Recently, MLSFemale.com created a survey to better understand the experiences of MLS fans.
We found that the Portland Timbers had the most representation in the survey, with 23.3% respondents noting the Timbers as their MLS team. Second place went to the Seattle Sounders, followed by Sporting Kansas City. All 22 teams had fan representation in the survey.
Only 40 out of 132 participants said they were not part of their teams’ supporters group. For those who were part of the supporter groups, the Timbers Army had the most members in the survey, as this group was listed most frequently. The Cauldron was the second most mentioned, and there were multiple individual responses such as Inferno, Ruckus, Resurgence, Sons of Ben, Third Rail, and Vancouver Southsiders to name a few.
Participants noted that they were most likely to attend 1-2 games per season (20.5%), with 17.6% going to 3-5 games. Interestingly, there were 12.1% who don’t normally attend games, compared to 7.5% who attend 25 games or more.
Additionally, 24.4% noted that they have been a fan of watching soccer for 20 years or more! Whereas 22.7% have been fans for 6-9 years and 18.5% have been fans for 10-14 years. There are lots of dedicated fans and some who are just starting their career as MLS fans. Furthermore, we found that 96.2% of respondents watch the US national soccer teams and 83.3% watch or follow European football in addition to their MLS team.
We asked the participants how they became fans of their MLS team. The most frequent response was based on geographical location. This included cheering for the local team, and overall proximity to their current location. Other responses included the influence of another individual, including friends, parents, and the players for that particular team. An honorable mention should also go out to the ‘atmosphere’, which was discussed numerous times as being an important role in continuing being a fan.
Thanks to all those who participated! Make sure to be on the lookout for future surveys!
June. The month that brings us the middle of the season, the beginning of summer, and the end of school.
June also brings us something much more important…Pride.
Teams all around the country have been celebrating Pride this month to show their support for the LGBTQIA community. Not just MLS teams, but also USL teams, NWSL teams, and even the US National teams have participated. There have been tifos, scarves, t-shirts, team warm ups, fundraisers, and jerseys.
MLS may be the league that embraces the meaning and spirit of Pride more than any other American sports league. Sporting Kansas City had this to say about their Pride night:
As an organization that prides itself on creating an inclusive environment for all, Pride Night has always been an important initiative for us. If you’ve ever been to a match and sat in the Cauldron, you know that our supporters are extremely welcoming to new fans regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Pride Night is just an extension of that and another way to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our supporters.
I was able to talk with a couple of Cauldron members and see what Pride night meant for them:
[June 1] meant to me community, acceptance, and love for one another even with our differences and backgrounds.
Having a Pride themed game may seem like a small (or unnoticed) event for the fanbase as a whole, but it goes a long way in showing support for people that are often underrepresented in our community, soccer or otherwise. Showing support for all types of human beings is a great gesture, and one that we should be proud of. Hopefully, our show of support was inspirational for people that may feel excluded or afraid because of who they are, and that will lead to a greater sense of community in our amazing group.
When the National Team decided to use the rainbow numbers I read some of the Twitter and Facebook comments, and it was a really bad idea. There was so much hate and disdain there that it was almost sickening, but beyond that people were saying that the National Teams should stay out of politics and stick to soccer. But this shouldn’t have to be a political issue, it should be a humanity issue. By the USMNT and USWNT showing their support they are setting a precedent for the rest of American sports.
Columbus Crew SC is dropping points like they are too hot to hold.Some fans are getting restless.Some are keeping the faith.Some are just turning off their TVs because their black and gold hearts can’t take it any more.
Crew SC continued their point-dropping trend in Atlanta this past Saturday.Dropping a possible point by allowing Atlanta United to score two goals after tying up the game.Ending the game with a score of 3-1 Atlanta.
I couldn’t bring myself to watch another game where the wheels came off.Nor could I bring myself to write about it, so I decided to do a brief look back at the season’s point dropping debacles (where we had a lead or a tie and gave it away) and where we are compared to where we could have been.
