Columbus Crew SC vs. Sporting Kansas City

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Sunday, September 10: 1-1 Draw

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Columbus Crew SC played Sporting Kansas City to a pretty uninspiring draw in one of Crew SC’s final three home games of the regular season. 

Kansas City struck first scoring a goal in the 19’ on an unnecessary failed bicycle clearance by Jonathan Mensah.  SKC’s Cristian Lobato took the missed clearance and nutmegged Crew SC’s keeper while he was trying to stop the shot. 

There were a few opportunities for Crew SC in the first half to equalize, and they felt like the more dominant team.  In first half stoppage time, Ola Kamara headed in a beautiful goal off a Pedro Santos’ corner kick to finish the half with a 1-1 draw.

The second half didn’t provide a lot to write home about.  This could have been a game like many others earlier in the season where Crew SC gave away a draw for a loss, but they held on for a point. 

Some thoughts about the game:

Pedro Santos is good.  Really good.  I don’t want Kei Kamara back, but I’m pretty sure if he was, Pedro would put every corner kick or set piece directly on to his head.   He can see the field and the plays before they happen.  I think he will be Schelotto-like—making all the players around him even better as he grows to know his teammates, and they grow to know him.

What is with both Santos and Higuain standing together to take corner kicks?  Is it to confuse the defenders with who may kick the ball?  It’s a corner kick.  Most of the time, it is going into the mass of players in front of the goal.  Wouldn’t it be better to have another man in front of the goal or someone to clean up any balls that leak through from the corner kick instead of having two players standing over the ball to kick it?

Honestly, I imagined them having this conversation at the corner flag:

Pipa:  I really should take the corner. I’ve been on the team a long time.  I’m good at it.

Santos:  I’m new.  Let me give it a try.  Plus, if they’re anything like your PK taking ability maybe I should take them…

Then I laughed at my crazy imagination, and figured this is some kind of game plan Gregg has conjured up for corner kicks that I just don’t understand.

Finally, the second half really wasn’t very exciting soccer.  This made Gregg’s substitutions in the second half even more puzzling.  Ola Kamara was subbed out in 64’ for Adam Jahn, Pedro Santos was subbed out in the 65’ for Cristian Martinez, and Jimenez was subbed out for Afful in 84’.   Bringing Afful in, I can understand as he is working his way back from an injury, and I found out later that Kamara is fighting an injury.  However, why not bring on Manneh instead of Jahn for Meram or Kamara?  Why pull Santos off the field? 

It felt like Gregg was playing for the tie, and with Crew SC’s track record of giving up goals earlier in the season, I kind of understand this decision.  However, we are in a precarious spot in the playoff hunt.  We have 1 to 4 games on hand on teams that can challenge us for a playoff spot, and we need all the points we can get. 

Thoughts on the previous week’s happenings:

I’ve been absent writing for the last few games.  Real life has kind of been busy, but I’m back on the beat.  I had some thoughts about the last few matches or off field happenings that I wanted to share:

Nicolai Naess was recently traded.  We evidentially made a profit from his transfer.  He played a great long pass, and he stayed calm on the ball.  I never understood why he got benched.  I feel like his absence is a real loss for the team.  However, I’m happy he will go somewhere he can contribute. 

Frederico Higuain has recently stated that he believes this will be his last season in a Crew SC uniform.  Is this a negotiation tactic?  Who knows?  However, I still feel like Crew SC is a better team with Pipa on it.  I wonder if having someone like Santos on the team that thinks as fast as he does on the field will help change his mind about sticking around for another season.  Seeing Santos and Pipa when they have had even more time to gel on the field would be a sight to behold.

I also know that Ola Kamara wants to renegotiate his contract as well.  This man needs to get paid.  He is our only true forward.  We need to work on bringing someone else in as well because if his injury develops into something more serious, we will be in trouble.  Plus, we just need another forward.

