LAFC Wins At Home 4-3 In A Peachy Way

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club returns to its old winning ways in a close 4-3 victory; defeating the reigning MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United for the first time in franchise history at the Banc of California stadium.

The win is great. But it was a close call.

A slight change in the starting XI saw Pablo Sisniega in goal. And with Tristian Blackmon on the injury list, Steven Beitashour returned to the full back position on the right. Head Coach Bob Bradley was vague in the reasoning of why Tyler Miller was on the bench – we can only assume he’s testing both keepers at this point.

The match kicked off with LAFC watching hopelessly as Atlanta scored the opening goal within minutes of the whistle. Mo Adams struck in the rebound – marking his first goal in his first MLS appearance for the visitors.

The black-and-gold answered in a big way by scoring three goals in a 12-minute action-packed period.

Mark-Antony Kaye sent the through ball to Adama Diomande who tapped it home past Brad Guzan for the equalizer in the 33rd minute. And then things got fun.

In the 38th minute, Diego Rossi passed the ball through traffic from the middle to Carlos Vela, who then sent it back to him at the top of the box – Rossi sent it home with one touch to double the lead.

Four minutes later, Carlos Vela drew the penalty. The captain stepped up to convert – scoring his 22nd MLS-career goal.

The captain found Diomande in the penalty area. He sent it to a waiting Atuesta near the goal – who in true Eduard Atuesta style, smoothly turned and shot it home for the club’s fourth goal of the night.

Then here comes Atlanta’s Josef Martinez to kill the party doubling the visitor’s total just before the half. How rude.

Shortly after the restart, Atlanta was quick to put the pressure on a possession-dominating home side – forcing an unfortunate own goal by Eddie Segura that gave Atlanta the push they needed in the 51st minute increasing the score 4-3.

Ten minutes later, it seemed Atlanta would level the match when Martinez attempted to recreate the “Atuesta” and spin around Beitashour. But as the script says, the ball went wide of the net.

Lee Nguyen entered the pitch as a substitute for Beitashour in the 63rd minute and got straight to work with moves like these:

In the 84th minute, the MLS All-Star Walker Zimmerman was close to adding one of his own goals to the total with the header but Guzan was there to save it.

Defenders are expected to sacrifice their bodies for the club and Jordan Harvey did just that in the 89th minute. The 30-year-old made a diving block to deny Julian Gressel who had a clear shot on target.

Atlanta had five chances to equalize and escape with a point during the latter part of the half. But thankfully an energetic team and Sisniega saved the day – leading the black-and-gold to another victory and staying undefeated at home with a 9-0-1 record.

Still sitting atop of the table of the Western Conference, the black-and-gold cushioned their lead even more with 49 points. But it is clear the team still needs to work on defending as the road gets harder.

Next up. LAFC will travel to the east coast to visit the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium next Saturday, August 3.

Featured Image: @LAFC

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Player Spotlight: Tyler Miller, ‘It’s a dream come true’

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

From playing with Seattle’s USL side, Seattle Sounders 2, to traveling cross-country with the U.S. Men’s National Team – the journey has been a dream come true for LAFC’s goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

Inspired by his brothers, the Woodbury native found his passion for the game through some friendly brotherly rivalry:

“I got into soccer because my brothers […] played soccer as well as we were growing up. So for me, it was an opportunity to kinda be like them and I always looked up them growing up. I wanted to do everything that they were doing. So soccer was the big thing. That was my main thing, we were able to bond – have fun together.”

After tending goal at Northwestern and a short stint in the German fourth division, Miller arrived in Seattle to support the established starter, Stefan Frei.

Miller was selected with the first pick of the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft on December 12, 2017. He made his club debut on March 4 – along with his first clean sheet against his former team.

“{When] I moved out to LA last year, it was a good transition. I got my first opportunity to play. It’s been good so far.”

And that it has.

Life for Miller in Los Angeles has been different. He lives in Santa Monica now and enjoys hanging out with fellow teammate and neighbor, Walker Zimmerman. There are fewer rainy days and less uncertainty about his preparation every week.

Earlier this year, he inked his first keeper glove deal with West Coast Goalkeeping – a Seattle-based company Miller developed a “bond” with while with the Sounders – receiving the opportunity to take part in designing his own keeper glove, the Quantum Miller Pro – with a small keychain version to match.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working on a pair of gloves for myself. And to be able to launch that is exciting – I see all these little kids now; its like they’re wearing my gloves which is just awesome.”

