Tag Archives: Featured

Best in the West: LAFC clinches 2019 Supporters’ Shield

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club clinched the 2019 Supporters’ Shield, making history as the team with the best record of the 2019 MLS season, with a 3-1 victory against the Houston Dynamo at the Banc.

Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Eduard Atuesta delivered all three goals to secure the team’s first trophy; ensuring New York City FC, who kept their hopes alive in a win against Atlanta United earlier, cannot surpass the club by the end of the regular season.

Head Coach Bob Bradley fielded his usual lineup with a few changes that saw Tristian Blackmon and Mohamed El-Munir starting in place of Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey – the changes made a huge improvement in LAFC’s defense. There was also another strong showing of the DP trio (Vela, Rossi, Brian Rodriguez).

Dominating the game with 70.4% possession and having created two solid chances in the opening twelve minutes, the Black & Gold set the tone of the match.

In the 23rd minute, Rodriguez took a touch off a cross from Blackmon and was taken down near the penalty spot; awarding a penalty to the home side.

The captain converted the penalty to give LAFC the lead. After scoring his 30th goal – Vela was on the cusp of tying the all-time season record. Although he did not achieve this last night, I think a nice piece of silverware made up the difference.

Houston immediately leveled the match after forcing an own goal by Tyler Miller just five minutes later. The ball slipped through traffic to El-Munir who slid to block it, but the ball then deflected off Miller and back into the net.

The drama continued as the club earned a chance to double the lead in the 31st minute after Houston’s Aijaz Struna clipped Lee Nguyen from behind near the box. Referee Ramy Touchan almost awarded a second penalty but the decision was changed to a free kick after a quick VAR review.

Vela’s left footed shot hit the underside of the bar and bounced out; LAFC and the Dynamo fought for the live ball with it ultimately falling to Segura. Unfortunately, his rebound missed just wide of the goal.

The Black & Gold continued to push forward, creating more scoring opportunities. Rodriguez received the final play before the whistle. But his missed attempt lead both sides into the half in a 1-1 stalemate.

LAFC used it’s first substitution of the night shortly after the restart as Mark-Anthony Kaye entered for a visibly disappointed Rodriguez who had only seen 57 minutes of playing time.

Rossi put the team back ahead in the 70th minute after the ball ricocheted off the crossbar and the young forward was there to head it in putting the score up 2-1.

Atuesta’s curler in the 83rd minute was the icing on the cake – securing all three points and the club’s first trophy, while simultaneously eliminating the Dynamo from playoff contention.

With two games left in the regular season, the road to the MLS Cup becomes clearer for the Black & Gold, as they will now have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

LAFC will look to continue their good fortune when they travel to Allianz Field on Sunday, September 29 to face Minnesota United.

Until then, it’s time to celebrate!

Featured Image: Dejan Jakovic

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sweet, Sweet Silverware: Montréal Impact Claim 2019 Canadian Championship

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

It is no secret that the Montréal Impact’s season has derailed rather spectacularly since my arrival in the city. As the team has dropped to 9th in the Eastern Conference, the level of cynicism and disengagement had reached an all-time high at Stade Saputo.

However, in Canada, there’s more to life than just the MLS playoffs. There’s a trophy known as the Voyageurs Cup. Winning the trophy is the only way a Canadian team can enter the CONCACAF Champions’ League, and the Cup was created by fans of the Canadian National team in 2002. Since then, the Impact had won the trophy nine times, leading to some of the most iconic moments in the club’s history.

With the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League underway for the 2019 edition of the competition, the format was expanded. To reach the competition, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir had to face York 9 FC and Cavalry FC in order to take on reigning champs, and bitter enemy, Toronto FC.

Lo and behold, the Impact found themselves in a two-legged final competition once again with their number-one rivals. As the disappointing performances mounted in MLS competition and turbulence continued to swirl around the team, most fans entered into the first leg with a feeling of, “I hope Toronto doesn’t humiliate us too badly.”

Sometimes it’s almost impossible to explain how a match plays out like it does. One team has the momentum, the firepower, and the luck on their side. But sometimes the other just wants it that much more.