During the LA Galaxy vs. Crew SC game, VAR (video assistant referee) was used three times in pretty significant ways during the game resulting in a PK, red card, and call back of a goal.  All these calls went in Crew SC’s favor.  Being there, I can say it was a crazy short stretch of time.  I’m not sure how I feel about VAR.  It did break up the flow of the game a bit, but I don’t know how often it will impact a game as much as it did this one. 

Finally, I have given Mensah and Abu a lot of criticism this season.  Some justified criticisms–some probably not.  These two have been brilliant in the last few games.  They both seem confident and are working well with their teammates on the field.   Yes, Mensah did make a mistake in this week’s game, but he stayed confident afterward and continued to make strong defensive plays the rest of the game. 

This is a different guy from the beginning of the season.  If the same mistake had happened to him earlier in the season, I think you would have seen shaky play the rest of the game.  Gregg Berhalter may have final found a centerback combination that works and another good center midfield option. 

Hopefully, the team can stay confident and dominant against the Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday and earn 3 much needed road points to help solidify the road to the playoffs. 

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Stealing Away

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Saturday, September 9: 0-1 Win

My initial reaction to last Saturday’s game:

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

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

First half missteps

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

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

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

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

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

And then there was the second half.

Second half: The Sean Johnson Show

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

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

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

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

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

Then at 84′, there was this:

This was pretty much my reaction:

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

Hot Takes

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

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

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

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

Featured image courtesy: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

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Welcome Home

 

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, September 10: 3-0 Win

So many firsts here in Atlanta this season – and this weekend saw another one: ATLUTD’s first game in our brand-spanking-new $1.5 billion stadium. I did an Instagram takeover a few weeks ago when we were invited to preview the stadium. The stadium itself is breathtaking. The atmosphere from Bobby Dodd has definitely carried over – and multiplied – at the Benz. It is LOUD in there.

For the first game, the announced attendance was 45,314, which is on par with the numbers from Bobby Dodd. It was just announced Wednesday morning that the ATLvNE game is sold out as well, which makes it now 11 sell outs in 11 games. I had a slightly unique perspective walking into the stands on Sunday, as I was chosen to represent my SG in the Golden Spike ceremony (a rep from each of the four recognized supporters groups carries the spike in before every game). Below is a video taken by one of the other reps – that’s the back of my head at the front left of the spike.

The key thing about the field at the Benz is that it’s longer and wider than the field at Bobby Dodd (70×110 > 75×115). 25 square yards doesn’t sound like much, but it may have made the difference on Sunday for ATLUTD. Our midfielders (Tito Villalba and Yamil Asad) and defenders (Greg Garza and Anton Walkes) on the sides had more room to make runs up the wings, creating more chances and getting more results.

Speaking of Tito…have a game, kid! He was definitely back on track this week, with assists on two of three goals and a few shots on goal himself. The first assist was a header from a short corner that fell to Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who just got a touch on the ball that slowly crept into the net behind FC Dallas goalie Jesse Gonzalez. It was Pirez’s first goal for ATLUTD, and the historic first goal in the Benz. It also reminded me a lot of the first goal of the season for ATLUTD that was scored by Yamil Asad.

The second goal happened so quickly after the second half started, I almost didn’t catch it. Not thirty seconds into the half, Almirón got the ball to Josef Martínez, who scored his first goal since July 4th.

Greg Garza scored his second goal of the season in the 68′ when Almirón passed to Martínez, who stepped over the ball, bringing a Dallas defender with him, and clearing the way for Garza to tap it into the net behind Jesse Gonzalez.

Both goalkeepers had great games, too. Guzan ended up with the clean sheet, but Jesse Gonzalez had some spectacular saves (and was saved by the crossbar a couple of times). Matt Hedges had Gonzalez’s back once in the first half and cleared a ball right at the goal line.

Coach Tata Martino said after the game that it was the team’s best game of the season, and I agree. After a month of long breaks and poor showings, the game the boys played on Sunday was exactly what we all – the team and the fans – needed, especially with the number of games we have in the next few weeks. If they can keep performing like they did against Dallas, getting into the playoffs will be a piece of cake.