–March 4th against Chicago Fire
Crew SC has the lead in the 17’ and loses the lead in the 73’.They end in a 1-1 tie.Crew SC gives up 2 points.
–April 29th against NYCFC
Crew SC goes into the lead in the 49’ and gives it away in the 64’.They lose 3-2.Crew SC gives up 3 points.
–May 10th against Toronto FC
Crew SC scores in the 28’ and drops the lead in the 81’.They lose 2-1. Crew SC gives up 3 points.
–June 3rd against Colorado Rapids
Columbus scores in the 61’, and we lost the lead in the 80’.They lose 2-1. Crew SC gives up 3 points.
–June 17th against Atlanta
Crew SC tied it up in the 26’ and then lost the draw in the 67’.They lose 3-1. Crew SC gives up a point.
Columbus Crew SC currently sits 6th in the East with 22 points and a game in hand over most teams in the East.If we gained all the points I listed above instead of dropping them, we would have 12 more points, and we would be at the top of the Eastern Conference with 34 points.We would also be on the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.In reality, I know it isn’t possible to win every one of those games, but even if Crew SC had held on to some points with ties, we would be in a much better position than we are now.
The majority of these give-aways are happening in the 70’ or later. Is this due to physical or mental fatigue?Is it the way we are using substitutions?Is it at this point in the game where we need to be making some tactical shifts?
I don’t know the answer, but Crew SC better discover it soon if they want to find the magic from the beginning of the season and soothe the hearts of their fans.
The Seattle Sounders lost 2 goals to 1 against New York City FC on Saturday in a wet and slippery Yankee Stadium. Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris (USMNT) Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago), Oniel Fisher (Jamaica), and Roman Torres (Panama) are all back from their national teams. The Sounders lined up in their typical 4-2-3-1, playing all their returning internationals but Roman Torres.
Oniel Fisher, Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones
Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan
Harry Shipp, Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey
The game kicked off just as fans in Seattle were waking up, fans in New York were being poured on. The teams settled in, with the occasional chance resulting in someone looking like they were on a slip-n-slide (seriously, check out the photos and GIFS from the game. They’re hilarious). Both teams had trouble with the standing water on the field, the ball would stop and players had trouble kicking it. Neither team had a dangerous chance until the Sounders struck first with a goal from Cristian Roldan in the 40th minute.
The New York defense turned the ball over near CR7, who passed it to Harry Shipp, who then passed back to Roldan. The ball deflected off a defender then off Clint Dempsey and found its way to Roldan’s feet. Roldan kept running with the ball, and opted not to pass to Dempsey and scored the opening goal (seriously why is this guy not on the national team??).
In the second half, the ref awarded a penalty for Oniel Fisher “pushing” David Villa in the back. While I don’t think he dove, I don’t think he was pushed, my thought is that he slipped with all the water (but hey, I’ll always have a soft spot for Villa as a Barca fan ;)). Anyways, Villa equalized so congratulations on your 50th goal for NYCFC David*.
The Sounders subbed in Will Bruin for Harry Shipp, moving Morris back to play Shipp’s role and Bruin to be the lone striker. The Sounders had several dangerous chances following the sub, but didn’t capitalize on any.
In the 77th minute, David Villa scored again* for NYCFC on a cross from Jack Harrison. This sunk the Sounders ship for good, Seattle never found an equalizer.
*seriously Villa, you couldn’t have waited until you play Portland?!?!?! ok i’m over it
Takeaways and notes
Cristian Roldan deserves to be on the USMNT*.
Stefan Frei got his US Citizenship on Tuesday so — 1. Congratulations!! And 2. He’s now eligible to play for the USMNT
The game should’ve been stopped at half time, it was said during the broadcast that if the ball stopped moving due to rain/standing water that the game would be stopped. The ball did stop moving several times.
Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris need to work better on the field. They should go fishing or dancing or something. **
The Sounders play again Wednesday against Orlando (which happens to also be their pride celebration)
I don’t know if this is just me, but can we do something about these game times?
The game Saturday started at 1pm ET, which meant many Sounders fans had to wake up earlyish for a game.