The first leg in Montréal proved that the Bleu-Blanc-Noir still had some fire left in them. Despite many of the players having not been part of the team for longer than a season, winning the trophy meant a lot. Ignacio Piatti scored a blistering goal, Clément Diop stood on his head, and Victor Cabrera earned back the pride he had lost in the 2016 Eastern Conference Final by confidently shutting down Jozy Altidore to enter the return leg with a 1-0 advantage.

I’ve probably said it a hundred times – BMO Field is not kind to the Impact. They didn’t win a match in MLS there until 2016, and regardless of the competition, further victories have been few and far between. With the likes of Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo ready to play 90 minutes against an Impact missing Saphir Taïder through yellow card suspension, feelings were mixed about how the match would play out. Montréal had choked twice in recent history against their bitter rivals in that hostile territory, but the fragile hope that comes only in a cup final was running deep among the fans.

This is where I have to be honest: I didn’t watch very much of the match. Given that TFC absolutely had to score a goal, and the Impact had to at least protect a lead, the home team essentially laid siege to the Impact’s defensive third and dominated possession. As it turns out, I don’t have the mental fortitude to handle that level of tension, and I spent large stretches of the match with my hands over my eyes. The drama was far from over though, as a series of controversies late in the second half led my nerves to reach a crescendo.

As Maxi Urruti played a cross to Clément Bayiha, defender Auro Jr. blocked the cross … doing his best impression of Diego Maradona’s Hand of God. Neither the ref or the linesman saw the blatant penalty, and within moments, Tsubusa Endoh scored, leaving the times tied at 1-1 cumulatively. Shortly before full time, Chris Mavinga would be sent off for fouling Lassi Lappalainen as he was through on goal.

Regulation time ended thusly, and it was straight to a penalty shootout. It has been some time since the Impact found themselves in such a situation, and TFC had struggled in several of their own penalty shootouts, so it was impossible to predict the outcome.

Fate smiled down on one team. TFC’s second shooter, Altidore, struck the crossbar, Diop saved Patrick Mullins’ rushed effort, and Jonathan Osorio hit the post, as Bojan, Daniel Lovitz and Rudy Camacho scored each of their penalties, leading the Montréal Impact to a 3-1 shootout victory and their first Canadian Championship since 2014.

How exciting is this moment if you’re associated with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir? The team celebrated long into the night, crashing coach Wilmer Cabrera’s press conference with champagne showers. The 250+ fans who traveled to Toronto shared in celebrations in the stadium, at the team bus, and undoubtedly on the journey home. In my case, I had to take a personal day off of work to soak in the joy and welcome the team back to the airport.

It’s a beautiful trophy, and it’s the first Montréal has won since I began following the team. It brings the promise of Champions’ League soccer in 2020 even if 2019 ends up being a season to forget. Most of all, it’s tangible proof that even if the Impact are down, never count them out.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

D.C. United Are A Step Closer To Bringing The Playoffs Home After 2-0 Victory Over Seattle

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant, Russell Canouse; Júnior Moreno, Felipe Martins; Lucas Rodríguez (Quincy Amarikwa 70′), Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura (Emmanuel Boateng,; Wayne Rooney (Luciano Acosta, 77′)

A muggy Sunday night match against the Seattle Sounders put D.C. United one step closer to hosting a playoff match at Audi Field this season. The Black-and-Red had only guaranteed their playoff berth the night before, with a little help from their friends in the West, the LA Galaxy. Ready to bring the playoffs home to the District, a win over the Sounders stood as another obstacle in their way. D.C. did not disappoint, logging their third consecutive shutout victory.

The Black-and-Red clearly turned up to win, chippy and focused from the first whistle. As D.C. finds their identity as a team once more, individual players are also blossoming. In particular, Ulises Segura has indeed come into his own this season, developing a sharpness and style that was rarely seen in 2018. Paul Arriola continues to be one of the hardest working and most tenacious men on the field; his work rate is exhausting even to watch.

Russell Canouse has recently been slotted into the RB position, where he is thriving. Canouse is creating a brick wall for opponents, and we are here for it. Head coach Ben Olsen was proud of his performance, saying, “he understands spacing, and when to get out… offensively he can still help us in builds; he connects more passes than not…I think he’s doing pretty damn good there.” 

After a missed attempt by D.C. captain Wayne Rooney in the 13’, Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez snapped back to put the Black-and-Red on the board. Capitalizing on the chaos surrounding Seattle’s goal, Titi, sank a rocket right into the net behind goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the 14’.