Our next game is Wednesday against New England Revolution, who we have not played yet this season, and we’ll play them again at the end of the month. Saturday, 9/16, is the Big One, though. Our final game against Orlando City this season, in front of a record-setting regular season MLS crowd of 70,000+. I will most likely be doing another IG takeover, so go follow the MLSFemale account!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Derby Days

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Sunday, August 27: 1-1 Draw

Everybody has a story to tell about rivalry games. And last Sunday’s Portland TimbersSeattle Sounders match-up had it all: disputed calls and non-calls, cards, a penalty kick, a draw that felt like a win (or a draw that felt like a loss, depending on where you were standing in the stadium). But I’m going to leave the match recap to others. This is instead a personal story of Cascadia Cup games, for me and for my daughter.

My daughter (who I call MiniMe online to give her a LITTLE privacy) first started attending Timbers matches when her brothers played club soccer in 2004. Restless and bored, my then 4-year-old girl had to be bribed to stay in the half-empty stands with me on the west side: “If you let mommy watch the first half of this match, we’ll go up to the Fred Meyer bouncy house later, okay?”

Looking back on those early USL days, I would not have predicted that, when the team made the move to MLS in 2011, MiniMe would be the one who most wanted to attend away games, accompanying me to the first MLS Cascadia Cup away match in 2011 in Seattle.

IMG_0672
MiniMe and mom on their first Cascadia Cup away match in 2011 in Seattle

All of eleven years old, MiniMe rode up to Seattle with me on one of the supporter buses. She delighted in the entire affair–the spectacle of it all, the cold and the rain and the resulting “We don’t need no ponchos” songs in the stands, the extremely rude, potty-mouthed cheers that she could only laugh at as they rang throughout the section, Futty Danso’s stunning equalizer. She was hooked.

MiniMe was with me in 2011 when we opened BC Place to much fanfare. She came up with helpful tips to pass on to supporters (“Seat backs in front of you make excellent makeshift percussion instruments.” “Your away day program makes great confetti”). She was with me in Seattle in 2012 when we got our butts handed to us and when stadium security decided to ignore the prearranged security protocol and dump us out right in the midst of ECS faithful (MiniMe was calm and collected; her mother was situationally aware).

minime2012
A VERY underaged MiniMe on the left, celebrating the Cascadia Cup win in Vancouver in 2012

She was with me in Vancouver in 2012 when we reclaimed the Cascadia Cup, talking her way into the Railway Club to touch the Cup even though she was CLEARLY well underage (MiniMe to the door man: “Look at me. Who’s going to serve ME?”)

My daughter has accompanied me to every regular season Cascadia Cup match since 2011 except one, and that one was my fault (I was in Spain at the time in 2015). She’s in college now, but she makes a point of coming to each and every one. When she came home for the summer this year, she marked her wall calendar with every Timbers home match, and every Cascadia Cup away match. I confess that I live for those days, when we can still share the joy and the sorrow of the game together.

IMG_20170723_110540133.jpg
Me and MiniMe in Vancouver, BC this year (don’t worry, she’s just having cranberry juice)

This past weekend, MiniMe went back up to college at Puget Sound on Friday, then rejoined me one last time for the season at CenturyLink. She saved me a seat while I did supporter stuff before the match, then we stood and chanted and sang together for the boys on the field.

At one point in the game, as often happens in a Cascadia Cup match, we had evened up the score, but I was still terribly nervous. Eventually my voice caught in my throat, and instead of singing the next chant I held my hands in front of my face as the final minutes ticked down, peering through my fingers at the field, terrified that our hated rivals would once again score the go-ahead goal, and holding my breath hoping that we would be able to hang on for the draw.

And then I glanced to my left, and saw that my daughter was doing exactly the same thing.

Some bonds run deep. For my daughter and me, those bonds run straight through Pacific Northwest soccer.

After the final whistle, we waited through the security hold together, dashed down the ramp with the rest of the Timbers Army faithful, and I hugged her goodbye as she sprinted off to catch the late bus back to college in Tacoma.

