the Red Bulls were on top again.

Defender Aaron Long took a couple of hits to the head, and Robles was definitely dealing with an issue with his left foot by the end of the game. There is a really short turnaround before the next game, so that is unsettling.

See If I Care

There were five minutes of stoppage in the first half. There were EIGHT minutes added on to the second half. Injuries and wild shots just added to the clock. But finally the whistle blew, and the Red Bulls could leave Audi Field with all three points, not a moment too soon.

The latest Hudson River Derby awaits RBNY at Yankee Stadium. NYCFC also had a midweek win, so it will be a battle of momentum. Let’s see how you do it.

Featured image:  @BillTNJ

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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The ‘Circus’ Comes to Town: Rivalry Week in D.C.

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora (Luciano Acosta, 72′), Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Jalen Robinson (Leonardo Jara, 38′); Lucas Rodríguez, Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins, Paul Arriola; Ola Kamara (Quincy Amarikwa, 69′), Wayne Rooney

Two of the oldest teams in Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls have been at each other’s throats almost as long as the League has been in existence. Times have changed (and so has the Red Bulls’ name, they used to be the MetroStars) and while some believe this rivalry is dead, tonight’s match certainly made the case that the mutual animosity between D.C. and New York (or New Jersey, if you will) is alive and kicking. 

Tonight’s match had everything, except for a D.C. win. However, this wasn’t from a lack of trying on the part of the Black-and-Red. 

The New York Red Bull’s took an early goal, with Kaku taking advantage of a blind spot at D.C.’s end of the pitch in the 6’. Then things really began to get ugly between the two teams. Escalating physicality did not bode well for either D.C. or New York. 

By the 24’, captain Wayne Rooney was booked with a red, taking D.C. down to 10 men. The cards kept coming for D.C. with Felipe Martins being booked shortly after with a yellow in the 34’. New York was shortly left with 10 men as well, when Amro Tarek received his second yellow of the match and left the game just before halftime.

With both sides down a player, D.C. found the equalizer in the 55’. Newly signed Ola Kamara opened his account for D.C. United, finding the back of the net off an assist by Joseph Mora.

It was a bittersweet moment for Kamara. He said, “It would of course been more satisfying if it gave us a point or three. But of course, it feels good to get out in front of the home crowd and score a goal… It was a great feeling to start again.”

D.C.’s elation wouldn’t last long. After a controversial call by referee Ismail Elfath against Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez, New York’s Daniel Royer cashed in on a penalty kick, bypassing D.C.’s goalkeeper Bill Hamid to claim another point on the scoreboard for the Red Bulls in the 59’. Black-and-Red supporters made their disapproval of Elfath’s call known throughout Audi Field, as they chanted and booed the official. Post-match, coach Ben Olsen would say, “It’s the wrong call. It’s a dive.”

Even with two relatively early (for Olsen) second half substitutions made, D.C. United couldn’t seem to regain the ground lost, despite the chances they continued to create. It seemed that every time D.C. built momentum, the whistle would sound again.

Quincy Amarikwa, who entered the match for Ola Kamara in the 69’, is well known for his ability to get into his opponents’ heads and exploit any sign of mental weakness. An ability he put into action against the Red Bulls tonight. “I would’ve liked to get in earlier,” the forward said, “I feel I could have created more opportunities. You know, we were really breaking them down at the end there. They were really struggling to hold on to the lead. You could tell with how often they were going down.”

Although there were 8 minutes of stoppage time added to the match (which turned into more), it wasn’t enough for D.C. to secure a comeback. The final score line of 1-2 didn’t seem to reflect the tremendous effort put in by D.C. United on the pitch.

As for Kamara, he is happy to have made a return to Major League Soccer. He said, “I really enjoy my time here. I have a lot of fun and I know so many people here too, so I see a lot of familiar faces. Coming to D.C. too, there are a lot of great guys, so it’s been very positive, I’m very happy.”

As the weekend approaches, the Black and Red will make a road trip north to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. With Wayne Rooney serving a suspension, it is highly likely we will see Ola Kamara in the XI again. Let’s hope his incredible positivity is contagious.

As always, Vamos United!

