A Good Four-Nothing

Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon @lukacharms

To expect a home opener as good as this one would have been hubris.

Last week, I mentioned the major takeaway was that if nothing else, New York City FC looked comfortable. No early season jitters to be found, plenty of confidence, just some unfortunate luck in front of the goal. Turns out it wasn’t a fluke!

NYCFC had it all this week. Possession, space, patience, hunger, and goals. Rodney Wallace opened the score sheet just eight minutes in, attacking the ball Jack Harrison ricocheted off the woodwork. For the third consecutive year, David Villa scored in the home opener — and for the second consecutive year, he scored a brace at that. What a mighty fine captain. And just as everyone was getting comfortable with all this talk of how Maxi Moralez contributes everything but goals, he picked up a gem of a pass from Villa and snuck it coolly into the net.

I ceased to exist on this physical plane somewhere around Sean Johnson‘s fourth save of the day. Not to get too presumptive, but I have to wonder if he really is the answer to NYCFC’s goalkeeping woes (all the love in the world to Josh Saunders, of course, but let’s be honest).

While he’s still working out how to best communicate with his defense — on top of the defense still learning how to gel into a cohesive unit — I’m already impressed by his skills and can see that he’s going to be a key man in many matches. A self-assured, stalwart keeper can do everything to boost the morale of the whole team. If Johnson keeps putting on performances like that shutout, the trickle-down effect will be glorious.

Five of the starting eleven were making their debut appearances at Yankee Stadium. Aside from the goals by Maxi and RodWal and the brilliance of Johnson between the sticks, Alexander Callens and Alex Ring also put on a stunning show for their first match at home. Ring was everywhere, making beautiful recovery runs like they were easy as breathing, and Callens proved solid in defense. Welcome to Yankee Stadium, boys!

Image courtesy: @rodwallace22

Our home matches are a blessing and a curse. Everyone is well aware by now that we have the smallest pitch in MLS. That means one well-placed pass can take the players practically from box to box. When that works in our favor, as it did this week, it’s great. But when we get a taste of our own medicine and get caught on a counter, it can be disastrous. Good news: That didn’t happen this time! Defense put in work. I’m so proud.

As always, here are a few random thoughts that struck me throughout the match:

  • Rónald Matarrita reminded me, for the umpteenth time, that I really need to buckle down and write a profile on him before he inevitably takes his prodigious talent to another club. Mata was easy to mistake for one of our attacking players in this match, and yet he never wavered on his defensive duties. He’s the whole package. He’s perfect. I guess I should confess that he’s my favorite NYCFC player! (Also, his celebration dance with Wallace was adorable. Pura vida!)
  • I respect Frank Lampard, and I appreciate everything he did for us, but I can’t say I miss him much. This squad is already looking much stronger than last year’s.
  • Thomas “T-Mac” McNamara in the captain’s arm band. That is all. Powerful heart eye emojis over here.
  • Special shout out to Ethan White, who replaced RJ Allen at right back as the only change from last week’s lineup. While his style of play isn’t as thrilling as other defenders, I’ve always appreciated his quiet, steady presence. There’s no player more willing to step into any role NYCFC needs and do his level best. (Including photographer!)
  • I feared for Maxi’s life several times throughout the match, but none more so than when he was swarmed by his own teammates after scoring. As a fellow vertically challenged person, I’m well aware that the Group Hug Forest can be a terrifying and unwieldy place. So many torsos and limbs at face level. Be careful with frasquito, guys.
  • No, you cried when everyone chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” after Villa’s second goal.

Kick your feet up and settle into Yankee Stadium, folks, because we’re here through the rest of the month. On Saturday we face Montreal Impact before the first international break of the season. (Which reminds me, I have a list of Croatian internationals I’d like to see on NYCFC, but that’s an impassioned plea for another time.) Until then, keep soaking up the win! We earned it.

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @lukacharms

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Don’t Tread on the Sounders

Official Seattle Sounders FC Reporter

By Amber Rocha @amberrocha

The first official Seattle Sounders match of the 2017 MLS Season was a bittersweet moment for me. The reigning MLS Cup champs started off the season with an away match in Houston, coming away with 0 points after a 2-1 loss to the Dynamo.

The sweet part of bittersweet comes from the fact that Clint Dempsey, who has been out since August 2016 with a heart condition, made his regular season return and let it be known that HE. IS. BACK. The lone goal scored by the Sounders was a beautiful setup by Joevin Jones that was finished by Dempsey. (Yes, I screamed and scared my family when Clint scored his goal. It was a very emotional moment.)