Play began to get physical between the two teams, both vying for the advantage under referee Alan Kelly’s watchful eye. Crisp passing by D.C. Untied kept the Sounders running in circles for a good portion of the first half, while the Black-and-Red created chance after chance up top.

Closing out the first half up 1-0 over Seattle, D.C. wasn’t done yet. A strong defense by the Sounders at the beginning of the second half seemed to have the Black-and-Red pinned back. However, a foul in the 53’ on Joseph Mora gave D.C. an opening to score yet another goal. Fred Brillant tipped in a perfectly placed ball from a set-piece by captain Wayne Rooney in the 54’, putting D.C. up 2-0. Brillant’s effort earned him well deserved ‘Man of the Match’ honors.

A 70’ substitution brought on striker Quincy Amarikwa for Titi Rodríguez. He settled in quickly to make a run at Seattle’s goal. The early substitution gave Amarikwa significant time to get in the heads of the Sounders, and he delivered his signature mental game on the field.

Luciano Acosta entered the match in the 77’ for captain Wayne Rooney, who left the pitch to a standing ovation. The cheers for Rooney were deafening. Olsen then made his third substitution of the match, bringing on Emmanuel Boateng for Ulises Segura. While Olsen usually takes his time making substitutions, if he makes them at all, his instincts tonight were near flawless.

Olsen knows the playoff run will be challenging and has acknowledged that the team has to “sustain focus to raise silverware…you’re going to have to adapt and change and be good with every aspect of the game.”

D.C. United is back, and just in time!

Vamos United!!!

All images: D.C. United

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

New York Red Bulls Make the Big Time (Again)

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, September 22: 2-0 Win

Hi there!

Did I miss anything?

I’ve been kinda busy. You’ve heard that one from me before. But you deserve something from me, Dear Reader.

I’m On My Way

The Red Bulls have made the playoffs every year since Red Bull Arena opened. Ten seasons now. Will it be different this time? The team has entered at the top and the bottom of the bracket in those years. But the MLS Cup eludes them. Their style of play has always seemed to blow up in their faces during the post-season. If even one piece of their complex puzzle is missing, the entire thing is for naught. That cannot happen again… unless it does.

Be a Big Noise

The Red Bulls welcomed the Philadelphia Union for Hispanic Heritage night. Having won their last game against the Portland Timbers, RBNY needed to use that momentum. Problem was, they didn’t. Not really. They were sluggish in comparison to that last game. Although, to be fair, I was sluggish after that game, too. 10:30pm kickoffs are no joke! But I digress.

Tom Barlow scored just after the half-hour mark and y’all… it was pretty sweet. That mid-western kid is making things happen. Officially, he hails from St. Louis- not a “small town.” But the big city is putting him up with the big boys.

So Much Larger Than Life

The Red Bull back line came up big, in the way fans have expected them to. Aaron Long’s goal line clearance and Tim Parker’s ability to completely trounce opponents are a thing of beauty. Kemar Lawrence sacrificed himself repeatedly to make the necessary runs and tackles. Kyle Duncan, who scored midweek against Portland, went the full 90 and proved he is ready for more.

I Greet Them With the Widest Smile

Winning by one goal is fine, but having a second is really nice too. There were plenty of opportunities throughout the game. When Bradley Wright-Phillips entered the match with 29 minutes left, one might expect he would add to the scoreline.

And he did… by assisting Danny Royer in the 96th minute.

(I’d love to get the backstory on every tattoo he’s got.)

I’ve Got to Make it Show

Red Bull fans are now starting D.C. Hate Week, when they give voice to the rivalry that fosters the Atlantic Cup (all apologies to my editor-in-chief and lovely colleague). Then a jaunt up to Stade Saputo and the Montreal Impact to end the regular season. The potential to host a playoff match is on the line. A home field advantage is, well… big.

(P.S. Remember when music videos were an art form?)

Featured image: New York Red Bulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Sporting KC’s playoffs hopes dashed in 3-2 loss at home; have chance at redemption wednesday

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

To say this season has been stressful for Sporting Kansas City is an understatement. The club has yet see the top of standings; do they still have a chance to make the playoffs?

