Tag Archives: Featured

Rookie Goals FTW

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini

Saturday, April 22: 1-3 Win

In their fourth road game in as many weeks, Atlanta United finally got the win we’ve all been waiting for in Salt Lake this weekend. They managed to get through an entire game with no red cards for either side (but a few yellows), and one of the teenagers scored his first MLS goal.

First things first, though: earlier this week, ATLUTD successfully appealed the red card given to Leandro Gonzalez Pirez in last week’s game with Montreal Impact (I did say it was questionable last week, and the independent panel agreed). We also got Yamil Asad back from his red card suspension and Tyrone Mears back from his ankle injury. Unfortunately, Josef Martinez is still out with his quad injury and there have been no comments on when he will be back yet.

ATLUTD trotted out yet another lineup this week at Rio Tinto. Kenwyne Jones was back for his second start, Asad was back in the left midfield, Miguel Almiron in center mid, with Carlos Carmona and Jeff Larentowicz behind him. Julian Gressel was on the bench, which was weird (he came in in the 78th minute for Tito Villalba). Also of note, rookies Brandon Vazquez and Miles Robinson were in the 18 for this game and brought in late, but more about Vazquez later.

The game got off to an awkward start for ATLUTD. Sloppy passing and bad giveaways were way too abundant in the first 20 minutes. Tito did manage to get a ball past Nick Rimando for ATL’s first goal in the 9th minute, though. Almiron tried first, but his shot was saved, then Tito followed up and Rimando saved it, but it bounced right back to Tito, who launched it into the back of the net.

Once the boys got their first goal, things started to fall into place a little easier. The first half ended with ATL up a goal on the hosts, and the second half saw Yamil Asad getting his second goal of the season in the 46th minute.

Real Salt Lake pulled to within one with a goal by Rusnak in the 69th minute.

While we managed to get out of this game with no red cards (on either side, for a change), ATL still managed to bring home four yellow cards with those three points. Carmona was shown a yellow in the first half for a hard tackle on Kyle Beckerman. In the second half, Greg Garza was shown yellow for a hard challenge and a few minutes later, Almiron was awarded a free kick from a hard challenge, missed his shot and got a yellow for wasting time on the corner kick. The final yellow was shown to goalie Alec Kann for wasting time as well – something ATL’s commentator Kevin Egan mentioned would probably happen early on in the game.

The big story of the night was 19-year-old Brandon Vazquez scoring his very first MLS goal three minutes into his professional debut for ATLUTD. And he made it look so effortless, too:

All in all, not the best performance from ATL – I think they played better last week, but Almiron made the MLS Team of the Week for the third time already this season, so that’s pretty good, right? I was quite sad to see that Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was yet again left off the Team of the Week. He’s been so amazing on the field so far and it’s rather disappointing that he’s not been recognized for that yet. My friends at Dirty South Soccer feel the same way:

Other notes from this week:

  • We heard this week that the opening of Mercedes Benz Stadium has once again been delayed because of construction complications with the roof. This time, though, it means that an ATLUTD game will not be the first event in the new stadium. The first ATLUTD game scheduled to play at the Benz now is vs FC Dallas on 9/9.
  • This also means that a few games have been rescheduled. Our first home game vs Orlando City was shifted up a day to 7/29 and will be played at Bobby Dodd, which has been our temporary home since the beginning of the season. Two more games (vs MNUFC and LA Galaxy) that were scheduled to be played at the Benz in August are being moved, likely to October since our schedule in September is already pretty crowded.
  • Our next game is FINALLY at home vs DC United this Sunday, 4/30. It was announced earlier today that the game is the third consecutive sell out. Not bad, Atlanta, not bad at all.
  • Another interesting tidbit that my pals at Dirty South Soccer calculated this weekend was that ATLUTD have only trailed for 19 minutes this season. Details here.

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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3 GOALS 3 POINTS

Kaitlyn O'Rourke - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale
Seattle Sounders Key Contributor

By Kaitlyn O’Rourke

Sunday, April 23: 0-3 Win

Despite not being able to see who was who and which team was which due to the jersey colors, I got to watch the Seattle Sounders play for the first time in what feels like forever – actually just 23 days (being an east coast Sounders fan is not easy). I watched the first 30 minutes on the computer, then turned El Clasico off (Vamos Barca!!*sorry*) and put the Sounders on the TV. Around the 40th minute, it became easier to determine who was who due to the sweat on the Sounders jerseys.