Featured image: D.C. United

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Rivalry Week: LAFC returns home after clinching 2019 playoff spot on the road

Official LAFC Reporter

fBy Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club is becoming every club’s nightmare.

Carlos Vela and Adama Diomande’s goals helped the club to become the first MLS team to secure a spot in the 2019 playoffs this past weekend as they won on the road, 2-0, over Real Salt Lake.

Now leading the league with 52 points and a 42 goal differential, the Black-and-Gold return home to host the San Jose Earthquakes as part of MLS Heineken Rivalry Week.

LAFC has dominated the series against the Quakes; causing an earthquake in San Jose during their first meeting this year in March by winning 5-0.

Walker Zimmerman will miss the action after being ejected from the last match against Real Salt Lake. Tristian Blackmon will likely fill the role again. Additionally, Mark-Anthony Kaye will face suspension due to yellow card accumulation if carded in tomorrow’s match.

Bob Bradley has done very little to change the starting lineup this season, given the club has made some major roster moves in the recent weeks – with recently loaning three players to two USL teams, respectively: Dejan Jakovic and Rodolfo Zelaya to Las Vegas Lights FC, and Peter-Lee Vassell to Phoenix Rising FC.

Vela continues his historic season by setting a new single-season record of 39 combined goals and assists. The captain has made MLS history with 24 goals and 15 assists, with nine games remaining.

The Quakes will visit the Banc after suffering back-to-back losses, and will have a full roster to choose from as no players are on the injury report. LAFC remains the only team in the league to go undefeated at home and will look to retain that record tomorrow.

The Black-and-Gold will conclude their mini Californian tournament as they host the LA Galaxy on Sunday, August 25 – for the fifth installment of El Tráfico.

Featured Image: @LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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Montréal Impact: Masters of Their Own Downfall

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

It’s not a tune fans haven’t heard before: Set piece defending. However, we’ve been subjected to seeing the Impact’s fatal flaw on display every single match for the past month, bar none. Saturday’s 3-3 tie versus FC Dallas was no exception.

After taking a 3-0 lead into the 60th minute, the Impact would go on to capitulate. They conceded the game-tying goal in the 90th minute, as yet another player went unmarked and rose above a flat-footed Bleu-Blanc-Noir while goalkeeper Evan Bush was helpless on his line.

It feels as though this season’s team is a dam threatening to burst. A leak springs early, in the form of a barren offense in Nacho Piatti’s absence, and the team manages to plug that hole by compensating with a tightened-up defense. A new crack appears in the form of player conduct. The troublemakers are sent off during the summer transfer window. Now, after a blissful early-season reprieve from late-game set-piece meltdowns, this is the latest hole we are waiting to see the team paper over. Since the Gold Cup break, the Impact have conceded 22 goals in 9 MLS matches, with only two wins in that stretch.

The Impact have been susceptible to lackadaisical corner-kick defense for as long as I’ve been following them. Across four seasons and two different coaches, it’s been one of the few constants in the team. But the propensity to concede goals from set-piece opportunities is not really what you want to associate with your team. With Saturday’s result, the Impact officially became the worst team in the league with regard to set-piece defense: 19 of the 50 goals they’ve conceded to date have come from such a situation.

How can they fix this problem? I don’t know; tactical training is far from my area of expertise. Having only two central defenders healthy surely does not help. Having a goalkeeper struggling with commanding his area doesn’t help. Being in the midst of the most congested month yet of the schedule probably doesn’t help. But as the Impact have entered what appears to be the race to avoid the playoffs for a third consecutive year, something’s got to give.

It’s a bit late in the season for a coaching change, and any additional defenders would have to come as free agents since the transfer window is now closed. It seems like the best we can hope for is for more of the most important players to get healthy — and have their game time well-managed to ensure they stay healthy — and count on some conference rivals to drop points.

I wish I could have spent this space singing the praises of Lassi Lappalainen, who scored his second Impact brace in our most recent match. But I also wish I had seen my team keep its focus long enough to finish a match, and I felt that was a more important issue to address, as have so many others in Impact community. This isn’t a position I’d expected them to be in even ten matches ago. It’s not a feeling I savour, but I suppose it’s all part of the wild ride that is supporting the Montréal Impact.

