Tag Archives: Featured

All[ianz] is bright

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

I know I teased a deep dive into a formational rabbit hole in this first piece of 2019, but then Minnesota United FC had a busy SuperDraft first round and I changed my plans. This will instead be a shallow dive into a very deep pool of my thoughts on Minnesota’s 2019 newcomers.

Following a disappointing sophomore season in which the Loons’ overall performance could not quite outshine their horrendous freshman year (they picked up one more W in 2018 than in ‘17, but shipped one more goal, finishing with 71 against, compared to 70 in ‘17), everyone expected – or, rather, hoped – to see Minnesota’s front office make immediate strides toward shoring up their defense and pulling together the stray threads in the midfield. Instead, they jettisoned many of 2018’s signings and then… Darkness. Silence.

Well, not exactly dark. Nor silent.

Oh! And this:

Jan Gregus was announced as a DP No 6. Unfortunately, it’s pronounced like Grey Goosh, not Grey Goose. And, he’s not a No 6. While Gregus was occasionally shifted into the center-back role with his last side, FC Copenhagen, and the Slovakian international team, he usually played more of a center mid or right-wing role.

But that’s okay. Minnesota found themselves a real, true, bonafide, known-entity Number 6. (Yes, that’s a transition, but don’t worry; wings will feature heavily in the true deep dive.)

In a rare transfer-rumor-comes-true moment, Minnesota brought aboard a Seattle Sounders original: captain and center back Osvaldo “Ozzie” Alonso. This is one of few signings in United’s MLS era that makes perfect, immediate sense.

The Honey Badger not only fills a position of need but also brings 10 years of MLS experience to a side still searching for an identity. That resume and his history of playing (thriving even) through pain are nearly enough to overlook the fact that he is not the youthful puzzle piece that the Loons sorely need for league longevity, but his leadership may be more important.

On Friday, January 11, the club made three picks who all look set to join the fight for a place with the club, whether that role is off the bench in 2019 or on loan to train for the future. The two brightest prospects come with chemistry. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and defender Chase Gasper, picked seventh and fifteenth respectively, played together for the Maryland Terrapins, the 2018 NCAA Champions.

St. Clair adds depth between the sticks, where Shuttleworth was the only rostered player going into the draft. Ideally, he’d be the second backup by opening night, but if the reports about his distribution style are true, St. Clair will be an intriguing addition to the lineup. And do you see how excited his roommate, Gasper, is in this interview?

That’s how excited I am to see the young fullback training next to Ozzie. This is a player who will buy into a system and develop quickly. We can only hope the aforementioned system is an effective one. There is lethal potential to a backfield with options like Alonso, Kallman, Calvo, Boxall, Gregus and Gasper.

United also picked up Oregon State midfielder, Hassani Dotson, with the fifteenth pick. Dotson is in the Potential Pool: If United hangs onto him into the regular season, he’s bound to be on loan to Forward Madison SC to hone his craft before being plugged into the Loons’ midfield.

How that midfield comes together in the preseason will be the biggest indicator of the season to come. Yes, the defense needs work, the forwards need to score; but defense starts up top. A composed midfield would make the Loons competitive. Those inside puzzle pieces are still floating aimlessly across the field.

So stock up on whiskey (or Grey Goose) and stay tuned for a deep dive into a jigsaw puzzle.

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Is NYCFC withering on CFG’s vine?

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

With the distractions of the holiday season behind us and the gloom of winter in full force, MLS soccer fans everywhere are patiently awaiting the start of the new season.

For New York City Football Club fans, things are looking a bit bleaker than usual as the club continues to ignore some of their biggest concerns.  Fan sentiment is currently at a low with team supporters feeling abandoned by owners City Football Group.  It’s bad enough to have the one elephant in the room:  Um, are we just never going to have a stadium? 

But with the second one being now zero prospects for an exciting Designated Player replacement for David Villa, there is a general feeling that NYCFC is being left to wither on the vine.  The New York front office’s last connection with fans seems to have exited with outgoing president Jon Patricof. 

As frustrating as it was in year’s past to understand the front office’s decisions, Patricof was extremely accessible to fans and their concerns.  Clearly bound by CFG’s confidentiality policy, he couldn’t give many answers but was more than happy to talk to season ticket holders and fans.  Patricof understood and cared about the connections that each of us makes with the team and to each other through the club.

Now that Brad Sims is at the helm it is clear that, at least on paper, the focus of the front office is to stop the season ticket holder bleeding and attempt to bring in new fans.  I’m at a loss for how Sims will do this when the top three things that fans want are currently beyond our reach:

1- A stadium in New York City

2- An exciting new player who will help score goals 

3- To win a trophy of some kind

CFG clearly does not know the New York real estate, political nor sports markets.   New Yorkers will only accept mediocrity on our own terms.  Don’t come from out of town and hand us a ‘meh’ bagel and expect us to eat it more than once.  

We exist in a sports market with many options locally and live in an era when we can stream almost any sports game in the world, at any time on our phones.  If CFG and MLS want to grow their profits and the sport in the US in the process, (which will feed the cycle of profitability), they will have to work harder to make NYCFC fans more excited. 

The digital media team under the direction of Mark Booth has done an excellent job at giving us fun and timely content while maintaining accessibility.  The club should be using this offseason to hold multiple STH roundtables and brainstorming sessions with Brad Sims or his senior management staff. Connect directly with all different types of fans and hear them out. Fans need more of this, particularly during this morose period when many are feeling hopeless. 

Soccer fans in the US, for the most part, are a piece of a larger group of Americans who are feeling generally hopeless and exhausted by the national discourse.  We look to soccer as our inspiration, escape and a way to connect with others.  If you want to keep NYCFC fans engaged in our own team and league, the front office needs to step it up in a big way.  

Featured image: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s introductory press conference in LA

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

The press conference for Guillermo Barros Schelotto began with kind words about late former head coach Sigi Schmid. The impact he had on soccer in the United States was prevalent, especially after his passing, as many in the industry shared stories about him.

LA Galaxy president, Chris Klein, mentioned how Schmid influenced the sport and the club. Schelotto then added how important Schmid was to him and thanked him for also bringing him to play for the Columbus Crew.  

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Head coach Schelotto jersey debut. Photo credit: Michelle Huitink
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Media scrum with Schelotto. Photo credit: Michelle Huitink

The LA Galaxy have looked good on paper. Schelotto is no exception. He has many honors and championships with Argentina and in MLS despite being only 45 years old. His experience makes him worthy of the position as head coach.  

He’s dealt with much higher profile players and teams and he’s developed younger players, as well. As a player with the Columbus Crew, the team won the MLS Cup in 2008. The Boca Juniors final was wild. It had been postponed due to a bus attack by fans. That aside, it was Boca’s decision to let him go according to GBS.

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General Manager Dennis te Kloese. Photo credit: LA is Our House.

The focus is on moving forward, having patience, and doing the work needed to start winning. I was able to ask general manager Dennis te Kloese a couple of questions:

MH: Come opening day, what first impression can fans expect?

DTK: There’s a lot of things that will take a little bit of time. There are [some things] on the roster that need to be figured out, as we saw, and I don’t want to be judgemental because I don’t want to look back. I want to look forward, but there has been an imbalance defensively–with Guillermo coming in, with the experience that he has, in the coming weeks, with an intensive search for some players–that is one of the first priorities that we’re looking at because offensively the team showed a lot of promise last year and will show this year also.

MH: You mentioned wanting to have players ready for the opening of the season.  You believe you’ll have all the pieces that you need defensively by the start of the season before the summer window?

DTK: The construction of the roster in MLS with the rules that are given, that takes a little bit of time. We’ll never put any excuses behind anything here. We’ll just work hard.  We already started, and we’ll do our very very best to be top-class from day one. But it could be that certain pieces could fit in over the summer or a little bit later.

It was only the 3rd of January, but I felt management should already be talking to players for their positions on the roster and also figuring out who they want to have leadership on the pitch. No one wants to look back at the 2018 season, so it’s best to look at this as a fresh start. That said, I go into the 2019 season with cautious optimism.

There are more questions than answers at this point, and the motto for this year seems to be “we’ll see.” I was looking for a sense of urgency in the management to get things together NOW.  Opportunities can present themselves as late as the summer window or after, but fans expect to see results come opening day. Of course, patience is key and options shouldn’t be limited, but this Los Angeles team has a reputation to uphold as kings of MLS and that reputation has been compromised.

There have been many rumors including overseas interest in the Lion and other players. It’s speculated that, due to finances and MLS regulations regarding designated players and international positions, some players will have to be moved. Juninho and Chris Pontius have been welcomed back, but the Galaxy’s midfield is crowded.  The back line is what needs significant improvement, yet they re-signed Servando Carrasco. Schelotto’s style is an offensive one but the Galaxy need to work on defense which he assured they would work on.

In terms of forwards, there doesn’t seem to be a spot for Ola Kamara with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is now confirmed to be staying with the club. Scoring goals wasn’t the Galaxy’s issue last season: it was allowing goals, which is a defensive issue. It’s speculated Kamara could also be traded for his spot. Romain Alessandrini is also a possible option. Gio Dos Santos would be a more favorable move. It hasn’t been announced who will captain the team either.

MLS has released the regular season schedule and it’s much shorter, which means it’s more important than ever for the team to build a roster with depth.

We’ll see soon enough.

Preseason kicks off in February with exhibition games and the Jersey Launch Party. LA Galaxy home games are at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly known as StubHub Center).

The preseason schedule is as follows:

  • Saturday, February 9–LA Galaxy vs Toronto FC at home
  • Saturday, February 16–LA Galaxy vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC at OC Great Park
  • Sunday, February 17–Jersey Launch Party at The Novo
  • Saturday, February 23–LA Galaxy vs Colorado Rapids at home

The home opener is set for March 2nd against the Chicago Fire at 5pm PST.

Featured image of LA Galaxy management panel: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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The Loons, the bad and the ugly

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

It is high time to put the 2018 season to rest, but how about one more chorus of our favorite Simon & Garfunkel song before we go? Sing it with me:

“Hello Darkness, my old friend…”

Minnesota United FC finished 2018 tenth in the west with 36 points, just 5 more than the Colorado Rapids and 15 more than perennial bottom dwellers, San Jose Earthquakes. Seventy-one goals against is hardly an improvement over the Loons’ record-breaking freshman finish. However, Orlando City SC shipped three more than Minnesota this season. Feel better? No? Sorry, it’s all downhill from here.

I could nitpick all the negatives, but you and I have other things to accomplish this offseason than to rehash all of that.

Instead, here are my overall reflections and expectations, uninterrupted by clips and tweets because I know you all remember the blunders vividly.

[Lack of] Defense

MNUFC’s goals against stats will always be a black mark on the club’s first two years in MLS. A key issue in the backline, noted again and again by anyone who followed 2017’s performance, was the lack of a No. 6. So fans rejoiced the signing of Fernando Bob in August and saw glimpses of a decent future in the Loons’ final third. Unfortunately, the phrase ‘Not good, Bob’ took a turn from sarcasm to exasperation. The club declined to exercise options on the Brazilian and his countrymen, Ibson and Maximiano.

Brent Kallman, Michael Boxall and Francisco Calvo became mainstays on the backline, though Calvo’s primary role switched from centerback to left back upon his return from international duty, in place of injured Jerome Thiesson (also released at season’s end). It looks likely that the trio will remain intact going into 2019, but questions remain: Who will complete Heath‘s four-man backline and will they earn the respect El Capitan so often demanded? Between glimpses of brilliance and the great impressions of brick walls performed by both Boxall and Kallman, reinforcements will be desperately needed to staunch the bleeding.

And the young guys (Omsberg, Manley) if still on the roster, will need time to learn their role.

Discombobulated Midfield

While the front office spent much of the season blaming injuries to key midfielders Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay for all their woes, the midfield at times showed significant improvement over last year with more consistency and drive. A new-and-improved Rasmus Schuller returned from loan to anchor the left and balance Ibson’s roaming efforts on the right, but the squad still frequently failed to connect with the attack and opened more holes for the already struggling defense to clean up.

The arrival of Darwin Quintero sparked more connections and possibilities in the final third, but you can only burn a candle from both ends for so long…  One DP caliber attacking mid is not a fix-all solution and Batman (Miguel Ibarra) can’t run all night, every night.

The club appears to be eliminating all the question marks (Ibson’s inconsistencies, Maximiano’s temper, Alexi Gomez‘s poor passing) by releasing their core midfield line-up to start fresh. This December is now a carbon copy of last winter: A roster heavy on the wings, with no clear identity. But, hey, DPs score goals! … Sometimes.

Strikers Striking Out

Just as Batman can’t run all night, Superman can’t shoot strong and true every time. Fan favorite, Christian Ramirez, had a poor start to the season and was not the clutch goal scorer longtime fans had come to know and love. With the midfield’s poor movement into the final third, the arrival of Quintero’s wicked speed and sticky feet unlocked Ramirez’s potential once again.

However, the attack continued to struggle and the FO announced a new signing. A veteran striker who could supposedly score when expected and take the Loons’ attack to new heights. At the expense of the heart of the club who also happened to be their most valuable trading card.

Ramirez was replaced by Angelo Rodriguez, the club’s second DP. Unfortunately, no matter how much you pay a guy, he can’t be expected to reproduce his highlight reel at every match. Rodriguez said himself, on multiple occasions, that he was ‘ashamed’ of his performance and his guilt over not meeting expectations was painfully obvious.

But he seems determined to get back to full fitness and a youthful production rate. And MNUFC is going all in, designing their attack around the veteran and the rookies, 2018 draft pick Mason Toye and 2017 draft pick Abu Danladi, both struggling to find their footing and maintain fitness in the big league.

In conclusion:

Remember when we all sang, “Hey – ho – the North is rising, rising up the table,” after the first 2018 home win? That was neat. Let’s carry that feeling through the offseason, just to balance out the #Panic. Someday we will sing it again. It could be a fluke, but it will echo through the Midway, if only for one night. Until then…

I recommend whiskey.

Featured image of Rodriguez and Quintero: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Investing in Greatness: Atlanta United Wins the 2018 MLS Cup

Atlanta United Wins the MLS Cup 2-0 Over the Portland Timbers, Tata Martino Leaves MLS on Top, and a Perspective on the Future of American Soccer.

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official MLSFemale Contributor

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

On Saturday Atlanta’s skies were grey and a chilly rain persistently pelted the city causing anyone in the streets to look for cover. It was not a beautiful day for a soccer match, but for Atlanta United and Portland Timbers supporters, the weather couldn’t dampen their enthusiasm.

Sarah Kallassy - MLS Cup/mlsfemale
Image: Sarah Kallassy

The Timbers Army began their MLS Cup day by planting trees at the Morningside Nature Preserve before their afternoon tailgate. Atlanta United supporters’ groups, such as Resurgence, gathered in the Gulch, pushing their way under an overpass to avoid the rain while they waited to enter Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

73,019 fans. A record-breaking number, attended the 2018 MLS Cup, rocking the multi-use Mercedes-Benz Stadium with soccer fervor.

Sarah Kallassy - MLS Cup/mlsfemale
Image: Sarah Kallassy

Before the match even began, the excitement inside the stadium was palpable and very, very, loud. It was definitely Atlanta United’s house, the crowd awash with black, red, and gold, broken only by the small contingent of the Timbers Army clad in forest green.

Tifo flags bearing Atlanta’s logo and statements such as, ‘bless your heart,’ waved amidst the ‘fireflies’ that lit the stands and conjured the image of a summer night in the heart of Georgia.

As the match began, the Portland Timbers hoped to recreate the magic of their 2015 MLS Cup victory over the Columbus Crew, while Atlanta United’s young team looked for a perfect end to their electrifying second season in MLS. The home team did not disappoint.

Early on in the match, it was clear that playing at home gave Atlanta a clear edge over the Timbers. Feeding off the energy coursing through their stadium, Atlanta continually denied Portland possession and chances on goal, keeping the pressure on during the first half.

Josef Martinez, the Venezuelan Striker who was named the 2018 MLS MVP, scored his 35th goal of the season in the 38th minute, putting Atlanta United ahead 1-0 right before halftime. Predictably, the fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium went wild. Martinez’s performance during the match would lead him to be named MLS Cup MVP by the end of the night.

Portland made several attempts on goal throughout the game; however, Atlanta United goalie Brad Guzan kept the sheet clean. In the 42nd minute, a particularly dangerous shot by Timber’s striker Jeremy Ebobisse looked like it would see the back of Atlanta United’s net and tie the match before halftime. Atlanta’s fans seemed to hold their collective breath as the ball soared toward Guzan. Not to be bested, Guzan made the difficult save, and the Timbers Army, cloistered on the 300 level of the stadium would have to continue to hope that Portland would make it on the board.

The Portland Timbers emerged from the locker room for the second half with a renewed sense of urgency. They began to place more pressure on Atlanta, but it would be for naught. In the 53rd minute, Franco Escobar made a second goal for Atlanta United, giving the team a comfortable lead, 2-0 over Portland.

Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, Alvas Powell, and Dairon Asprilla all tried to fire shots at Atlanta’s Guzan in the second half but were unable to send the ball into the net. Diego Chara of the Timbers and Chris McCann of Atlanta United were both issued yellow cards toward the end of the second half, but neither Atlanta nor Portland scored again.

Sarah Kallassy - MLS Cup/mlsfemale
Image: Sarah Kallassy

As the five minutes of stoppage time that referee Alan Kelly had added to the second half came to an end, the sense of anticipation and excitement in the stadium grew. When the clock hit 95 minutes, Atlanta, the city that hadn’t claimed a sports championship in over 20 years, had won the MLS Cup.

In the post-game press conference, Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese was predictably solemn, he said that both teams had put up, “a good fight.” He expressed his frustration with the officiating of the game and stressed that “for this final, for a final so important… I expected more. And I think, sometimes the little things are very important.” Savarese stressed that he did not wish to detract from the great performance of Atlanta United with his statement.

Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, Atlanta United head coach, was of course jubilant. Doused in champagne after the traditional toast in the locker room, he stated that, “the club never modified their plan,” that was established in 2016 when he came on board as head coach. Martino said that “the most satisfying thing was to be able to fulfill all the plans the club presented to me at the beginning. I think we’ve got the best training facilities in the league, we’ve got the best team in the league… they give the coaching staff absolutely everything they need to be successful, and that’s what makes it the most satisfying.”

Sarah Kallassy - MLS Cup/mlsfemale
Image: Sarah Kallassy

While some may say that the stars aligned this season for Atlanta’s win, it seems rather that they positioned their own stars, aligning them through careful investment in the team, the facilities, and the staff. Both the Portland Timbers and Atlanta United played terrific soccer in the MLS Cup and their supporters should be proud, but Atlanta United proved a point on Saturday night about the future of American soccer; we will get out of it what we put in.

Featured image of Resurgence SG: Grant Russell

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Kaye Returns, Eddie Segura joins LAFC, Gold Links

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Los Angeles Football Club had a remarkable inaugural season and after setting the bar – the black-and-gold looks ahead to the 2019 season.

Kaye Returns

Mark-Anthony Kaye received a late-birthday gift from the club of a three-year contract extension through 2021 with a club option in 2022.

The 24-year-old Canadian International started in 20 regular season matches, recording two goals and five assists before acquiring a season-ending injury on July 26.

Kaye has a made a full recovery since then and is expected to return to training in 2019.

New Player Signing

Just days before officially announcing their offseason moves, LAFC signed Colombian defender Eddie Segura from Atletico Huila on a six-month loan beginning in January, with a purchase option.

“At such a young age, Eddie has accumulated a wealth of experience in Colombia, and we believe he has the requisite potential and qualities to make an immediate impact to our backline next season.” said general manager and EVP of soccer operations John Thorrington in a team statement. “Eddie is a strong, dynamic defender who fits well with how we play, and, similar to our other players, will continue his progress as a player here in Los Angeles.”

The 21-year-old center back is set to occupy an international spot and will fill a much-needed role, should Walker Zimmerman and Dejan Jaković leave LAFC. But even if they remain on the roster, two CBs could always use reinforcements.

The club’s loan agreement for Danilo Silva has expired. As a result, he will return to Internacional of Brazil after LAFC did not exercise their purchase options.

Segura marks the black-and-gold’s first offseason signing ahead of the preseason camp in January.

Roster Moves

Offseason moves are fast approaching. The good news is it seems we’re keeping our main core of guys. The bad news is we have to say goodbye to a few good players.

The club declined contract options on goalkeepers Charlie Lyon and Quillan Roberts, midfielders Nico Czornomaz, Calum Mallace and James Murphy, and forwards Steeve Saint-Duc and Marco Ureña.

Additionally, defenders Jordan Harvey, Dejan Jaković, and Walker Zimmerman, and midfielder Benny Feilhaber will be out of contract on December 31.

Jaković, Mallace, and Roberts are eligible to participate in the MLS Re-Entry Draft on December 15.

Zimmerman received a Bona Fide Offer and will not be eligible for the Re-Entry Draft. However, rumors have been flooding around Zimmerman since October that he could potentially be leaving LAFC for overseas.

*Click here to view the full list of roster moves

Gold Links: 

Featured image: Los Angeles Football Club Facebook

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Sounds for the New York Red Bulls Post-Season

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

I’m coming to you from the comfort of my couch once again with an overview of the Eastern Conference competition. Usually, I integrate songs or movies into my articles, but this calls for a more onomatopoeic approach.

Heh

The New York Red Bulls had secured a first-round bye even before winning the Supporter’s Shield on Decision Day. The knockout round was between the Columbus Crew and DC United. While a classic Atlantic Cup matchup would have been amazing, it was the Crew who emerged victorious following 120 minutes and a PK shootout.

Hmph

Leg 1, at MAPFRE Stadium, ended with Columbus ahead by one goal. RBNY fans were bracing themselves for disappointment. Was the team going to crash out in the playoffs after the euphoric Shield win?

HAH

The Empire struck back. A deflection from Alex Muyl (17′) and a brace from Daniel Royer (73′, 76′) put the Red Bulls through to the Conference Finals (3-1 aggregate). Flames shot out from pillars on the goals with every score, and the crowd was equally fired up.

#@&%!

There was an International break that took Aaron Long and Tyler Adams to Europe for friendlies with the US Men’s National team. Kemar Lawrence, Kaku, and Derrick Etienne, Jr. were called to International duty as well. So there was a break in playoff action.

Not really worth complaining about, although I’m sure plenty of people did. The final had been settled before the break anyway. Atlanta United made quick work of NYCFC for their semifinal round. But they had never defeated RBNY before. And while the Red Bulls never took that record for granted, no one was prepared for what actually happened.

Eastern Conference Final (Leg 1) – Mercedes-Benz Stadium

First, RBNY announced Lawrence was injured and put homegrown defender Connor Lade in his spot in the lineup. Then the defense was outrun by Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Tito Villalba. But the first and the second sentences are unrelated. If anything, Lade slotted back into the defense wonderfully. It was… hard to explain, really.

To say that they didn’t look like themselves is a sort of cop-out, a cliche that gets trotted out for any loss. But this is the only way to explain it. The Red Bulls push up the field, and the ball spent way too much time near their goal to say they were doing what they do.

Did they keep Atlanta from getting particularly fancy? Sure. But ugly soccer can win, too. And that’s what happened. With a three-goal deficit, RBNY had a lot of work to do in this Eastern Conference Final.

*Sigh*

The Red Bulls scored four or more goals in thirteen matches in all competitions this year. They were able to hold opponents scoreless at home three months solid. So while it was not impossible for the team to pull off something downright magical, the fear crept in.

Eastern Conference Final (Leg 2) – Red Bull Arena

The game itself was good. There was movement. There was pressing. There was also cursing and shoving and yellow cards and a last-ditch goal at the death from Tim Parker that hasn’t gotten half the credit it deserves. Had they been able to hold Atlanta scoreless in that first leg, fans would still be partying and Parker would probably never have to pay for another beer in the NY Metro area ever again.

But instead, Atlanta will be hosting the Portland Timbers for the MLS Cup Final. I’ve watched it the past couple of years, even as I’ve seen RBNY crash out. But this year…? I don’t think I can do it. I’ve never thought the Red Bulls deserved to be there more than they did this year. For them to not be hosting is devastating.

Exit interviews are scheduled for Monday, December 3rd. The team was required to submit roster on Friday, November 30th.  But the first major announcement has already been released:

I’ve met and spoken to Adams once or twice. He is exactly who he seems to be, and the Red Bulls organization has helped to shape that. Not only that, but his career with the USMNT is a bright spot that should mean great things in Qatar and North America for the upcoming World Cup cycles. I look forward to seeing him with RB Leipzig.

As for the rest of the team? I’m not going to make predictions (never been that good at them, anyway). But I do know that I’ll be back to talk about it all next season. I hope you’ll be there to read it.

Featured image: @kakuromero17

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Sporting Kansas City’s season ends in 3-2 loss to Portland Timbers in Western Conference Championship

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Sporting KC Contributor

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City‘s 2018 season came to an abrupt end on Thursday night in a devastating season-ending 3-2 loss against the Portland Timbers in leg two of the Western Conference Final at Children’s Mercy Park.

In front of a sold-out, energetic crowd Sporting KC delivered a solid performance filled with chances, goals and controversial calls.

Sporting KC kicked off the match maintaining strong possession that later helped Daniel Salloi earn the chance to claim an early lead for the home side in the 20th minute.

However, things turned sour quickly after the restart when Sebastian Blanco blasted a strike into the top corner, to level the match in the 52nd. Blanco’s strike would stun fans and even fellow captain Diego Valeri – who gained a surge of energy to double the Timbers lead nine minutes later.

Now trailing 2-1, the home side had to rally quick. In the 81st minute, Sporting KC would get a glimpse of hope as Gerso Fernandes scored the equalizer after a brilliant combination from the team. On the cusp, of potentially scoring another goal to advance, the match went into sudden death for the final remainder of the half.

Despite all effort, Sporting KC’s offseason would begin deep into a grueling nine-minute stoppage time after Valeri’s breakaway finish – claiming the Western Conference Champion title and stamping the Timber’s ticket to the MLS Cup.

As fans thanked one another for their dedication, several Sporting KC players took to Twitter to express their disappointment and gratitude:

Even Daniel Salloi appeared to have hinted to be returning to the Blue Hell next season following speculation of transfer rumors for Europe:

Not even 24 hours after the loss, the club dug a little deeper into fans’ wounds by announcing which players have had contract options declined: forward Kharlton Belmar, midfielder Cristian Lobato, defenders Amer Didic, Brad Evans and Colton Storm.

At the end of the day, the contract options didn’t come as a shock to fans, since most of the core group (Matt Belser, Graham Zusi, Seth Sinovic, Roger Espinoza, and Ilie Sanchez) had recently re-signed. And with the addition of long-time veterans like goalkeeper Tim Melia, next season is shaping up to be a promising one.

Featured image: @sportingkc Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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And then there were 17…

Aaryn Vivian - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Aaryn Vivian // @aarynvivian

The Vancouver Whitecaps first wave of roster moves under new manager Marc Dos Santos came this week as it was announced on Tuesday that options had been picked up on seven players, while another nine would be packing their bags and leaving Vancouver.

Among those picked up were striker Erik Hurtado, midfielders Nicolas Mezquida, David Norman Jr., and Yordy Reyna, defenders Doneil Henry and Brett Levis, and goalkeeper Sean Melvin.

The club will be bidding adieu to striker Myer Bevan, midfielders Marvin Emnes and Aly Ghazal, defenders Jose Aja, Roberto Dominguez, and Aaron Maund, and goalkeepers Stefan Marinovic and Spencer Richey

Last but certainly not least, the Whitecaps elected not to exercise the option on Brek “Public Enemy #1” Shea.  Shea faced harsh criticism during his time in Vancouver largely surrounding status as a designated player (DP) in 2017, his salary and the complete and utter lack of return on investment.  As the second highest paid Whitecaps player, Shea made 28 appearances and scored 3 goals during the 2018 season.  He struggled to stay healthy throughout his two seasons in Vancouver and was not a regular starter under former club manager Carl Robinson

The people of Vancouver have been rejoicing since the announcement that Brek was on his way out of town:

But there are many in the Twitter-verse who are hoping their teams pick up Shea in the offseason, including Minnesota United FC and his former clubs Orlando City FC and FC Dallas.  Only time will tell if he lands back in the MLS but if Vancouver has any advice at all to offer the other teams in the league: Check yourself before you Brek yourself.

Featured image of Marc Dos Santos: @WhitecapsFC

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Finding a New ‘Home’ in DC

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

Soccer has the power to transcend differences and create a vibrant community. This is just one of many reasons I am a DC United fan.

The DC Metro area is one of the most diverse in the nation, with 29% of residents speaking a language that is not English. We come from all over the country and the world to work and live here. Some of us were born and raised here.  None of that matters when DC United takes the pitch though. Our differences fall away as we enter the stadium, where we are only soccer fans.

When I first moved to the DC area, I had just finished my time on active duty in the Marine Corps. I was searching for work and adjusting to my new life outside of the military when I found DC United. I had always loved soccer and played avidly growing up. As I got older, I enjoyed connecting with friends over matches. It was refreshing to take time out of a busy day to sit together and share our thoughts, often loudly, about a game.

Watching DC United’s games, either on tv or in person, helped me to find a new sense of home in the DC area and gave me something positive to look forward to on a regular basis. Work and school took me away from the District for a few years, but since returning, the community around DC United feels as vibrant and welcoming as it ever did before I left.

I was fortunate enough to attend DC United’s final match at RFK Stadium. I remember seeing a middle-aged, hijabi, mom, who was attending the game with her teenage son, start the wave. She was met with nothing but enthusiasm as she got up on her feet to support our team. Of course, we all followed suit.

This moment stands out so clearly in my mind from that day. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t tell you who scored or who made the best plays in the game. But I remember the feeling I had when I saw the way fans were interacting with each other that day, brought together by a mutual love of the Black and Red.

In July of 2018, United moved to their new home at Audi Field, a beautiful, state-of-the-art stadium at Buzzard Point. While the venue is different, the overwhelmingly positive sense of community that was built at RFK has stayed the same. The fanbase is still incredibly diverse, inclusivity is key to events the club holds, and everyone is always welcome.

For me, whether at RFK or Audi Field, when DC United is playing, I know I’m home.

Featured image: Sarah Kallassy

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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