In the past, LA Galaxy has not been a pleasant place for the Sounders to visit. Sunday, this was a different story. Like the last time they visited LA, when they won 2-4 on a Jordan Morris brace, they turned around history and pulled out not just a result, a win. The Sounders left LA with 3 goals and more important, 3 points. 

The Sounders started the game with a different starting Xl than normal, their back line didn’t feature Roman Torres and Chad Marshall, rather it featured Tony Alfaro and Jordy Delem. Instead of Jordan Morris playing up top, Will Bruin got the start and Morris played on the left wing along with Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey. This lineup seemed to work pretty well.

Clint Dempsey scored the first goal in the 29th minute on a header. This was his 3rd goal of the season for Deuce. His goal came after a cross by Lodeiro. The Sounders 2nd goal came on an own goal by Ashley Cole in the 35th minute, also off a cross by Joevin Jones. The ball deflected off Cole’s foot and past Brian Rowe, goalie for LA Galaxy. 9 minutes later, Jordan Morris added the 3rd goal.

The Sounders and the Galaxy played a physical game, forward Will Bruin even noting after the game that if he took off his shirt you’d be able to see scratches. This was the Sounders first win on the road and put them above the red line and at a record of 2-2-3.

Overall, the Sounders had an 86% passing accuracy and the back line of Jones, Alfaro, Gustav Svensson, and Jordy Delem with Stefan Frei in goal have gone 180 minutes without conceding. Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro were both named to MLS Team of the Week with Joevin Jones and Jordan Morris being named to the bench.

Featured image courtesy: @SoundersFC

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Are You Not Entertained?

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson @shebainpdx

Cascadia Cup–Rivals and Brethren

Saturday, April 22: 2-1 Win

Any game against Vancouver Whitecaps takes on special significance. We have been rivals since long before our MLS days. Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver have songs and chants specifically designed to taunt each other that we sing only during Cascadia Cup matches. We have a supporter-created trophy (that predates our arrivals in MLS) that is awarded to the Cascadia team who wins the most points among us in the regular season. We even have a traditional song sung at the end of every match that has its origins in USL Portland-Vancouver days. The rivalry is real.

At the same time, off the pitch, we know that we have kindred spirits in our Cascadian brethren to the north. We recognize the turmoil and hardship created by changes in our country’s travel policies, changes which have some Canadian supporters unable and/or unwilling to cross the border to attend a match. Some worried about their ability to cross; others, in solidarity with supporters who may not travel, also elected to stay home, some for the first time ever for an MLS Cascadia Cup match.

We know how difficult this decision was, and the Timbers Army wanted to show their support for our rival supporters to the north, painting a front banner with a message of optimism from the Peace Arch at the US-Canada border crossing we both often pass through for matches against each other:

Now, about the match….

Darlington Nagbe

I have typed and deleted five different paragraphs on Nagbe, each with a different take. Unbelievably beautiful touches on the ball. Absolutely one of the nicest humans off the pitch, a role model. Inspirational coming-of-age story,  from leaving war-torn Liberia as an infant to finding citizenship and success on the pitch in the U.S. Frustratingly unselfish on the pitch, leading to far fewer goals than you’d expect of a player of his caliber and to questions about whether he will ever reach his true potential.

And then we have moments like this.

All of the frustration I feel when he takes the extra pass wide instead of going into the box himself, or when he sends it safely back to the fullback instead of through to his midfield–all of it evaporates in a moment like this.  In the 18th minute, David Guzmán gave Nagbe the ball in the middle of the pitch. Nagbe coolly evaded first Matías Laba and then Kendall Waston, working away from them wide to the right, then somehow kept his balance while firing a rocket from beyond the 18 that tagged the underside of the crossbar and found its way home for the first score of the match. The goal uplifted the spirits of the team and the crowd. We all felt the shift in momentum.