So far this season, Tyler has recorded: 18 matches. 1,620 minutes. 47 saves. 12 victories. Six shutouts – to be exact.

And his work with the Black-and-Gold hasn’t gone unnoticed as the 26-year-old keeper received his first senior team camp call-up in January – though he wasn’t selected for a game-day roster.

Six months later, he was called up once again. This time, Miller would jet off to training and appear on the bench for both of the USMNT’s friendlies against Venezuela and Jamaica – then earned a spot on the final 2019 Gold Cup roster.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I mean to think about where I was a year and a half ago, wasn’t even playing for Seattle and now I’m starting for LA. To be here now with this amazing team, part of this Gold Cup roster is something I’ve always dreamt about. So it’s a dream come true to be a part of this team.”

Even though Miller remained on the bench throughout the tournament, it was an experience he’ll never forget – telling reporters upon returning to LAFC, he is “grateful” for the opportunity.

Since returning to the club from international duty, Miller appeared back in goal in the 3-1 win over Houston Dynamo on July 12. And again, seven days later for the fourth installment of El Tráfico.

Motivated by his family, Miller is also known for his philanthropic events as he hosted the second annual ‘Tyler Miller’s Beach Soccer Tournament Fundraiser’ this year to benefit the Austin Everett Foundation – an organization that aims to empower kids in their fight against cancer through the strength and support of athletic teams.

“[It] runs in my family and so that was something that motivated me to really just try and take that initiative and do whatever I can. Because I know how difficult it is for families that have cancer. And so being able to help them in any way I can; in any way possible is really important to me.”

Over 100 fans attended the event where Miller, along with teammates Dejan Jaković, Tristan Blackmon, and Walker Zimmerman, coached four teams in a beach soccer tournament. Along with the tournament, the event also hosted a silent auction with autographed items donated by Miller’s friends and teammates – to help raise additional funds for the foundation.

Aside from planning future fundraisers – Miller has appeared on LAFC’s podcasts and various shows on Youtube, two of which were started by his teammates: Steven Beitashour, Jordan Harvey and Zimmerman. When asked if he has considered joining the podcast community; Miller expressed his interest to be on TV: “I’m hoping to get on TV one day. But I’m taking my time.”

I have no doubt Miller will be on television one day, but for now, LAFC has captured the nation and fans nationwide will have a chance to watch Tyler and his teammates this Friday night, as they host Atlanta United at the Banc of California stadium. The match will air on ESPN at 7 pm PST.

Featured Image: Daisy Jimenez

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Sounders Snap Home Unbeaten Streak to Rival Timbers and its Not Okay


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Rivalry games are one of the most powerful aspects of competitive sports. As an avid sports fan, these are the games I circle on my calendar as soon as schedules are released. Manchester United vs Liverpool has been one of the biggest rivalries in English football dating back to their first meeting in 1894. USC football vs UCLA football has been a blood bath since 1929. Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers has been a turning-tables rivalry for decades. These are the games I live for every year as a fan.

Atop my rivalry list is Seattle vs Portland. Even in the USL days, these teams did not like each other. The rivalry has always, from a Seattle native’s perspective, felt like a little brother vs big brother rivalry. The younger brother of Portland has always wanted to climb outside of the shadow of big brother, Seattle, and has done so successfully a time or two.

But statistically, the Sounders dominate this rivalry. The pure amount of hardware displayed in the pregame tifo shows that. But on Sunday, as they did in the playoffs last season, the Timbers outplayed and conquered the Sounders.

Image: Jill Peck

Both teams came out firing and aggressive. There was a push and a pace to this game not typical of either team and each team’s DP forward put on a show. It was chippy, aggressive and the epitome of what this rivalry game is year after year.

After a back and forth battle of offensive chances, Portland opened the scoring in the 21st minute of play. Jorge Moreira rattled a long-distance shot off the crossbar that fell oh-so-kindly at the feet of Brian Fernández, who placed the ball swiftly in the back of the net.

Not to be outdone by his Argentinian rival, Raul Ruidíaz, the Peruvian, equaled the scoreline in the 50th minute. Roman Torres sent a long ball up to Ruidíaz, who was able to round the Timbers goalkeeper and slot in the equalizer, making the contest 1-1.