During the first 45, the Sounders struggled all the way around. Though they attempted to keep possession, the offense was rusty and shots on goal were a nonexistence. The defense took a while to adjust to Houston and their attacking plays leading to two Houston goals (Erick Torres 20’ and Romell Quioto 42’).

However, in the second half, the Sounders came back refreshed and looking completely opposite than they did in the first half.

They dominated the Dynamo in every way and Joevin Jones was excellent on the left, creating chances and eventually winning THE Dempsey goal (58’).

Those second half Sounders are what I liked to see. Those are the Sounders that went from last in the West to MLS Cup champs in the 2016 season. And though they struggled in the first half, I am so glad they came back in the second and proved they are still that team.

Sure, a first match win would have been great, but it’s just that: a first match. The guys are getting back into the swing of things, warming up and getting ready to aim to be the 2017 MLS Cup champs. I, for one, can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the season, especially with Clint back at full strength.

Featured image courtesy: Seattle Sounders facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @amberrocha

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Helping Grow MLS in the US

Official Seattle Sounders FC Reporter

By Amber Rocha @amberrocha

If somebody told me 3 years ago that today, I would be a huge soccer fan, traveling around the U.S. to soccer matches, meeting as many soccer players as I can, religiously watching any soccer game I can find on TV whether my favorite team is playing or not, I would have laughed hysterically.

A self-proclaimed soccer hater, I had always loved football and baseball but was disinterested whenever anybody brought up soccer. It was not until the Summer of 2014 that I discovered why soccer is called the beautiful game and fell fast and hard.

Sitting in a bar in Italy, watching the great American player that is Clint Dempsey completely destroy any opponent that came at him during the 2014 World Cup, I was hooked. I wanted more. That led me to Dempsey’s club team, the Seattle Sounders.

Me and Clint Dempsey

As a Southern California native who did not follow soccer in the slightest, the only team I had ever heard of was the LA Galaxy. With their extensive number of MLS Cups and clear infamy in the MLS, you would think I would jump at the chance to be an LA Galaxy supporter.

However, in LA Galaxy territory, I am an Eternal Blue, Forever Green, Sounders ‘til I Die supporter. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What started as an infatuation with Clint Dempsey turned into a full blown love affair with the Seattle Sounders FC organization. Every single player played with everything they had. Every trainer and coach and staff member was kind and strong and great. Most importantly, every Sounders supporter loved the team through the ups, the downs, the good, the bad, the easy and the tough. I had never experienced anything as passionate and huge as being a supporter of a football club.

It’s a feeling I wish every American could experience.

My name is Amber Rocha and I’m a 22 year old soccer lover. How anybody could be disinterested in the sport is now unbelievable to me. I am so excited to be a part of MLS Female and contribute, even in a small way, to the growth of MLS in the U.S.

Come chat with me on twitter: @amberrocha

When real life gets in the way…

Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin @Kirsten_Hoogs

This was my matchday in a nutshell. As I mentioned in my “About Me” article I am a Graduate Student at the University of Central Missouri (UCM). Part of my job is to run the UCM Pep Band for basketball games. This is normally not an issue and a super fun part of my life, but this time it got in the way. Both the Men’s and Women’s teams, the Mules and the Jennies, were playing in the MIAA Conference Basketball Tournament in KC this weekend, and I had two games on Saturday. The Mules played at Noon, and the Jennies played at…you guessed it…6:00pm, AKA gametime.

Bass Drum courtesy Kirsten Arpin

My husband was lucky enough to get to No Other Pub, our Sporting KC bar in the Power & Light District, to watch the game with members of The Cauldron who didn’t make the trip up to DC. *Side note: Great job to The Cauldron and SKC for having the most traveling fans of any MLS team by far this week! Anyway, my husband was at No Other Pub and kept sending me updates by text, when he remembered. Here is the extent of my gametime commentary:

“Medranda starting as attacking mid, Zus right back”

“Gerso is contributing a lot”

“Melia saved a pen”

and that was it…please note his lack of punctuation. All of these things happened before 17 minutes on the clock. The lack of communication may have been helped out by the $30 unlimited burgers, wings, and beer at the watch party.

So, here are my thoughts from watching the game and highlights, and listening to interviews after the fact.