Recap away, y’all. Talk about Diego Valeri’s amazing season. Talk about the sublime space that Darlington Nagbe creates around him out of nothing. Talk about Roy Miller having his best game in a Timbers jersey. Talk about Jeff Attinella’s stops, or Vytautas Andriuškevičius’s crosses. What I will remember most is my daughter and I, side by side, hoping against hope, peering through our fingers at the boys on the pitch as they stared down our most hated rivals to the north, and endured.

I sure hope we get to do it again together a time or two this fall.

Featured image courtesy: @TimbersFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @shebainpdx

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

West (of the Hudson) Side Story

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench 

Friday, August 25: 1-1 Draw

I feel like I was just here a month ago. And again a couple of weeks before that, and again only a few days before that. My Blue Counterpart summed up the feeling quite well.

So, this is basically my last chance to complain about the “rivalry” that is the New York Red Bulls (12-10-3, 39 points) and New York City FC (14-7-5, 47 points). This is a geographical rivalry. Like the New York Giants and New York Jets of gridiron football and the fabled Subway Series of the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. And those have been in place for what feels like forever. Because the NY Metropolitan area is easily large enough to accommodate fans for both teams. But then again, as my favorite Ginger Soccer Philosopher states in a recent ad campaign, “…soccer has supporters. And they’re a different breed entirely.”

Because of the structure of MLS, no one team can blow away the competition with stacked talent, premium accommodation and transport, or exorbitant payroll. So regardless of how heated it can get on the field, when the final whistle blows, everyone on the field shakes hands and exchanges jerseys, because ultimately they are all brothers in the same player’s union. The rivalry belongs to the fans supporters, who argue the tri-state area can only be one color when, in fact, it has always easily been various shades of several colors.

As I sat in the press box and watched this last installment of the Hudson River Derby, I began to liken it to a completely different rivalry that was much more my speed as a child:

WON’T BE JUST ANY NIGHT: As soon as the traffic slowed to a crawl 2 miles before the exit to the arena, I knew it was going to be a different game. NYCFC was looking to sweep the series*, and RBNY was not interested in having that occur in their home. Also, the announcement had been made earlier in the week that, due to a scheduling conflict with the Yankees, NYCFC will have to host the Houston Dynamo next month at a stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut.

To be clear, I actually respect that NYCFC feels such a deep connection to the city of New York, and can appreciate the upset many Blue fans have voiced over the change. But since the bulk of the trolling from NYC fans has been geographically based, this was just extremely sweet and low-hanging fruit for Metro fans. The pettiness was turned up to 11, and I am here for that.

(*= in league play: I wrote about the Red Bulls eliminating NYC from the Open Cup competition… RBNY is heading to the final in a couple of weeks.)

A BOY LIKE THAT: Usually the conversation during these match-ups centers on Bradley Wright-Phillips and David Villa, who still made their mark on the game with 5 and 3 shots respectively. But it was Sean Davis who really seemed to be leading the charge for RBNY in the first half. His 3 shots and 82% passing accuracy were notable in the first act… I mean, half. Villa could only be credited with an assist with Maximiliano Moralez putting up the goal for NYC in the 56th minute. And when the moment came for RBNY to go to the spot following a foul on Sacha Kljestan, it was Gonzalo Veron who converted the equalizer.

BE COOL: Was there pushing? Tripping? Diving? You’d better believe it. And I ain’t even mad. Three yellow cards (Alexander Ring 19′, Kemar Lawrence 35′, and Rodney Wallace 43′) don’t lie. And it wasn’t like Video-Assisted Refereeing was getting involved apparently. But the majority of the action was just the run of play. And that’s great too. At the end of the day, a lopsided game is what makes for a sad “rivalry”. So, even though the 62% possession from the Red Bulls only resulted in a goal from a penalty kick and only 358 passes from NYCFC was enough for them to score, the balance is what made the draw, the first one in the soon-to-be-acceptable Hudson River Derby.

