Gerso Vain…You probably think this game is about you.

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Wednesday, May 17: 3-0 Win

But I mean, if you are going to score a hat trick against the reigning MLS Champs then this game can be completely about you! #Gershow

Last Wednesday the Seattle Sounders came to Kansas City to take on Sporting Kansas City on our Retro Night. The festivities started off with so many ’90s songs. It was amazing! As a child of the mid to late 90s I was all for it. Though they didn’t play No Diggity by Blackstreet until the game was over, so that sucked.

There was no looping. There was very little diggity-ing…? That’s not a word. Oh well. There were also not a lot of things happening in the first half, but that will come later. Before the game Mo Johnston was inducted into the Sporting Legends Wall of Honor.

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In the pics above you can see the awesome tifo that Tifo Team 6 painted for the occasion, when Mo came over and shook hands with the Cauldron‘s very own capo Cowboy Brandon, and our owner Robb Heineman serving up free beer in the #HeinemanBeerCorner. Now, I’m a fan of our current mascot, Blue the Dog, but our throwback mascot Dynamo the Dragon was killing it! He has the big hula hoop stomach like KC Wolf from the Chiefs, he was sassy af, he played the crap out of that drum, and he can wiggle his nose!

Now if you were to look at the reports about the game then you will find very little written about the first half of the game. That is because not much happened during the first half of the game. It was a frustrating half of soccer. Tim Melia made a few really big saves including two in the last minute of the half. That was actually pretty worrisome, but by the time he had saved the goals the half was over. I hadn’t ever seen a half with no stoppage time, but I have now. The whistle blew at 45:04.

Knowing Peter Vermes, as we all do, we can probably guess what went down. Yelling. Lots of yelling. This was actually corroborated by Gerso in the post game. Per Sam McDowell from the KC Star at the press conference Gerso said, “Basically, Peter had to scream at us…” Peter’s response, “That’s true.”

Going into the second half you could see the difference in Sporting’s game. In the 55th minute Benny Feilhaber served a corner kick straight to Ike Opara whose header almost made it under the crossbar, but Stefan Frei got his fingertips on it and pushed it over the bar. This led to another corner from the other side of the field. The attempt this time got deflected out to Gerso who took the ball back in for a shot that bounced off the leg of a Seattle defender and into the goal. #1

Two minutes later Jimmy Medranda took the ball up the side, and sent a cross into Gerso who launched it off of the post. Luckily the defender it bounced to couldn’t control it. Gerso got the ball back, and sent it past a sprawling Frei. Assist to the post…? #2

In the 69th minute Sporting strung together a beautiful sequence of passes to get their third goal. Benny brought the ball up the middle, passed it to Graham Zusi on the edge of the box, Zusi then passed it to Gerso back in the middle who finished with a huge right-footed slam into the top of the net. #3

Good thing this wasn’t a hockey game or there would be hats all over the field! The last time SKC had a hat trick was back in 2010, in the Wizards’ era, by Birahim Diop.

Then last Saturday Sporting traveled up to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps. I would like to note that this was four days after their previous game, and their sixth game in 22 days. It has been quite a run, and in those games SKC did go 3-2-1 which is not bad.

We are still on the top of the table, we have 3 more points and have allowed 11 fewer goals than the next team, and the only team who has given up fewer goals than us is FC Dallas who also has the same goal differential.

In Vancouver there were some lineup changes due to injury and rest. Peter Vermes does not like to play Ike on turf fields or in the third game of the 3 in 8 streaks due to the higher risk of injury. We do not want Ike to get injured. He is in top form right now! Dom wasn’t starting due to a knee injury, and Benny and Jimmy got a bit of a rest…but just a bit because they both came on in the second half.

The roster choice that was the most vexing was Tyler Pasher starting in place of Jimmy. T-Pash is a mainstay on the Swope Park Rangers roster as a defender. I understand that the current defensive line is going to be hard to break into, so maybe Vermes was giving him a chance elsewhere. It was just an odd decision that didn’t pan out at all, and he was pulled for Jimmy at half.