Seth image courtesy: Kirsten Arpin

Sporting KC’s starting XI has gone through some changes since last year with the retirement of Paulo Nagamura and Brad Davis and Jacob Peterson being signed away by Atlanta United. Last year we also had a crazy defensive rotation that was forced by injuries. Hopefully this season we see a stabilized line up with Captain Matt Besler, a healthy Seth Sinovic and Ike Opara, and utility man Graham Zusi.

One of SKC’s immediate needs was to get Dom Dwyer some help up front. The answer for this first game was the addition of Gerso Fernandes and Jimmy Medranda on the wings with Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza at attacking mid. Gerso has previously played in Portugal, and he made an impact right off the bat. Not only is he fast, but there was a play late in the game where he made a crazy shot from right inside the box. It would have been perfect if he had been another 10-15 yards out.

The player of the game definitely goes to Tim Melia. This may have been the hardest I have seen anyone work for a clean sheet. Shots seemed to come in flurries, and there was no relaxing in goal. Timmy also had some assistance from his teammates with Jimmy and Dom providing huge goal-saving headers in the 66th minute. Tim’s heroics in no way diminish the show put on by DC’s Bill Hamid. Dom, Benny, Gerso, and Jimmy all had some legitimate chances, and Bill was on fire, so props to Bill!

Storm image courtesy: Kirsten Arpin

Though it was freezing out, manager Peter Vermes chose to keep all 11 starters in for the full 90 minutes. I don’t think this was detrimental to the team’s performance though, because the guys were still playing strong at the end of the game. It seemed like DC United was bunkering down in the last ten minutes, and SKC was still making chances literally up until the final whistle.

Some things I’m curious to see coming up this season are how Jimmy and Zus are utilized, Latif Blessing…period, and the return of Soony Saad. Blessing may prove to be one of the fastest players in the MLS, and he was the leading goal scorer in Ghana’s premier league last year. Look for him to get worked into the line-up soon. Soony’s return is also a big point of interest, because him and Dom have had such great chemistry on the front line in the past.

This week is the home opener at Children’s Mercy Park, and there’s supposed to be freezing rain…welcome to Kansas City.

Oh, and by the way, the Jennies lost…

*The Tuesday before the game SKC hosted a preseason kickoff party, and that was the best time! We got to meet a few players, and play drums in the fan march through downtown KC! I was on Dom Dwyer’s insta story, so that was pretty awesome.

Featured image courtesy: Kirsten Arpin

Come chat with me on twitter: @Kirsten_Hoogs

Vancouver Whitecaps Vs. Philadelphia Union

Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas @nkstar9

While other outlets are calling the Vancouver Whitecaps’ season opener against the Philadelphia Union snoozefest, I am calling it an opportunity to learn. Coming off an emotional win in the CONCACAF Champions League just 4 days prior, the starting nine was different and so was the momentum.

One big change was seeing the likes of Christian Dean in the starting IX. Dean, was out for the entirety of the 2016 season due to two back-to-back injuries and having his father pass away. Dean’s performance was solid despite not having a start in the MLS in 555 days and perfectly in step with Tim Parker in which together, they kept the Philadelphia Union’s offence at bay.

We also saw Cristian Techera and Erik Hurtado back in action. Though, the middle seemed stifled by the amount of long balls being sent by defensive players. The length of the field wasn’t fully utilized. This excluded the speed and talent of Alphonso Davies.

Davies delighted fans during CONCACAF Champions League, scored the goal to send the Whitecaps to the quarter-final and the first goal to propel the club into the tournament Semi-final. Remember Davies is just 16 years old and seems to be adding a much needed energy to the team.

Last, but not least, I noticed that Brek Shea and Fredy Montero, when subbed-on during the second half, acted as a catalyst to breathe some life into the somewhat flat-footed Whitecaps.

More than ever, it’s time to #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: Vancouver Whitecaps FC facebook

Come chat with me on twitter: @nkstar9

Atlanta United Inaugural Season Opener

Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini

Almost 24 hours later, I’m still trying to process everything that happened Sunday. So much happened during the day that I almost don’t even remember the actual game itself at all. Fortunately, I remembered to record it so I’ve got it playing in the background while I write this.

I was so excited and anxious about opening day that I had to take some sleep aids on Saturday night to make sure I got some sleep. And then I woke up at 5am and forced myself to go back to sleep for a little longer. I woke up about every half hour after that until I finally gave up and got out of bed.

