Not to say I told you so or anything but I’ve been saying since the home opener that good things would happen if we could just get MLS SuperDraft pick Chris Mueller on the field at the same time as Dom Dwyer. Sunday’s game against the Portland Timbers proved just that.
At first, spirits were low. Three minutes in, Portland had a shot on goal that slipped through goalkeeper Joe Bendik’s fingers, but luckily the return of our captain Jonathan Spector meant great saves by the defense. Samuel Armenteros was almost sent off with a red for a second yellow card, however, VAR overturned the penalty and awarded Portland the penalty kick. And thus, Orlando City found themselves down 0-1 at the half.
The start of the second half pushed spirits even further as Portland landed another shot to bring the score to 0-2. You could hear the disappointment in the stands. The Wall was unusually quiet and antsy. And Orlando City looked to be asleep out on the field.
Our saving grace came in the form of our 21-year-old SuperDraft pick. Chris Mueller came on as a sub in the 67th minute and turned the game around for us. Not sure if it was just having a fresh pair of legs or if it was the hunger of Mueller to get his first MLS goal, but whatever it was worked.
After a few missed attempts, the first goal came in the 80th minute when Mueller landed a header and officially put his name in the books for the first time. This was all it took to reignite the Wall and lift the spirits across the stadium. Just two minutes later, Orlando City was awarded a penalty kick, taken by Sacha Kljestan, and tying up the score. The most intense ten minutes of Orlando City history came when Dom Dwyer scored the winning shot, bringing the score to 3-2 in favor of Orlando.
I hope this team, from the 80th to 87th minute, is the team we see all season. This is what Orlando City is capable of. The remaining 80 minutes of this game was disappointing at best and I know we’re capable of so much more. So yes, we can celebrate this win and we can celebrate our 3 points, but let’s not get any false hope that we’re now invincible and a solid team.
We’ve got a lot of work to put in if we wish to keep the victories going. If we play like we played most of this game, we won’t be seeing 3 points all that often. If we play like we played in that ten-minute window, yeah. We’ll have a great season ahead of us.
Our next game is this Friday, we head to Philadelphia to face the Union for the first time this season. Check back here for match coverage!
Finally. This weekend, Orlando City SC faced off against the New York Red Bulls at home and what a game it was! This was Sacha Kljestan’s first game against his old club, and Orlando City saw some old friends as well with Aurélien Collin, Carlos Rivas, and Tommy Redding all seeing playtime against their old pals in purple.
This game saw the return of Dom Dwyer, who spent the beginning of the season out with a thigh injury from training. Missing from the available roster this week was Uri Rosell and Jonathan Spector. Spector remains out on concussion regulations from the hit he suffered two weeks ago against NYCFC.
Things looked bleak at the start of the match when just 7 minutes in, Florian Valot put a point on the board for RBNY, but OCSC answered back with a goal by Johnson in the 15th minute. To break the equalizer, Derrick Etienne landed another shoot in the 24th minute. But it didn’t last long, as just 2 minutes later, Dom Dwyer secured a header off of a corner kick, tucking it nicely into the net.
Are you with me so far? 26 minutes in and we’re tied up 2-2. Told you this game was a big one. The remainder of the half was more or less calm, save for a handful of fouls awarded to each side.
At the start of second half, Josue Colman came on to make his home debut, replacing Cam Lindley on the field. At 48 minutes, Dwyer landed another goal for Orlando City after the Red Bulls allowed him to get his left foot on the ball. Never a good idea when we’re talking about Dwyer.
Regardless, Dwyer came off in the 64th minute, replaced by Chris Mueller. My guess is Kreis didn’t want to strain Dwyer, who could still be recovering from injury, though the backflip he did following his first goal may or may not completely negate that thought. Point aside, looks like we’ll have to wait another week to see a Dwyer/Mueller combination on the field.
In the 73rd minute, Amro Tarek came off, subbed by RJ Allen. Tarek had gone down to injury a few minutes before, which put City in a tough situation. Without Spector available and with Tarek down, Orlando had no more center backs. My thought was Kreis would push Will Johnson back to defense and bring in Cristian Higuita or Richie Laryea. Instead, Kreis got creative with RJ Allen, who usually plays right back.