I LIKE TO BE IN AMERICA: The Red Bulls will face FC Dallas next week while the rest of the world takes an International break for World Cup Qualifiers and Friendlies. RBNY defenders Michael Amir Murillo and Fidel Escobar will once again join the Panamanian team, and congrats to David Villa on his return to the Spanish National Team. Meanwhile, RBNY Reggae Boy Kemar Lawrence is expected to decline the call-up for the Jamaican team’s Friendly against Canada. (My Fantasy team thanks Kemar for this, too.) Also, MLS cathedral Red Bull Arena is hosting the US Men’s National Team as they play Costa Rica. It’s an exciting week for the NY Metropolitan Area.

Featured image courtesy: newyorkredbulls.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

I’m back! And so is Sporting!

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Hey MLS fans! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a month or so. If you’ve read some of my past articles then you know that I moved to Orlando this summer to continue my Master’s Degree in Wind Band Conducting. Well, since my last article, I have worked four weeks of band camps, and am getting ready to start school.

Sporting KC is also back! They were in a bit of an MLS slump with two draws against beatable teams, a loss, and a 3-2 win against Chicago Fire. The results of these four games led them to fall from first place in the Western Conference. But guess what? Sporting is back, baby! With Saturday’s win against conference foe, FC Dallas, Sporting has reclaimed some of their US Open Cup magic for the MLS season, and landed back at the top of the table!

Throughout the trials of the season, the one place Sporting hasn’t let up is in the US Open Cup. There are many teams that don’t put their all into the US Open Cup. They see it as an annoyance as opposed to an opportunity; which is something that Peter Vermes will never do. If Sporting is going to go for something then they are going to go all in. There was another team that went all in, and it was Cincinnati FC. Sorry New York Red Bulls, but no one wanted you to win that game. I do understand though that if Cincy had won that game, no one would want us to win the final… so hopefully we get the Cincinnati fans behind us on this one! I bet Mitch Hildebrandt and Tim Melia would be super good friends, so for that reason, cheer for Sporting! *wink wink

Sporting’s last game against FC Dallas came after a tough loss to Seattle Sounders. When Sporting went to Seattle, Vermes decided that it would be a good idea to rest a good chunk of the starters, and despite the result, I agree with his decision. The players that started all three games in the 8/6-8/12 span (Tim Melia and Matt Besler) ended up playing 300 minutes in one week. That’s pretty insane. Looking at the Starting XI that Sporting fielded against the Sounders and seeing the 1-0 scoreline makes me feel pretty good. Vermes can field a team that is not his best and can go into the game knowing that they can hang with the reigning MLS Champs at their house.

Now to the awesome game against FC Dallas! Sporting has been relatively weak against crosses this season, so it was finally time for them to get one of their own. In the 42nd minute, Graham Zusi‘s feed from the corner found its way to Diego Rubio and into the back of the net! I’m going to put this video in here…mostly because the background music makes it way more lit.

Zusi assisted again on Gerso’s stoppage time goal that solidified a Sporting KC win! Last Saturday was a pretty special day for Sporting. It was their 100th straight sellout at Children’s Mercy Park, and they celebrated the whole week by getting different players’ favorite games at CMP. If you go back through Sporting’s media based tweets from the past week you can find all of them, but I’m going to go with Benny‘s game because it is the best.

Fun facts!

Graham Zusi’s birthday was last Friday! He celebrated by winning! The MLS gave him a great present by putting him and his best friend forever, Matt Besler, on the Team of the Week!

Speaking of Zus, his stat line from Saturday was straight up fire: 2 assists, 7 key passes, 73 touches, 49/50(98%) passes, 7 crosses, 8 recoveries, 3 clearances, 2 tackles. He was named Man of the Match, btw.

Another awesome thing about the game against FC Dallas is that both of the goals were nominated for Goal of the Week!