Next up, what better for a team in a tailspin than a trip to their bitter rival’s stadium, where they’ve only won twice? Toronto FC host the Impact on Saturday, August 24th. If ever there were a moment for the team to come together and have a statement performance … it’s now.

Featured image: Montreal Impact Facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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Another Tie…Another Point

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

On a beautiful night in Ohio, the Columbus Crew faced Toronto FC. With playoffs looking very unlikely, but not impossible, it was crucial for Columbus to get 3 points out of this match.

Youness Mokhtar made his starting debut for the Crew after subbing in during the last match, and Josh Williams returned to the line up after recovering from an injury. Connor Maloney once again played left back, but he had a much better outing than when playing Cincinnati last week.

While the Crew did not dominate the first half, they did not look quite as lost as they did last week. While Toronto dominated possession, they did not get a lot of opportunities until they very end of the half.

In the 42′, Toronto picked up the lead when Jozy Altidore sent a pass to Jonathan Osorio. Osorio leisurely dribbled it up the middle of the field unchallenged and sent a shot in from outside the 18 into the net.

Quickly in the second half, the Crew equalized. Wil Trapp sent a floating cross to Pedro Santos. Santos quickly one touched it off his left foot and into the net.

In the 65′, 79′, and 80′, coach Caleb Porter made an offensive push, subbing Mokhtar for Luis Arugdo, Romario Williams for Luis Diaz, and David Accam for Connor Maloney. One of these subs made an immediate impact. In the 82′, Harrison Afful got the ball to Accam who carried it halfway down the field to finish it off, putting the Crew in the lead.

Now, all the team needed to do was possess and keep the ball away from their end of the field to get the three points. Unfortunately, this was not to pass, with Toronto’s Altidore heading in a ball in the 90′, tying the score 2-2.

There were several times in the second half where the Crew could have scored more goals. Argudo had a great shot that was deflected and hit the cross bar, Zardes headed a ball into the ground that should have hit the back of the net, and he had another opportunity he missed as well.

Thoughts on the Match

I continue to think the Crew is improving, but it is most likely too little too late for any hope of making the post-season. While we did get a point out of this match, giving away a goal in the end stages of a game we are winning cannot happen if we want to hold on to any shred of hope of a post-season appearance.

I didn’t have any strong feelings when we picked up David Accam. Then I found out we only had him for this season, so I didn’t really want to invest too much. Unfortunately, I’ve become a fan and hate to see him go.

I am also a fan of Gyasi Zardes, but he may need to go visit Berhalter or Josh Wolff to figure out why he hasn’t seemed to be able to finish any shots recently. The current coaching staff hasn’t seemed to figure it out since Zardes has returned from international duty.

I was very relieved to see Artur and Trapp start in the midfield for this game, and there was no David Guzman appearance. I’m sure with three games in nine days we are likely to see him, but Guzman remains my least favorite acquisition of the season.

With post-season looking unlikely, I am beginning to wonder about which players will be returning next season. I hope we will see a return of Pedro Santos who finally has found his form under Porter.

Hopefully, we can take 3 points from our Wednesday game against NYCFC to keep any hopes of the playoffs alive.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Seattle Love

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

I’ve been quiet in my game summaries since Seattle lost at home to Portland on July 21st. After that game, I wrote an article that generally said that losing to Portland wasn’t the end of the world, but the Sounders were not alright. After squeaking out a 1-0 victory on the road in Houston the following week, nothing has gone right for the Sounders in every match that’s followed.

Image Credit: Jill Peck

In the month of August, the Sounders are winless and have gathered only 2 points in 4 games. The Rave Green lost 3-2 at home to Sporting Kansas City, who at the time were second from the bottom in the Western Conference. While I have a great deal of respect for Kansas City as a club, that was a game the Sounders should have taken 3 points from. But they let in 3 goals at home, an occurrence fans are starting to see often, and couldn’t capitalize on their own offensive chances.

Photo Credit: Jill Peck

Then Bruce Arena and the New England Revolution came to town. While New England is on an upswing, this too should have been a sunny Sunday afternoon for Sounders fans. A can of Rueben’s brew, some boom-boom-clap, 3 points and back to business. But instead, the game tied 3-3. Six goals in the back of the Sounders’ net in 2 games. And then they took to the road.