Vancouver had two goals during the game both off of crosses. Why can’t we defend crosses? Is this going to be a thing? It’s kind of already a thing. I want it to stop being a thing. Moving on. Vancouver’s Cristian Techera had a really gorgeous ball that he played off of the chest of Christian Bolaños. It didn’t touch the ground. It went straight to his foot and into the goal. Ugh. Later in the game Tim Parker scored his first goal of the season off of a free kick from right outside the penalty area. Sporting should have scored. There were multiple chances where we were right at the goal and couldn’t put it away.

There were a few good things from this game. Tim Melia was outstanding again. He stopped a penalty kick! That does not happen every damn day! Sporting’s defense also made some pretty amazing plays (minus the goals). Seth Sinovic made a diving steal/clearance that was awesome, and after the saved penalty kick there were some fast feet by the defense to get that ball cleared.

I know there’s been a lot of talk about Dom getting onto the USMNT, but Matt Besler needs to get a serious look. He has been so good this season! I was excited to see Cameron Porter sub in for this game. I’ve been waiting to see him play in a big game for awhile, and he did alright. It’s nice to see some height on the attacking front. It was also his birthday on Tuesday the 23rd!

Fun Facts!

The US U-20 team is on their World Cup campaign, and Sporting defender Erik Palmer-Brown is captaining the squad. If you’re up super early you can catch them between the hours of 3am and 7am central standard time. When he gets back hopefully he can make some starts when Ike needs a rest.

Tim Melia and Gerso Fernandes made it onto the MLS Team of the Week, and Tim was in the lead for Save of the Week last time I checked!

Children’s Mercy has this cool robot named Rex that is used to help kids who aren’t able to go to the games due to medical conditions be a part of the gameday experience!

I started this article on Tuesday, and made it a sentence in. Between starting and finishing this I have played two games of bar trivia, watched a whole season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, eaten a pint of Halo Top, and done three loads of laundry. I guess I type better at night…it’s 2:50 in the morning right now, and 1,351 words later I am done! Thanks for sticking with me!

Sporting KC travels to Colorado this Saturday to take on the Rapids. Look for a huge Cauldron presence to turn Dick’s Sporting Goods Park into Children’s Mercy West!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

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Giving TFC the Horns

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Friday, May 19: 1-1 Draw

Looking to save themselves from a 3-match skid, the New York Red Bulls (5-6-2, 17 points) hosted Eastern conference leaders Toronto FC (7-1-5, 26 points), who were enjoying a 6-match winning streak. Even though TFC were missing league MVP Sebastian Giovinco to injury, the team was by no means suffering, with USMNT and former Metrostar/Red Bulls players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore leading the team.

Having broken their 19-match winning streak at home with the loss to LA Galaxy, RBNY once again hit the field looking as if they had something to prove. And indeed they started strong: the key to the match for the Red Bulls was to contain Altidore, which defenders Aaron Long and Damien Perrinelle did in no uncertain terms.

Frederik Gulbrandsen, still looking for his first goal with the team, had a great opportunity in the 15th minute, but it was saved by TFC goalkeeper Alexander Bono. (After taking a hit just at the end of the first half, Gulbrandsen was substituted at halftime.) TFC forward Tousaint Ricketts kept the defense busy, notably stopped by Kemar Lawrence in the 29th minute.

RBNY kept hammering away, finally drawing a foul in a dangerous area in the 37th minute. Set pieces, an important element of Red Bull game preparation, paid off when Bradley Wright-Phillips received the kick from Sacha Kljestan and put it into Toronto’s goal. The team relies on Wright-Phillips, who made his 74th career goal, to be the finisher. It’s what he’s been known for his whole career: makes no sense to stop now.

On the other hand, Kljestan, a perfectly capable midfielder, who has done some amazing things for club and country, is still wasting multiple touches in the attacking third. It’s disheartening to see a player who led the league in assists last year seem to not have options. He needs to get back to what he knows and forwards like Danny Royer and Alex Muyl need to be there for him.

RNBY goalkeeper Luis Robles didn’t have to make a save until the 2nd half. But then came the 70th minute: Benoit Cheyrou scored with a header off a free kick. It’s important to note that both goals for the match were scored off of set pieces, which really should be considered a plus for RBNY. To keep Toronto from scoring in the run of play is no small feat.