Maybe, but not likely.

Sporting KC suffered yet another devastating lost at Children’s Mercy Park at the hands of two former players, falling to the Colorado Rapids 3-2; dashing SKC’s playoffs hopes.

Hopes seemed high for the home side as they kicked off the match with Gerso scoring an early goal in the 3rd minute.

But things turned sour fast.

Matt Besler received two cautions resulting in a red card in the first twenty minutes and was ejected from the match. The captain’s ejection was the third of his career and arguably his quickest thus far.

Down a man, Sporting KC carried on to double their score with Roger Espinoza now donning the captain’s armband.

Johnny Russell created a scoring opportunity in the 13th minute when he passed a through ball to Krisztian Nemeth inside the box. But Nemeth’s right footed shot from the centre of the box was blocked.

Nemeth doubled Sporting KC’s lead after forcing the ball past Clint Irwin a minute later. However, the goal was later recorded as an own goal by Tommy Smith.

Kei Kamara’s bicycle kick put the Rapids on the scoreboard in the 42nd minute pushing the game to 2-1 into the half.

The Rapids continued to dominate possession, even though SKC remained dangerous on the counter attack. But the home side was again thwarted by a former player.

Diego Rubio found the equalizer in the 76th minute following a sequence ignited by Sam Nicholson’s powerful cross into a crowded box. The ball fell to the feet of Smith, and although Ilie was there to block the initial attempt, Smith tapped the ball to Rubio who blasted the strike over Tim Melia’s head into the roof of the net.

Smith smashed home the header off Jack Price’s corner kick in the 85th minute to complete the visitors’ comeback, giving SKC their third-straight heartbreaking loss.

Thanks to two draws from the Portland Timbers and FC Dallas over the weekend, Sporting KC’s playoff hopes continues to hang by a thread. Sitting in eleventh place with 37 points, the club faces two scenarios heading into the League’s midweek fixtures:

  • Sporting KC will be eliminated if they lose or tie
  • Sporting KC win. But will be eliminated with a win from Portland and FC Dallas

And facing Minnesota United at Allianz Field will be no easy task.

It is important to note that Graham Smith was seen warming up on the sidelines for a significant amount of time following Besler’s ejection. But he was never called into action. With Besler gone for the next game – maybe he will appear in the starting XI.

Furthermore, the club officially announced this morning that it has mutually agreed to part ways with midfielder Yohan Croizet, a player who has been an integral part of the roster.

So will Sporting KC make the playoffs? Stranger things have happened so I wouldn’t rule it out just yet. But it’s tough to be positive these days.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

LAFC earns point at home in third straight draw

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club played Toronto FC to a 1-1 draw in a high-intensity match after returning a two-game road series on Saturday night at the Banc of California stadium.

Although it wasn’t their best performance, the match gave us a glimpse of the DP trio (Carlos Vela, Brian Rodriguez, and Diego Rossi). And we finally saw Diego Palacios on the bench for the first time since signing with the club last month.

Mark-Anthony Kaye tried a through ball just two minutes after the whistle, but Vela was caught offside – setting the tone for the match.

Moments later, Vela challenged Michael Bradley in a game of keep away. The captain defeated the younger Bradley but still couldn’t get through the backline to create a chance.

Toronto FC’s Tsubasa Endoh claimed the lead in the 19th minute after sending in a low cross into the corner off Jozy Altidore’s cross from inside the box.

The miscommunication between defenders continued when Jordan Harvey and Eddie Segura missed a chance to pass; that eventually led to Toronto getting around LAFC’s defense and opening up a dangerous scoring opportunity.  In the 30th minute, Marky Delgado took a shot from the right side of the box that was blocked by a sliding Walker Zimmerman.

Trailing by one – Rossi initially answered the young Japanese midfielder’s goal with the equalizer in the 33rd minute, burying a perfect through ball inside the near post. But as the script goes, his goal was called offsides.

Missing our normal dynamic midfield, the first half was met with a disorganized mess as LAFC struggled to dismantle Toronto FC’s tough defense.

Tristian Blackmon replaced Steven Beitashour at right back as a halftime substitute.

