Tag Archives: 2018 season opener

So that happened to ATLUTD…

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

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 4-0 Loss

Atlanta United‘s preseason was…not ideal. They managed a single win against soon-to-be MLS rival Nashville SC in some crazy weather conditions and then a loss (vs Columbus Crew) and two draws (MNUFC and USL side Charleston Battery) during the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, SC.

During the week between the final game in Charleston and our first regular season game at Houston, it was announced that our brand new toy, Ezequiel Barco, sustained a quad injury in training and would be out for 4-6 weeks. This brought back nightmares to the ATLUTD faithful, as Josef Martinez suffered a similar injury early in the 2017 season while playing for the Venezuelan national team.

Barco’s injury and the fact that Michael Parkhurst was still recovering from an injury forced coach Tata Martino to make some pretty big changes in the lineup for the Houston Dynamo game.

Miguel Almiron, who has made the most impact at central attacking midfielder was pushed out to the left to cover for Barco. 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year Julian Gressel was slotted in to replace Almiron, Chris McCann was added as a defensive midfielder, and Jeff Larentowicz was pushed back to center back to replace Parkhurst.

This was, however, our first regular-season lineup with offseason acquisition Darlington Nagbe in it. We saw some lovely things from him in the preseason, but this game didn’t go as well for him – or any of the midfielders or CBs, for that matter.

It pains me to say this, but Leandro Gonzalez Pirez probably played his worst game ever. He ended up with a yellow card (Despite saying he was trying to get fewer cards this year; not such a great start there, LGP) was subbed out late in the first half with a hip contusion.

Maybe he was still hungover from his birthday celebration earlier in the week? Or he was distracted by the fact that he’s going to be a first-time dad later this year? I don’t know what got into him, but he was not himself this weekend and while ATLUTD is reporting that he’s day-to-day (did not practice on Tuesday) with this hip contusion, he could easily be out for 1-2 weeks or more.

While our list of injured players grew longer, at least our defense managed to shore itself up in the second half of the game on Saturday. After giving up four goals (!!) to Houston in the first half, the second half was scoreless. This is the first time ATLUTD fans have been on this side of a score like that. And it was not fun. My social media timelines were not a pleasant place to be on Sunday.

Thankfully, it was just the first game of the season. We have 33 more games to go and I have faith that they’ll figure it out soon enough.

In the meantime, we have our first home game of the season to look forward to (or not) this Sunday vs the only team that got the best of us three times (*angry emoji*) last season, DC United. DCU snuck around during the offseason and picked up Yamil Asad on loan from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina.

If you read any of my columns last year, you’ll know Asad was a fan favorite here in Atlanta in 2017. He will always be remembered for scoring the very first regular season ATLUTD goal and throwing ‘bows out on the field early in the season. He even went on to score DCU’s first goal of the season last week at Orlando (ha!).

ATLUTD take on DC United this Sunday, 3/11 at 3pm ET at home in front of a potentially record-breaking (again) crowd. The upper level will be open, which means 70k+ in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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Most blocks ever for NYCFC

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City FC started its season at Sporting Kansas City on a sentimental note with captain David Villa’s donning of a “Siemprequini” jersey on the walk out to the pitch- an homage to his recently deceased soccer hero and legend Enrique Castro aka “Quini”. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy Keira Smith

My take on the game in 200 words

NYCFC dominated SKC for much of the game by retaining possession with movement down the wings and pressing early and hard.   We had some good luck when SKC’s early big chance at a goal was headed wide by Roger Espinoza and when three consecutive corner kicks by SKC ended up fruitless. 

It looked at that point that the game might even out until Villa fed a ball from the left across the goal where Maxi Moralez finished it.  The first half ended with a breakaway by Villa which was ultimately destroyed by SKC’s sprinting defender. 

The second half was much of the same as NYCFC dominated possession, capped off by a gorgeous sequence of a backward flick by Yangel Herrera to Ben Sweat on the left who quickly crossed it to the finisher, Jesus Medina.  Up 2-0 NYCFC kept the lead by defending well in all parts of the field, quickly doubling up pressure on SKC players.

Restarts out of the back need to be smoothed out a bit.  NY continued to pass back to Sean Johnson amongst heavy pressure from SKC. In general, however, the team looked solid.

The little details

I will make a giant leap and say definitively that NYCFC blocked more shots in this game than all previous seasons combined.  No, I don’t have the stats to back it up, I just know.

NYCFC debuts in this match: Medina, Anton Tinnerholm, Sebastien Ibeagha and Ismael Tajouri

Despite offensively dominating the match, there were some great saves by Johnson.

