Tag Archives: Featured

MN United Celebrates Guts, Glory, But Few Goals

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

After a hot-tempered clash in Dallas, Minnesota returned home for a midweek matchup against the Colorado Rapids who have been running cool toward the bottom of the table. Coming away with three points was crucial for the Loons who, sitting in third ahead of kickoff, needed every gain possible on an MLS match night heavy with playoff contenders.

The gap between the 3rd and 11th ranked teams was not so obvious in the first half though. Adrian Heath’s 4-2-3-1 was a little different from Saturday’s, with 8 of the weekend’s starters beginning on the bench, including wingers Miguel Ibarra and Ethan Finlay. Mason Toye was out of the 18 altogether due to his red card infraction. Angelo Rodriguez reclaimed his role up top, but wasn’t nearly as visible in the first half as Darwin Quintero behind him.

Together with attacking wingers Robin Lod and Kevin Molino, Quintero made runs that signaled a refreshing departure from the cross-and-pray tactic that has dominated the Loons’ attack recently. The change paid off in terms of shots and possession, with the Loons tallying 16 (6 on target) to the Rapids’ 5 with 62% of the possession. Unfortunately, nearly every ball the Loons managed to deliver to a threatening area was given away cheaply allowing the Rapids to make a number of counterattacks, short-lived though they were.

“The bottom line is, as I said to the players, what are we trying to do here? We’re trying to score a goal,” reflected head coach Adrian Heath. “To score a goal you have to get up the pitch, you have to run towards the goal. It’s not enough just to keep the ball in the mid-third. People have to run without the ball, people have to run forward. If we do that, we’re pretty good. When we play in our own half, we’re not as good.”

United had one of those “pretty good” moments late in the first half, just minutes after a horrible one. When defender Chase Gasper – who spent more time in the Colorado’s 18 than his attacking teammates – was taken down just inside the penalty area in the 37’, Quintero stepped up for the penalty. It was soft and low, an easy attempt for Clint Irwin to read and block. But “El Scientifico” redeemed himself two minutes later, beating the ‘keeper and his centerback to a beautiful ball from Molino which he tapped to the far post, well out of reach for Irwin who had come far off his line to cut the angle.

Irwin would face five more shots before the half, blocking two from Molino and Rodriguez while three others narrowly missed the frame. The score was 1-0 at the break and would remain there through the final whistle. But it’s not as if no one was trying.

The Loons came out for the second half with a slightly more motivated attack. And so did the visitors. That’s when Minnesota started sending a few quick crosses into the goal area, hoping for a connection that would double their lead. But there was a glaring absence at the front of the attack. A striker. And this has nothing to do with Toye’s absence.

Rodriguez has seemingly been getting fitter as the season goes on, showing a few more bursts of speed and prowess between the bouts of lead feet and hobbled movement, the attributes that earned him DP status. All too often though, his presence is forgotten as the ball soars over or past him and the midfield fills space ahead of him. Rodriguez wasn’t signed to be the lurking striker; he’s used more for hold-up play, but that only works when his teammates can get him the ball.

When Abu Danladi – the Loons’ perennial rookie due to recurrent injuries since his SuperDraft selection in 2017 – replaced the DP in the 71st minute, United’s attack saw a few more sparks. A few balls found Danladi camped out in front of the net, jockeying with the last defenders and eyeing the keeper. He had a header in the 78th minute that careened off the crossbar and out. In the 90th minute, he nutmegged Abubakar but the spinning shot was parried away by a diving Irwin. Late in stoppage time, he attempted to flick the ball around two defenders but deflected his own shot out of danger.

This is all well and good. As Heath said, “the kid got in the right spot so if he continues to get in the right spots, eventually one will go for him and hopefully his confidence will come.” Heath has expressed similar sentiments since Danladi’s rookie year. If his confidence depends on a few goals, he needs minutes somewhere that he can get those goals. And this squad needs someone who is already there.

With reinforcements coming for the midfield (Thomás Chacón’s arrival is imminent and Wilfried Moimbé will work into the squad as fitness allows), questions remain about the center forward position. Minutes for rookies and veterans are welcome, but dependable scoring is vital, especially in the heat of a playoff race that will likely come down to goal differential.

Unlike the typical Minnesota team, the Loons have the guts to close out a tight game. But if United really wants to set itself apart – from the locals and from the other playoff contenders – they need to score.

Featured image: Bridget McDowell

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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NYCFC at a Crossroads

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club seems to be at a crossroads now with three games ahead in tight succession between Saturday and August 24th.  The talk amongst fans is how many points is reasonable to expect from these matches and where the season will go from there.

I don’t like to jinx things but…

Despite NYCFCs drop in the rankings after Sunday’s game, I’m not concerned. New York City still has 3 games in hand with 23 played while Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia and Atlanta have played 26 and 25 respectively.   If NYCFC can keep its act together in the next three matches, important points can be gained and they can climb up the table. 

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Sunday’s match versus Atlanta United in “Atlan-turf” ended with a 2-1 loss, with momentum and possession clearly with the home squad.  It was a ticky-tacky match with a lot of contact, simulation, and aggression. 

NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent stated after the match that “You have to be brave to play Atlanta” and it did appear that the team was intimidated by the former champions. Perhaps it was the uncertainty about the fitness of midfielder Maxi Moralez and striker Héber but City did not play with confidence. 

Nevertheless, a home field Atlanta is theoretically supposed to win.  They consistently draw a huge crowd, are on an upward swing with their season and are very accustomed to playing on artificial turf.

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Upcoming matches

New York City travels to face FC Cincinnati on 8/17

It’s no  secret that FC Cincy sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.  Is this a potential trap game?  With Maxi Moralez perhaps not at 100%, Dome Torrent will may keep him rested and play him only if needed.  NYCFC should completely dominate FC Cincinnati but Dome may be playing to ensure everyone is healthy to face…

Columbus Crew at home on 8/21

Columbus has not had a great season but it has very talented players and they are capable of slaying giants.  (See their win over Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.) Victory is not a foregone conclusion and City will need to balance strong defending of Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos while playing the tight possession-centric style that has served them well. 

RBNY at home on 8/24

We need to talk about the strange voodoo powers that RBNY seems to have over NYCFC.  City faces them year in and year out and it seems that NYC either gets completely trounced or barely squeaks by.   (We also see this in the western conference with LAFC versus LA Galaxy.  LAFC can have the best record in the league but just can’t beat the Galaxy.)

There are two ways to look at this game:  Everyone is fit and prepared to go all in and get a win, no matter how many limbs are left on the field or the team plays for a draw, keeping most players from getting injured and look ahead to the rest of the season. 

A lot of the noise in players’ heads will be determined by the results of the two prior games.  If they handedly beat Cincinnati and Columbus, I predict that they will walk onto the pitch with chests puffed out and ready to go for a big win. If not, they will play tentatively and will be lucky to gain a point.  

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 All images including featured image by NYCFC.com

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Houston’s Road Trip Blues: Second Verse, Same As The First

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The Houston Dynamo are in another slump, with a string of losses beginning with their exit from the League’s Cup at the end of July and three more MLS losses since. After letting three road points slip away in New York last Thursday, they traveled to Philadelphia to test their road efforts again. 

Head coach Wilmer Cabrera, no stranger to surprises with his starting XI, brought along Houston’s three new players. Chilean defender José Bizama, has been working through visa issues for a month, while Christian Ramirez and Niko Hansen were signed less than a week ahead of the Union match. All three made the roster for Thursday night’s match – Bizama and Ramirez started, while Hansen was on the bench. The new players may not have been fully prepared for league play, as Ramirez and Bizama each had to be subbed out due to cramping between the 70th and 85th minutes. 

Houston veteran DaMarcus Beasley had been subbed out even earlier, which left Houston with no options when Juan David Cabezas exited the match after being fouled hard, and the Dynamo finished the match with ten men. In New York, the team was down a man after a red card, so running shorthanded is starting to become a bad habit for Houston. 

The second familiar tune of the evening was heading into the half tied at a point. While the halftime result was identical to the NYC match, the Dynamo did less with the possibilities further down the East Coast in Philly. Houston put forth lots of effort and had some great combinations, but the constant turnover with subs and injuries in the last fifteen minutes was more than they could overcome. Houston fell to the Philadelphia Union 2-1 after an Elliot header in the 78th minute.

I attempt to belay cognitive bias when evaluating player’s efforts, and fight against the halo effect consciously. For those that aren’t psychology nerds like me, the halo effect as it applies to soccer is the tendency to judge a player’s overall performance based on a single match or play. That being said, I will abandon all of this academic speech to simply say that Houston keeper Joe Willis really needs to get his mojo back. 

Every keeper gets scored on, and every one makes mistakes. I’ve maintained a positive view of Willis through some of the recent losses and have refused to allow the halo effect to let a couple of bad matches color my entire view of his career. Whatever has happened to his game, I’m ready for him to recover. Recent shots getting past Willis are slow and sloppy – not impressive shots that would be forgivable to miss. 

Overall the Dynamo continue to show moments of brilliance offensively and defensively but have been unable to get the entire team functioning on all cylinders for more than a half. Big changes have happened to the roster over the last week, and Wilmer Cabrera has parted ways with the club in the time I’ve been working on this article! Undoubtedly, there will be lots of big things to discuss after the Dynamo come home to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.  

Featured image:  @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

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Making History: LAFC Defends The Banc in 4-2 Victory

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continues to shake up the league in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls and remains the only team in the MLS undefeated at home.

Normally, defenders don’t make the highlight reel or some recaps but last night was a special occasion. Defenders Jordan Harvey and Eddie Segura scored their first LAFC goals off of set-pieces – coming off balls played towards the middle of the penalty area by non-other Carlos Vela.

Harvey’s header opened up the scoring sheet in the 23rd minute. And less than two minutes later, a sequence of passes by Eduard Atuesta and Steven Beitashour helped Latif Blessing notch one home to double the score.

However, celebrations would be cut short in the 42nd minute. Blessing made a tackle outside the top of the left side of the box, but the ball rolled to Red Bull’s Cristian Casseres Jr., who sent a low shot near post – pulling one back for the visitors cutting the lead in half.

Tyler Miller was quick to make a diving save in the 44th minute to deny Daniel Royer securing the lead a little longer – just before the Red Bulls made another run at LAFC’s defense to force an own goal by the keeper – leveling the match just before the half.

Mark-Anthony Kaye regained the lead in the 50th minute when he sent a through ball down the middle into the back of the net. But the referee Drew Fischer later disallowed it for a foul outside the box after consulting VAR.

Six minutes later, Blessing almost gave us serious deja vu with another goal by dribbling past two defenders, but an outstretched Luis Robles blocked his attempt.

LAFC proceeded to push on the counters – soon receiving another scoring opportunity when Rece Buckmaster, recently signed from Red Bulls II, got tangled up with Eduard Atuesta who went down inside the box – awarding LAFC the penalty. Vela successfully converted the shot putting the black-and-gold back in front, scoring his 23rd-career goal.

The Mexican captain continues to make history, now tied with the record for most combined goals and assists in a single MLS season.

And just when you thought Bob Bradley would go the full 90 with all starters – he made a double substitution late in the second half sending in Lee Nguyen and Josh Perez replacing Kaye and Diego Rossi.

Segura, who was recently acquired from Colombian side Atletico Huila on a permanent, multi-year deal, notched his first career goal and the game-winner off a free kick from the captain in the 72nd minute.

Perez and Adama Diomande kept knocking on the Red Bulls door for the duration of the match but had difficulty finding the fifth goal. Ultimately, LAFC ended the match by claiming all three points and solidifying their lead at the top of the table even further.

Now with 55 points, a +40 goal differential, and leading the Supporters’ Shield race by 10 points – LAFC will travel to Rio Tinto Stadium to face rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday, August 17.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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Accept No Substitutes (For a D.C. United Win)

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, Jalen Robinson; Leonardo Jara, Felipe Martins; Lucas Rodríguez, Paul Arriola, Ulises Segura; Quincy Amarikwa

No Substitutions

D.C. United pulled off a stunner of a match against the LA Galaxy, winning 2-1 at home. With an XI that included neither Wayne Rooney (ill with an upper respiratory infection) nor Lucho Acosta (he began the match in the 18), the Black-and-Red relied on teamwork and their depth to claim a sorely needed three points. 

Coach Ben Olsen returned to the 4-2-3-1, with Quincy Amarikwa starting up top, Jalen Robinson at right back, and new signing Felipe Martins slotted in the midfield next to Leo Jara. The lineup drew some disappointment, from those wishing to see Rooney and LA’s Ibrahimovic face off on the pitch, and a bit of skepticism, from those who couldn’t understand why Acosta was starting the match on the bench. Mostly, the chosen XI drew curiosity; were they up to the task of taking on the LA Galaxy?