As I went through my morning routine, my head was filled with how I wanted this day to play out. As a member of leadership for Terminus Legion, the tailgate planning took over my week. Food trucks, games, beer, parking spaces…the list goes on. I arrived at the tailgate around 11:30am and paced for about an hour until the food trucks arrived to set up. Once everything was in place, I got to walk around and talk to people. And there were SO MANY PEOPLE. All four of the ATLUTD supporters groups were tailgating in the same lot, and combined, we have well over 1000 members, but there had to be 4000-5000 people in that parking lot. It was elbow to elbow and lines everywhere. Everyone was having a great time, though – I didn’t even hear any complaints when our kegs were tapped!

Me and Susannah Collins from the MLS Digital Team

During my tailgate tour, I saw the MLS video crew walking around and tapped Susannah Collins on the shoulder to tell her I was her boss’ sister. Once the crew heard that, they were all too excited to get me on the live show, where Susannah and I played a round of Giant Jenga, so that was fun. I also did a quick Facebook live video interview with Doug Roberson of the AJC and leaders of the other supporters groups.

Seven hours after arriving at the tailgate, I finally walked through the 3rd Street tunnel to Bobby Dodd Stadium. I walked over to the Golden Spike and signed it. Walking up the stairs to the supporters section is when the goosebumps came. Standing in the supporters section and watching the players – OUR players – walk out for practice was when the noise really started. But it wasn’t until right at the end of the National Anthem that my eyes started to water. And then the whistle blew and it was game on!

I missed quite a bit of the first half due to the fact that I couldn’t find a spot within any of the sections and I walked back and forth looking for someplace to settle. I did, however, catch the first ever MLS goal (that counts – I saw plenty in preseason) for Atlanta United FC. In the 25th minute, Ty Mears lobbed a cross to the far corner of the 6-yard box and Yamil Asad slid in to push the ball into the goal. The noise at that moment was absolutely deafening. Everyone was jumping and screaming and hi-fiving. It was such an amazing moment.

The crowd outside before the game courtesy: Robyn Saghini

ATL did have one additional chance late in the first half. Greg Garza passed to Josef Martinez, who shot it right at Luis Robles for a save. The second half saw a few more chances for ATL, but it was the New York Red Bulls who ended up with two goals to take the win. Carlos Carmona was shown a straight red card late in the second half after a rather deliberate and unprofessional foul.

Despite the loss, I walked out of the stadium with a smile on my face. I understand that the team has only been together for just over a month and they’re still working on getting their rhythm and that it will take a little time. I get that the majority of this team doesn’t have any MLS experience and may not have even watched a single MLS game before this weekend. Eventually, all of that will come together and the wins will come.

But 24 hours later, I’m still smiling because the moment I’ve waited for has finally arrived. Atlanta United is here. My team is here. And we’re not going anywhere. #UniteAndConquer

Featured KICKOFF image courtesy: Robyn Saghini

Come chat with me on twitter: @robynsaghini

A Beautiful Day for The Beautiful Game

Official Real Salt Lake Reporter

By Ambrosia Tonkovich @heyambrosia

It was a beautiful day for a home opener in Sandy, Utah, that’s for sure. It was 55 degrees, a home brew festival was going strong ($5 got you an awesome pint glass and the ability to try home brewed beer made by the locals. What a way to start the day.), and even with the chill in the air, the VERY strong wind (that would ultimately affect that first 20 minutes or so of game play while the teams got used to the breeze), and the issues with our new ticketing system, we couldn’t hold still for the life of us. It was match day.

There was an audible buzz from the tailgate lot just north of the stadium, where most supporter groups for Real Salt Lake gather before the game. Section 26, RCB, SCU, La Barra Real, and many other supporters were all smiles and laughs as we waited for the game to start. Everywhere you looked people were hugging each other hello after months of not being in their favorite place: The RioT.

It has been a pretty big upheaval during this offseason. Some of our best players have left to other teams or retired, our backup keeper Jeff Attinella was chosen in the MLS Expansion Draft, and a few other players that we had gotten used to having around weren’t renewed for another year. In their place came a much younger crowd of players, some from RSL’s own academy (we now have 7 homegrown players on our team this year), Brooks Lennon from Liverpool FC, Albert Rusnak from FC Groningen who has done marvelous in the offseason, and we have Jeff Cassar for another year, at least.  A bit of a nerve-wracking start for any RSL fan, but once it was time, we all went in as quickly as we could.