But nothing could have prepared us for the Save-of-the-Week-worthy moment in the 80th minute. A poor clearance by Perrinelle resulted in a penalty kick for Altidore. The stadium lit up when Robles read the kick and punched the ball to the far sideline. Moments of brilliance like that are hints that the spark that takes the team into the playoffs is still there.

The ball made its way up and down the field following Toronto’s failed PK. Even from home (and even on the 2nd viewing) I could feel the electricity in Red Bull Arena. It wasn’t the nervous and frantic pace seen in previous matches; this was passion and purpose.

There was also a few moments of confusion and palpable tension in the 87th minute when a shot by Ricketts made it to the back of the New York net but was called back. In the confusion and conferencing between the lead referee Robert Sibiga and the linesman, Vìctor Vásquez celebrated the goal in Luis Robles’ face… a bad choice. Turned out the goal was called back for interference from Raheem Edwards. Robles received a yellow card for his physical reaction to Vásquez. And honestly, if RBNY has to go the path of the Bad News Bears to get their passion back, keep those yellow cards coming. Just not too many, okay?

The pace remained to the final whistle, and lifted the spirits of this fan as well as many others. Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, includes another home match at Red Bull Arena. Hopefully, the summer of soccer love awaits us.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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The Boys Are Back In Town

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Saturday, May 20: 2-0 Win

The boys are back in town. They are looking good after their long road trip across Canada and as far south as Houston. Lots of miles (or kilometers if you will) and here we are in the most beautiful weather Van City has seen since last summer and it feels like home.

Tim Parker is looking strong. He has been training and you can tell. He is winning 50/50 balls being the rock that defense needs. He is also stepping up in the front, getting his head on the end of free kicks and corners. Parker got on the end of one to score the second goal of the game.

Let’s talk about the offense for a second. Can we all please note that MLS marked the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Saturday goal as the 2nd best assist in the league this week. Second? Nope, I say it is #1 and a beauty it was. On a quick, Waston to Williams, off the chest of Bolanos and volley by Techera. This put the ‘Caps up 1-0 late in the first half.

Early in the second half we saw an all too familiar scene. Fredy Montero missing the 2nd PK of the season. First one, we let pass since he followed up and finished it off. This one, was one too many, time to pass the torch.

I like Fredy Montero, but he seemed a bit frustrated and a lot flat footed. He was a step or two late to the ball and letting the defender step in front each time.

We want Brek, say it with me, “We want Brek”. After Brek’s shaky start with the ‘Caps, the fans seems to like him a lot more since he is finding the back of the net. He even scored his mom a goal on Mother’s day. We only got to see him for 6 minutes this game. I think a sub for Montero should have come a lot sooner.

Speaking of moms, my Mother-In-Law was in town, she called them the Snowycaps and I think it is just adorable.

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Vancouver Whitecaps

On a serious note, the Vancouver Whitecaps lost one of their own recently. An incredibility talented young man, Travis Salje. At just 17 his life was suddenly taken by a car accident. The Whitecaps and supporters of the team wanted to #standupfortravis, and we did. The community sends our love to the Salje family.

A win, a beautiful goal, and a boost of confidence. #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

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Some of it was beautiful

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Sunday, May 21: 2-1 Loss

The first 20 minutes of the Columbus Crew SC match against the New England Revolution was a pretty fun game to watch.  Crew SC looked like they came into this game wide-awake with Higuaín getting a ball from Francis in the 1’ that he should have shot slightly more quickly but he instead found his few extra little touches resulted in a blocked shot.  In the 3’ minute, the Revs quickly attacked as Fegundez sent a ball across the field to a streaking Rowe. 

Had the ball been a smidge slower or Rowe been a bit quicker, the Crew SC could have found themselves in a precarious position, however neither happened, and the ball harmlessly went out.  The back and forth continued slightly favoring Crew SC; when in the 4’ minute, Higuaín took another shot and Manneh hit the rebound for what looked like a goal, but Manneh was ruled offside.

Crew SC fans didn’t have to wait long for a goal though, and Crew SC did not take their foot off the gas pedal.  In the 20’, Wil Trapp sent a beautiful ball up the field to Ola Kamara who volleyed it from just outside the Revs eighteen into the top left corner of their net.  If this isn’t a candidate for Pass of the Week, Goal of the Week, and Columbus Crew SC Goal of the Year, then I’m not sure what should qualify.  I had a great feeling about this game.  I guess I shouldn’t have. 

Diego Fagundez decided to give Crew SC fans a taste of the terror that Justin Meram reigned on Montreal last week by scoring a brace against Crew SC.  After a giveaway by Crew SC and some quick passing by the Revs, Fegundez scored in the 24’ and then again in the 34’. 

The second half ended in a scoreless affair that I honestly had a hard time focusing on.  However, we seemed to lose the fast passing and movement that had given us an edge for most of the first half.  This resulted in the home team earning a 2-1 win over Crew SC and leaving Crew SC sitting at 6-6-1 for the season thus far. 

My random thoughts:

  • A lot of people were again not happy with Abu.  He definitely had moments that weren’t great, but so did a lot of other players on the team.  I don’t have strong feelings for or against Abu.  I do miss Mo Saied and Tony Tchani, but I don’t believe this one player is causing all of our woes.
  • I am happy to see Waylon Francis on the pitch.  He, along with Ethan Finlay, are two of my favorite Crew SC players.  I think Francis had some great crosses and did some great things defensively.  I also had no issue with Raitala coming on for Jimenez in the 62’.  Jimenez does a serviceable job at right back, but if Harrison Afful doesn’t come back match fit and in full form soon that right side will be a problem.
  • Any time we play on artificial turf like the field we played on Sunday, I am again reminded of how beautiful our field is.  Our grounds crew at Mapfre Stadium is amazing. 
  • I still have faith and belief in this team, but I almost always do.  When they are on, they get it done.  They just have to find a way to keep the switch on more often.  They will get there Crew SC fans.  Keep the faith.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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All the Fun is in the A

 

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

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Saturday, May 20: 4-1 Win

This weekend was SO. MUCH. FUN. The Atlanta United game on Saturday night was obviously a huge part of that, but the annual fundraising event I attended on Sunday is one of my favorite events to be a part of. More on that in a minute – first, the game!

The day started out well enough. I checked the weather report as soon as I woke up and saw 30-40% chance of rain in the afternoon, but it didn’t look serious….Until about 4pm when we saw some clouds rolling in. Still, no rain, so we assumed it was going to skirt by us. Until it didn’t. Fortunately for me, I jumped into the van I had rented to bring all the tailgate equipment in just seconds before the deluge.

The march to the match was already well on its way, though. Because of the lightning, the stadium gates were closed and everyone who wasn’t inside yet was sent to a parking deck to wait it out. The game ended up being delayed about an hour, but fortunately, once the storm passed, we didn’t have any more weather issues. Well, except for one minor malfunction during the national anthem. The hired singer’s microphone didn’t work, but the crowd realized it quickly and belted out the anthem for him and it was a beautiful thing:

And then…holy cow. After missing so many chances last week in Portland because he kept passing the ball, Miguel Almiron was asked by the coaches to take the shots this week. They didn’t have to tell him twice. Almiron is the second ATLUTD player to get a hat trick this season – and ATLUTD is the first expansion team to have two players with a hat trick in their first season.

I’ve had this song stuck in my head for two days now. You’re welcome for the ear worm.

Julian Gressel also got his second goal in a week. I watched this on replay a few times last night and it gets funnier each time. He gets the ball, loses the ball, gets mad that he lost the ball, and then “hey! There it is!” and into the back of the net it goes.

Almiron’s third goal was Atlanta’s very first penalty kick this season after Tito Villalba was taken down in the box.

A little earlier in the game, Villalba appeared to take a bit of a knock to the face in the box in the middle of the second half, but no foul was called. The Houston keeper kicked the ball out of bounds right at the ATL coach, Tata Martino, who kicked it right back on the field…maybe with a bit more enthusiasm than he should have…and the ref ran over and ejected him from the game. Chants of “we want Tata” were heard a couple of times after that.

We also witnessed the debut appearance of one of ATL’s homegrown players – and a huge fan favorite – Andrew Carleton. The 16-year-old came in for Almiron in the last few minutes of the game. He didn’t have a whole lot to do, but the crowd went absolutely INSANE when he stepped on the pitch.

The atmosphere at this game was incredible – it was very close to the same feeling we all had at the season opener, only better because we walked out of there with three points. I am hopeful that it will carry over to this Sunday’s game vs NYCFC – our second game against them in 4 weeks, but this time at home.

As I mentioned previously, this past Sunday was the major annual fundraiser for Soccer in the Streets, the local Atlanta charity that my supporters group has been working with for over three years. Every May, they host the ATL Champions League, where co-ed teams play 7v7 games in a round-robin tournament.

This year was the largest yet, with 16 teams (all named after actual European teams from EPL, La Liga and Serie A, except for the ATLUTD team). This year’s tournament was held at the ATLUTD training center. For the third year, Terminus Legion attended the tournament to support the ATLUTD team composed of front office staff – including club president Darren Eales and technical director Carlos Bocanegra. TL brings water, Gatorade, and orange slices (because you can’t have a soccer tournament without orange slices, right?!).

The ATLUTD team were defending the trophy they won in 2016 and went undefeated through the first round and semi-finals, but lost in the final game 1-0 vs the Manchester United team (who were wearing green jerseys because several of the Soccer in the Streets board members are Liverpool fans).

The total amount raised by the players and teams was over $130,000. Terminus Legion raised $1200 with raffles at watch parties and donation buckets at tailgates for the last two months, and a footgolf tournament.

We’ll be at it again in a couple of months to raise more money for the Black Tie Soccer Game, which is usually hilarious. People in gowns and tuxedos playing soccer (or Carlos Bocanegra in a kilt!), or like last year, when the event fell the weekend before Halloween and each team had a theme (Smurfs, the Addams Family – Darren Eales was Gomez).

It really was a great weekend. Looking forward to doing it again this weekend!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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Happy Birthday, NYCFC!

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Sunday, May 21: 0-3 Win

NARRATOR: Previously, on Reverse Psychology FC…

SEPIA FLASHBACK C.M.: I fully expect NYCFC to roll over and show their belly and lose 17-0. Wink.

NARRATOR: Finally, our intrepid heroine has learned from her mistakes.

Four years ago, New York City FC was officially announced as an expansion club. May 21st is, for all intents and purposes, NYCFC’s birthday — and what would be a better birthday gift than breaking the Orlando City SC curse?

That’s right, the sixth time’s the charm! Wins have always eluded the boys in blue when they make the trip down to Orlando — indeed, wins against Orlando City have eluded them in general this season alone, having already suffered two defeats. But finally, finally, they walked into that purple dungeon and came away with all three points.

Patrick Vieira continued to rotate his squad during this rash of away games, albeit a bit more cautiously than he did in the previous match. Maxime Chanot and Ben Sweat slotted in to bolster the defense, the usual attacking trident of Jack Harrison, David Villa and Rodney Wallace returned well rested and ready for action, and perhaps most excitingly, Mikey Lopez got his first start of the season to replace an injured Andrea Pirlo in midfield.

Mikey has been one of my favorite NYCFC players since his first match last season. I have a weakness for spritely, intelligent midfielders. Plus, his energy on and off the pitch is pure positivity. Mikey is fun. His injury and subsequent ankle surgery back in January were a huge blow for NYCFC. While he may not always feature regularly as a starter, Mikey is a mercenary in the midfield and we were all looking forward to having him around to help jump start the season. Now that he’s back, he’s providing exactly what I hoped: Frenetic energy, relentless pace, and quite a few risky slide tackles. (Hey, I’m not mad at those.) I’m so happy to have him back, and I know I’m not the only one.

David Villa opened the scoring early in the second half after a handball from Kaká drew a penalty for NYCFC. Orlando City never let off the gas and did their best to pull one back, but before half-time Rodney Wallace found himself on the scoring end of a truly glorious team goal. Jack Harrison laid off a beautiful pass to Ethan White, who delivered an inch-perfect cross straight across the face of goal for RodWal. It was a thing of beauty.