Not a bad call by any means, I’m just wondering if we had signed an extra defensive player or two, could we have avoided this all together?
But let’s get back on track here. In the 82nd minute, RBNY pulled off an equalizer of their own, thanks to a header by Aaron Long. The score wasn’t even for long though, with Scott Sutter scoring another one for Orlando and bringing the match up to Orlando 4, Red Bulls 3.
Now, there’s the City we know and love. Such an action-packed game, right before the crazy LA Galaxy vs. LAFC match. This was a good weekend in MLS. What are your thoughts on this weekend’s games? Share them with me in the comments or over on Twitter.
Those are some of the numbers that recap the wild group stage of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The boys kicked it off in Nashville where they debuted their new red and navy blue kit against a very determined Panama squad. Sorry, but can we just talk about these kits for a second. THEY ARE AMAZING! We’ve been asking for more patriotism being displayed in our uniforms (@ USWNT world cup kit) and Nike+ finally delivered. Okay, back to the game. Dom Dwyer scored the only USA goal of the match in the 50th minute off of a Kelyn Rowe assist.
On July 12th, the USMNT played Martinique in Tampa. Jordan Morris was the star of this show. The 22 year old scored 2 goals in this match, and Omar Gonzalez added on the third. Martinique scored 2. The game ended 3-2, with the US picking up 3 points.
On July 15th, the USMNT played Nicaragua in Cleveland. There was 3 different goal scorers in this dominant performance. Joe Corona, Kelyn Rowe, and Matt Miazga (!) all picked up a goal. Going into this game we knew that they needed to win by 3 goals to win group B and avoid playing Costa Rica in the Quarterfinals. Although they won 3-0 it could’ve been 5-0. There was 2 penalty kick calls in the USA’s favor. Dom Dwyer took the first and Joe Corona took the second, both kicks were saved.
A couple notes:
Kelyn Rowe: My hometown hero had a breakthrough performance. He scored his first international goal, started 2 of the games, and played extremely well (I mean did you guys see him completely mix 2 Panamanian defenders to assist Dom Dwyer’s goal?!). He definitely made everyone back in Seattle and New England proud!
Matt Miazga is back?: If you told me at the end of 2015 that Matt Miazga would only have 3 caps and his first goal would be in the 2017 Gold Cup, I would’ve told you that you were crazy! Anyways that’s the case, but he is definitely making a comeback, with a shutout and a goal he should be in the conversation for center back pairings going forward.
The BFFs do national team: My personal favorite MLS player, Cristian Roldan joins his Seattle Sounders FC teammate and self proclaimed best friend Jordan Morris for the Gold Cup. After being ½ of arguably the best MLS center defensive midfield pairing with Osvaldo Alonso and getting a call up to January camp, many fans suspected that it was time he gets his first cap with the USMNT, and on July 12th he did!
Out with the new in with the old? : After group stage, teams are allowed to substitute 6 players on their roster. Head coach Bruce Arena took full advantage of this opportunity and swapped several newbies for seasoned vets + an upcoming star.
OUT: Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe, and Dom Dwyer.
IN: Tim Howard, Jesse Gonzalez, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey,Darlington Nagbe, and Jozy Altidore.
Want to see more? The USMNT plays El Salvador in Philadelphia on July 19th in the quarterfinals.
73% possession, 24 shots, 8 corner kicks, no yellow cards
Normally this combination of stats would lead to a win, but not this time.
Sporting KC went to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park last Saturday to take on the Colorado Rapids, and frankly they dominated the game. It seemed like they could score at any time! They just didn’t.
The game changing moment was when Ike Opara “fouled” Dominique Badji. I would like to note the quotation marks. Many soccer analysts have stated that it should not have been a foul. This is not just an angry fan moment. Ike was going for the ball. Sorry you fell down. But the “foul” led to a free kick that was taken by Shkelzen Gashi. Gashi’s cross found the head of Kortne Ford for his very first MLS goal.
Now, regardless of the validity of the foul, Sporting should have defended better. There were lots of eyes on that cross, and not enough on where it could have been going. Defending crosses is one of our weaknesses, and going into the time when we’ll be down two defenders due to being called up to USMNT it will be even more crucial to remedy this problem.
The rest of the game was really frustrating. Our little Memorial Day family gathering kept getting our hopes up for a goal, but it just wasn’t happening. Our shots were a little too high or a little too wide. We are really missing Dom Dwyer. I’m hoping that he can get back onto the field soon. He started light practice this week, and Peter Vermes thinks that he may be a game time decision on Saturday against Minnesota United.
Bobby Burling did receive a suspension for a hit on Benny Feilhaber in the 23rd minute. He got a yellow for it in the game. This marks the third time this season that an opponent has gotten a suspension after the fact as opposed to in game. Someone did the math, and if those players had gotten red cards when they should have Sporting would have played a total of 216 minutes against 10 men teams.
Some good news from this week is that the Fan Vote for the MLS All Star Fan XI opened up. Sporting KC got eight players onto the ballot:
Goalkeeper: Tim Melia
Defenders: Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi
Midfielders: Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber
Forwards: Dom Dwyer, Gerso
You may notice that Ilie is not on the list. This is a travesty! He’s so good! His presence in the midfield has been so strong this season, and if you’ve watched Sporting games in the past you should be able to see the difference he makes.
This season I have been a huge proponent of our defensive line, and seeing that three of them made it into the voting made me quite pleased. It’s easy to see why Ike is on there. In the games where Ike doesn’t play we are not as likely to win. His strength and height put him up with the top defenders in the league.
Matt Besler made it! I knew he was in all star form! His ability to see how plays unfold, and to put not only himself but the rest of his line in the right places is amazing. If he doesn’t eventually end up as a coach then there is something wrong with this world. He is so smart (soccer and book wise…he graduated pre-med!)
Graham Zusi has been getting a lot of flack this season because of his move to defense. With Sporting’s formation they play their two outside defenders up as almost midfielders, and they play the center midfielder in more of a defensive position. This suits Zusi well since he can still be a scoring threat and make assists. Zusi became just the second player since 2010 to complete 100% of his passes and create at least 5 chances in the same game when Sporting played the Vancouver Whitecaps. Take that, haters.
Four members of the Sporting KC roster have been called up for their respective national teams. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi for the USMNT, Roger Espinoza for Honduras, and Tyler Pasher for Canada.
Erik Palmer-Brown has captained the US U-20 squad into the knockout round of the U-20 World Cup! They will take on New Zealand on Thursday morning (after I finish writing, but before posting)…fingers crossed for a good result!
Graham Zusi threw out the first pitch at the Colorado Rockies game on Tuesday, and a few of his USMNT teammates, including Bes, were there to cheer him on!
On Wednesday night my husband and I, and two other Cauldron members, played sports trivia in a fundraiser for the Victory Project against some SKC players. Benny, Ike, and Seth Sinovic made up Team Cavs in 7. We were team Children’s No Mercy Park. We didn’t win, but we had a good time!
This Satuday, June 3, Sporting KC takes on Minnesota at Children’s Mercy Park. The Cauldron will be celebrating Pride Day with special t-shirts and scarves to support the LGBTQIA community!
Featured image courtesy: Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports
This past weekend, Sporting Kansas City traveled to the great, colder than here, north-ish. Portland! It was weird watching the broadcast and seeing people wrapped up in blankets and wearing parkas because it has been between 65 and 80 degrees here for the past two games. I forgot that cold is still happening in other parts of this country.
I don’t know a ton about Portland as a place. I know about Portlandia, but I don’t know if that is an accurate representation of Portlandians…Portlandites…Portlanders…? I also know that Nat Borchers used to play there, and he is my least favorite MLS player ever. Don’t ask why. I just can’t stand him. I also don’t like post 2010 Landon Donovan, but that is another story for another article.
Now that I’m finished with my weekly tangent I’ll get on with the game.
Sporting entered the game as the number one defense in the league, and Portland Timbers boasted the number one offense, so it was bound to be a good game. The first test of the game for Sporting was a shot by Fanendo Adi in the 33rd minute. Unfortunately for Adi, and luckily for us, it was a terrible touch. He was right outside the six yard box, just him and Tim Melia, and he skied the heck out of that ball. Sorry man, but it was not good. We had the same sort of situation in the second half when Dom Dwyer played a beautiful ball back to Benny Feilhaber who couldn’t get a solid connection, and it rolled way wide.
There were strong chances for both teams though. One for Sporting in the first half off of a corner where Benny got the ball into Ilie who headed it just over the bar. It was great to see Ilie with a big move off of a set piece, and hopefully we can see some goals from him this year. One for Portland came late in the second half when Darlington Nagbe received a short pass in the attacking third, and Sporting’s outside defense decided to take a break. Nagbe had time to control the ball, basically unchallenged, and launch it toward the upper part of the net. It was a glorious shot. Too bad for Nagbe that Tim Melia is the hero this country needs. Tim got his fingertips on the ball, and managed to get it to bounce off the crossbar. *Side note: My husband loves Nagbe. He has Nagbe’s USA jersey, and calls him “My Darlington”. It’s weird when he does it in public.
The shining moment of the game happened in the 53rd minute when Sporting strung together a beautiful pass sequence that led to a Dom Dwyer header. Benny started off dribbling around three defenders, passed the ball wide to Jimmy Medranda, and Jimmy crossed a laser to Dom who put Sporting a-head (sorry) by one.
It was such a good feeling to get out of Portland with 3 points! The Timbers have only lost 12 regular season matches at Providence Park, so it was a pretty big accomplishment. It was also the first shutout against the Timbers this season.
A few notes: At the watch party we were having a small discussion about the fairness of some teams having turf fields and some having grass. It didn’t seem wet from the TV broadcast, but quite a few Sporting players were slipping on the turf. Turf is an okay choice for teams that play in wetter locations, but it’s crummy to play soccer on period.
There was a little contention about the refs. I read quite a few Timber fan tweets about how the refs may have contributed to them losing. Sporting got two yellows, and Portland didn’t get any. I’m not complaining, but I’m a smidgen perturbed on one. Seth Sinovic basically assaulted a guy, so that one was deserved. The yellow on Ike Opara could have just been a warning instead of a yellow, but Ike is also a hothead sometimes. It may have just been his time.
The game was chippy, but there were fouls missed and called on both sides. There was also a Timbers’ handball inside their box that should have been a PK for Sporting, but that’s neither here nor there. We have to remember that though we don’t like it, refs are people too. It’s probably not easy to watch 20 guys running around a field (22 depending on what the goalkeepers are doing, but I doubt they’re running about), and they have to make judgement calls on what warrants stopping the flow of the game. We can’t complain about the flow of the game, but then turn around and complain about a bunch of perceived missed fouls.
I have to give major props to Sporting’s defensive line. Those four guys are playing some of the best defensive soccer I have seen in the MLS in a long time. Matt Besler seems like he is back to All-Star form (please pay attention Bruce Arena), and Ike Opara is becoming a weekly feature on MLS Teams of the Week. In the midfield we saw the return of a healthy Benny for 80 minutes, and he looked pretty good. Oh, and Ilie Sanchez is a wizard. He has to be! His ball handling is magical!
This week’s fun facts!
This game was Peter Vermes‘ 300th game in any competition as Sporting KC’s head coach! It was also Matt Besler’s 200th start, and Graham Zusi‘s 200th appearance!
300 games in charge ✅ 200 starts ✅ 200 appearances ✅
Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers, FCKC, and the Royals all played this weekend, and all of them won. This wasn’t just one baseball game either. The Royals swept the Angels at home. KC Total Domination! Oh, and Sydney Leroux Dwyer scored in her first game back to competitive soccer since the birth of Cassius. That’s pretty dang awesome.