All in all, we came away with a draw, 0-0 against Toronto FC. Possession was right down the middle, 50/50 with a lot of blocked shots by RSL and a penalty kick save in the 30th minute from the Wall of the Wasatch, Nick Rimando, which makes this his 130th shutout. Three players made their RSL debut this game, Albert Rusnak starting off with the team and Ricardo Velasco being subbed in for Jordan Allen at the  87th minute as well as Chad Barrett subbing in for Yura Movsisyan at the 69th minute of play.

Seven yellow cards were given this game, 3 for RSL and 4 for Toronto FC, with ranges from Dissent to Unsporting Behavior. One landed a PK for Sebastian Giovinco who now knows that PK’s aren’t worth breaking a sweat for Nick Rimando.

19,519 were in attendance for this home opener, and I can safely say this was an encouraging performance from RSL. Great job out there, boys. We’ll see you next week against Chicago Fire!

Featured image courtesy: Ambrosia Tonkovich

Come chat with me on twitter: @heyambrosia

Real Salt Lake City 0-0 Toronto FC: A High Altitude Draw

By Cris Payne @crissypayne

Matchday Song – The Gates by Young Empire

I had to laugh a little when, on my way to my Away Day pub of choice, I opened the starting XI tweet to find a side unchanged from our playoff run. It had this feel of continuity to it I wasn’t expecting, and it immediately brought me back to those final days, in all its glory and…well…the other stuff.

It resonated with me because what I wanted, what I think a lot of us wanted, was bloodshed. A group of players returning to the game with a vengeance, with something to prove, with the pain of loss still burning in their veins the way it was in ours. What we ended up with is a team in persistence. A team not just with something to prove, but ongoing in its mission to prove we still have everything to play for.

As nice as it would have been to start the season with a knockout win, to shake off the specter of our first MLS Cup loss and hit the ground running, I’m glad we’ve started as a team that looks ready to take the season in stride. That resonates with me too.

It’s not as often as I’d like that I can compliment a Toronto FC side for not falling asleep at all in a match and for maintaining its shape well, and that’s a positive I’d like to point out from this game. We had some great chances, created by some of the players who struggled most in the game, and despite having less than our fair share of possession we looked equally likely to take 3 points.

My men of the match have to be Jozy Altidore for doing a lot of work at both ends of the pitch, getting into good positions, and having great control most times he was on the ball, as well as Eriq Zavaleta for making some vital interceptions, providing cover in some weak moments and for the pleasure I take in watching him grow as a player every single week. Also, he didn’t play, but shout out to Tosaint Ricketts who, if we had have utilized a third sub (uhhh Greg Vanney? Please, mate!), I’m pretty confident could have been the difference between the two teams tonight.

We also got a glimpse of one of our new guys, Victor Vazquez. He didn’t have a chance to do much but the way he started influencing the game looked promising. Though what didn’t look promising is him replacing Jonathan Osorio because I’m never happy to have 11 players on the field without a single Canadian player representing us. Objectively, I’m excited to see what Vazquez can bring to the table. Still sore about the loss of one Will Johnson though. Miss you, buddy.

I’m a sucker for moments of personality on the pitch, so let me end this with the biggest show of personality in this match, though unfortunately not from our own player and at the expense of our one big chance to win the game. Nick Rimando, anger pouring out of him ceaselessly as he waits for the penalty kick to be taken, cursing the ref up until beyond the whistle, when he paused in his unending appeal for mercy to lean ever so slightly to his right before diving to save the left-sided penalty we all knew Sebastian ‘Seba’ Giovinco would take.

At any rate, it’s a bitter irony that one of our greatest pieces of play was the counter-attacking football that led to the penalty earned. If there’s any take-aways from the game I’ll say it was these: a certain atomic someone needs to start mixing it up with his penalty kicks, and we are thus far undefeated this season! So heads held high, fellow Reds, and let’s see what our boys have in store for us this year.

Featured image Jozy Altidore courtesy: @torontofc

Come chat with me on twitter: @crissypayne

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders Game Recap

Seattle Sounders Key Contributor

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke

“The Seattle Sounders had less than a 3 month offseason”, is the apparent and obvious excuse for the team’s loss Saturday against the Houston Dynamo. The Sounders opened in Houston on Saturday evening. It didn’t go as hoped for the reigning MLS Champions- the team lost 2-1. By the end of the first half it was 2-0 in the Dynamo’s favor. Things weren’t looking good for the Sounders.