And, even more special, Nagbe clearly felt it too. He is so often an unassuming, selfless, NICE guy, that his goal celebration marked something different for Nagbe. More of THIS, please.

A Change of Pace

We had a lot of changes in the lineup for this one. Fanendo Adi was serving a one game suspension for a tangle up in the match the week before, so he was out. Sebastian Blanco was recovering from a tweak earlier in the week so he was on the bench. Vytautas Andriuškevičius was healthy and back in the lineup, as was returning captain and center back Liam Ridgewell. And Jake Gleeson, suffering from a hip flexor injury, was replaced by able backup Jeff Attinella, acquired in the offseason from Real Salt Lake via Minnesota United. (Thanks, by the way, RSL; from Ian Joy to Will Johnson to Nat Borchers, you always send us excellent players.)

But the biggest changes to our look this game were probably Adi’s and Blanco’s replacements, Darren Mattocks and Dairon Asprilla. Mattocks and Asprilla are both speed burners, and provided some blistering pace up front. It’s not necessarily a lineup I would want week after week, but I do appreciate that our depth allows for such strong replacements in the starting XI. And it was particularly sweet to see Mattocks score what would eventually be the game winner against his old squad, in a beautiful team goal involving Guzmán, Nagbe, and Diego Valeri:

Get well soon, Maestro

Ridgewell may be the captain, but the heart and soul of the team is midfielder Diego Valeri. And when Valeri was stretchered off late in the match we all held our breath. It was a tremendous relief to see him standing in the locker room after the match taking questions from interviewers. Get well soon, Maestro; the world is a brighter place when you’re on the field.

Random Hot Takes

Alvas Powell: I am tired of the “That’s So Powell” show. He is clearly fast and talented. He loves to overlap on the wing and he is usually quite capable of locking down the defense in the right corner. But I am done with his poor decision making. Classic Powell: win a difficult possession battle in the corner, save the day, then pass it directly to the other team. And Christian Bolaños, a veteran midfielder with over 70 appearances for the Costa Rican national team, most definitely had Powell’s number. He caught Powell out of position several times, most notably in the 52nd minute and again in the 60th, and both times Powell fouled him as a result. Costly mistakes, the second of which resulted in the penalty kick that got Vancouver on the board.

Fredy Montero is still very good at soccer. As a Timbers fan I am already predisposed to dislike him, but I can admit that Fredy is very good at what he does. He is a poacher, floating up top, biding his time, almost turning invisible, then seizing his moment. I do not look forward to playing him again…and again, this year.

The game lasts 90 minutes, guys. Once again, we had the game firmly in hand in the first half, but instead of putting it away we limped to the finish. While that may work against a weak Vancouver squad at Providence Park, it most definitely will not be enough for the likes of FC Dallas. I sincerely hope we figure out how to finish out as strong as we start before Saturday.

Next week, we’re on the road in Dallas. See you there!

Featured image courtesy: b.fssta.com

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Father Knows Best

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim @WhiteZinWench

When I was a kid, my dad put me in rec soccer. It was something to do, and didn’t take a lot of effort. I was cool with it. When I was old enough to play on a travel team, it went without saying that I would join, becoming part of the first all-girl travel team the club had seen. I played until I was in 6th grade. And frankly, I kinda stunk at it. I had decent pace, I understood the game. My coach loved how far and accurately I could throw in the ball.

But I didn’t have the passion. That, and puberty hit me quite hard (chest traps are no fun when your sports bra can’t handle its contents). And it was the early 90s—there was no way a girl could make a living playing soccer. I went on to be moderately successful in music and studied things that I thought would bring me more job security.

Then, when my kids were old enough, I put them in soccer. It seemed the natural thing to do. In 2014, my two oldest sons were selected to be on-field escorts at a New York Red Bulls game. They looked so cute, in little replica uniforms, holding hands with members of Chivas USA. It was cold, it was rainy, it was windy. I don’t remember the score (I think it was a tie), but I was HOOKED. The arena, the competition, the familiarity: it all made sense.