The substitution was a good move for the Black & Gold as they dominated possession and bumped up their shot total to 11, keeping Toronto’s keeper Quentin Westberg on high alert. However, LAFC continued to struggle to find their way around Toronto FC’s defense – that constantly adjusted to match the hosts’ combination plays.

Lee Nguyen came on to replace Zimmerman in the 75th minute moving to a three-man back line.

LAFC’s inaugural captain Laurent Ciman was greeted with applause from the crowd when he made his return to the Banc; coming on for Toronto the next minute.

In the third minute of stoppage time, Latif Blessing drew the penalty after Chris Mavinga scissored him in the chest inside the penalty area. Referee Ted Unkel initially awarded only a corner but changed this ruling after using VAR review.

The captain stepped up to convert the penalty, scoring his 29th career goal, and giving the home side a point in their third-straight draw of the season.

Despite leading the Supporters’ Shield, the Black & Gold are winless in their last five games while drawing four, and could not officially clinch the overall top seed this past weekend.

But not all hope is lost.

According to LAFC’s Digital Manager, Vince La Rosa, LAFC’s new magic number is three and they have two solid chances to secure the Supporters’ Shield on Wednesday.

Next up, the club will host former player Christian Ramirez and the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, September 25th.

Featured Image: LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Concussion Game: NYCFC collides with FC Dallas 1-1

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

If you look at the match statistics it doesn’t look that bad, but boy was yesterday’s New York City Football Club match against FC Dallas an ugly one.  

First, let’s give kudos to Taty Castellanos for scoring the quickest goal in the club’s history, bagging one off a cross by Anton Tinnerholm 39 seconds into the game.  NYCFC did manage to continue with consistent possession in the attacking third for the first quarter of the game.  Those are the positive takeaways from this match in their entirety.

img_0261

One could argue that City was exhausted from a tight match schedule and unaccustomed to playing in the 90 plus degree heat. Whatever the cause, the team for most of the match looked uncharacteristically like laggy video game players with legs made of lead.  

The game was leveled by a one-touch Zdenek Ondrasek rocket which was given to him on a proverbial platter via a sloppy defensive play by Alex Ring. The result should have been a loss if not for poor finishing by Dallas and by goalkeeper Sean Johnson being virtually flawless. Looking back, it seems that once Tinnerholm came off with a potentially serious head injury, everything seemed to fall apart.

img_0263

Soccer, as we all know, is a dangerous sport with the potential for a slew of injuries, but to me the scariest are the head injuries.  Watching the collision between Tinnerholm and FC Dallas’ Brandon Servania was painful. Even more horrifying was that they were both sent back out on the pitch almost immediately.  Neither could continue after a few minutes and fortunately were self-aware enough to say something.  You could hear Tinnerholm saying that he couldn’t see well and his facial expressions fluctuated between blank and confused.  And the hits just kept on coming with Alex Callens uncharacteristically going down after a ball was driven at his head and then Tony Rocha’s head being looked at after a collision.

I’m clearly not a medical professional, but I am aware that a lot of progress has been made in the early diagnosis and treatment of concussions in youth sports.  Long gone are the days when coaches believed that their young athletes could tough it out through a head injury, probably due in part to the press coverage of the traumatic brain injuries of NFL players.  I just can’t understand why the same respect is not given to MLS players.  

Everyone should want to protect their players’ heads and it seems that there could be some simple steps that the league could take to err on the side of caution when dealing with potential concussions:

1- The medical staff needs to take a lot more time in evaluating a possible concussion. In many cases, symptoms don’t show up immediately and putting the athlete back into a physically and mentally taxing environment will exacerbate the brain injury.

2- The three substitution rule should be waived for goalkeepers to be properly assessed for concussions.  This position is particularly vulnerable and medical staff needs time to assess it.  Currently, they rush through this as the keeper would need to be subbed out and replaced,  unable to return to the game if he is cleared.  A backup keeper should be allowed to play while the starting keeper is tended to.

3- An additional 4th substitution should be available for field players if both teams’ medical staff and the referee agree (without input from either coach), that the player needs to be evaluated for a concussion.  If the player is tested more throughly over a longer period of time and is cleared to return to the game, the player’s “concussion sub” comes out and cannot be used again in the match.

We currently don’t know the status of Tinnerholm’s injury but it should be treated with the same urgency and concern as any other physical part of his body.  The team may need to learn to play without him in order for a full recovery.