A double game week on the road is never an easy task, especially for a squad absolutely gutted by injuries like the Sounders are. But taking another 3 goal beat down in Salt Lake and not even recording a shot on goal is embarrassing. It’s uncharacteristic. As Brian Schmetzer has said recently to the media, it is not the Sounders way of play. So again, the Rave Green marched on to visit another Western Conference foe: the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Down in Carson, the Sounders lineup was still missing 3 to 4 key starters and facing a Team Zlatan that was shining with fancy new TAM/GAM players (that would be DPs anywhere else in the league, mind you). But the Galaxy gave the Sounders a much needed break in the 6th minute when Daniel Steres was red carded for DOGSO (denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity). This should have been a golden opportunity for the Sounders. A man advantage, even against a team led by Zlatan, should basically guarantee 3 points.

But much to the dismay of commentator Taylor Twellman and Sounders fans alike, Seattle did not high-press the opportunity. Instead, they sat back and did not alter their game plan in the slightest. In the 42nd minute, Raul Ruidiaz finally put the ball in the back of the net, but the man known as Zlatan leveled the score only 3 minutes later. The Sounders midfield gave Sebastian Llletget plenty of time and space to send in a lofted ball to the most towering Ferrari in all of MLS and this happened:

Zlatan would go on to draw his own penalty and convert from the spot in the 65th minute. Then, in the 82nd, David Bingham decided to play as recklessly as the Sounders defense has for the past month and a half and do this:

Own Goal struck once again and became the only reason the Sounders, who were up a man from the 6th minute, took a point home from LA. Seattle now sit in 5th place and face Portland away next week and the Galaxy back home at CenturyLink the following week. No slouch of a schedule on the back of what is nearly the worst run in Sounders history. However, the worst run in Sounders history ended with the firing of Sigi Schmidt in 2016. Falling in the standings, letting in 11 goals in 4 games and unable to keep a healthy squad has left Sounders fans wondering what in the world can turn things around.

So… what is going on in Seattle?

Well, the first thing to note is Chad Marshall retired. While I realize that happened at the end of May, it’s impact has been felt in more than just the on-field play. Marshall was the leader on the field even without the captain’s armband. Before him, Ozzie Alonso kept things in check. With both of these impactful leaders departing this season, the squad is looking around (literally) for someone to lead and finding no one.

The second note is our signings have been a bust. Joevin Jones has returned a shell of the defender he led the league in assists in 2016. His play has been inconsistent at best. Xavier Arreaga, the DP center back Seattle vastly overpaid, has shown no chemistry alongside Kim Kee Hee and made several mistakes that have lead to scoring opportunities for opponents.

Before the summer transfer window closed, former MLS player Luis Silva and Argentine Emanual Cecchini were brought in. Cecchini has been hyped to fans as a CDM to fill the Ozzie void, while Luis Silva is simply a more seasoned Harry Shipp-style winger. Neither of these signings fit the most pressing needs of the Sounders and General Manager Garth Lagerway continued to state to the media that he “likes our squad the way it is.”

Injuries have been the third note of issue for the Sounders. Brad Smith and Kelvin Leerdam have missed a combined 11 games as of late. Victor Rodriguez has been out due to injury for 13 games so far this season, Raul Ruidiaz has only played 6 of the last 11 league games and Gustav Svensson has only logged 4 full 90 minute games since week 9 of the season. Oh, and Roman Torres went and got himself suspended for 10 games for taking some sort of illegal vitamin.

The final note of issue facing the Sounders has been the gradual decline and recent exit of co-owner Joe Roth. While the Sounders front office recently introduced 11 Seattle-based families (including Macklemore and his wife and Ciara and Russel Wilson) to take over Roth’s majority share, fans were quick to speculate that Roth’s lack of recent involvement and exit from the club were most likely a key factor in the lack of major signings lately.

Sounders fans tend to have two pools of thought: Rave Green ‘Til I Die or What Have You Done For Me Lately? The former will continue to support, cheer and love the Sounders. They are the first to point out that the last time Seattle went on a run like this, they won MLS Cup. The latter demand a DP signing when things get rough, sell their tickets after what was the worst 4 game home stretch in Sounders history and insist that Brian Schmetzer isn’t the man to lead this team.