This weekend Sporting starts a streak of three away games at Houston, NYCFC, and Columbus. It will be a tough test, but Sporting has been pretty alright away from home this season. They’ll get to come home again in mid-September for three straight home games and the US Open Cup final! To get you hyped up for that, here’s the video that US Soccer made of the game!

It’s still a month away, but let’s paint the wall! #WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Sixth-annual Rock Against Racism – Chicago Fire Benefit Concert Takes Place August 26 at Toyota Park

Nicole Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Nicole Hack // @nikhak

Rock Against Racism – Chicago Fire (RAR-CF) is a Chicago Fire supporter driven group that is against racism and in support of diversity and inclusion. Joel Piktel and Alfredo Gomez have organized RAR for the last six years. Naturally, when they asked me to be involved with the event two years ago, I couldn’t say no. In addition to rocking out against racism, the event has become empowering for women too. I mention this because I’m sharing this via MLSFemale, and I couldn’t be prouder of women’s involvement in Chicago Fire and MLS’ supporters’ culture.

Nicole Lynn Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale

In 2015, we had the fortune of USWNT and Chicago Red Stars player Christen Press join us. Press spoke honestly about her intolerance for racism, and the event raised $1000 dollars for Guardian Angels of Joliet.

Then in 2016, the annual RAR-CF event featured female-fronted bands including The Dyes, Atom Meets Bomb, and All Our Fans Are Cats. In addition to the regular awesome group of guys slinging beers at the annual RAR-CF event, Kelsey McClure formerly of New Belgium Brewing joined us in support against racism. Because of the impressive efforts of our community, $1,700 was raised for Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

This year Moria Dailey Nestmann joins the RAR-CF planning team. Dailey Nestmann will primarily be assisting on the PR side of things, but is looking forward to helping at any capacity that’s needed and being more involved in upcoming years. She explained that, “I love punk rock, love the Fire, and hate racism, so it seemed to be a natural progression (to get involved).” I, for one, am excited that Moria’s involved.

Nicole Lynn Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale

Now onto the main event…

The sixth-annual Rock Against Racism – Chicago Fire benefit concert is scheduled for this Saturday, August 26 at Toyota Park, directly preceding the league-topping Chicago Fire going head to head with Minnesota United, marking the new team’s first appearance on Fire turf.

All local bands, hardcore outfit Anger headlines, with support from oi newcomers Fuerza Bruta, and Latino ska standbys, Tone Zone Skam. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Northern Illinois Justice For Our Neighbors, an organization which helps residents navigate and respond to complex immigration regulations. Their vital work is a necessity in these turbulent times and organizers are excited to lend their support to such an organization, as we believe diversity is a great strength in our communities.

Rock against Racism was founded to foster and celebrate an environment that is free from racism, sexism, homophobia, and hate of all kind at Toyota Park and within Fire fan culture. Rock Against Racism is a partnership between the Chicago Fire, Section 8 Chicago and Sector Latino, the Hispanic supporters group. This year features Tone Zone Skam a band comprised of active members of Sector Latino.

“Considering these troubled times, this year’s musical line-up is going to be the hardest hardcore line-up we have ever had,” says Rock Against Racism organizer Alfredo Gomez. Continuing the Fire and MLS’s staunch anti-racist stance, Rock Against Racism is a cornerstone event for the Fire community and a continued opportunity to showcase both established and up-and-coming members of Chicago’s diverse musical scene.

Sector Latino, Section 8 Chicago, and the Chicago Fire are excited to welcome supporters of Minnesota United to Toyota Park to enjoy the party and stand with us to give racism the red card. Fans and supporters who cannot attend can support Rock Against Racism online by donating here to support NIJFON’s legal services.

Nicole Lynn Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale

To stay involved and informed on RAR-CF, join the RAR-CF Facebook group. The primary function of the group is to further create an environment at Toyota Park that is free of racism, sexism, and homophobia. This is done through:

  1. Educating ourselves and others on the topic
  2. Sharing news and info specifically related to this topic in our community
  3. Planning and organizing our annual event
  4. This is also a place to archive photos/images related to the event

Love Fire. Hate Racism.