Next up:  How will this shaky performance impact NYCFC’s must-win match on Wednesday versus a closely trailing (only four points!) Atlanta United?

All images: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

D.C. United Clinch 2019 Playoff Spot

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Editor-In-Chief 
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

After a tumultuous season, D.C. United have managed to clinch a 2019 playoff spot! Throughout 2019, the Black-and-Red have faced countless challenges. Injury, roster shakeups (Wayne Rooney’s early departure anyone?), and winless streaks have forced many to question how soon the season would end.

After a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers at Providence Park and a little help from the LA Galaxy in shoving the anemic Montreal Impact further down the Eastern Conference table, D.C. United are currently sitting in a comfortable 5th place. A win tonight against the Seattle Sounders at Audi Field could indeed move D.C. up into 4th place and earn the opportunity to host a playoff match at home.

D.C. United will play two more regular-season matches after tonight, the first on the road against the New York Red Bulls, and the second at home against FC Cincinnati. It stands to reason that the Black-and-Red could win at least one of these matches, especially a home match in front of an energized supporter base.

D.C. United’s roster has experienced quite a few shakeups in the past few months. Captain Wayne Rooney announced his departure at the end of this season to play for Derby County, cutting short his contract with the Black-and-Red. Although the striker will be missed, D.C. has made valuable additions that should mitigate the impact of his exit. Ola Kamara, Emmanuel Boateng, Felipe Martins, and now, Yamil Asad, are a few of the players who will bolster the Black-and-Red in the 2020 season.

D.C.’s new players (except for Asad who will join the roster in 2020) have already more than proven their capability to be difference makers on the pitch, especially Kamara with his innate ability to find the back of the net. As D.C. looks to make a solid playoff run, the Black-and-Red’s newfound roster depth will be a tremendous asset.

Vamos United!

Featured image: MLS

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

“Having a Professional Soccer Team is a Privilege Not a Right.”

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Well, friends, it’s been a whole MONTH since I’ve been able to sit down and put any words on a screen for MLSFemale, and I apologize for my absence. Between the start of the school year and youth soccer season, and some waves in the unscripted reality show of real life, I simply haven’t had the headspace to devote to covering the Houston Dynamo’s functional slip from playoff contention over their last four matches.

With the same count left in the season, one match of which will play out before this article goes online, the Dynamo have only their pride and the city to play for, the latter having become an increasingly tough crowd to stand for. The players will have to dig deep – both in the depths of their own hearts and through mountains of negative social media posts – to find the inspiration to compete.

I’ve mentioned repeatedly since signing on to cover the team that I am Forever Orange – a fan through wins, losses, trades, and turnover. I love the sport of soccer, and nothing is more of a privilege to me than to have a home team within driving distance to support. As my friend Sean Ringrose has often said, having a professional soccer team is a privilege and not a right. I make it a habit not to take the organization for granted and to express heartfelt gratitude to all of the staff that keep the wheels greased and turning every chance that I get. 

Despite my love for the game, the team, and the staff that support my soccer habit, I remain aware of my own shortcomings. I have never coached a team – not even kids rec team. I’ve definitely never managed a professional sports organization or any portion of its staff. And, most tragically, I have never accumulated any kind of wealth that would earn me even the tiniest level of ownership of a professional team.

With those things in mind, when I take to the keyboard to review or critique the team’s performance in an article or online, I am doing so from a layman’s perspective. I am absolutely opinionated and appreciate every platform that I am provided to express my thoughts. However, I have never once expected that my opinions bear any weight or hold any purchase in the upper echelons of the actual Dynamo training space or front office. 

That is not to say that the organization isn’t listening. When John Walker came into the Dynamo/Dash organization as President of Business Operations almost a year ago, he worked to make sure that fans started having more access to communicate with and provide feedback to the front office. I’ve been in several rooms with him myself and have happened upon him out in the world on more than one occasion. But given an inch, a number of fans have taken this newfound access to another level. 

In addition to improving communication, John Walker has started making changes to the operations of the club and the stadium, which is absolutely what he was brought to Houston to do. Some fans were unhappy about changes and have taken to social media to lodge complaints. This became less of an opportunity for people to be heard and more of a showcase where fans with differing opinions began going after one another.