Image: Jill Peck

Fernández would tally his second of the night only 1 minute later, finalizing the score at 2-1 to the away side. The stadium fell completely silent with only the roars of the Timbers Army’s cheers pouring through the air of defeat that covered CenturyLink.

Two Strikers on a Hot Streak

Brian Fernández and Raul Ruidíaz are the latest names on the list of powerful strikers to appear in this heated rivalry. Both strikers come in on an undeniable hot streak of consistent scoring. Signed only in May, Fernández had scored 6 goals in 6 starts heading into Sunday’s rivalry match. Similarly, Ruidíaz had notched 8 goals in 10 starts on the season.

The list of influential strikers in this rivalry is top class: Clint Dempsey (SEA), Fernando Adi (POR), Ryan Johnson (POR) and Freddy Montero (SEA), to name a few, had massive performances in the history of this rivalry. But if both Fernández and Ruidíaz stick with their respective clubs for the long haul, it could raise the rivalry (and their respective teams) to an unparalleled level in MLS.

Featured image:@jillmpeck on Instagram

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Bheem Goyal’s Debut Shutout Inspires Soccer Community

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Eight year old Bheem Goyal had some big shoes to fill on Wednesday night. The Seattle Sounders have had two of the best in league history starting between the sticks in Kasey Keller and Stefan Frei. Bheem spent time training with the Sounders during the week after signing his official contract on July 10th, the first signing of the secondary transfer window for the Rave Green. The young man, who is bravely battling A.L.L. (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia), pulled off a shutout during his stint in goal. Watch below:

After the proud and emotional start to the game, the friendly play resumed. Both teams fielded starting XIs that would not be considered first team regulars, but there were several highlights for the Sounders.

  • Joevin Jones returned to the starting lineup after missing the past two games for the birth of his first child and was able to grab an assist on the home team’s only goal.
  • Cristian Roldan was given the captain’s armband, an act that many fans would like to see a more regular occurrence.
  • 16 year old Danny Leyva was given another first team start. The potential is evident in the youngsters play and this is likely not the last start he’ll receive this season, especially if the Sounders front office continues to falter on making any new signings this transfer window.
Image: Jill Peck

Marius Wolf, Paco Alcácer and Jadon Sancho all scored for the German giants, who finished in second place in the Bundesliga last season. Dortmund definitely controlled play in the second half, but Jonathan Campbell was able to head home his first goal in Rave Green to make the final score 3-1.

The midweek showing was not only a good chance for minutes for players who don’t usually see field time, but also a very friendly exchange between two powerhouse clubs. Dortmund players and staff were in Seattle for several days leading up to the game and were able to experience and meet the community.

While the game ended in a losing score for the Sounders, the stadium and fans only showed support for newcomer, Bheem Goyal. The introduction of Goyal to the first team was a joy to witness in person and has been shared through Twitter by many major sporting outlets and athletes from around the world. There’s been no word from head coach Brian Schmetzer whether or not Bheem will push Stefan Frei for starting minutes going forward, but the kid sure put on a show.

Featured image:@jillmpeck on Instagram

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Slowly Making Strides

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

The Columbus Crew played another three games in an eight day stretch, and with each game showed improvement.

A Loss in Orlando

First, the Crew played Orlando away from home. The line-up was different than what we have seen recently. It was essentially a 4-3-3. Francis, Sauro, Josh Williams, and Afful in the back. Artur, Trapp, and Guzman were in the midfield. Argudo, Zardes and Santos were the attacking three.

Both teams had some chances in the first half, but Orlando got the winning goal in the 84′ with a beautiful ball from Lamine Sane to an unmarked Benji Michel streaking between Josh Williams and Harrison Afful.

The Crew spent the remaining time repeatedly trying to score on Orlando but failing to do so. Afful had a nice shot in the 88′ that required a diving save from Rowe. In stoppage time, Afful sent a ball to Gyasi Zardes who headed it directly down into the ground in front of him instead of at the goal. Zardes had a second header that almost went in on a great service from Waylon Francis.

This game resulted in several injuries for the Crew. Both Guzman and Sauro are working back from injuries from this match, but the worst was an egregious foul on Josh Williams by Dom Dwyer who threw an elbow at Josh’s face. This resulted in a red card for Dwyer who took his sweet time leaving the field. At the end of stoppage time, Orlando kept their 1-0 lead.