Suddenly soccer was everywhere. That summer we all watched the World Cup on TV, the English Premier League and MLS were increasingly easier to find, followed by the Champions League and Bundesliga. The next year, I was watching daily Periscope broadcasts by former USMNT defender and Fox Soccer analyst Alexi Lalas, who was covering the Women’s World Cup in Canada. I’d ask him questions… and he would answer them! I’d make snarky comments… and he would laugh!

Then I started looking up other soccer broadcasting personalities. Twitter made them approachable, which gave me a chance to learn (or, perhaps more accurately, remember what I already knew) about the Beautiful Game. I found podcasts, and websites, and other fans who shared their excitement. My cousin got a job with NBC Sports and most of her work involves English Premier League: I think I’m more excited about her job than she is some days. I met front office types and sports writers. And I found what I should have known all along: there just might be a way to make a living with soccer. Young me was very short-sighted.

When the Copa America Centenario was announced, I realized this was my chance to thank my dad for introducing me to soccer, a game he had played against seminarians at his Catholic School in his native Ecuador. Two tickets, Ecuador vs Haiti, at MetLife Stadium. Lower mezzanine, front row, behind the goal. His first live professional soccer game in an arena.

If you have a good relationship with your parents (and I recognize not everyone does), you want to do what will make them proud, regardless of how old you get. For me, this is it.

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East or West, Home is Best

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, April 22: 2-0 Win

I live by the notion that it costs me nothing to be nice, and indeed it makes my life infinitely better. Thanks to a particularly generous season ticket holder, I was able to take my 9-year-old son to the New York Red Bulls (4-3-1, 13 points) game against the Columbus Crew (4-3-1, 13 points) and sit in a none-too-shabby location (lower level, above the corner flag to the right of the goal). I’ve been to Red Bull Arena a few times before, enough that I didn’t need my GPS to get there or to find the arena from my rather distant parking spot.

With the increasing popularity of soccer broadcasting, it’s easy to watch a game at home or in a bar. But nothing beats being in Red Bull Arena. We sat near the Supporter’s Section, full of shirtless screamers and flags and smoke. We yelled out “RED!” during the bridge of the National Anthem, the only color mentioned in the song. We sat with our fuzzy throw blankets and cheered the team on. And my son looked at that field and said, “Someday, I’ll play out there.”

Unfortunately, there was a false start of sorts when midfielder Artur went down in the first minute. (It was later confirmed that he suffered a broken wrist.) But the Red Bulls were riding the wave that comes with a very comfortable 18-game undefeated streak at home.

In fact, it only took 11 minutes for Alex Muyl (pronounced “M-wheel” — reporters and analysts are pronouncing his name incorrectly; that should be changing very soon) to find the back of the net following a cross by Kemar Lawrence. This was Muyl’s 2nd goal in as many games.  Goalkeeper Luis Robles was able to keep a clean sheet once again, most notably against Crew striker Justin Meram—any Red Bulls fan can tell you it’s not fun to see that Audi Player Index commercial where Meram gets past Robles, no matter how long ago it was.

Then in the 38th minute, RBNY striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was brought down in the box by Crew defender Alex Crognale, who was injured in the incident. Another Crew injury, another forced substitution. Austrian winger Daniel Royer converted the Penalty Kick and doubled the lead. Both teams were held scoreless in the second half, even though some great chances came to subs Frederik Gulbrandsen and Derrick Etienne Jr.

Gulbrandsen, on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, actually did find the back of the net but was ruled offside. When the final whistle blew, the home team was victorious and the sizeable crowd made their way back to their cars or the train station. My son promptly fell asleep in the backseat on the ride home, happy to have been in the arena for another Red Bulls win.

Same time next week, guys? I’ll be sure to let you know.

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A Lead Lost, A Rough Draw

Mercy - Philadelphia

By Mercy Payba @mercpay

Saturday, April 22: 3-3 Draw

“A tale of two halves,” is an apt summary by manager Jim Curtin of the disappointing draw in Chester today. Philadelphia Union started on the right foot with an early goal by Roland Alberg and kept up the pace through the first 45 until Montreal Impact struck right before the halftime whistle. It was disheartening to regress back to the same failing tactics in the second half of the match instead of pushing forward on a 3-1 advantage.

Even gaining the fast and fresh legs of Picault in the 66th minute for Ilsinho didn’t help as much as it should have in opposition. He had some good runs into the box and a shot or two that was blocked by Bush but in the end Jackson-Hamel proved too able and our defense too clumsy to stop Montreal’s comeback. It didn’t help that the ref missed some chances to pull out his cards from his pocket.

The first Montreal goal by Piatti was a disaster. He outran half our men, including Bedoya, Medunjanin, Pontius and Marquez to get it past Blake. We all knew Piatti would be a dangerous player, the one to watch out for coming back from injury and hungry for goals. Montreal wasn’t going to take a deficit lying down. Both teams had to prove themselves out on the field, but Philadelphia came out on the losing end as they rescued a point in their three-game homestand.

I don’t think we can point fingers at a single player to blame. The flaw doesn’t lie in management either. We cannot say Curtin hasn’t tried to adapt and change over the past two games as the pressure of a winless streak has been on the Union to produce results.

In last week’s game we saw Alberg and Elliott start and this week we saw why they got to start yet again. Elliott didn’t play a perfect game but he certainly showed up to play. His long ball started the play that would lead to the Sapong header 23 minutes in. He also got the penalty for Alberg after Dominic Oduro fouled him.

The Bedoya-Alberg-Medunjanin midfield is reaping results slowly and hopefully will continue to build as more games pass. Bedoya is more promising in his role as a number 8 and had a relatively good game today. He stepped in where he was needed and even dropped back further to help put bodies in defense at times. There is no doubt that Bedoya is fully committed to his leadership role and feels the weight of performing better into his second year with the Union. His post-game words belied the frustration he felt after losing the 3-0 lead, saying “this team deserves a lot better, the fans deserve a lot better.”

We have been hearing the same lines over and over again in the last couple of weeks. Jim Curtin insists the players are working hard, Earnie Stewart says the board fully supports Curtin in his decisions and tactics, but the fans are still waiting for results. The message was clear as the stadium had plenty of empty seats this rainy afternoon.

If we deserve better, where can we find a better Union?

Our aggressive attack in the first half was a step above last week because we converted enough of those chances with Sapong and Alberg. The switch on the wings with Chris Pontius and Ilsinho worked to set up stronger flanks with Fabinho and Elliott. Our possession wasn’t very high but when we did have the ball, we utilized it smartly (in the first half.) We lost our cool once we conceded, but if we want to find a better Union, it’s already there, just stubbornly buried. Perhaps we will see it emerge in the next couple of weeks. It’s still early enough in the season to bring it back and leave the sting of this draw behind.

Next week: Union goes on the road to face LA Galaxy. My prediction: Not great, but at least they won’t have to hear the disappointment of the home fans.

Featured image courtesy: @PhilaUnion

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A Letter to Columbus Crew SC Fans

Hilary - Columbus
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary @hils4crew

When I was younger, if you had told me that I’d be a season ticket holder for a sports team and even attempt to write for said team, I would have looked at you like you had three heads.  It isn’t because I don’t love sports.  I do.  In fact, I started playing soccer in first grade, and I immediately became a fan of the game.  I thrived on the competitive nature of the game and loved the camaraderie of being part of a team.  

I played in city leagues growing up and eventually played high school soccer.  I stopped playing after high school, but I returned to playing in my late 20s and haven’t looked back—playing 1-3 games a week.  However, watching soccer held no interest for me.  Little did I know that in 2008 that would all change. 

I had a friend who started going to games since the conception of the team and officially became a season ticket holder of Columbus Crew SC with his dad (an incredibly passionate Crew SC fan), in 1998.  In July of 2008, my friend’s dad suddenly passed away, so when the Crew made the playoffs that year with my friend’s dad surely cheering loudly from heaven, I found myself at the games. 

There was something about the team. They radiated everything I loved about soccer.  So, I read everything I could find on the team, listened to podcasts when I discovered them, and have been a season ticket holder ever since. 

I haven’t been there from the beginning, but I definitely have memories from this team that will stay with me forever.  The roller coaster of emotions this team causes has deepened my devotion to them. 