I have been right in the middle of it and own my place in the mudslinging. Fans that love the team are pitted against fans that love their seats. Fans that dislike ownership are frustrated at fans that continue to show up and spend money. The Dynamo have stopped being a uniting force for their Houston fans and have become a team that has fans split into factions, each with their own ideas and demands for the office and ownership.  

And besides all of the real life stuff, that is where my head has been for the last month. I looked around at my social media, my team, and its fan base and decided it was time to step away for a minute and take stock.

My simple reality is that I am here to support. Period. I’ll be standing, singing, and supporting my team for the rest of this season and into the next. I’ll have my 2020 season tickets in the supporters section – regardless of where the front office decides it will land next year. I refuse to be one more opinionated amateur screaming on social media, demanding to be heard, and I’m done engaging with them to increase the visibility and reach of their complaints.    

And to quote Bubba Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

And with that, it’s time to get ready and head to Houston – the Dynamo take on Orlando City tonight at BBVA Stadium.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

7-2 Blowout Places LA Galaxy Within Playoff Standings

Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

LA Galaxy lineup: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Diego Polenta, Dave Romney; Joe Corona, Jonathan dos Santos (Servando Carrasco 87’); Uriel Antuna (Efrain Alvarez 80’), Sebastian Lletget, Cristian Pavon (Chris Pontius 83’); Zlatan Ibrahimović ©.

September 15, 2019 was a big day at Dignity Health Sports Park.  Fans rolled in early around 2pm (7pm kick off) to enjoy Central American Night celebrations,  which included a DJ, cumbia band, pupusas, a photobooth, micheladas, Cachiporras, and more.  (See below for highlights of the festivities.)

At the tailgate, Academia de Futbol Juvenil Amatence (AFJA) was set up in both supporters’ groups, LA RiotSquad and Angel City Brigade, accepting both monetary donations, and new and gently used soccer equipment for kids in Central America. AFJA is a U.S. based non-profit that helps underserved communities in El Salvador, particularly by providing a fully funded youth soccer academy.

It was also Laker Night to celebrate another leading championship team in Los Angeles.  Fans could bid on exclusive co-branded jerseys. The LA Galaxy Foundation auctioned off jerseys with custom Lakers kit numbers.

LA Galaxy was finally playing at home again. After the International break and a loss in Colorado. 

Every game at this point is a must-win, especially with the West being such a tight race. Literally 2 points separate teams from second place and even 11th place isn’t yet mathematically eliminated.

Every Galaxy fan hoped the team would come out to play with passion, but no one could have guessed that LA Galaxy would hammer it the way they did.

Warm ups. Photo Credit Michelle Huitink

But, we fans of the blue, white, and gold are scarred from the previous season(s) and held our breath until we were up 5 goals.

LA Galaxy paced themselves to beat a Sporting Kansas City side that came out hot. SKC had their playoff chances snuffed out by a final score of 7-2. See highlights from the evening below including festivities and all seven goals:

Despite MLS referees’ decisions not being in the Galaxy’s favor, the home team broke through the opposition. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick, and with his 26th goal broke Carlos Ruiz’s 2002 club record for leading goal scorer in an MLS regular season. 

Joe Corona’s header was the second of the night and was his first goal with the club.

Uriel Antuna scored in the 69’ which made him the second top goal scorer, currently for the club with 4 goals.  

Sebastian Lletget got a brace, scoring back to back goals.  He’d been having a rough season and seemed to be in a bit of a slump, but this was just what was needed to regain his confidence. 

As I type this on Thursday September 19th, the majority of the games in the Western Conference have resulted in the Galaxy’s favor to keep them within playoff standings. It’s up to LA Galaxy to solidify their place on the table. The five-time championship franchise seems to be well on its way now. 

Final look at the pitch on September 15, 2019. Game over, but it’s not over for LA Galaxy.

There will have to be a starting line up change as Rolf Feltscher will be suspended for the next match due to yellow card accumulation. Corona and Romney found themselves back in the starting XI. It looks like this 2019 team finally has depth, too.

Key LA Galaxy pieces come together again at home, this time against Montreal Impact on Saturday, September 21st at 7:30pm PST. Watch on Spectrum SportsNet.  

Featured image: LA Galaxy

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale