Tag Archives: Featured

Vancouver Whitecaps are Rising Up Rain City

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale
Official Vancouver Whitecaps Reporter

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Sunday, October 15: 1-1 Draw

As the season closes in, the Vancouver Whitecaps have wound their way through almost every spot in the standings. Considering this, their play has also represented all of these standings. We have seen them go toe-to-toe with New York City FC, summoning a fire within that brought even the harshest winds to their adversaries. We have also seen them struggle with chemistry, an ever changing starting lineup, and missing PKs that should have been meticulously placed in one of the four corners of the net.

As the San Jose Earthquakes came to town, we once again saw the on again, off again Whitecaps. With a rather slow and unenthusiastic beginning to the game, we saw a goal from Yordy Reyna (Rayna Terror we call them) in the 29th minute that catalysed the entire team. The effect was immediate, the goal was a team effort touching almost all positions on the pitch.

Most of the game was mediocre by the Whitecaps, though we saw some great attacking plays that just didn’t fall. For me, someone who loves to see some playmaking, I felt like we put more pressure on their back end with runs and finding space rather than our usual long ball over the top that gets sent right back. Honestly, I like the way the attacking half was playing.

The Quakes came back with a goal in the 77th min by Valeri Qazaishvili. A devastating blow to the ‘Caps ability to clinch first place in the West.

Most of what we talk about happens to be goals, so I wanted to give a shout out to Andrew Tarbell and Stefan Marinović who were both magnificent in goal. It really was a delight to watch them both.

Now we work to defeat the Portland Timbers who are going to go in strong in this last game of the regular season. So much rides on this last game. Pride in rival games, first place, and home field advantage going into the playoffs. We need the mids to be stronger, faster, and more accurate with their ball skills.  We need the forwards to continue firing at the net. We need to defeat the Timbers! It’s time to #riseupraincity

Featured image courtesy: @WhitecapsFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nkstar9

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Watching a Half of Sporting KC with Kirsten

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

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Sunday, October 15: 0-0 Draw

Good evening, Sporting KC fans! It’s been a bit hard for me to write articles during school season, so I decided that I would let you in on what goes through my brain while watching a game on TV. This is roughly what I do on Twitter, but I might ramble because I have more than 140 characters so… oh, and I was at a concert for the first half, so this is only the final 45 minutes. We’ll see if that turns out to be a good thing.

If you don’t want to read my rambling thoughts then you can TLDR to the end for some takeaways.

  • How did we spend the entire season near the top of the table, and then at the end sink to fourth? That is unacceptable. We need to get back ahead of Seattle and Seattle South (Portland).
  • Peter Vermes is the best-dressed coach in the league. If you disagree you can @ me, and we can have a grown-up discussion about it.
  • Second half underway. Leonardo Machado may have pushed Zusi out of bounds, but whatever.
  • BENNY! Ugh, so close. Jimmy Medranda feeds the ball straight to Feilhaber who kicked it into the shin of the keeper, Mr. Beard Man. He looks like he needs a razor and a What Not to Wear makeover.
  • They keep showing the Houston coach. He looks a little bit like an angry uncle.
  • Benny yelling a bad word on camera. I’ll let you guess which one.
  • There is going to be a fight by the end of this game. I can feel it.
  • I have said this before, and I will say this again. If your name is really common (like Alex) you can’t just put that on the back of your jersey. There are too many Alexes for you to claim it for just you.
  • I wonder what Tyler Deric‘s middle name is? I love when people have first names as all of their names.
  • Ilie won Sporting KC’s Newcomer of the Year, and there is no one more deserving. This team would not be the same without him.
  • “This ball falls to Medranda” who then promptly actually fell.
  • I love when soccer commentators say “Went to ground” when someone falls like the players are plants or something.
  • How is Mr. Beard Man in the way of every shot? Move Beard Guy! I would like a goal please. Also, VAR, that ball may have been in.
  • Roger Espinoza almost killed a guy. It was kinda awesome.
  • Benny’s ankle turned in a way that ankles are not supposed to turn. He has had some bad luck with ankles this season.
  • Sidenote: husband just returned with Chinese food!
  • Jimmy Medranda with a great chance, but his cross is missed by both Rubio and Salloi. Besler‘s pass to Medranda was a beauty!
  • The ref just got nutmegged. That was kinda funny.
  • An SKC player ends up on the ground in the box, and there is no call. Half of the season in a sentence. The other half would be: Sporting made 3 million shots on goal, and none went in, but they were really good at passing.
  • Why is Tyler Deric Tim Melia-ing tonight? Geesh!
  • Diego Rubio just had a gorgeous strike, but it was deflected off Machado and flew over the bar. The bad words are happening in the Arpin household.
  • Ilie fashion update: After a season of black boots Ilie has moved to a pair of bright orange ones. He is also still in his trademarked long sleeved jersey. Find you someone that is as dedicated to you as Ilie is to not showing his arms.
  • So in the 82nd minute, Sporting was making an attacking run, and the ref got in the way and made us lose the ball. Not cool man.
  • 22 shots so far. None in the goal. #2017
  • Bes motioning for the ref to hurry up and pull the yellow card is my new spirit animal.
  • Ike Opara just headed the crap out of a Dynamo corner kick, and it was the bravest move I may have seen all year. He had that terrifying concussion earlier this season. There is a good amount of concussion checking for both SKC and Houston.
  • Sporting needs to get their crap together because Seattle and Seattle Jr. are both killing it tonight. At least Vancouver drew.
  • Hey Houston, want to actually throw the ball in? Do you need a handwritten invitation?
  • Go go go go go go go go go…or kick it to the goalie. That’s cool too.
  • This ref has been so in the way!
  • Please score. Please! Just something! Anything! How is everything such an almost?
  • And there was almost another fight!
  • Ball right in front of the ball twice and no goal! How?!? Why?!? I am disgusted and annoyed at Sporting’s inability to score.