A Draw in Chicago

On Wednesday, the Crew played the Chicago Fire. The Crew shifted their line up again. With the multiple games in 8 days, injuries, and call-ups, I am not sure how many times we have fielded the same starting line-up this season.

In the 28′, the Fire struck first with a nice hit by Djordje Mihailovic from right at the top of the 18. Djordje was given a little too much space by the Crew defense.

However, the Crew quickly responded in the second half with a ball from Sosa to Argudo to Zardes who put the ball in the net. In the 63′, the Fire took back the lead when a back heel pass from Gaitan bounced off Hector Jimenez to CJ Sarpong. Sarpong turned with the ball and scored.

The Crew tied up the game with the help of two recent acquisitions. Luis Diaz sent in a ball to Romario Williams who headed the ball into the net to end the game in a 2-2 tie.

A Win at Home against Montreal

This past Saturday, the Crew returned home and played the Montreal Impact. The Crew played a 4-3-2-1. The back four were Afful, Josh Williams, Keita , and Francis. Trapp and Artur played defensive midfield with Argudo, Santos, and Accam playing the attacking midfield roles. Gyasi Zardes was up top. Our new keeper, Eloy Room, made his first team start.

The Crew opened up the scoring early with a set piece from Wil Trapp that Josh Willams headed in the net in the 6′.

In the 14′, Montreal almost tied up the ball with their own free kick, but the cross bar prevented a goal twice, and in the 18′, Room made his first big save with the Crew from another Montreal free kick. However, the Crew couldn’t keep denying the Impact. Diallo was able to put in a corner during stoppage time of the first half to head into half-time with a 1-1 tie.

The Crew scored in the 46′ on a goal that almost wasn’t. David Accam scored a goal going around the keeper on a ball from Pedro Santos. Initially, Accam was ruled offsides. However, the officials decided to go to VAR and found that Accam was onside–giving the Crew a 2-1 lead, which they held until the end of the game.

Thoughts About the Team

The new additions are going to help this team immensely. We are continuing to add to this roster as the Crew has brought in midfielder Youness Mokhtar, and Scottish player Chris Caden. Caden will remain on loan to Oxford United FC until next season. Luis Diaz has already made some great plays. Eloy Room looked great in his first start, and Romario Williams scored in his first Crew appearance.

In addition, the great play of Pedro Santos and Luis Argudo should not go unnoticed, and David Accam has also been playing well since his return from injury.

This improvement in form may have come too late for this year’s team to make a strong run at or in the playoffs. However, it’s the MLS, so anything can happen. Let’s hope the Crew continue their slow and steady improvement in their next away match this Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Rob Gillespie Comes Home to D.C. United

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Since the Beginning

Audi Field just turned a year old this past week, but one of D.C. United’s most ardent supporters only recently passed through the stadium’s gates for the first time. 96’er and Barra Brava elder, Rob Gillespie, finally made his way home. Affectionately known in the Black-and-Red community as ‘Big Rob’, Gillespie has been a fixture in the D.C. United community for over 20 years, his story woven into the fabric of the Club’s history.

Rob remembers the beginning of D.C. United. A gifted storyteller, he is able to transport his listener back in time with tales of Lot 8 and a young Ben Olsen on the pitch. Now, there are no more tailgates in Lot 8, and Ben Olsen has become United’s head coach who is shaping the future of the team. However, some of the original 96’ers, like Rob, remain; preserving the traditions they can and sharing the past with a new generation of supporters.

Becoming a part of the Barra Brava happened by chance, with a fight between Rob and Barra founder, Oscar Zambrana, resulting in their friendship and him joining the group. 

“I actually got into the Barra Brava because Oscar Zambrana, the founder of the Barra Brava and I got into a fight over a misunderstanding. 

They were getting hassled by security down at the Barra and I started yelling at the security guys. Oscar mistook me yelling at the security guys for me yelling at the Barra guys. So, he came up and you know, we were both well lubricated at that point. We ended up getting in a little scuffle, which is good on Oscar, because I’m twice his size. 

Then some people pulled us apart, and were able to explain to Oscar… I was trying to explain to him while we were fighting… that I was actually on his side in this thing. Then about 10 minutes later he came and grabbed me and dragged me down into the Barra and I sort of stayed ever since.”