Painting my face and yelling so much at the 2008 playoff win over Chicago.  Yelling out to Danny O’Rourke that he played a great game as I passed by him downtown after we shellacked the LA Galaxy.  Jumping off the couch with glee as Will Hesmer ran up and scored a goal on Toronto FC.  Reeling in horror followed by tears of sadness when the core of the 2008 team was jettisoned away at the end of 2010. Watching a bunch of new guys play RSL in the CONCACAF game at Mapfre Stadium while sitting on ice. 

Standing in silence during the 15th minute to honor Kirk Urso who we lost way too soon. Laughing hysterically as the scoreboard pumped out smoke.  Crying when my favorite Crew SC player of all time—Eddie Gavin—announced he was retiring and now cringing every time we play in the Open Cup.  Screeching at the TV when we came back to win by scoring 3 goals against Philadelphia to keep the playoffs alive in 2014. 

Watching proudly as Kei Kamara made a run at the Golden Boot.  Shaking my head in disbelief as we watched Portland raise the MLS Cup in our stadium.  Asking the person next to me at the stadium if we were really seeing players fighting over a PK.  Grinning at the emergence of the rookies this year.  These are just a few of the drops in the bucket of Crew SC memories. 

This team has given me so much—joy, agony, hope, elation—that I decided it was time to give something back to this team.  So, when MLS Female asked for a writer for Columbus Crew SC, I thought I would give it a try.  Starting next week, I will be providing recaps with some of my thoughts on most of the games. I’m sure it won’t be perfect, but I’m sure you’ll have no doubt of my passion for this Massive soccer team. 

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Home Is Where The Heart Is

Mercy - Philadelphia
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Mercy Payba @mercpay

It was a sunny day in August when I went to my first Philadelphia Union game. I was completely new to MLS, and the only things I knew about the match and the team were:

  1. The precursor team of Philadelphia Union was Bethlehem Steel F.C. from the 1900s (the Union had a third kit in 2013 with homage to the team and has now gone on to sponsor a new reincarnation of BSteel in the USL)
  2. That same Bethlehem Steel team had won the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup five times in their day and Philadelphia was gearing up to get their first title, having come close in 2014 as well. This would be their year to add a little more history to the area.

The friend who had invited me out to the game was a bit of a history buff and I was always enthusiastic about soccer wherever it was found so we met in the middle with football facts. I adjusted my expectations accordingly because, well, Philly teams have great fanbases but not-so-great records when it comes to winning.

Our group had seats right in front of the midfield, and we were surrounded by seasoned followers and a few season ticket holders of the boys in blue. We were in good company is what I mean to say, but I was taken by the stadium itself. There is something special about the people that wait, that watch as the teams warm up. They are a banked fire ready to come alive at the sound of the whistle starting the match. This is no different around the world whether it is a rec league or in Camp Nou.

I fell in love with the Union, not when Sebastien Le Toux netted the winner in the second half of the semifinal, not when the funny little DOOP tune played over the speakers or the crowd erupted into cheers and swept us up in the feeling, but in that quiet moment before the game even started. There is a lot I could say about Talen Energy (or as I knew it PPL Park.) It is a smaller venue, and the home crowd has some colorful and self-deprecating chants. You get a lungful of the riverfront mixed in with the general city air that stays in your sensory bank and possibly your throat after a visit. The skyline painted in orange and violet as the sun sets, is the most beautiful sight next to blue smoke rising from the River End signifying a goal for the Union.

I found myself in that strange little waterfront stadium, amongst the blue and gold that fateful August day. When I try to put into words how I became a fan of this team, the Dennis Bergkamp quote comes to mind:

“When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.”

As for the more mundane things, I’m a Jersey transplant living in Pennsylvania, went to school near Pittsburgh and came back home to the east end of the state. I watch the Bundesliga religiously and strive to infect all of my friends with the football bug when the World Cup comes around.

I grew up watching my father and brother play the beautiful game. Coming from a Peruvian family, one of the best soccer moments in recent history for me was the third place finish for Peru in Copa America Centenario last year. Philadelphia Union is the only blue team in my red, red heart.

I am a member of the Bayern Red Ladies, an all-women fanclub for Bayern Munich, and am always looking for more people to talk to about my teams in English or Spanish.