Paul Arriola

It was clear from the first whistle that D.C. were on the pitch to win, with fiery, tenacious performances from the XI. Paul Arriola opened the scoring in the 28’, assisted by Ulises Segura and Quincy Amarikwa. While LA answered in the 48’, it wasn’t enough for the visitors to leave Audi Field with any points in hand. Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez found the back of the net for D.C. in the second half, bringing the Black-and-Red the match winning goal in the 73’. 

Lucas ‘Titi’ Rodríguez and Quincy Amarikwa celebrate

Quincy Amarikwa may not have scored for the Black-and-Red, however, he did log his first assist in Black-and-Red. Amarikwa’s major accomplishment of the match, however, was getting inside of the Galaxy’s heads. He epically trolled the players on the pitch, getting uncomfortably close to Zlatan, and putting on a show of crying in front of Alvarez. While Amarikwa was rewarded with a yellow card for his theatrics by referee Alan Kelly… It. Was. So. Worth. It.

While Ben Olsen usually waits until the final minutes of the match are ticking away on the clock to make any changes, he chose to forgo substitutions entirely. Instead, he opted to let the XI continue on with their ‘rhythm and familiarity.’

While the move could have cost D.C. due to fatigue, every player put in 90’+ and still seemed to have gas left in the tank.  Perhaps this option isn’t sustainable, but Olsen bet correctly Sunday night, preserving quite a few sets of fresh legs for Vancouver and a rivalry match with the Red Bulls.

‘Bill Hamid, Bill, Bill, Hamid!’

Zlatan is denied by Bill Hamid

LA’s Zlatan Ibrahimović had a record-breaking match, tallying 14 shots. His scoring record was substantially less impressive, as he was soundly denied any scoring chance by D.C.’s defense, and homegrown goalkeeper, Bill Hamid. Hamid’s cat-like reflexes were put to the test the entire evening and he delivered, racking up five saves for the Black-and-Red (although it certainly felt like more). 

The one and only, Bill Hamid

In the second half, Zlatan fired a rocket of a shot toward D.C.’s goal that seemed destined to find the net. Hamid sprang into action, deflecting the shot and refusing the towering Swede a seemingly perfect goal scoring opportunity. Hamid stood up to chants from supporters, and applause from Zlatan himself.

A ‘Culture of Meritocracy’

Quincy Amarikwa getting vertical

For D.C. United’s Quincy Amarikwa and Jalen Robinson, their start in Sunday’s match was well earned. Amarikwa said, “We wanted to come out and prove a point where we are in the season.” He continued, “A lot of the work we put in goes unseen. We have to show up every day prepared to play, and we typically go home disappointed because we don’t get an opportunity to showcase what we can do.”

Amarikwa believes that a player’s time to shine will come, “maybe it’s in week one, and maybe it’s in week 30. I think the guys who haven’t gotten minutes stepped up and showed why and how to contribute. I think it’s a testament to our group. It shows that we have depth… I think building a culture of meritocracy is important here, and I think that’s what we’re doing.”

Jalen Robinson

Jalen Robinson was assigned to the tough task of defending Zlatan. He said, “I think people forget, this is my sixth year. I’ve dealt with forwards like that [Zlatan]…Zlatan is a big dude, but I had to step up to the challenge. No matter what, I just gave it my all for my team. It was just nice that he didn’t score.”

Robinson, who has played with D.C.’s second team for years, is ready to challenge the misconception of the Black-and-Red lacking depth.

“I don’t think people realize; we have a good team. What you don’t see is, our second team has always been good. I think I can testify to that because I’ve been on the second team for so long. We’ve always been super deep. You know, we came out tonight, Quincy, myself, Uli…we came and showed everything we had. What better way to get three points?”

Amarikwa has some advice for those doubting D.C. United, “Don’t take us lightly. If you do, it’s a mistake. If you come, we’re ready. That’s what tonight was and we’re looking forward to the run into the playoffs here.” Robinson agreed, a smile on his face, “We’re going to be a problem. I guarantee we’re going to be a problem.”

D.C. hits the road to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday and will return to Audi Field for a rivalry match with the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, August 21st

As always, Vamos United!