Orlando City had a chance to claw their way back in the second half with a penalty of their own, but it was never meant to be. Cyle Larin shot straight at the post, and to be frank, it felt like a bit of karmic justice for the three goals he’s already scored on us this season. Villa eventually wrapped it up with a lovely little one-on-one against the keeper, and that was that. NYCFC scored three goals and netted three crucial points. The curse has officially been lifted.

The match wasn’t NYCFC’s strongest for the full ninety minutes and Orlando City put up more than their fair share of a fight, yet we still managed to pull off the win. Sometimes I enjoy that more than a sound thumping of the opposing team. The loss against Real Salt Lake may have been a wake up call for the boys in blue to play with conviction again, and they delivered.

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Alex Ring’s Instagram

Here, have a few stray thoughts:

  • Mikey Lopez was a wonderful complement to Alex Ring in the midfield. They both worked themselves to the bone to recover the ball throughout the match, and it was beautiful to watch them in tandem. I want to see more of this pairing in the future!
  • Ethan White went down in the first half with what looked to be cramps, managed to keep playing long enough to assist RodWal’s goal, and then got substituted off. Let’s all cross our fingers it isn’t anything more serious — our back line needs him (along with Maxime Chanot, who put in a superb showing to neutralize Larin throughout the match).
  • If NYCFC was brought into the world on May 21st, then that means NYCFC is a Gemini. Suddenly their hot-and-cold nature makes sense. Astrology really does answer every question!
  • On a personal note, within twelve hours I watched Juventus clinch their sixth consecutive Scudetto, Real Madrid win La Liga for the first time in five years, and NYCFC wallop Orlando City in their own home. It was a good day to be me.

Next week there’s one last away game against Atlanta United! Full disclosure, this one may slip through the cracks as I’ll be on vacation, but if it turns out to be an interesting match I’ll do my best to catch some highlights.

In the meantime: Rest, boys. That was a grueling seven days.

Featured image courtesy: Orlando Sentinel

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“Colorado Ugly”

Mercy Payba - Philadelphia Union/mlsfemale
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Mercy Payba // @mercpay

Saturday, May 20: 2-1 Win

As a Philadelphia Union fan, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop and I expected it to be in the mid-week match against Houston Dynamo who was looking strong in the West. Instead, we extended out shutout streak in a solid 2-0 game with some strong defending to keep our early lead. My anxiety naturally turned to Colorado Rapids who was last on the table even though on paper, it should’ve been easy. If I’ve learned anything about the MLS, it is nothing will ever go the way you expect.

Jim Curtin doesn’t believe in rotation as far as we know but the lineup against Colorado brought two changes to the starting eleven. Fabian Herbers replaced Chris Pontius on the wing and Giliano Wijnaldum got his first MLS start as a left back.

Colorado started on the offensive and found a lax defense on the Union side fifteen minutes in with a goal by Caleb Calvert. The next thirty minutes were painstakingly slow as the Colorado Rapids tried everything in the book to keep their lead. Fabian Herbers had to be subbed off for injury early after making a good play with Ilsinho. Tim Howard should have been booked for time wasting but the referee mysteriously left his cards in his pocket to the ire of the home fans.

Pontius managed to get his head on a cross by Wijnaldum, but tilted it over the bar at the 35th minute for one of the only looks on goal for the Union. The dying minutes of the second half saw the first booking for Colorado’s Mohamed Saeid and CJ Sapong heading in a ball only to get it caught by Howard’s gloves.

It wasn’t a surprise that once Colorado saw the opportunity to build something like momentum, they would defend it with everything they had, including some overlooked fouls (mostly against Sapong.) The Rapids only had one win in the last five games. They were clearly desperate for points and not afraid of getting dirty.

A team effort between Pontius, Ilsinho, Fafa Picault to Sapong’s head saw the ball get bounced off a Colorado defender unluckily as soon as the second half started. The Union substituted Picault for Jay Simpson who gave Sapong more space on the wing while Simpson focused on the central attack. Colorado didn’t give up though, as they got a free kick just outside the box in the 63rd minute from Alejandro Bedoya’s foul or a very convincing dive from Kevin Doyle. Three minutes later, there was a golden opportunity for Philadelphia in the form of a handball by Kortne Ford.