The game against Orlando starts at 7:30pm PT, which means many Orlando fans have to stay up late on a weeknight.
*seriously Cristian Roldan should be on the national team. He and Jordan Morris could use their BFF powers for good. They could be like Captain America and Wonder…Man? And maybe it’s just me, but I would LOVE to see a USMNT that had DeAndre Yedlin, Cristian Roldan, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, and Christian Pulisic all playing together.
**Maybe the Sounders need to start dancing after games again. It worked last year.
Late goals are the demise of Philadelphia Union. Out of the nineteen goals the Union has conceded in the regular season, twelve of them have been in the second half. Bradley Wright-Phillips capitalized on the red card given to Derrick Jones in the 53rd minute of the game to tidy up the match with two goals. Was it straight red card worthy? I would disagree, but that’s not exactly the problem to focus on. If anything, the red card gave us the lens to focus on the real issue.
Is it creating chances? Is it defending our goal? Is it our persistent gap in the midfield? These questions have been percolating in the fan base for a long while. No one has a concrete solution and no one can settle on one answer (because there are multiple.) Management tells fans to be patient because change is a-coming and the team is building. At this point, all we’re building is sandcastles. It’s understandable to invest in the academy, in home-grown players that could be the future of the team, but the fact of the matter is we’ve been sitting for seven years on the promise of the future.
One more year of waiting isn’t going to make a difference, if the Union can’t see where the problem lies.
Yes, the back line isn’t perfect; our CBs need to figure out fluidity, and the combinations currently being used aren’t foolproof.
Yes, the midfield is lacking a playmaker, an attacking mid that can not only help pass but create more chances, give vision to more offensive plays.
If the Union wants to build a bridge to the future, there’s got to be traffic on that bridge for it to be useful. In this case, traffic is getting the money to spend on players for these ‘interim’ seasons. Philadelphia is a small team playing in a league that’s outpacing them every year they stick to building up.
Don’t get me wrong, the Union have done some great things with what they have. There have been ups and downs but in the past five years, Philadelphia seems to sputter and stop in the middle of the pack. The middling status isn’t going to be sufficient enough as the league grows, as talent is fielded from international waters, and the Union has nothing to offer. I’m not an advocate of buying superstars for the sake of it, but I am an advocate of commitment. There’s a certain commitment to being in Philadelphia, to watching games like these and wondering if it’ll ever change.
There is great talent in the rookies we have playing (Jack Elliott, Marcus Epps, and Derrick Jones) and the B team in Bethlehem Steel. The problem with always looking to the future is neglecting the now. Philadelphia Union has to pick a direction and once they do, commit to it.
Next week: another rivalry game against DC United who are at the bottom of the table. For the sake of the home fans, Philadelphia will try to snap this three game losing streak. Will they succeed? I hope so. The last time the Union faced DC was at RFK with a lot of firsts on the scoreboard ending in a four-goal win.
Happy Father’s Day, everybody. After spending my midday watching one of my favorite players of all time (my 9-year-old) in his last game of the season, I made it home just in time to watch the New York Red Bulls (7-7-2, 23 points) take on the Philadelphia Union (4-7-4, 16 points). Let me state for the record: I do NOT believe this matchup qualifies as a rivalry. If anything, RBNY fans seem indifferent towards Philly. That’s understandably odd, since the NY/Philly rivalry is common across other sports. But between DC United and NYCFC, there’s just no room for more animosity.
Panamanian International Michael Amir Murillo is back, as well as Jamaican International Kemar Lawrence, who was under the weather and didn’t make the Starting XI. With the heat and humidity, MLS allowed for hydration breaks during the match.
A key for RBNY was to contain attacking midfielder Chris Pontius, who has scored more goals against the Red Bulls than any individual opponent. They also had to look out for CJ Sapong, who scored a hat trick in the last meeting of these sides. A major obstacle for the team is that while the Red Bulls go 1v1, the Union seem able to double- or triple-team attackers. Red Bulls have no choice but to play the ball into traffic, which prevents them from finishing their attack. All too often, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips ends up behind the defenders as teammates Alex Muyl and Felipe cross the ball towards him. Additionally, RBNY had made great progress in years past on their set pieces, but it just doesn’t yield any results this season. There is an implication that some variety is in order: Captain Sacha Kljestan steps up for most free kicks and corners.