Awards!  In honor of the Oscars which I did not watch this year…

The oddest throwback to high school soccer moment of the match: The drop ball after the first VAR review.   

Worrisome injury of the match: Maxime Chanot and Sean Johnson both on the ground clutching their heads after the collision with SKC’s Ike Opara.  And also worrisome is the seeming lack of adherence to concussion protocol.  I mean were they even examined before being able to return to play?

Surprise of the match:  1st- How many times VAR was consulted and how long the process takes.  Hopefully, that will get faster as the season goes on. 2nd- Chanot’s first tackle in the box not being a penalty kick but the second one just outside earning him a red card.

Unsung hero of the match: Moralez.  He was everywhere on the field.  Pressing, passing, making runs. 

Award for most absurd yellow card:  (tie) Medina and Johnson both for “delaying restart”.

Mother of God! moment of the match:  The back passes to Johnson to restart out of the back that came in a bit hot in the first half.

Extra time:

Thoughts for the home opener versus LA Galaxy.  Who will be in our starting defensive line now that Chanot is out?

And why does the word “Brujo” seem to have only positive connotations but “Bruja” mostly negative?  Asking for a friend.

Featured image courtesy: NYCFC Facebook

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Real Salt Lake scores all the goals

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

By Ambrosia Tonkovich // @heyambrosia

Saturday, March 3, 2018: 1-1 Draw

Real Salt Lake finished their first season game with an opener against FC Dallas, ending in a 1 v 1 draw, where RSL effectively scored every goal on the roster, including the one counting against us. Too excited, I guess. But I’ll take the point. Let’s dig in.

First of all, let me say, WHOOOOO the season is back and wow, I didn’t realize how much I needed it this year. While it’s been a very interesting offseason for the team, signing a bunch of young new players, it has been an interesting one for me. I feel like a different person, cheering on a different team, and I, for one, welcome our change overlords.

Within 11 minutes of the game, I realized why it is I loved Mike Petke so much last year. It’s not that that love died, it’s just that I hadn’t seen him coaching a regular season game for so long, I hadn’t seen that fire and passion in his eyes while he sticks up for his players, and yet tells them exactly what’s what all at the same time.

Newly restored faith and love had my heart soaring this game, and I couldn’t have been more elated with the early goal by Joao Plata in the 25th minute. This little dude is FAST and I didn’t see it a lot last year. Seeing him sprint toward that ball and completely confuse Reggie Cannon while he fires it in was just the RSL I have been waiting for.

The weird thing I want to mention was this referee. I am very comfortable saying that there were some fouls on BOTH sides that should’ve gotten more than a slap on the wrist. I appreciate that for the most part, the flow of the game was hardly stopped due to potentially unnecessary stops that would usually happen in another game, but we fouled them, they fouled us, and I feel like at least a yellow or two should’ve been called on each side.

We were grabbing and pulling a player’s arm back at one point – they were grabbing and pulling our player’s jersey to try and keep from scoring (which he didn’t ever go down, so I do get why nothing was called). BUT. I can’t complain too much, honestly. Nothing that wasn’t called would’ve cost the game one way or another.

And now, the sad part. While we had gone most of the game with the 1-0 lead, on the road, against a team that has been playing in the CCL for the past little while so is a little more solid as a team, and against a team that destroyed us the last time we were there – they scored on us. Well, more specifically, WE scored on us.

Apparently, we were so anxious to score some goals, we got one for ourselves, against ourselves. Honestly, there was nothing that could’ve been done against this. Maximiliano Urruti lobbed one in and Marcelo Silva, trying to defend us, slid right in and hit the ball into the net himself. Obvious upset and frustration were seen on his face, and my poor neighbors heard some words they haven’t heard in about 7 months.

Highlights worth mentioning – Damir Kreilach and Shawn Barry played their first season games with the RSL jersey on. Kreilach got pulled off in the 78’ while Barry stayed on for the entire 90+ minutes. I think they both did pretty damn well, and I am going to continue keeping an eye on them.

In addition, Justen Glad. We don’t deserve him, but my god he helped our defense so much this game. This is a kid that I hope continues to grow with our team. I am ridiculously proud of him so far, and he’s so young. He still has a lot to offer.

Also, let’s praise whatever soccer gods are still listening to us out there – Nick Rimando put in a full year’s work just this game. FC Dallas wasn’t ready for him, and our defense wasn’t ready for FC Dallas. Luckily, as usual, Rimando came in strong from the beginning.

Next week we have our home opener against LAFC (who won against the Seattle Sounders, 1-0), I’m looking forward to seeing what Petke can continue to roll out on the Claret and Cobalt carpet for our young players, and our team as a whole.

Featured image courtesy: @RealSaltLake

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @heyambrosia

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