Both groups come from a place of Seattle Love. They love a team that plays hard and with passion for the full 90. They know the history of a team that has tallied the second most points in all of MLS for the past decade. For both of these groups it isn’t necessarily MLS Cup or bust, but play hard. Win games you should win. Score goals and try to keep less than a dozen out of your net in a 2 week stretch of games. But for many of the reasons I listed previously, we’ve all been greatly disappointed.

Featured image: @SoundersFC on Twitter

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A Missed Opportunity

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Leonardo Jara (Ema Boateng 67′); Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins; Lucas Rodríguez, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura (Luciano Acosta 58′); Wayne Rooney (Ola Kamara 74′)

D.C. United lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road, with a lone goal scored in the first half deciding the match. After a standout performance against the LA Galaxy, sans Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta, it seemed almost preposterous that D.C. was bested by a team sitting in last place in the MLS Western Conference Standings.  Almost.

With a stacked roster, D.C.’s road trip to Vancouver could have been an easy opportunity for the Black-and-Red to secure three points before returning home to face their rivals, the New York Red Bulls, on Wednesday. New signing Ola Kamara was available to play in the away match, only increasing the feeling of confidence going into Saturday night’s match-up. 

Coach Ben Olsen began the match with many familiar faces in the XI, and for the first 10’ , D.C. seemed well in control of the match; then, the wheels came off the bus. Although they made 24 total shots, D.C. could not seem to find the back of the net. Only two shots were on target, an early shot in the 2’ by Paul Arriola and another shot in the 19′ by Ulises Segura.

Vancouver also only managed two shots on target, however, unlike D.C., one by Yordy Reyna managed to pass through the frame and connect, putting the Whitecaps up 1-0 in the 18’. It would be enough to best the Black-and-Red.

Even with 7 minutes of stoppage time added – yes, 7 – D.C. was unable to convert one of their 24 shots into a goal and left empty handed. Much to the chagrin of the team’s captain, they also had 12 hours of flight time to think about what went wrong.

Officiating Woes

Officiating seemed to be a pain point for D.C. again. What appeared to be a handball on the part of Vancouver, went without any call from referee Timothy Ford. Rooney, who is known to have publicly taken issue with MLS’s inconsistent officiating before, went off on the 4th official as he was subbed out of the match for Ola Kamara in the 74’. Post match, Rooney expressed his frustration, saying:

“Because I have my opinions on the referees and it’s not very good. So, I feel they need to improve the game – that’s my opinion. I feel like I’m entitled to my opinion. I said a couple of weeks ago, I got kicked, the referees do nothing. All I’m asking for is a bit of protection and it would be nice if Howard Webb could come to the training ground and let us speak to him over it because I feel it’s happening game after game. And to get some clarification, it would be nice if Mr. Webb came down to the training ground to speak to us.”

Standout Performances

There were two standout performances of the night, despite no result. Paul Arriola totaled five shots during the match, his most this season, and seemed to be everywhere on the pitch. Often considered to be Ben Olsen’s ‘Swiss Army Knife’, Arriola is a play maker, capable of influencing the match wherever he happens to be positioned. 

Paul tried to draw the positives from the match saying, “We had early chances to go ahead. We knew what Vancouver was going to bring to the table. They were very well-shaped defensively and looked for counter-attacks. They’ve got very good players up top. Credit to them, they executed when they needed.”

Shots made by Paul Arriola.

Ulises Segura, who has been simply outstanding in D.C.’s last few matchups, was incredible with his service during the match.  The midfielder’s successful passes, open play crosses, and key passes would have certainly been converted to assists had D.C. managed to score against Vancouver.

Ulises Segura’s successful passes, open play crosses, and key passes.

Looking Ahead

D.C. United will face their rivals, the New York Red Bulls at home this Wednesday and followed by a road trip to Philadelphia to face the Union on Saturday. With the urgency of securing a playoff berth looming, hopefully the Black-and-Red will make a turnaround before these two tough matchups.

As always, Vamos United!

Featured image: Vancouver Whitecaps

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