The Sounders lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with MLS Cup hero Stefan Frei as goalie, Gustav Svensson as right back and Joevin Jones as left back. The big guys, Roman Torres and Chad Marshall played at center backs.

Ozzie Alonso wore the captain’s armband and started as center mid along with Cristian Roldan. Over the course of the 2016 season, the two developed a dynamic partnership that will hopefully continue, and get stronger, over the course of the 2017 season.

 Alvaro Fernandez and Nico Lodeiro started as right and left mids, respectively, and Clint Dempsey returned to MLS play after being sidelined with an irregular heartbeat last August. He played at attacking mid. Jordan Morris, 2016 rookie of the year, started as forward, like he did much of last season.

Frei had several good saves early but Houston took the lead on a free kick by Erick Torres just outside the box. Torres got the ball up and over the wall and sent it into the back of the net. 1-0. The Dynamo scored their second goal on a beautiful bending shot by Romell Quioto.

The Sounders got one back in the second half on a goal by the one and only Clint Dempsey in the 58th minute. The goal came from Joevin Jones sending in a cross, Jordan Morris tried to hit it in, missed, and caused the ball to come loose in the box. Dempsey reacted quickly and sent the ball into the net.

Houston applied lots of pressure in the first half then their intensity dropped off in the second half.  The Sounders kept control of the ball better in the second half and looked more like their Championship winning team. Jones had several good and dangerous crosses and Morris had a great run in the 77th minute.

Brian Schmetzer said that it was a “good learning tool” for the Sounders. The locker room was quiet; Morris remarked in his post-game interview that no one likes to lose. The Sounders will play again Saturday in Montreal. 5 of their first 7 games are on the road.

Featured image of Clint Dempsey courtesy: @SoundersFC

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USWNT vs Germany Recap

US Women’s National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

March 1st, 2017. Lynn Williams had the only goal of the game as the United States Women’s National Team defeated Germany 1-0 in a close match in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Lineup: 3-5-2

Alyssa Naeher

Becky Sauerbrunn, Allie Long, Casey Short

Crystal Dunn (Mallory Pugh, 58), Morgan Brian, Carli Lloyd (captain), Samantha Mewis, Tobin Heath

Christen Press (Lindsey Horan, 79),  Lynn Williams (Alex Morgan, 79)

The ladies in red, head to toe, faced off against the 2016 Olympic gold medalists Germany in the first round of matches in the SheBelieves Cup. This tournament was created in 2016 after the USWNT launched the #SheBelieves campaign during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The countries invited to face the United States are Germany, France, and England. They are ranked 2, 3, and 5 in the world respectively.

Image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

The game was pretty evenly matched with both sides having multiple opportunities on goal. Germany’s best chance came in the 12th minute when Sara Däbritz hit a dangerous shot from right outside the 18 yard box forcing Alyssa Naeher to make a save. The USWNT goal was started off with Christen Press stripping the ball away from Germany’s left back and cutting inside to take a left footed shot that hit the crossbar. Tobin Heath then followed the rebound but it was deflected off a German defender out to the penalty spot. The 2016 NWSL MVP Lynn Williams then finished it into the back of the net to put her country up 1-0.

Lynn Williams had another opportunity to add onto the scoresheet when she beat two german defenders to go 1v1 with the keeper, but then she hit it over the goal in the 69th minute. The United States continued to hold the 1-0 lead to win the game.

A couple of takeaways:

Casey Short:

The defender from the Chicago Red Stars had a solid game at left center back. This was only her 5th cap but she looked very comfortable in that position. She made a lot of great tackles and was a prominent part in the USA getting a shutout.

Alyssa Naeher:

Alyssa Naeher has been competing with Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for the starting goalkeeper role since Hope Solo‘s absence following the 2016 Olympics. Having a clean sheet against the 2nd best ranked team in the world is very good for Naeher’s case.

Allie Long:

The Budweiser woman of the match looked very solid in her middle center back role. Primarily an attacking center midfielder, Long’s versatility shined as she was the key to this 3 center back experiment. We will most likely see her start in this position in games to come.

What’s next for the  USWNT?

The United States takes on England in the next instalment of the SheBelieves Cup on March 4th in Harrison, New Jersey. You can watch it on Fox at 5:30 pm eastern. The lionesses lost 2-1 to France in the game prior to USA versus Germany.

Featured image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

Come chat with me on twitter: @abigailgerken22