Coming Home

Despite his long relationship with the Club and testifying in front of the D.C. City Council in an effort that ultimately helped win the permission for the construction of D.C. United’s new home, Rob had never visited the Stadium at Buzzard Point. A 2012 diagnosis with a rare form of Leukemia upended Rob’s life and he was eventually forced to move out of the area due to the financial strain; leaving the District before Audi Field ever opened its gates.

After years away, Rob finally came home to D.C. and on July 12th he headed to Audi Field to see his team, D.C. United, face off against the New England Revolution. 

Rob’s first reaction to seeing Audi Field was one of almost disbelief, as he saw the long-awaited new home of D.C. United.  He said, “It was surreal, to turn down third street and see the stadium for the first time. Finally, it was there after all those years.” 

Although happy to see a new home for D.C. United realized, Rob felt that something was missing. “I share Bruce Arena’s disappointment that there isn’t more connection with the past. That’s something I noticed right off.” Rob said. 

Accompanied by his sister, Aryka, and his son, Marco (named after Bolivian and D.C. legend, Marco Etcheverry), Rob was in for a warm reception. He said, “it was just a great experience, definitely a coming home, even though we live in a new house.” 

“It was amazing. It really was. I went to training on Thursday. I’ve been friends with Ben and Dave Kasper for almost 20 years, and I got a good chance to talk to them and see them. Ben made sure all the players came over and said hello. I don’t know most of them, so they introduced themselves. I went up into 130 to see Marco’s aunt and uncle, and that’s where a lot of the old time Screaming Eagles are at and people clapped when I went up there. I was completely overwhelmed by that… It was just one old friend after another.”

Photo Credit: Kim Kolb

While Rob spent the match alongside the Barra Brava and friends he hadn’t seen in years, his family were guests of a local medical practice and D.C. United official oral surgeons, Fairfax Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (FOMS), in their suite. Prior to Rob’s homecoming, FOMS had taken to social media to auction off suite tickets in support of his treatment. 

Aryka and Marco debate a play. Photo Credit: Sarah Kallassy

At halftime, Rob made his way to the FOMS suite to check on his son and thank those who had participated in the auction on his behalf. Dave Johnson, play-by-play announcer and legend in the D.C. sports scene, was there to greet him. Having known each other for years, Dave wanted to show his support by spending the match with Rob’s family and some of the community who had come together to support him. 

Dave Johnson and Rob Gillespie. Photo Courtesy of Rob Gillespie.

“From day one he has cared about the team and he has cared about others. In short, Rob helped make D.C. United more than a club, he helped make it a family. Through good times and not so good we are always united, and it only adds to the times when we are united with Rob.”

… Dave Johnson, D.C. United play-by-play announcer
Dave Johnson with Rob’s son, Marco, and sister, Aryka. Photo Credit: Sarah Kallassy

D.C. United took a draw against Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution, finishing the match 2-2. Even after dramatics on the pitch worthy of an Oscar (Quincy Amarikwa’s stunning goal, anyone?), the Black-and-Red were unable to secure three points at home. 

Ben Olsen, who Gillespie has watched play (and now coach) since he was a young man, came over to greet his old friend. 

“Ben came over to see me at the end of the game and, he had tears in his eyes. And he said, ‘God I wanted to get that win for you. I’m so sorry.’ I said, ‘No man, it was great. A great comeback. I’m really happy.’”

Photo Credit: Kim Kolb

“I wasn’t happy about the unpleasant little thing that happened.” Rob said, referring to those who chose that poignant moment to begin chanting ‘Olsen out.’ “I thought it was disrespectful. Ben’s done as much if not more than anyone to build that house, that beautiful stadium that we have… That was a really special time for me and him. I would have rather they said [something] about me than about Ben.” Rob continued, “I don’t think it’s wrong to criticize somebody… There was a place and time for that kind of criticism. But that [the stadium] was not the place. Especially not for someone like Ben.”

Gillespie wasn’t alone in his criticism of those choosing that moment to voice their criticism of D.C. United’s coach. Supporters took the offenders to task on social media, calling them out for their poor timing. 

“We always had a rule or a policy within the Barra Brava where we did not boo the team, we didn’t do any of these negative things in the stadium, it wasn’t the place. That was the place for 100% support, win, lose, or draw.” 

‘Win Championships, Serve the Community’

Gillespie has long been a part of D.C. United’s legacy to serve the community, participating in everything from cleanups at the Anacostia River, to getting local schools ready for the new school year. He has taken to heart D.C. United’s slogan of ‘win championships, serve the community’. 

Rob believes, “There is no better way to get rewards than to give.” After years of serving the community he loves, Gillespie is now the one in need of help. 

“My life is a perfect example of that I always tried to give. I never thought I would need any help. Look at me now, I’m still alive in large part because of my relationship with D.C. United. I could not raise the money I need for cancer treatment without that relationship.”

With his out of pocket cancer treatment costs totaling between $3,500-5,000, plus travel, each month, Rob has come to rely on his community – his D.C. United family, to help him raise the money he needs to stay alive. “The people that support me day in and day out, week in and week out, they are D.C. United people.” 

While Rob’s cancer is rare and incurable, treatment is helping to extend his life. As a single father, Gillespie is driven to continue fighting cancer to have more time with his son, Marco.

Sometimes, help comes from unexpected places. Just last year, “out of nowhere, Jozy Altidore donated $1,700. This is a player I’ve had no connection with and that just really gave me a little bit of breathing room. It really helped.” Rob said. 

Of course, “the ideal situation is that you wouldn’t have to do this at all and could just focus on getting healthy.” Rob has had to conduct constant fundraising since he depleted his $900,000 savings and proceeds from the sale of his house. Gillespie calls the process, “humiliating and extremely stressful.”  

A Family

Even through the hardships, Rob remains positive and committed to the D.C. United and Barra Brava family, the same family he credits with keeping him alive through their fundraising efforts and sharing his story. 

“You can never go wrong by thinking about DC United or the Barra, or the Screaming Eagles, or whomever as a family. You want to show that love and respect and put in that work that you would in a family. Care for your brothers and sisters who are at your side. That’s really important.” 

As Rob continues his battle with cancer, the D.C. United family remembers how much he has given to our community, and we all stand with him, united.

Author’s Note: If you would like to support Rob Gillespie’s fight against cancer and help him pay for life extending treatment so he can continue to be with his son, please donate! ‪

PayPal/Venmo: nffc65@gmail.com or CashApp: $MarcoDad

Featured image: Kim Kolb // Twitter: @NestDevil09 // IG: kolbkl

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The yin and the yang of NYCFC vs Colorado Rapids

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

In last night’s Rocky Mountain duel versus the Colorado Rapids, New York City Football Club came away with the 2-1 win. It was not an easy result.

The team, near full health with Alexandru Mitrita, James Sands and Héber returning to the lineup, dominated possession with a continuous onslaught of attacking chances on Colorado and yet had a hard time with finishing. The match was filled with dualities which seemed to both hold the victory a bit out of their grasp and yet also paved the way for them to walk away with three points.

Many New York fans were eager to see Colorado’s Jonathan Lewis face off against his old teammates.  Lewis has been a welcome addition to the Rapids with his speed on attack and was the player who orchestrated the first goal of this match.  Lewis easily sped past Sebastien Ibeagha and fed the ball to Sebastian Anderson who buried it in the 6th minute.  

There was definitely a sense of poetic justice for Lewis as he struggled to gain playing time while at NYCFC.  Minutes later, 16-year-old Anderson was shown a red card on an apparent studs up tackle on Ronald Matarrita.  The highs and the lows of soccer seemed to happen within minutes for Anderson.

Rapids played down a player for most of the game but were able to defend well against NYCFC who just could not finish.  Colorado was up 1-0 until the 40th minute when Héber put one in on a ball by Maxi Moralez.  

From the television camera angles, Héber looked off side but the goal stood and the game was level.  Although NYCFC continued to dominate, they struggled to put the last piece into the offensive puzzle until Mitrita came in and they found their missing attacking element. Mitrita converted the goal that fans were salivating for in the 83rd minute.

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Oh, and did I mention that Colorado Rapids had to utilize their backup goalkeeper Clint Irwin for half the match as Tim Howard went out with a strained calf?  

In theory, this should have been a easy and decisive victory.  Despite being down a player, Colorado continued to park the bus in front of their goal with occasional attempts to counter attack.  These counter attacks were particularly scare-inducing during the last 10 minutes when almost the entire NYCFC team was above the half line.

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Perhaps the referee gods were on the side of New York City during this match.  There was the early Colorado red card, the lack of off side calls and a lenience by the referee on players like Alex Callens, who elbowed  off the ball on the edge of the box in extra time.   Was all of this karma for last week’s “Throw-in Gate” versus the New York Red Bulls? We will never really know.

Next test for NYCFC is at home versus a bruised Sporting Kansas City on Friday 7/26.

All photos:  NYCFC

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El Trafico: LAFC drops points in Carson

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club‘s winless rivalry streak continues as they lost on the road to the LA Galaxy in a 3-2 scrappy performance. Carlos Vela scored the match’s beginning and ending goals. But Zlatan’s hat trick lifted the home side to victory.

After a chaotic schedule, LAFC finally had a full week to rest and was able to field a full, powerful lineup. However, the midfield lacked energy until the latter part of the match. And the Galaxy took advantage and neutralized them.

The game started off with a bang. Mark-Anthony Kaye connected with Vela, who then drew a penalty from David Bingham in the opening minutes after the keeper came off his line to tackle the captain. Vela stepped up to convert; scoring his 20th MLS career goal and becoming the fastest player in MLS history to reach 20 goals.

However, four minutes later the Galaxy cut celebrations short, as Ibrahimovic matched Vela in the eighth minute. A lobbed pass towards the Swedish striker from midfield landed at his feet. Zlatan lifted the ball over Atuesta with a smooth first touch and then buried a volleyed shot past the diving Tyler Miller inside the close post to restart the game.

After a thrilling ten minutes, both sides started to settle into a rhythm with LAFC continuing to dominate possession – as they did for the entirety of the match with 58.3%.

The Galaxy’s Diego Polenta earned the first of many yellow cards in the 21st minute by sticking a foot out to trip up the surging Tristian Blackmon some ten yards outside the box.

Jair Marrufo handed out a total of nine cards. To be fair, I’m surprised no one got a red card that night.

Miller came up huge again in the 30th minute. Alvarez sent in a header forcing the keeper to go full extension to keep the match level.

Adama Diomande, Eduard Atuesta, and Walker Zimmerman all tried to put LAFC back in the lead before the half. But Bingham was there to save all attempts – similar to how Miller denied the Galaxy’s three back-to-back chances in the 6th minute before Zlatan’s answer.

In the 56th minute, Zlatan doubled the score by heading in Diego Polenta’s cross at the far post.

LAFC soon got their spark back and looked more organized after the double substitution – that saw Lee Nguyen and Mohmmaed El-Munir enter the match, in place of Kaye and Jordan Harvey.

In the 70th minute, Diomande fed a pass wide straight to Rossi with nobody in front of him. He ripped a shot towards the upper near corner that beat Bingham but deflected off the crossbar.

But just as quickly as LAFC regained control of the game, Zlatan snatched it right back.

Zlatan got the cross from Alvarez and dribbled it upfield; sending a left-footed shot from outside the box into the bottom right corner to complete the hat trick in the 71st minute, giving Miller no chance to react.

With an extra five minutes on the clock, LAFC pushed forward desperately trying to take a point. But Diego Rossi’s attempt flew over the bar. Luckily, Vela pulled one back before the ref could blow the whistle. But unfortunately, it would be too little, too late.

Despite the loss, both Vela and Bradley remained optimistic about the future with so many games still ahead. The club remains atop the table with a nine-point cushion.

The black-and-gold will go on to host the Atlanta United at the Banc next Friday, July 26.

Featured Image: @LAFC

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Sporting KC’s winning streak comes to an end in 2-0 loss

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

A revived Sporting Kansas City proved they have what it takes, despite snapping their first two-game winning streak in a 2-0 loss against FC Dallas on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

On a smothering 98 degree evening, missing Ilie due to yellow card accumulation – a full strength roster kicked off strong with Gerso Fernandes, Gianluca Busio, Yohan Croizet, and Seth Sinovic constantly attacking Dallas’ side but could not capitalize on any chances.

Dallas would capitalize on a costly Sporting giveaway shortly thereafter, as Michael Barrios intercepted a stray back pass and squared low for Dominique Badji who got the opening goal in the 37th minute.

The hosts threatened near the half-hour mark when Graham Zusi whipped a teasing free kick into a crowded penalty area, but Seth Sinovic’s snap header skipped wide of the target.

Shortly after Croziet received a yellow after catching Ziegler from behind and a short hydration break; Felipe Gutierrez spread it right to Johnny Russell, whose low drive was blocked behind for a corner kick. The Scottish foward’s ensuing corner kick was nodded wide by a leaping Barath.

Like his teammate, Gutierrez picked up a caution in the 43th minute and will miss the match next Friday due to yellow card accumulation.

Dallas moved forward to double the lead, but Tim Melia punched away Santiago Mosquera’s strike leading the game into the half.

Shortly after the restart, Croziet’s right footed shot from outside the box went high and wide to the left; before he was substituted out for Krisztian Nemeth in the 55th minute.

Two minutes later, Mosquera sent a through ball to 18-year-old Jesus Ferreira who moved around Matt Belser and Botond Barath, then slotted past Melia at close range to double the advantage for the visitors in the 57th minute.

Now trailing by two – the home side got a much needed boost of energy when Roger Espinoza entered to a standing ovation in the 65th minute. This marked his first match since April 14th, having missed the last three months due to a knee injury.

Less than a minute after his introduction, Zusi’s service inside the box to the far post was headed just wide and into the side netting by Sinovic.

Daniel Salloi and Krisztian Nemeth both threatened to put Sporting KC on the scoresheet. But Salloi’s drive was blocked behind for a corner kick and Nemeth’s effort was tipped over the bar by Jesse Gonzalez – ending the match in a devastating loss.

For all their possession, Sporting KC failed to register a shot on target until the 88th minute, with 10 off target and six blocked. And they still remain in 10th place with 25 points.

In hindsight, the result is a bump in the road for the home team that is finally finding their footing again and getting players back from the injury list at the right time. The only question that remains is: what will it take to get back above the line?

Sporting KC will have a chance to bounce back when the club visits New York City FC at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on Friday, July 26.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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The Dynamo Bounce Back Big in Toronto

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

As I mentioned in my last article, Houston basketball legend James Harden bought into the Dynamo/Dash organization last week to much fanfare. Fans looking for signs of life in the ownership circle welcomed his willingness to use his media status and hope the change in energy might make some waves among the owners. I’ve tried hard to stay out of the fray of ownership complaints, so when I was a little surprised by Harden’s move I chalked it up to being a less informed fan in that area. 

However, as I watched the Dynamo vs Toronto match from my living room on Saturday night it all became clear. What else does a basketball player recognize more than how to read a bounce? When the Dynamo are at their lowest point of the season, what do they do? They. Bounce. 

Coming into Saturday’s match coach Wilmer Cabrera’s lineup looked a little closer to standard, but some pundits and fans still questioned his choices. Heck, I still questioned some of his choices. But Houston didn’t leave fans questioning long as Tommy McNamara found the back of the net just 4 minutes in.

The team that showed up on the pitch was one that Houston fans hadn’t seen in well over a month as the boys seemed to play with a level of confidence and skill that has simply been missing this summer. Wherever the tactical magic has been hiding, it was back in lockstep as passes linked up through narrow channels and chances were consistent in the first half. Tomas Martinez gave Houston some breathing room in the 23rd minute and they went into the half ahead 2-0. 

Houston is no stranger to the second half choke, so fans were still nervous as the teams took the pitch for the second half – and rightfully so as Toronto subbed in heavy hitters Altidore and Shaffelburg. While TFC had some of their best minutes in the first part of the second half, Mauro Manotas calmed nerves with a third goal as the match neared the hour mark.

Mauro Manotas made a lonely run, shook off all the defenders, and scored in the 57th minute.

Toronto cancelled Houston’s shutout with a goal by Altidore in the 75th minute, but a comeback was out of the question and Houston earned their first road win since March.   

So what was the difference maker for Houston in this magical road win? The biggest stand out in the lineup was the return of homegrown player Memo Rodriguez, who has been battling a leg injury and hasn’t been with the squad since May. Could this relatively young midfield floater somehow be the keystone to the Dynamo’s lineup? One of my go-to Dynamo twitter accounts sees something there. 

Whatever the cause, Houston fans got a great big dose of win this weekend and not a moment too soon. In wider soccer news, Houston’s NWSL team the Dash staged a comeback win against the Washington Spirit and the organization’s USL team the RGV Toros also won on Saturday night.

So whether it is the Harden Effect, the Memo Protocol, or simply Houston’s turn to get back on top, I hope this is a good bounce that lasts at least as long as the drop. We’ll find out when the Dynamo return home to face the Sounders next Saturday. 

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

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