As Murillo gets an increasing number of starts, he is clearly showing the talent that makes him a Panamanian international. Without Kemar on the left, the ball is played up the right channel, and Murillo owns that entire space.
In the 22nd minute, Pontius proved once again how dangerous he can be; however, RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles got a hand on a ball in his 156th consecutive appearance (a previous report by yours truly implied his streak was over when he did not appear in the Open Cup match vs NYCFC—his record is only for regular league matches). A call of offside on the subsequent corner kick caused a Union goal to be called back.
Kemar Lawrence comes in at the start of the 2nd half for Aaron Long, who rolled his ankle and could not continue. Knowing he was unwell, this development was disconcerting, but Lawrence quickly showed that he was feeling fine. Then the advantage increased: Union midfielder Derrick Jones received a straight red in the 53rd minute for a dangerous foul on Felipe, who is the most fouled player in the league. Unfortunately, RBNY could make no progress for more than 30 minutes of play against a team of 10.
Argentinian midfielder Gonzalo Veron was subbed in for Daniel Royer (84′). He doesn’t get many minutes, and it’s not clear why. Especially when he clearly changes the game. He created a chance almost immediately after coming on, but nothing came of it until the 87th minute, when BWP *finally* got in front of defenders and scored, ending a 524-minute goalless streak on the road). Then came an almost carbon-copy goal from BWP in the 92nd minute. Veron was a factor in both goals. Sounds like he’s a real game-changer…
In more pressing matters, the next installment of the Hudson River Derby will be played against NYCFC at Red Bull Arena this coming Saturday. As for the Union, they come back to RBA on June 28th for the Round of 16 in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup. I’d like to see more of what I’ve been seeing.
It’s great that it was, considering NYCFC came away with three crucial points to propel them to third place in the Eastern Conference and overall, but at the end of the day it really should not have continued past half-time. It poured buckets on Yankee Stadium, and the pitch more resembled a small lake than anything else. Players were kicking up waves of water when they went for the ball, which often skidded to a stop long before it reached its destination. At one point is was said that the match would be suspended if the ball stopped moving entirely.
Which… happened. And yet the match continued! Whatever, I guess. Let the water ballet commence.
Both teams had difficulty acclimating to the conditions, which made for a match that was somehow both extremely sloppy and woefully boring to watch. Aside from the slow-motion loping across the pitch that led to Cristian Roldan‘s goal, very little in the first half stood out. NYCFC’s best (read: least awful) chance came during stoppage time, when David Villa pinged the ball off the crossbar.
There was some concern bubbling up that it would be another one of Those Matches for NYCFC, coming hot off the heels of the U.S. Open Cup loss to the New York Red Bulls. Missed chances, deflections off the post, and bad luck compounding on top of awful weather. Nobody wanted to see that again. We came to be entertained.
Villa heard the call, come on New York, and he responded in kind.
Debate all you want about NYCFC’s equalizer, which came off a penalty call early on in the second half. Contention over referee decisions is the most boring part of football to me. The only hill I’ll die on is that Villa wasn’t diving — in fact, he clearly gets up and keeps going for the ball after he gets knocked down. Which, you know. Kind of defeats the purpose of a dive. He’s grown a lot since he was going for Olympic gold in diving back at FC Barcelona, guys. He isn’t that guy anymore. (Thank god. I hated that guy.)
But nobody can deny the majesty that was Villa’s second goal of the night. Jack Harrison was at his Jack Harrisonest, coolly fighting off Seattle Sounders FC defenders to create space where no space previously existed, and when he sent the ball across the face of the goal, an entirely unmarked Villa was there to chip it in.
I find it funny that teams don’t mark Villa every second of every game. He’s the greatest DP in the history of the league, guys. If you don’t want to mark him, that’s fine, more goals for us — but it makes you look pretty foolish when he’s consistently wide open.
Regardless, that sealed the deal for NYCFC. Ugo attempted to net a third toward the end of the match, but after a great save from Stefan Frei, the ball ping-ponged about in the box to no result. Chad Marshall had Seattle’s best attempt at a final equalizer in the very last seconds of the game, but it wasn’t meant to be. After Villa’s second goal, the clouds broke over Yankee Stadium and the sun shone down on the boys in blue, weak but insistent. A sign, surely, that things were meant to go their way.
David Villa now has over fifty goals for NYCFC, and you can watch them all here. Can you pick a favorite? I can’t. Every little thing he does is magic. (Also a cool stat: He’s never gone longer than a playable month without scoring since NYCFC began. What a guy.)
I’ve seen conflicting reports on the length of Alex Ring‘s contract with NYCFC, but whether it’s one year or two years, here’s my suggestion: Extend it for five more and keep him forever and never ever let him leave. Despite Villa’s brace, Ring was my Man of the Match against Seattle. I don’t even know how many duels he won. At some point it feels futile to keep count.
Alexander Callens is currently my favorite NYCFC player on social media. Why? That boy loves Dragon Ball Z. He loves it. And now he’s graduated from snapping himself drawing watching DBZ episodes and drawing DBZ characters to posting DBZ fanart of himself. I’m so endeared, it’s absurd.
(Disclaimer about how you could not pay me enough to care an iota about either of the US NTs goes here, and how writing about MLS does nothing to change that.) T-Mac and Sean Johnson have been named for the Gold Cup provisional squad! Who knows if they will make the final cut or not. It’s an honor just to be nominated.
A bit preemptive, but in July I’ll be guesting on the hilarious Blue Balls podcast! Gaby Kirschner guested on their most recent episode and it’s my favorite so far. If you’re a NYCFC fan, please give them a listen!
Next week is the Hudson River Derby (again?) at Red Bull Arena (again??) and… yours truly will be MIA due to moving house. But fear not! We do have Sylvana over in the NYRB section, who I’m sure will do a bang-up job writing about the match no matter what color New York ends up being next weekend.
I’d pay NBC Sports anchor Rebecca Lowe five bucks to record the words “Hudson River Derby.”
I was in the press box for this New York matchup. The press access is a completely different experience than any I’ve had at Red Bull Arena. The only rule was that I couldn’t be a fan– business casual dress, no fan gear, no asking for autographs or selfies. A fair trade for the view. There was food and drink available, as well as a workspace for taking notes during the game. I fully enjoyed the game from my unique vantage point, and I look forward to having the opportunity to visit the press box again.
The New York Red Bulls (6-7-2, 20 points) took on NYCFC (7-5-3, 24 points) in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup, a tournament open to professional and amateur soccer clubs throughout the US. It’s a time for Cinderella stories (like Christos FC and the LA Wolves, coached by US Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda), but it’s also an opportunity to get in some extra battles between regional rivals.
There was no doubt this game was going to be chippy. I don’t think the fans would have it any other way. Having a colleague who is the official reporter for NYCFC, I can appreciate a healthy amount of banter. This is not the first time I have been to Red Bull Arena for a matchup against NYCFC. It was electric even then, the hottest day of summer 2016. But this was a much more comfortable evening in more ways than one. Gathering up my gumption, I applied for a media pass and got approved. So, on a much cooler evening, I got to see the game from the press box just above the Red Bulls bench.
Biggest news of the evening is the end of the Iron Man streak: Goalkeeper Luis Robles did not take his place in goal after 155 straight matches. Ryan Meara, GK for the USL-trophy winning RBNYII, took his place in the net. While he had his work cut out for him, Meara was up for the challenge, making 3 saves throughout the game. Most notably was in the 16th minute, when NYC midfielder Tommy McNamara nailed a shot at Meara, who caught enough of it to send it bouncing off the crossbar and the ground a couple of times before getting cleared. I can’t help but wonder if the moment will be used in the argument for VAR. Then in the 40th minute, NYC striker hit the far post and Meara grabbed the ball as it bounced out again. The goal frame proved a formidable member of the RBNY defense.
During the entire first half, RBNY was capable of breaking up the counterattack but they were subsequently running more than playing (a common complaint in MLS).
After a scoreless first half, Dani Royer was subbed in for Grella at kickoff for the 2nd half. The expected chippiness of the rivalry continued to grow, with a total of 29 fouls committed by both sides.
Tyler Adams, fresh off his run with USMNT U20s, continues to amaze in the defense. Adams’ frustration was visibly increasing in the attacking third. From my vantage point, I could see what Adams was trying to create, but his teammates just weren’t cooperating.
Finally, the stalemate was broken by a goal in the 67th minute from Royer following an assist from forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. BWP lured NYC GK Sean Johnson off his line and allowed Royer to tuck it home. RBNY were able to hang onto that lead for the rest of the match and advance to the Round of 16, where they will face the Philadelphia Union. As for NYC, they’ll be back for league play on the 24th, the game following RBNY’s next league match on Sunday the 18th, against…. the Philadelphia Union.
As I mentioned in my getting to know me post, my first match watching the Philadelphia Union was an Open Cup match, so I get inordinately excited to watch the boys in blue in this tournament. Wednesday’s match against the Harrisburg City Islanders was an expected win with ample minutes for some fresh faces.
Andre Blake was still on duty with the Jamaican national team, so the starting goalie for the night was John McCarthy, who would be very familiar with the City Islanders through his time with the Union’s USL side: Bethlehem Steel. Haris Medunjanin continued to wear the captain’s armband through the absence of Alejandro Bedoya (recovering from a tweak during international play with the U.S.) Up top, Jay Simpson, CJ Sapong and Marcus Epps took care of the offense. It was Epps’ first start for the Union and he did an excellent job to connect with Derrick Jones up the right side of the field.
Keegan Rosenberry got a start as Ray Gaddis was resting on the bench and Josh Yaro got his first start of the season for the Union after a long injury setback. Giliano Wijnaldum took over as leftback for Fabinho and Roland Alberg was back in the midfield to help Haris Medunjanin and Derrick Jones deliver the ball.
The Union goals came early with a distance shot from Derrick Jones that was unable to be stopped by Harrisburg’s Sean Lewis. Simpson recorded his first assist with Jones’ goal and his second by cutting across the box and finding Sapong, who had no problem getting the ball into the back of the net.
Harrisburg wasn’t sitting on their hands though, as Johnny Mendoza helped the USL team get one back in the 37th minute of play. The defensive breakdown from a counter isn’t exactly a surprising move by the Union, but something tells me the switch of Jack Elliott to work with Wijnaldum on the left contributed to the mistak
While the Union’s defense still needs some experimenting, the attack prospered with the new combination of Simpson, Sapong, and rookie Marcus Epps. Epps got the third goal for Philadelphia just minutes into the second half with a cheeky toe-in past Lewis for his career first. Simpson had some good looks on goal without any luck, but I think his awareness of the space in the final third along with helping with giving the other’s team defense someone else to worry about will be key for the rest of Philadelphia’s season.
Another stand out player in this game for me was Derrick Jones working with Haris Medunjanin in the midfield. It was a different role for Jones, more fluidity in his responsibilities unlike what we’ve seen from him previously. I would argue we saw more of what Jones could bring to the table beyond defensive capabilities. With Bedoya still off the roster, Medunjanin and Jones had to juggle around the number 8 position and their usual duties. Jones had a high passing accuracy along with a couple of clearances that helped keep the game in the Union’s favor.
John McCarthy also pulled off some great saves to keep the scoreline 3-1 when Mendoza’s cross landed at Pedro Ribeiro’s feet in the box. Philadelphia also had a bit of luck when a rebounded header from Josh Grosh hit the crossbar. McCarthy had six saves in the game and most of those came in the second half as Harrisburg wasn’t willing to leave Talen without a fight.
The Union suffered a 2-1 loss in New York before the international break at the hands of NYCFC and this weekend, the New York Red Bulls come to Talen fresh off of their USOC win against NYC. This will be the second game against the NYRB in the season. Their last meet-up was in May, when CJ Sapong got a hattrick and the Union broke their winless streak. Philadelphia will also meet the Red Bulls for the next round of the Open Cup on June 28th.
My prediction: We’ll really make that rivalry label stick and get the win at home.
Honesty is my only policy, so let me start this as honestly as possible: I just don’t care about the U.S. Open Cup.
Is that a side effect of New York City FC never making it past the first game? Probably. But even if they did manage to make the third time the charm and pull through, I can all but entirely guarantee I still wouldn’t care. Cups don’t have to feel like afterthoughts to leagues — the Coppa Italia sure isn’t — but this one absolutely does. It isn’t enthralling, it isn’t interesting, and if clubs themselves don’t care, why should I?
But here we are. And to their credit, NYCFC did care this time. Patrick Vieira put out a full-force starting eleven, and the New York Red Bulls responded in kind. Looking at the lineups, you could easily mistake it for a derby in the league. (By the way, that’s in a week and a half.) So that’s nice! Great to see both teams taking the Cup seriously!
That’s about where the great things end.
The boys in blue found themselves victims of utterly terrible luck. Early on in the first half, David Villa delivered an inch-perfect pass that landed gracefully at the feet of an unmarked Tommy McNamara. T-Mac wound up, T-Mac kicked, T-Mac somehow managed to ping the ball off the crossbar, then the ground, then the crossbar again, then the ground again. A perfect vertical arc that kept the ball squarely out of the net.
From that point on, it was fated to be that kind of game. As the first half was dying down, Villa’s otherwise brilliant shot on goal deflected off the post and went straight into Ryan Meara‘s arms. At the other end of the pitch, the Red Bulls did their fair share of testing NYCFC as well. Sean Johnson made several stunning saves, and all told, it was a strong showing from both sides over those first forty-five minutes.
Then Maxi Moralez went down with an injury before the break, and things rapidly fell apart.
There’s not much that can be said about the second half. With John Stertzer coming in to replace Maxi (and only lasting twenty weak minutes before getting subbed off himself) the midfield couldn’t connect, and NYCFC were pinned back in their own half more often than not. It was only a matter of time before the Red Bulls beat them back, and god, did they ever.
In typical gutsy fashion, Johnson came off his line to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips, leaving an open goal that Daniel Royer capitalized on. Though we could all feel a Red Bulls goal coming, I wish it hadn’t been that kind of goal. It was embarrassing to be caught with an empty net, and what little Frédéric Brillant did to try to defend the line in Johnson’s stead was… well, too little by far.
Losing to the Red Bulls is familiar in the worst way. But, you know… It’s the Open Cup. Who cares?
Get it together for the derby, boys. Hit them where it really counts.
I can spare you a random thought or two:
Maxime Chanot picked up a hamstring injury during the international break, and I don’t think I’m being melodramatic when I say I want to burn down our back line without him. Too much? I don’t care. Bring back Mad Maxime!
Obvious observation is obvious, but Stertzer’s substitution was useless and wasted a potentially valuable slot that could have been used to bring in Jon Lewis or Ugo sooner. I want to understand Vieira’s substitution logic, but sometimes I just don’t.
Saturday’s game against the Seattle Sounders also happens to fall on NYCFC’s Pride Day. In general, the commercialization of Pride is something I am entirely against — but NYCFC does a good job of not turning it into a cash grab, which they so easily could. As a queer football fan, seeing a team acknowledge the LGBTQIA+ history of the city they inhabit and the very real, very passionate sector of their fanbase is so heartening. To be acknowledged and validated is invaluable. Personally, I can’t wait for NYCFC’s first ever Pride Day. I have a feeling it’s going to be something really special. (And if we win on top of it, all the better!)
Anyway, who here’s seen The Producers? When I think of NYCFC and the U.S. Open Cup, I think of this:
For the next few days I’ll be salting the earth and praying that Nicolás Lodeiro doesn’t do Nicolás Lodeiro things to us when the Sounders come to town. Please, join me.