 Sapong went up for the penalty and, needless to say, sent Tim Howard the other way. With that goal, the Union equalized and the tide seemed to be turning. They couldn’t stop there, not if Philadelphia wanted to show they weren’t going to be stopped by a shaky start. The last few weeks, if anything, had unleashed the threat Union could pose as a team that was no longer disjointed and disheartened. This team wasn’t the same one as the one in March. They had the confidence to stage a comeback…

And they did.

Before that, the game took a bizarre turn that was possibly influenced by a certain Justin Timberlake song. Both Colorado’s assistant Conor Casey and the first goal scorer Caleb Calvert were sent off in the 69th minute marker. Calvert was booked for time-wasting with a flop and then coming back on the field before the ref’s signal in around thirty seconds.

Casey was escorted away for arguing with the official. This episode didn’t stop Joshua Gatt from trying his luck with a tackle on Bedoya just as he shot the ball into the distance. The referee saw reason and issued a yellow, and the free kick that would lead to Philadelphia’s second goal. A left-footed beauty that curled just right by Haris Medunjanin from 20 yards out gave Union the victory.

With this result, Philadelphia Union set a new club record of four consecutive wins. Next week, they face Real Salt Lake after some rest. My prediction is a win as we creep closer to the competition for a spot in the playoffs.

Featured image courtesy: @PhilaUnion

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How I got into soccer…

Jennifer Denton - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Jennifer Denton // @darkwynds

I only just recently got into soccer.  I knew about it, watched it a little growing up but I was more a football and baseball person.  Now my husband, on the other hand, was a huge soccer fan.  He played it growing up and loved the sport. 

So when the Sounders started in 2009, I told him let’s get the half season tickets.  I wasn’t sure I was going to like it and not sure we could make that kind of commitment.  I also lucked into getting tickets to the first game. 

By half time, I was hooked and was asking why we didn’t get a full season.  Ever since then I have been hooked.  I have also gotten into watching other leagues around the world and our national team. 

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Misery in Sandy

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon // @lukacharms

Wednesday, May 17: 2-1 Loss

NARRATOR: Previously, on Hubris FC…

SEPIA FLASHBACK C.M.: Not to get ahead of myself, but I sense a road win for the boys in blue…

NARRATOR: She had gotten ahead of herself.

Let’s not sugarcoat it, gang. That was an unconscionably bad match!

For the second of New York City FC‘s three back-to-back away matches in one week, Patrick Vieira decided heavy rotation was the way to go. I’m all for rotation; it’s what keeps regular starters rested and fresh, and it lets the backup players shine. But for squad rotation to be an effective strategy — a strategy that produces wins — it helps to have a deep bench.

Instead, NYCFC’s lineup resembled a newborn deer trying to run on its wobbly legs. Andrea Pirlo, Maxi Moralez, Alex Ring and captain Tommy McNamara did their best to provide stability and structure, but it never quite came together. Even with Ugo Okoli‘s first MLS goal coming just three minutes in, the boys in blue couldn’t find their footing to keep up the pace.

C.M. Brandon - New York City FC/mlsfemale
First MLS goal!

Vieira did his best to mitigate the leaking ship after Real Salt Lake scored their second goal of the night and made a quick double substitution, letting David Villa and Jack Harrison off the bench and onto the pitch with their eyes on the goal. NYCFC looked markedly better in that final half hour with Villa and Harrison’s combined magic, but it was still too little, too late.

The result would be disappointing but unsurprising if it came from a team that soundly outplayed us, but ultimately Real Salt Lake weren’t even particularly strong. NYCFC just happened to be much worse. It made for a resolutely boring match that was frequently cringeworthy to watch. Between NYCFC’s defensive blunders (Maxime Chanot, you were sorely missed) and a solid performance from RSL’s veteran keeper, there was just no way we could come up from behind on this one.

To his credit, Vieira took responsibility for the thrashing NYCFC received almost immediately after the final whistle. He admitted flat out that his squad selection was off, and that he bears the blame for the loss. Disappointment in the result aside, I’ll take a manager who owns his mistakes and doesn’t throw his players under the bus any day of the week. Obviously the hope is that this was a learning opportunity for Vieira and the entire team — that player dynamics have become clearer, that it’s just as valuable to learn what doesn’t work as what does.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad. Here are a few good things to wash the bitter taste out of your mouth:

  • Ugo’s first career goal did well to show his strength and ability to hold off defenders. Of course, we all wish it had led to an avalanche of more goals — nobody likes their first tally on the score sheet to still end in a loss — but if it’s a sign of things to come from Ugo, I’m happy.
  • Alex Ring, Alex Ring, Alex Ring. Every day I grow more convinced that he’s the signing of the season for NYCFC. I can’t sing his praises enough. He’s such a solid, all-around midfielder and I’m thrilled we have him. (Also, I’m a huge fan of any footballer who encourages his daughter to play.)
  • Playing in the snowy, high elevation of Sandy isn’t ideal, but if absolutely nothing else, you have to admit that the training photos that come out of these away matches are gorgeous.
  • …I mean, nobody spent their entire match trying to stomp Maxi down into the ground this time, so that’s a plus.
  • Oh cool, we drew the NY Red Bulls for the Open Cup, of course we did, never mind, everything is fire and pain and suffering.

God only knows if we’ll see the fruits of such a painful labor this weekend against Orlando City. NYCFC has still never won there, so no pressure.

Since I clearly cursed this match last week, what if we try it the other way around this time? It’s worth a shot, right? In that case, I fully expect NYCFC to roll over and show their belly and lose 17-0. Wink.

Featured image courtesy: nycfc.com

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A Breath of Fresh Air

Allison - LA Galaxy
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Allison Sorrell // @AJSorrell_

Sunday, May 14: 1-3 Win

Sunday’s match was an unexpected breath of fresh air.

With this match being the first of four consecutive away matches coming directly after a brutal loss and a couple of uneventful draws, LA Galaxy fans didn’t have the most positive outlook heading into last Sunday at Red Bull Arena.

The week leading into Sunday’s match, Galaxy players and coaches alike cited last week’s draw against Chicago Fire as a turn in the right direction. I can speak for myself and probably many other avid followers of this LA team when I say I was a little more than skeptical that a draw at home could possibly be a turn in the right direction. Thankfully, those of us that thought that were wrong.

This LA team walked into this match at Red Bull Arena more confident than I’ve seen them at even any of our home matches this season. The Galaxy got their first solid chance in the 7th minute when the ball bounced between a few players in the box, but the play ended in Romain Alessandrini drawing a foul just outside of the box, and subsequently scoring a beautiful ‘goal of the week’ worthy goal directly off of the free kick in the 8th minute.

With the Galaxy having the game in their hands for the first time in longer than I can even remember, the added confidence led to Alessandrini earning a second goal in the 9th minute. Not only are the Galaxy only the second squad this year to earn a goal against the Red Bulls on their own turf, but this looks like a complete 180 for the Galaxy we’ve been seeing all season. I think we all would have liked to be flies on the wall during training last week.

While Alessandrini was the star of the show (as he has been all season, let’s be real), some other bright moments came from Giovani dos Santos, who has been extremely quiet for most of the season, but earned the assist in the 9th minute, and had a much more inspired game than I’ve seen from him all season. He went on to score the goal from the penalty kick drawn by Alessandrini.

If the score line wasn’t enough, it was easy to see that the Galaxy has turned over a better leaf by watching the celebration after the third goal. We’re not out of the woods yet, but for once this year the future isn’t looking quite as bleak. The real test will be in how we handle the rest of this trip away from home.

While Brian Rowe only missed the clean sheet by less than a minute after Daniel Royer’s goal for the Red Bulls in stoppage time, Rowe seemed to gain a little confidence back as well, and I think we’ll be seeing him as the starter for the long haul.

It was almost as if the Red Bulls were uninspired this whole match, which is the same thing I’ve expected from the Galaxy most of this season. They sat back at home, didn’t take necessary chances, and consequently left this match defeated at home for the first time all season. But hey, I’m not complaining.

Featured image of Romain Alessandrini courtesy: @LAGalaxy

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