Images courtesy: Alfredo Gomez, Nicole Hack, and Michael Nowicki

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nikhak

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When Cards Collide

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

By Ambrosia Tonkovich // @heyambrosia

Saturday, August 19: 3-1 Loss

First of all, I don’t mean to be rude, but Montreal Impact is always a team I forget exists. It’s not that they’re that horrible or anything, it’s just that they’re not like a big name team, they don’t make headlines a whole lot, and so they just don’t make their way to the top of my mind. Anytime I see we’re playing them I say ‘oh, right. They are a team’. Well, hell. Guess I’ll remember them this time. Real Salt Lake went on the road to lose 3-1 in Toronto after an unbeaten streak (which we desperately needed) in Canada on Saturday night.

We had six games unbeaten before tonight, and we tried in the beginning (with Luis Silva scoring in the 26th minute) but sadly we weren’t able to bring it back.

In the sixth minute we did see an early injury. Marcelo Silva was subbed out with a hamstring injury and David Horst came in to take his place. Our luck went down from there, with an early score from Ignacio Piatti in the 10th minute that put Montreal up 1-0.

Like I said, we did score in the 26th minute, but that was the only goal we could seem to score, even though we did have 6 shots on goal to their 4, (apparently they made those count). We did collect a nice selection of yellow cards, as we seem to do, collecting 6 to their 1.

The game ended in a dismal 3-1 with RSL fans feeling bummed. It’s been a nice playoff sprint we’ve had recently, and this was a sad halting moment. We need to do pretty much everything we can to make our way there at this point.

Highlights:

6′ Sub:  David Horst replaces Marcelo Silva

11′ Goal: Piatti makes it 1-0 for the Impact.

26′ Goal:  Luis Silva equalizes.

29′ Goal:  Another Goal for Piatti.

37′ Yellow:  Brooks Lennon.

Stoppage Time Yellow:  Sunny goes into the book.

47′ Goal: Jackson makes it 3-1 for Montreal.

More yellow cards:

57′ : Chris Wingert

62′ : Evan Bush

66′ : Tony Beltran

67 Sub:  Shaun Francis replaces Hassoun Camara

74′ Sub:  Andres Romero replaces Blerim Dzemaili

6′ Sub:  David Horst replaces Marcelo Silva

11′ Goal: Piatti makes it 1-0 for the Impact.

26′ Goal:  Luis Silva equalizes.

29′ Goal:  Another Goal for Piatti.

37′ Yellow:  Brooks Lennon.

Stoppage Time Yellow:  Sunny goes into the book.

47′ Goal: Jackson makes it 3-1 for Montreal.

More yellow cards:

57′ : Chris Wingert

62′ : Evan Bush

66′ : Tony Beltran

67 Sub:  Shaun Francis replaces Hassoun Camara

74′ Sub:  Andres Romero replaces Blerim Dzemaili

84′ Sub:  Victor Cabrera comes on for Anthony Jackson-Hamel

85′ Sub:  Yura replaces Chris Wingert

85’ Yellow: David Horst

Featured image courtesy: @sltribsports

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @heyambrosia

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MINNESOTA’S HOPES AT GETTING A POINT GET BLOCKED LIKE THE SUN

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

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke 

Sunday August 20: 4-3 Win

The Seattle Sounders faced off against Minnesota United just 15 days after their 4-0 rout in Minnesota. This time though; it was a very different story. The Sounders had to fight for this one, they had to come from behind and keep pushing for their well deserved 3 points.

Stefan Frei

Kelvin Leerdam–Roman Torres–Chad Marshall–Joevin Jones

Ozzie AlonsoGustav Svensson 

Nicolas LodeiroClint DempseyCristian Roldan

Jordan Morris 

Seattle’s shutout streak ended at 421 minutes on a Minnesota goal by Ethan Finley in the 21st minute. Chad Marshall responded 10 minutes later on a cross from Nicolas Lodeiro to even the score at 1-1. The Sounders couldn’t grab a game winner before the 80th minute (this is Seattle after all) which carried the game into what I like to call ice-chewing-nervous-pacing-run-to-the-bathroom-500-times zone.