So here are my takeaways from this game, and the last game, and the majority of this season.

If we can’t start scoring goals we will not make it far into the playoffs. I don’t understand how SKC can score in the US Open Cup, but not in any other game. It’s not for lack for putting the ball on goal, but it’s about getting it past the keeper. There is no excuse for what is going on. Sporting can defend, pass the ball, dominate possession, anything but score. It boggles my mind.

The defense was on it tonight. Besler came back from the Men’s National Team with a score to settle, and he was holding it down. He was getting the ball to Zusi and Medranda all night, but unfortunately, nothing came of them. Zusi was controlling the game from the wing, Ike was a commanding presence in the middle, and Lobato was alright… Dykstra did a great job tonight too. There was rarely a time when I felt the goal was threatened.

With the draw tonight, Sporting KC has officially qualified for their 7th straight playoff appearance which is the third-longest streak in the MLS. SKC fans are looking forward to the next game against RSL to hopefully clinch home-field advantage for at least the first playoff game.

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

 

 

Moving Forward for the USMNT

A collaboration from the ladies of MLSFemale. Organized by Abigail Gerken.

The USMNT not making the 2018 World Cup made room for a lot of discussion about this program and how we can advance as a soccering nation. Here is what the MLSFemale writers think about this situation the USMNT is in.

What went wrong in this qualifying cycle?

KAITLYN: US Soccer has several problems, and it’s not just Bruce Arena, Jurgen Klinsmann or Sunil Gulati. US Soccer needs to grow their players. They need to develop the players in MLS Academies, and those players (if American) need to be getting attention from US Soccer. Like Kerissa said; Klinsmann didn’t help develop the youth system. US Soccer really needs to focus on youth development and get players who they can into the US Soccer and MLS Academies; ones that will develop and support the players.

In the end, the US didn’t play to win. They played to tie. They assumed that Mexico and Costa Rica would win; which wasn’t a safe assumption. And of course, people will blame the coach, they’ll blame the field, they’ll blame Mexico and Roman Torres. But the players didn’t perform. It just wasn’t there.

KERISSA: Looking at just this qualifying cycle, it wasn’t just one thing that went wrong. One place where I think issues began was having Jurgen Klinsmann be both head coach and technical director. Technical directors also need to handle youth development and Klinsmann never showed interest in developing the US system. He recruited from Europe and leaned on players who trained in the German system. Yes, it’s a great system, but US Soccer isn’t always going to pull from that pool. Ignoring players developed and developing means less incentive to stay or play for the US.

As for the TNT match, the biggest error was Bruce Arena not taking Trinidad and Tobago seriously enough to make a game plan. Not only did he send out the same formation as the Panama match, he had no backup when it became apparent in the first ten minutes that the formation wasn’t going to work.

While his was an arrogant decision, too many of the players showed entitlement in their approach to the match.

JESS: What went wrong. Speaking specifically to the Trinidad and Tobago game, the players did not show up. Like Kaitlyn said, and like I have been saying, they stepped on the field to play for a tie because they knew that all they needed was a tie and thought they could skate by. In any game you play, you should be playing for the win. When the question of qualification comes up, your aim should be to destroy the other team. To leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that you deserve that last guaranteed spot or that one more chance in the playoff.

There was no heart. Blame the conditions of the field, the weather, whatever you want to blame – but that’s all an excuse for the more painful truth that as bad as the team may have wanted this win, they didn’t show it on the field. Just because you haven’t missed qualifying since 1986 doesn’t mean that you deserve to be there. I got a little miffed with the people asking the “but can you imagine a World Cup without _______?!” questions, because the answer is yes. No one is guaranteed in so a World Cup without _____ is entirely possible and probable as we painfully found out this week. Time to reboot.

KIRSTEN: The team (and country) put all their hopes on a 19 year old kid who is barely out of high school. Christian Pulisic is an amazing player, but he can’t be the guy right away. He needs support, and the team couldn’t give that to him. We also had no midfield presence. Our mids were all pushing forward leaving Bradley to be kind of defensive all by himself.

Our transition game was GOD AWFUL! We weren’t too terrible at defensive for a chunk of the games, but the rest there was not much good anywhere. *side note: I feel terrible for Matt Besler (he’s obvi my fave), but I’ve always seen him as a hard-worker who never takes things for granted. He was benched a bit last season for subpar play, and was passed over for Gold Cup in 2016. He knows the stakes, and I am just sad I’ll never see him play in another World Cup. I might be crying a bit right now, but that’s okay.

What should we change moving forward (new players, formation, coaches, etc.)?:

ABIGAIL: I think that we need to start focusing on 2022. We need to start having a consistent lineup (especially the back 4 which has been made up of many different combinations of players). We have so many talented young players in the system (Pulisic, Brooks, Yedlin, Acosta, Arrola, Wood) who have proved they can play at a very high level and push this USMNT team forward. Take out older players who aren’t going to be there for ‘22 and let the young players figure things out and build chemistry. We have 5 years to do this.

KAITLYN: In my opinion, it’s time for Sunil Gulati to move on. US Soccer needs to be re-evaluated and their system would benefit from a new president to re-vamp the program. As for new players, this should be the wake up call. The National Team needs new defenders; and as much as we all love Tim Howard, they need a younger goalie.

SYLVANA: I fully believe there are people in the system who can bring about the necessary changes. Gulati isn’t going anywhere; he’s still aiming to get WC2026 to North America and the only way is to be rid of him is to put someone else in place through election. Tab Ramos, who has been part of the system, could be a step in the right direction.

JESS: What needs to change is that US Soccer continuously relies on our past to resolve our future. We relied on a coach that got us to the quarter-finals in 2002. What did he do after that? Arena is that ex that never should’ve gotten a second chance. We blame Klinsmann for a thrashing against a solid Costa Rica team. Was he the one on the field?

Firing him didn’t solve anything. We rely on older players who, while still capable of playing, are not truly capable at keeping up with the international field. Why? Perhaps they might be of greater value off the field than on. We have a USSF president who is far more concerned about bolstering his pocketbook than aiding his organization. Again, why? No one runs against him. Our home system is a slower, less creative game than what we see come out of the rest of the world.

I love the MLS and will always support it, but why don’t we play with the speed and creativity of Germany and Spain? Why do we have to be the retirement league of the world? We stand here, wring our hands, and say “what happened” when the freight train of issues that’s been heading our direction, and we’ve seen coming, finally hits us. Maybe we should get off the tracks.

Let’s vote out a USSF president that doesn’t want to take responsibility for putting us on those tracks and bring in someone with a new, better plan. Let’s scrap and rebuild our pay-to-play system, and make more opportunities for those kids from lower income households with the passion and natural ability that we need.

Let’s encourage our players to step out of their comfort zone and take opportunities available to them in different countries. Let’s take a hard look at American individualism, how it impacts being a team player, and remember that soccer is a team sport and not a “me” sport. Let’s take bigger risks, leave the past where it is, and invest in our future.

KAITLYN: For me, I have the biggest issue with US Soccer’s development systems.

There has been a lot of discussion about Pay-to-Play in the youth soccer systems, how does that affect the USMNT?

KIRSTEN: In the United States soccer is seen as a “rich kid” sport. To get into the best club systems your family needs to have money. To many, basketball and football are seen as the “street sports” where kids from all backgrounds can play and get noticed. In other countries soccer is the sport that everyone plays regardless of background. If we can grow soccer like we have fostered basketball and football we have a chance of getting talented athletes from all walks of life, and not just the privileged.

SYLVANA: As a soccer parent, I want to comment on pay-to-play. I get it– this stuff costs money. I see our expenses for my sons’ club: insurance, pass fees, uniforms, equipment. And our club costs a fraction of the cost of other clubs in my area. I’ve had other parents tell me they’d gladly pay more if it resulted in better results on the field.

But to me, cost doesn’t equal value. My kid could be ready for an academy, but he won’t be seen by a scout unless I pay hundreds of dollars in camp fees where the scouts go. So if I can’t afford it, my son’s development is over. And that’s not fair to him. How many times has that happened in America in the past 20 years?

I’m also hearing a lot about the NCAA and blowing up the college system. I’d like to share with you something Mark Pulisic told me (I hope he doesn’t mind). He said in America, there are so many levels of play that anyone who wants to reach their highest level can do so– that level isn’t always international. I don’t think anyone who plays college for 4 years should have any sort of leg-up in getting into MLS. (Jordan Morris was a homegrown academy product- his college career is irrelevant.) Soccer as a vehicle to an education is distinctly American.

SHEBA: Pay to play is a completely upside down model for developing the growth of the sport in the US. I work in a community with strong immigrant ties, and soccer is THE sport kids play here–at recess, on weekends, with families, you name it. It is the only sport in which our high school is competitive with other schools its size.

We have immigrant communities small and large across the U.S. with plenty of people who have brought to this country a passion for, and knowledge of, the beautiful game. Unfortunately their passion and knowledge don’t translate into any sort of development of the sport, or pipeline for talented youth players, because they remain disconnected from the traditional pathways to professional soccer in the US, whether Olympic Development Programs, collegiate soccer, or professional teams’ youth academies.

Outside of the inaccessibly expensive pay to play youth leagues, there are “pirate leagues” and “tournament teams” that form and re-form for individual, specific events. These teams have outstanding players at all levels, but such pieced-together-by-the-tournament players are not at all connected to the expensive club system because they cannot afford to be.

These same talented athletes also often come from families who don’t have a history of attending college, and/or who lack the necessary knowledge and financial resources to get their children the tools they need to access higher education. And scouting resources at the collegiate and professional level are woefully understaffed. As a result most of these extremely capable youth players who might otherwise be the next generation of US all stars go unheralded and fail to develop to their potential, unconnected to Olympic soccer, collegiate soccer, or professional teams’ academy systems (many of which are still in their infancy).

Other comments? 

JESS: Maybe there’s a silver lining to not making it into Russia that I’m not seeing. Maybe that silver lining is that it’s spurring conversations like this and has sowed the seeds of change. I know that I am disappointed by the results. I know that I am a little more cynical and on edge this week because of that disappointment. Let’s build for 2022 and come back with a vengeance.

KIRSTEN: Both of my countries are out! The Netherlands are only supposed to be terrible for the Euros, and we know what happened to the USMNT. Who the hell am I supposed to root for now?

Featured image courtesy: @ussoccer

Follow and chat with us on twitter // @MLSFemale

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Happiness to Heartbreak for USMNT

Abigail Gerken - USWNT/mlsfemale
USMNT Official Reporter

By Abigail Gerken // @abigailgerken22

2 games, 5 days apart, 2 very different results, and 1 country on a roller coaster of emotion,

FRIDAY: On Friday the boys played Panama in Orlando, Florida. It was a very chippy game but it resulted in a 4-0 win for the USA. Wonderboy did it again, Christian Pulisic had a goal and an assist. Jozy Altidore also had an amazing game,  2 goals and an assist to his name. After this 4-0 win, the USMNT had a 93% chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

It all came down to the final match day of this World Cup Qualifying cycle. Tuesday was the WCQ equivalent of MLS’s Decision Day for North and South America. All games started at 4:30, and by the end of the night, we will know who is booking a ticket to Russia and who was spending summer 2018 at home.

TUESDAY: It all came down to this. The only way the US could not qualify for the World Cup is if: they lose to Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras beats Mexico, and Panama beats Costa Rica. By the 37th minute, the USMNT was down 2-0 to T&T. In the 47th minute Christian Pulisic scored to make it 2-1. However, the goals would stop there and the USMNT would lose 2-1. Meanwhile, both Honduras and Panama won their respective games.

USA’s worst nightmare just happened. We are officially not going to be in the 2018 World Cup. This is the first time since 1986 that the USMNT has not qualified for a World Cup.

Tweet us @MLSFemale and let us know what you think went wrong! We would love to hear your opinions on this heartbreaking loss.

Featured image of Jozy Altidore courtesy: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @abigailgerken22

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Saturday, October 7:1-1 Draw

With Tim Howard (USA) and Mekeil Williams (Trinidad & Tobago) called away for international duty and Michael Azira still out with a questionable ankle, the Colorado Rapids had a new lineup this past weekend against FC Dallas. They played their standard 4-2-3-1 formation with Alan Gordon starting up top for the first time since May. Nana Boateng started the game as a center midfielder, and I have to say that I really liked him there. He was decently physical, though he does still need to learn a little restraint.

 

From the first whistle, both teams played fairly lackluster which was surprising considering Dallas needed points to move into playoff contention. The Rapids struck first with Stefan Aigner getting his second goal of the season in the fifteenth minute. Nana Boateng drew the first card of the match when he slid in hard and late on Dallas’ number 37, Maximiliano Urruti. Atiba Harris got the first yellow for Dallas when it looked like he had a late tackle on Stefan Aigner. The card was overturned once it was evident that Aigner dove and Harris never touched him. Aigner lucked out here because he didn’t get carded for simulation. Several attempts and a minute of stoppage time later, the first half ended.

Jesse Gonzalez proved himself vital to FC Dallas’ defense during the second half by making some incredible saves. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s going to be in the MLS much longer with his talent.

At the 53rd minute, Atiba Harris headed in the equalizer off of a corner kick and that would be the score for the rest of the game. Dallas uses their first sub, and Badji gets the second card of the game in the 67th minute. (It should be noted that this is the third game in a row that Badji has started an argument of some sort with the opposing team. With his contract being renewed for another two years, I wonder if this is something that will be addressed or not.)

Atiba Harris gets his true first yellow of the game when he elbowed the Rapids keeper, Zach MacMath, in the face while going up for a header. The contact was truly accidental as neither man saw the other coming because they were so focused on the ball. Once again, Nana Boateng shows just how much power he has when he kicked the ball from the halfway line into the 18 yard box. The tie would stand though, and move Dallas just above the line, while keeping Colorado ahead of L.A. Galaxy.

The Rapids face Real Salt Lake on Decision Day 2017 (Sunday, October 15, 2017) for their last home game of the season.

15’ – GOAL: Stefan Aigner (COL) – 1-0 Colorado

21’ – CARD: Nana Boateng (COL) – yellow

53’ – GOAL: Atiba Harris (FCD) 1-1

66’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Roland Lamah replaced by Tesho Akindele

67’ – CARD: Dominique Badji (COL) – yellow

69’ – CARD: Atiba Harris (FCD) – yellow

70’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Alan Gordon replaced by Mike DaFonte

82’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Maximiliano Urruti replaced by Cristian Colmán

83’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Stefan Aigner replaced by Shkelzen Gashi

88’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Mauro Diaz replaced by Victor Ulloa

Featured image courtesy: Colorado Rapids facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @jesshuh15

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

New York Red Bulls – A Marvelous Night

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench 

Saturday, October 7th: 3-0 Win

Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies

–Van Morrison

It was ‘neath the cover of October skies that the New York Red Bulls (13-12-7, 34 points) clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, now for the 8th straight season, with a win against Western Conference leaders the Vancouver Whitecaps (15-11-6, 31 points). September was a mess, but as coach Jesse Marsch said after the match, the team was able to turn the page:

“…September was difficult for us and disappointing. You know, we were all
disappointed with the results. But we continued to feel that we were playing well, and it was just a matter of time before we were going to start to have it add up more.”

Fans were stressed. The team was missing chances and dropping points. Mistakes were destroying morale and injuries are still whittling away at the team’s depth. Three players heeded national call-ups (Michael Amir Murillo and Fidel Ecsobar to Panama, and Derrick Etienne to Haiti), reducing team strength even further. But Marsch found a way to right the ship.

“Yeah, I mean, I’ll be honest. I’ve been challenging our defenders… to perform at a higher level because we’ve made too many mistakes. […W]e felt like if we could shore that up; if we could find the right balance of personnel and performance in the back that the rest will take care of itself, because there’s a lot of good things happening. So you know, got three good performances from the guys at center back…”

That would be Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, and Kemar Lawrence. Lawrence, who played a major role in Jamaica’s Gold Cup run, declined the call for an international friendly in Saudi Arabia. The team, the fans, and my fantasy lineup all heaved a sigh of relief. It’s just too bad that Lawrence got himself a yellow card in the 84th minute and is now suspended for the next game.

Meanwhile back on offense, “all the night’s magic” made the fans stand up and cheer. Forward Danny Royer, just recently back from injury, shot the ball across the face of the goal and in for the 12th time this season in the 33rd minute.

And then, after a call for offside earlier in the match, Bradley Wright-Phillips did what he does best, for the 86th time in his MLS career (and the 17th this season).

But wait– there’s more! For the 3rd time this season, Midfielder Felipe found the back of the net despite traffic in the box and BWP at his side.

As for assists, captain Sacha Kljestan posted 2 more on the night, bringing his season total to 17. Kljestan just might be on track to rack up 20 assists on the season for the 2nd year in a row. Mighty impressive, if you ask me.

So with two games to go, post season plans are being made. Let’s (Moon)dance.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Colorado Rapids – We Got Three!!!

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Sunday, October 1: 2-1 Win

Y’all. We did it. We finally got three points this weekend against the Montreal Impact. I don’t think I’ve held my breath that much since the USA/Honduras World Cup Qualifier last month. I walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a huge smile on my face, taking deep breaths, and telling my dad how good it felt to have a win. The truth is, this was easily the weirdest soccer game I have ever witnessed.

The first half saw Stefan Aigner getting his first home start of the season as the 10 alongside Marlon Hairston’s 7 and Joshua Gatt’s 11 with Dominique Badji up top. At 9 minutes in, Jared Watts got the first red card of the game thanks to the VAR. It was the right call. He slid into Chris Duvall’s ankle, studs up, in attempt on the ball. It was a bad decision on Watts’ part.

At this point in the game, the Colorado Rapids formation had to change from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-1 to accommodate for the now missing 8. Duvall was subbed out and the game restarted with 10 Rapids players to Montreal’s 11. Montreal’s Daniel Lovitz got the second red card of the game thanks to a stupid decision. Rapids defender, Mike Da Fonte went up for a header against Lovitz and ended up on the ground. As he was getting up, Lovitz stepped through and kneed him in the ribs. From my understanding of FIFA rules, the ref probably considered this a use of excessive force which would be why he was sent off.

As if two red cards in the first half weren’t weird enough, the ref whistled play dead and restarted with a drop ball when he lost track of the ball in the 41st minute. The fourth official indicated that there would be four minutes of stoppage time and in the second minute of that stoppage time, Aigner found the back of the net for his first career MLS goal. From the review of the play, Aigner moved from an offside to an onside with a little stutter step which put him right in line with Mekeil Williams’ pass.

At the 46th minute, the Rapids used their first sub of the game and replaced Mike Da Fonte with Nana Boateng. Kort Ford got his first yellow in the 47th minute, followed by VAR coming to the Rapids rescue in 51st minute. Hairston takes down Ignacio Piatti in the box and the ref called a PK. The play went to VAR which showed that Hairston made contact with the ball and the PK is overturned.

That relief was short lived as Mateo Mancosu got the equalizer in the 61st minute. Axel Sjöberg missed his opportunity to stop the goal when he turned to the side and let Mancosu go right past him. The shot was unsaveable because it went into the top corner of the net, just over Tim Howard’s fingertips. At this point in the game, both teams were playing with ten men on the field, Montreal used all of their subs, and Colorado used 2 of their 3.

Michael Azira caught his ankle on the grass just wrong and it folded underneath of him. Mohammed Saeid came in as the Rapids third and final substitution. Two minutes later, Alan Gordon scored the game winner and got a yellow card for excessive celebration.

Shortly thereafter, Boateng saw an incredible attempt on Montreal’s goal, from the top of the Rapids’ box, go just wide by a couple of feet at most. The weirdness continued when Montreal went down to 9 men after Piatti twisted his knee and dropped to the ground with no players around him. After playing 89 minutes, Deian Bolder was shown off the field by the center referee because he forgot his shin guards. Mekeil Williams went down on the opposite side of the field with an ankle injury and had to leave in stoppage time.

Both teams ended the game with 9 players, but the Rapids came away with the win and 3 points. We finally moved ahead of LA Galaxy in the league standings thanks to a late goal by Kyle Beckerman to cause a draw between Real Salt Lake and L. A. The Rapids will face FC Dallas at DSG Park on Saturday, October 7th.

9’ – CARD: Jared Watts (COL) – red

13’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (1/3) – Chris Duvall replaced by Hassoun Camara

32’ – CARD: Daniel Lovitz (MON) – red

45’+2 – GOAL: Stefan Aigner (COL) 1-0 Colorado

46’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Mike Da Fonte replaced by Bismark “Nana” Adjei-Boateng

47’ – CARD: Kortne Ford (COL) – yellow

62’ – GOAL: Mateo Mancosu (MON) 1-1

67’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (2/3) – Dominic Oduro replaced by Anthony Jackson-Hamel

72’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Stefan Aigner replaced by Alan Gordon

75’ – SUBSTITUTION: MON (3/3) – Patrice Bernier replaced by Michael Salazar

79’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Michael Azira replaced by Mohammed Saeid

81’ – GOAL: Alan Gordon (COL) 2-1 Colorado

82’ – CARD: Alan Gordon (COL) – yellow

85’ – PLAYER OUT: Ignacio Piatti (MON) out for an injury

90’+3 – PLAYER OUT: Mekeil Williams (COL) out for an injury

Featured image of Stefan Aigner courtesy: @stevecookeworld@ColoradoRapids

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Clinched It – Columbus Crew

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, September 30: 2-0 Win

On Saturday night, Columbus Crew SC did what they did not look able to do in the middle of the season—clinch a playoff spot.  What spot they actually finish in is still unknown, but Crew SC will play at least one playoff game during the 2017 MLS season. 

Columbus Crew SC won 2-0 against one of their oldest rivals, DC United, who had a familiar face in the net.  Former Crew SC keeper Steve Clark was picked up by DC and faced his former teammates.  There wasn’t a lot Steve could have done to stop Crew SC’s two goals though.

In the first quarter of the game, Crew SC seemed to dominate play.  Josh Williams headed in an Higuain corner kick in the 14’ to score the game’s first goal.  Clark was pretty much left out to dry by his defense who left Josh unmarked.

In the middle of the game, it was much more of a back and forth match, but unlike earlier in the season, I never felt a sense of dread that Crew SC might let DC back into this match.  Their unbeaten streak has given the team a much-needed boost of confidence and camaraderie, which has started to radiate into the stands as well.

This isn’t to say that DC didn’t have their chances, but Zack Steffen continues to make great saves.  I hope that at some point the USMNT take notice of Steffen.

In the 56’, Artur sent a ball across the field toward Jimenez who let the ball go through his legs to Justin Meram.  Meram hit a beauty of a shot into the far side of the goal.  As the ball went toward the goal, I was pretty sure he was going to miss.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I don’t think Clark had a chance to save the shot.  I don’t think many keepers could have saved it. 

Other thoughts about the match and Crew SC happenings:

TIFOSweat gets a huge shout out for the large TIFO they did to honor Frederico Higuain who had given all of us the impression that this might be his last season in the black and gold. 

However, not only did Crew SC clinch the playoffs this week, but they also locked up Pipa for another year.  Did the TIFO play a role in his decision?  No one will ever know, but I’m going to go with yes.  He is essential to this team, as I’ve said all season, so I’m glad to see him back for another year.  Now, we just need to lock up Artur.

You can tell both Pipa and Santos grew up playing soccer with a similar mindset.  They are often at the same place on the field at the same time.

If you had asked me to make a bet at the beginning of the season who I thought our starting center backs would be by the end of the season, I would have lost that bet.  Who would have thought Josh Williams and Mensah would be our center back pairing?  But it works.  They look much more confident than any other pairing we have seen this year. 

Finally, I know there was talk on Twitter, and apparently Facebook, about how to handle facing Steve Clark.  Some people wanted to boo him before and after the game and some during the game.  People can obviously do whatever they want to do within reason.    During the game, I laughed when we scored on him and some chanted, “Steve says, ‘Yes!’” as some good-natured ribbing during the game is part of the sport. 

However, I was proud that before the game and after the game the fans cheered Steve.  Despite the goal that will live in infamy during the 2015 MLS Cup, Steve was a solid keeper for this team.  He brought spirit and leadership to a team that desperately needed it, and he loved the fans of this club.  Steve Clark will always be a Crew SC player that I respect and who played lights out soccer in a system where the defense in front of him isn’t always a keeper’s best friend.  Despite how much I respect Steve though, I was glad we scored two goals.

After a break in the action, Crew SC picks back up and plays its last two games on the road to see which playoff spot it will actually have.  And I am going to enjoy the journey.

Featured image courtesy: @JustinMeram

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A Tale of Two Goodbyes – Colorado Rapids

Jess Houwen - Colorado Rapids/mlsfemale
Official Colorado Rapids Reporter

By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15

Wednesday, September 27: 2-0 Loss

This week has not been an easy one for the Colorado Rapids. Wednesday night’s loss combined with wins around the league has put the Rapids mathematically out of playoff contention. The tie between LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo means we are still in last place of our division, behind by two points now. Again, we are faced with needing the Galaxy to lose while we win in order to not come in dead last in the West. To top this off, the Rapids lost a center forward when Kevin Doyle retired on Thursday.

A win in Frisco would have meant that the Rapids still had the chance to challenge for the playoffs, however, FC Dallas had no intent of letting us off that easy. Like Saturday night, the Rapids again played in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Dallas’ 4-3-3. This match up saw the return of Bobby Burling and Dillon Serna to the starting lineup, and Stefan Aigner’s first start with the Rapids.

The Rapids played half-hearted nearly the full game on Wednesday night as if they had already given up any hope of ending the season with a win or two. Maynor Figueroa (FCD) started the game off with a goal five minutes in after Eric Miller missed a clear opportunity to clear the ball out of the box. Not four minutes later, Miller was beat once again, this time by Roland Lamah (FCD) for the second and final goal of the game.

Bobby Burling drew the first yellow card of the game after channeling his inner hockey player and hip checking Lamah. Colorado got their first opportunity at putting the ball in the back of the net when Matt Hedges drew a card after getting tangled up with Dominique Badji. Two more yellow cards came for the Rapids before the end of the first half when Stefan Aigner mouthed off to the ref and Mohammed Saeid threw the ball at Javier Morales’ head.

The frustration was evident in the second half of the game as the Rapids missed multiple opportunities on goal and, as a result, could not put together a comeback. The Rapids saw a bit of pick up in speed and goal opportunities late in the game after substitutions were made. Marlon Hairston came in for Stefan Aigner and his first touch was an attempt on goal. After being warned about time wasting in the 38th minute, referee Ricardo Salazar finally issued a yellow card for time wasting to Jesse Gonzalez in the 83rd minute.

The Rapids need more central players.

At one point in Wednesday’s game, the entire midfield was left open while players were either at the top of the box or at the midfield line. Kevin Doyle was one solution to that problem and was known for closing down the middle during games. Sadly, he announced his retirement from soccer on Thursday following medical advice from his doctors due to concerns about the risk of permanent damage from further concussions. He had not been seen on the pitch since the second half of the September 2nd game against the Galaxy after getting his second concussion of the season.

Doyle first came to Colorado from Crystal Palace in 2015 and had been a fixture on the Republic of Ireland national team since 2006. He finishes his 16 year career with 63 international caps, and the appreciation of Rapids fans everywhere.

Colorado next faces Montreal Impact at home on Saturday, September 30. Let’s go ‘Pids!

5’ – GOAL: Maynor Figueroa (FCD) 1-0 Dallas

8’ – GOAL: Roland Lamah (FCD) 2-0 Dallas

11’ – CARD: Bobby Burling (COL) – yellow

21’ – CARD: Matt Hedges (FCD) – yellow

44’ – CARD: Stefan Aigner (COL) – yellow

45’ – CARD: Mohammed Saeid (COL) – yellow

54’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Marlon Hairston in for Stefan Aigner

63’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Dominique Badji

69’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Shkelzen Gashi in for Mohammed Saeid

74’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Victor Ulloa in for Mauro Diaz

83’ – CARD:  Jesse Gonzalez (FCD) – yellow

86’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Ryan Hollingshead in for Roland Lamah

89’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Luis González in for Javier Morales

Featured image courtesy: @ColoradoRapids

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All Mixed Up – New York Red Bulls

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench 

Wednesday, September 27th: 3-3 Draw

Now it’s morning but last night’s on my mind

There’s something I need to get off my chest

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about the New York Red Bulls in league play… sorry about that.

I made my way to Red Bull Arena to see the latest matchup for the Atlantic Cup (a *real* rivalry, mind you) against DC United. As I was driving home from the game, this 311 song came on the radio. I have taken to referencing Broadway musicals while I write these articles, and was all set to do so once again here. But the lyrics, which I had learned in my Junior year of high school, hit me so hard that I had to integrate them here. (And yes, this song is as old as our beloved Metro. And older than a couple of guys on the roster. Let that sink in.) I usually do a full run-down of the game and venue, but I’m going to try something a little different….

For those of you still slightly confused (or ridiculously young), you gon’ learn today:

Many moons: RBNY hasn’t won a league match since August 12th, while DC was coming off  2 wins and were trying to ramp up for a real winning streak.

“But… we’re commanding every game we play. Every single game we play, we’re pretty much controlling the game the way we want to control it. But we have to work so hard for our chances, and then when we do score, it seems like we find ways to literally just give goals away.” — Jesse Marsch, post game press conference

The dream will always be mine: RBNY will make the playoffs. How far they get in the playoffs depends on a lot of things. In the meantime, it’s really easy for fans to get bogged down by a draw like this: it should have been a win. Analysts and number crunchers keep reminding fans that the team is doing well in terms of points and stats. It’s just that those things aren’t resulting in wins.

“The will of the team is a big positive. Really the only negative is that we just can’t seem to reward ourselves.” — Jesse Marsch, post game press conference

Kill ‘dem stunning: Right Wingback Tyler Adams, who is younger than a couple of t-shirts I own, tallied his first AND second goals in MLS at this game (19′ & 74′). The soccer mom in me can’t help but be proud, because not only is he a talented player, he is a level-headed team member.

“We’re confident in our team, and we’re all determined enough to make it.” — Tyler Adams, locker room interview

Next thing you turn around and find the person is you: An own goal. That thing that helped RBNY win more than one game in the past has come back to give the devil his due. Defender Fidel Escobar was credited with the error that caused RBNY to drop 2 points in the 91st minute of the game, when it should really have been sewn up for the Red Bulls. He’s not the first player to do this, nor will he be the last. It will sting, but like a scraped knee after falling off a bike, the only thing to do is get right back to it and prove that was the exception to the rule.

That’s your best bet: There were several considerable bright spots, and I don’t want them to get lost in the quagmire. We saw the return of Danny Royer, who came on as a substitute in the 75th minute. Allow me to highlight the question I asked of Jesse Marsch, the first of my sports writing career (such as it is):

[H]ow did you feel about how Royer came in today? This is his first game back and everyone was excited to see him. What did you think, is he really there with you? Is there still more to work on?
“He’s got to get up to full fitness and everything, but he’s back. Was excited to get him back in the game. I think a high probability that he starts on Saturday, so it’s no time like the present. We need Danny. We need Danny now, so it’s good to have him
back. That is a big positive.”

Speaking of subs, Gonzalo Veron made some amazing runs, including one where he was brought down in the box and awarded the penalty kick, which he converted (78′).

Let go of regret: The sentiment from all the players was the same– let this go and focus on the next challenge: a weekend matchup against conference leaders and Supporter’s Shield contenders Toronto FC. I was never one to predict a result, but now…

You make me nervous
Throat dry
My brain is empty
Don’t know why

(I’ve had this song stuck in my head for nearly 24 hrs now… it’s your turn.)

Featured image of Tyler Adams 1st goal courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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