Featured image courtesy: Jeff Zelevansky

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Too Little Too Early

Cris Payne - Toronto FC/mlsfemale
Official Toronto FC Reporter

By Cris Payne @crissypayne

Saturday, April 15: 2-1 Loss

Song of the Match – Down by Marian Hill

It’s little surprise to anyone that our first loss of the season comes in the absence of Drew Moor. I wish Drew and his family all of the best and I’ve heard that the initially terrifying prospect of him being diagnosed with a heart condition may be something that can be dealt with within a couple of weeks. (source) It sounds like no one, including Drew, expects him to be out for long but I’ll breathe easier once he’s back.

Despite the absence of the Toronto FC rock in the back line, my personal favourite Nick Hagglund did a great job in Drew’s role, and although we were caught sleeping a few times, particularly on the header goal, Nick and Eriq Zavaleta both put shifts in and helped to lead the team from the back. It just, unfortunately, wasn’t enough for us as we fell 2-1 to Columbus Crew. It definitely smarts a bit more than it should served up by the team in yellow we play for the Trillium Cup.

Besides a defense that wasn’t as airtight as usual (again!), we also should have been scoring goals. We looked strong early on and managed to open the scoring but our midfield looked lacklustre especially in the second half; we quite obviously lacked in pace. It seems one of the things we are still tinkering with is the right midfield dynamic.

Having said that, what on earth is it going to take to see Jay Chapman get a minute? Any minute? Several of them preferably? We’ve yet to see our Canadian-born midfielder on the pitch this season and its high time we give him a try. He’s been dependable in the past and I’d love to see him get the chance he deserves. In the coming weeks I hope Greg Vanney explores our options and gives these young guys such as Raheem Edwards and Jay Chapman more opportunities.

It was a big night in Toronto and the Toronto Maple Leafs win helped to ease the pain of the Columbus loss. It made it easier for fans to look forward to change instead of the performances of the past few weeks in which we were barely holding on. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of our hockey team’s book and field more young players. It seems to be working wonders for them.

My Man of the Match talisman will be gratefully handed over to Nicky, as it’s been a pleasure to watch him develop under the direction of Drew Moor. Between Nick and Eriq we have a promising centre back pairing that I think we can eventually feel safe with. Even after conceding two goals I will comfortably say that our 4 or 5 at the back, however you look at it, were our strongest assets on the field. It’s only a matter of time before we start scoring goals again and our defense plays a series of games without a hitch. I believe in them.

Finally, my condolences to Greg Vanney and his family, it seems it’s been something of a difficult week at Toronto FC. It can’t have been easy juggling preparations for the game and even coaching it while dealing with a loss in the family. (source) It really feels like overall our team suffered a number of losses this week, not just on the field, and my only hope is we can move forward from here. To those who are going through some big changes in life at the moment, I will keep you in my thoughts, and to the rest of us: onwards and upwards.

Featured image courtesy: thescore.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @crissypayne

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

A Greeting to All

Matt LiVolsi - SC
Special Contributor

By Matt LiVolsi @MJLiVolsi

Hello ladies and gentlemen, my name is Matthew LiVolsi and I am the newest Special Contributor here on MLSFemale.com. It is an honor to be amongst those who not only love the sport of soccer, but also appreciate America’s top rendition of the sport.

I am a Jersey boy that has followed soccer for nearly 7 years now, starting with the World Cup in 2010 and all the pomp and circumstance around that tournament (thank you based Landon). Since then I have fallen in love with the beautiful game here in my home state and have followed the New York Red Bulls since the beginning of the Thierry Henry years. Along with RBNY, I’ve been a fan of Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga for 4 years and of course have followed both the men’s and women’s national teams religiously.

I look to bring a unique and descriptive view on certain topics as they pertain to MLS and the American game as a whole. I will also be throwing in some coverage for the U.S. Open Cup as it unfolds. You can follow me on twitter @MJLiVolsi, if you wish to do so and be entertained by my mindless rambles on whatever irks me soccer-wise.

Thank you for reading and I hope you continue to do so.

P.S. I also speak French so…parle moi, mon Montréalaise.

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017