But, like what always seems to happen (this is Seattle after all) the Sounders got their shot at a game winner in the 94th minute. After a handball in the box, Clint Dempsey scored a PK to keep the unbeaten streak alive (9 games!!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I love the Seattle Sounders but they WILL give me a heart attack one day. Evidence: this season Seattle has scored 5 goals after the 88th minute – 4 of those have been to tie or win a game, they’ve scored 3 (3!?) goals in the 94th minute.

Fun Facts and Notes:

  • The Sounders are in first place with 40 points!!
  • It’s Cascadia Week!! The Sounders play Vancouver Wednesday and Portland Sunday
  • I tried to come up with some eclipse humor for this but I couldn’t
  • I slipped and busted my hip while I was celebrating last night (Sounders fuzzy socks+hardwood floors=not great)

Featured image courtesy: @SoundersFC

Come chat Sounders with me on twitter

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Exit the Ballroom 

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench 

Tuesday, August 15th (Open Cup semi-finals): 2-3 Win (ET)

I had one New Year’s resolution: to watch more soccer. To really educate myself in the game. To bring the game to others somehow.

Thanks to so many people, not the least of which are the lovely sisters here at MLSFemale, I’ve been able to realize this goal.

So while I couldn’t make the trip to Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, I had the amazing opportunity to watch the semi-finals of the Lamar Hunt Open Cup in a most familiar setting: a sports bar just down the street from where I went to college. Because the Open Cup doesn’t garner enough interest for TV broadcast, the host of the event hooked up his laptop to a big screen TV by the bar. So even though I couldn’t be at the game, this was about as good.

THE CINDERELLA STORY: Usually the final rounds of the Open Cup are exclusively the territory of MLS clubs, because they can have nice things, like young players and high payrolls. So who wouldn’t love the unprecedented run of USL side FC Cincinnati?

The New York Red Bulls and their fans, that’s who.

WHOSE FAIRY TALE IS THIS, ANYWAY?: The first half of the game was… well… let’s just say I’m glad I was in a bar. FC Cincy midfielder Corben Bone outran the defense to open the scoring (31′). Then Austen Berry doubled the lead (62′) and the crowd at the bar threw their hands up and made moves toward the door. But we had to let the beer wear off and pay for our pizzas, so we stuck around.

Just then, attacker Gonzalo Verón, having replaced defender Kemar Lawrence 15 minutes prior, began the turning of the tide.

But that wasn’t enough to keep the magic going. It’s a good thing Bradley Wright-Phillips is a thing that happens:

This brought the game to the slightly nervewracking Extra Time.

MIDNIGHT MEANS MIDNIGHT: Had I taken an informal poll before the start of the match, I would guess the majority of fans would have predicted an easy win for RBNY. So having to watch the game go to Extra Time was riddled with unease.

(I’m smack in the middle of the picture.)

Once again, doing what the team and the fans need him to do and when, Bradley Wright-Phillips clanged the ball into the net like he was tolling the tower bell at midnight and I will NEVER GET TIRED OF THIS CINDERELLA METAPHOR SO DON’T EVEN ASK ME TO STOP.

View this post on Instagram

The header to win it. #RBNY

A post shared by New York Red Bulls (@newyorkredbulls) on

YOU’VE EARNED THIS DANCE: Lots of credit goes to both the club and the fans of FC Cincinnati.

“I don’t think it’ll be too long before we’re back here again playing in more meaningful matches.” –RBNY Coach Jesse Marsch, on the possibility of facing FC Cincinnati in MLS League Play

With this win, the finals of this year’s Open Cup is set: RBNY will travel to Children’s Mercy Park and face Sporting Kansas City on September 20th. I’m looking forward to having a beer and hanging with friends– I mean, my RBNY fam.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

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