All images: Patrick Rouin // Twitter: @PR4_photography // IG: @pr4_photography

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Hell Is Real: Columbus Crew Meet New Rival

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

On a beautiful summer Saturday night in Columbus, the Columbus Crew took on FC Cincinnati in the first ‘Hell is Real’ match. The name of this new rivalry rose organically from fans in reference to a giant billboard displaying the phrase as you travel between Columbus and Cincinnati on 71. With a Columbus Crew team that has struggled and was just finally finding an improvement in form and a FC Cincy team who has struggled to find its footing in its first year in the MLS, this was a battle of the bottom of the table.

Prior to kickoff, both teams and the stadium as a whole took a moment to honor the victims of recent gun violence in Dayton, Ohio. The stadium held a moment of silence, both teams wore black armbands throughout the match and posed with a #DaytonStrong banner, and both supporters’ groups were silent in the ninth minute of the game.

The Match

The Crew rolled out the familiar 4-2-3-1 line up. One of the major differences in this line up compared to those of recent games was that of Connor Maloney at left back. Maloney has been on the team since 2017 but is usually loaned out. However, since left back seems to be the position where the Crew has a plethora of injuries, Maloney got the start.

The Crew’s recent improvement in form seemed to have disappeared in the first 30 minutes of this game–with Cincy getting on the board twice. In the 16′, Darren Mattocks headed in a corner kick without being marked. In the 23′, Emmanuel Ledesma finished off a cross from Roland Lamah that skipped across the field and past both Crew center backs into the backside of the goal.

Before halftime in the 43′, Gyasi Zardes earned a PK as he was fouled by Maikel van der Werff while on the receiving end of a cross from Harrison Afful. Gyasi took and finished the PK pulling the Crew within 1 at halftime.

In the second half, FC Cincy had a few opportunities, but the Crew seemed to control most of the second half. They scored the tying goal in the 62′ off a restart from Afful to Will Trapp. Trapp passed the ball to Pedro Santos who sent a curling ball to the top left corner of the net from outside the 18.

In the 90′, two new players made a gallant attempt to get the Crew the winning goal. Romario Williams sent a ball to Youness Mokhtar, who made his Crew debut subbing in for Luis Diaz in the 54′. Mokhtar sent a beautiful cross to Zardes who at 3 yards out skied the ball into the cross bar and over the open net. In the 93′, David Accam shot the ball into a FC Cincy defender which then again hit the cross bar. In the 99′, the Crew was denied when Zardes hit a header from a Afful cross that was pushed over the net by the Cincy keeper Przemyslaw Tyton. And finally, in the 100′, Zardes was once again denied a header off a Mokhtar corner kick by Tyton.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie with both sets of fans hungry for more. The second part of the ‘Hell is Real’ rivalry will take place on August 25th.

Thoughts on the Team

I said this on Twitter, and I will say it again. This is a game we should have won. However, it was a very fun game to attend. It was a sold out crowd with passionate fans there for both sides. It felt like a playoff match. This will be a fun rivalry.

Outside of David Guzman, I am very happy with the players Caleb Porter has brought in throughout the season. This includes Youness Mokhtar who in his debut looked sharp, hard working, and put in some great crosses.

We need to continue to work on not giving up goals on set pieces–especially corner kicks. Leaving men unmarked during corner kicks is unacceptable and needs to stop. We also need to get more men in the box on the attack. I can’t tell you how many times we’d be crossing in a ball and the only person there was Zardes. This will not get us goals.

Also, we need to play the first half like we play the second half. Porter is making great adjustments at halftime that have resulted in better results recently. However, we need to come out prepared if we really want to be a formidable team in the long run.

Finally, I really believe Caleb Porter needs to figure out what is causing this high number of injuries. With the injuries to Milton Valenzuela, Waylon Francis, and Hector Jimenez, we had to rely on a fourth string defender who struggled. Ever since Steve Tashjian left to work for Gregg Berhalter as the head performance specialist of the USMNT, our injury count has dramatically risen. It’s worth investigating.

Let’s hope we continue to get healthy and continue to improve as we take on Toronto FC this Saturday.

Also, shout out the Columbus Crew groundskeeping crew. The field was flawless.

Featured image: Hilary

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Player Spotlight: Steven Beitashour blends sport and culture in Los Angeles

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Once a ball boy for the San Jose Earthquakes, LAFC’s defender Steven Beitashour is thankful to now be a part of a club in his home state that continuously supports him not only as a player, but also supports his connection to his Iranian heritage.

The San Jose native dreamed of becoming a soccer player after his father – a former San Francisco State University player – introduced him to the game and took him to his first practice at four years old.

Beitashour, born to Iranian parents, is an Iranian international and strongly identifies with his heritage. While there have been a handful of Iranian players in MLS over the history of the league, Beitashour has had the longest and most successful career to date, winning the MLS Cup with Toronto FC in 2017, and the Supporters’ Shield with San Jose in 2012. Additionally, he played in the 2014 World Cup with the Iranian National Football Team and made an appearance at the 2012 MLS All-Stars.

In 2010, Beitashour received the opportunity to play for his childhood team – after the Quakes selected him in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. His family supported him fully by attending all his games.

He would go on to spend three years with the Quakes before being traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2014. Following a short stint in British Columbia, Steven was then traded to Toronto FC in 2015 for two years, before having the chance to return to his home state as a free agent.

“LAFC seemed the best fit as far as the coach. I think Bob Bradley is one of the best coaches, in not only the U.S., but the world. LAFC had a lot of promise by how they were creating this club with the stadium, the fans, the name, the logo, etc., it seemed they were doing it right. Being from California, I had a lot of other offers, so it wasn’t an easy decision. But it made the decision a little easier.”

On January 24, 2018, the 32-year-old defender signed with the Los Angeles Football Club. Beitashour hit two major career milestones during his first year with the expansion club:

  • Beitashour made his 200th start in the 2-0 win against the Columbus Crew SC on June 23rd, becoming the 100th MLS player in league history to reach the mark. 
  • Beitashour also started in all 30 of his MLS Regular Season appearances, his sixth season surpassing the 2000 minute mark. 

Since then, Beitashour has been fortunate to find a club that not only supports him as a player but highly respects his Iranian heritage.

“[There’s] a huge soccer culture in the Iranian culture. If you ask them, ‘what is your favorite sport?’ I think 99% of them would say soccer. […] So the fact that you can bring awareness that there is an Iranian-American player playing in the MLS – in their own backyard. I think a lot of them stick well to it and are LAFC fans.”

There is a significant population of Iranians and Iranian-Americans in and around Los Angeles, with some estimates stating there are between 300,000 and half a million people of Iranian heritage residing in the greater Los Angeles area. It is considered to be the largest group of Iranians outside of Iran in the world.

“There are a lot of young kids that are in a similar position where they’re Iranian-American – they want to play for the MLS, they want to play for the Iranian National Team and they look at my story for hope and belief.”

LAFC have been groundbreakers in cultural acceptance by recognizing and respecting each player’s background. Omar Gaber, former defender and Egyptian native kicked off the tradition last year of having the first player t-shirt in Arabic before departing the club in July of 2018.

Last October, the LAFC released the first Farsi t-shirt in MLS history; a shirt in black-and-gold, that reads: ‘Los Angeles Football Club’ to show solidarity with the defender.

“I think they’re taking advantage of the fact that’s there so many Iranians, Persians, in the greater Los Angeles area. And the fact they support me in that way, and they show that they support all their players. Not just me. [It] really speaks volumes of the club and how they’re doing things,” Beitashour continues. “LA has a lot of different cultures [and] ethnicities here. Soccer is the world game. So anytime you can get into those areas; it’s really smart and beneficial for both the club and the player.”

In addition to having personalized player apparel added to LAFC HQ’s cultural collection, alongside Lee Nguyen’s player tee in Vietnamese, Beitashour had the opportunity to share his culture through food on an episode of “Taste of LAFC” hosted by Max Bretos. He took LAFC’s play-by-play announcer to Shamshiri Grill just outside of Westwood to enjoy a traditional Persian meal while discussing his experiences with the club.

Off the field, the new father balances spending time with his family, filming his “Beita Time” series on LAFC’s youtube channel, and recording episodes of the ‘Back-To-Back’ podcast with fellow teammate Jordan Harvey.

LAFC continues to be a trailblazer in MLS by displaying player support on both personal and athletic levels. And Steven Beitashour is proof of that.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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Sporting KC Falls to Real Salt Lake In 2-1 Loss

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Coming off of a strong win in Seattle, Sporting Kansas City fell back into old ways dropping points to rival Real Salt Lake in a 2-1 loss at Children’s Mercy Park.

The match kicked off to a rocky start with winger Gerso Fernandes forced to leave the pitch early in the sixth minute due to an ankle injury. Daniel Salloi came off the bench to take his place in helping the team maintain possession of the ball.

Johnny Russell put SKC on the board in the 31st minute with a free kick. But seven minutes later, Corey Baird was quick to respond for the visitors and leveled the match. 

The home side had a chance to restore their lead after being awarded a penalty kick when RSL’s Donny Toia tripped Russell from behind inside the box. Felipe Gutierrez stepped up to convert but he watched as the ball rattled off the left post – sending them into the half tied up 1-1.

The visitors found their lead in the 70th minute when Jefferson Savarino picked out an unmarked Baird who tucked in a left footed shot into the bottom right corner for a brace.

The home team petitioned for a penalty in the 73rd minute after Gutierrez went down under Aaron Herrera’s lunging challenge and with the support of the crowd chanting for VAR – referee Fotis Bazakos reviewed the play but stood by the call of no penalty.

Things took a turn for the worst in the 84th minute when Sporting lost their second player of the match. Salloi was shown a straight red for a hard tackle on Damir Kreilach when he clipped the midfielder studs up, reducing the home side to 10 men for the duration of the match.

Sporting KC watched as their chances of playoff contention diminished further last night but is it too late? Maybe.

With ten games left in the regular season and still sitting in tenth place with 28 points and a -6 goal differential, every game from now on is crucial for SKC.

“I’m not giving up,” Peter Vermes told the press during the post match press conference.

Sporting KC will now look to bounce back in a mid-week fixture when the team visits Orlando City.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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Houston Dynamo Get And Lose Points at Yankee Stadium

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

After the Houston Dynamo were unable to score a single goal in their last two matches at home, they traveled to Yankee Stadium on Thursday night to try to break the drought on the road. The Dynamo managed to find the back of the net twice that evening, but that wasn’t enough to save them from a 2-3 loss against NYCFC.

NYCFC took an early lead after a goal in the 16th minute, but the Dynamo were able to tie it up just ten minutes later. A perfectly placed pass from Tommy McNamara landed at the feet of defender Juan David Cabezas, who launched the ball at the net and surprised Johnson.

With the goal drought broken, a sense of hope began to stir for Houston. Unfortunately, poor decisions knocked the excitement out of the air only a couple of minutes later as Romell Quioto earned a red card in the 29th minute and left only ten men in orange for the last hour of the match. 

If ever there were a pitch to be defending a road point with ten men, however, it’s the efficiency apartment-sized pitch that NYCFC call home. The Dynamo dug in and held onto the tie through a barrage of New York chances.

The Dynamo went into the half tied 1-1 and the weather gave us some extra time to bask in our efforts and solidify the second half plan as lightning increased the break with a weather delay. 

In the second half, the Dynamo continued their effort to hold on to that road point, rarely traveling outside of their own half. In one of those trips, however, Mauro Manotas gave Houston fans the thrill of the evening from 22 yards out when he pulled his team ahead with a second goal in the 77th minute. 

Houston was ahead for five glorious minutes until Castellanos tied it up again in the 83rd minute. The Dynamo were poised to make it out with a road point, and fans on social media urged the team to park the bus. The road point was not to be, however, as Castellanos scored again in the 93rd minute and Houston conceded all three points to NYCFC. 

As I mentioned in my last article, I am focusing on the positives for the rest of the season. From that lens, I was impressed by both Dynamo goals on Thursday. Neither was a messy luck shot; both were expertly placed rockets that beat Sean Johnson’s dives. I was also impressed that Houston held NYCFC at bay despite being down to ten men for an hour. The match analysis shows just how much worse the results could have been. 

It seems that the Dynamo found that finishing touch that they lost at home – their two goals being their only two shots on goal for the entire night. After weeks of repeated shots on goal with no actual points, this stark reversal of that trend was a welcome view on the stat board. Fans can only hope that it is a start of a new trend and not just a fluke in New York.  

The Dynamo remain on the road and take a short ride down to Philadelphia to battle the Union on Sunday evening. 

Featured image:  @HoustonDynamo

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It Was Certainly ‘A Week’ for D.C. United

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

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

The past seven days have been tumultuous for D.C. United, to say the least. A 5-1 drubbing by the Philadelphia Union last Sunday saw D.C.’s midfield further depleted, as homegrown player Chris Durkin suffered an ankle injury described as a ‘snap and pop’ by coach Ben Olsen. Then, only three short days remained before the summer transfer window came to a close on Wednesday. 

D.C. United has historically waited until the last minute to make major transfer window announcements. However, with a plethora of injuries and a recent shaky record both at home and on the road, making the right decisions during this window were critical for the Black-and-Red to keep their playoff run aspirations alive. 

And then… there were decisions outside of D.C.’s control.

About That Match

Sunday’s D.C. United match against the Philadelphia Union had just about everything, except a D.C. win. A goal by Alejandro Bedoya in the 3’ (after which he called upon Congress to do something about gun violence) tipped the scale in Philadelphia’s favor, and D.C. was unable to recover.

DC’s Junior Moreno proceeded to be booked with a red card in the 40’, taking DC United down to 10 men shortly before halftime. While Philadelphia collected a handful of yellow cards, they also racked up another goal. The Black-and-Red were sent to halftime down 0-2.

Even after defender Fred Brillant found the back of the net in the 54’, the flurry of goals that followed from Philadelphia left D.C. empty handed at the final whistle. The Black-and-Red finished with zero points to show, and down two midfielders from this match alone (Durkin due to injury and Moreno due to a red card).

Wayne Rooney is Heading Home

D.C. United’s captain Wayne Rooney flew to the UK on Monday, sparking rumors that quickly ignited a social media blaze. As it became public knowledge that Rooney was meeting with Derby County to discuss a player-coach role, speculation rose as to whether or not his transfer would be immediate. 

Even in the late hours of Monday evening, an immediate transfer of Rooney to Derby County remained a possibility, and Black-and-Red supporters wondered if they had seen the last of their English captain. Thankfully for both D.C. United and the team’s supporters, Rooney will stay on until the end of the 2019 season before leaving the District for good. 

If Not for The Last Minute, Nothing Would Get Done

With news of Rooney’s imminent exit hanging over the District, D.C. United was busy making moves in the final days and hours of the summer transfer window. Rumors abounded including the likes of Mario Balotelli and Mesut Özil, and of course, Yamil Asad (who will not return, much to our chagrin).

After the dust settled and the transfer window officially closed, it was Ola Kamara, Emmanuel ‘Ema’ Boateng, and Felipe Martins who made their way into the Black-and-Red’s ranks.

Ola Kamara

Norwegian international Kamara has spent the better part of 2019 with Shenzhen FC in the Chinese Super League. The forward was acquired for $2.5 million, D.C. United’s second largest transfer fee ever. Previously, Kamara has played for the Columbus Crew SC and LA Galaxy in MLS, as well as several clubs internationally. Unfortunately, Kamara is unavailable for today’s match against the LA Galaxy due to a visa hold up.

Emmanuel Boateng 

Ema Boateng is another LA Galaxy alum, having played for LA the past four seasons. 25-year-old Boateng began his career at the Right to Dream Academy in his home country of Ghana before moving to the US to play Division I soccer at UC Santa Barbara. A flexible player, Boateng is capable of contributing to D.C. United’s midfield or attack. He is available to play in today’s match against his former team.

Felipe Martins

The decision to sign Martins from the Vancouver Whitecaps has drawn much ire from D.C.’s supporters.  However, at a time when D.C.’s midfield is sorely lacking, Martins is a much-needed addition to the roster. Martins himself has acknowledged the long memory of D.C. supporters and has pledged to win them over through his hard work.

[Prior to this week, D.C. mutually parted ways with both Zoltan Stieber and Chris McCann. Akeem Ward was released and Gordan Wild, formerly a midfielder for Atlanta United, was signed.]

The Zlatan Show Comes to D.C.

As D.C. United face off with the LA Galaxy today in a sold-out match, one of the most often asked questions has been, “will Zlatan play?”  Ibrahimović has missed playing in a few matches recently (due to distance, turf, or other factors) however he will indeed be in the District tonight.  The Swede will go up against his former Manchester United teammate, Wayne Rooney, for the last time ever in MLS (barring a miracle where both teams meet in the playoffs).

D.C. United is expected to shake up the roster a bit this evening. With D.C.’s midfield mostly out of the picture (Canouse and Durkin with injuries, and Moreno with a red card), we may actually see Boateng and Martins hit the pitch. Kamara is still out of consideration due to a pending visa. 

Will the Black-and-Red rise to the occasion with Rooney on his way out the door? My friend Laura reminded me of an important fact this week…

As always, Vamos United! I’ll see you all at Audi Field tonight!

Featured image: @dcunited

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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