2 games, 5 days apart, 2 very different results, and 1 country on a roller coaster of emotion,
FRIDAY: On Friday the boys played Panama in Orlando, Florida. It was a very chippy game but it resulted in a 4-0 win for the USA. Wonderboy did it again, Christian Pulisic had a goal and an assist. Jozy Altidore also had an amazing game, 2 goals and an assist to his name. After this 4-0 win, the USMNT had a 93% chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
It all came down to the final match day of this World Cup Qualifying cycle. Tuesday was the WCQ equivalent of MLS’s Decision Day for North and South America. All games started at 4:30, and by the end of the night, we will know who is booking a ticket to Russia and who was spending summer 2018 at home.
TUESDAY: It all came down to this. The only way the US could not qualify for the World Cup is if: they lose to Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras beats Mexico, and Panama beats Costa Rica. By the 37th minute, the USMNT was down 2-0 to T&T. In the 47th minute Christian Pulisic scored to make it 2-1. However, the goals would stop there and the USMNT would lose 2-1. Meanwhile, both Honduras and Panama won their respective games.
USA’s worst nightmare just happened. We are officially not going to be in the 2018 World Cup. This is the first time since 1986 that the USMNT has not qualified for a World Cup.
Tweet us @MLSFemale and let us know what you think went wrong! We would love to hear your opinions on this heartbreaking loss.
Featured image of Jozy Altidore courtesy: Rebecca Blackwell/AP
With Tim Howard (USA) and Mekeil Williams (Trinidad & Tobago) called away for international duty and Michael Azira still out with a questionable ankle, the Colorado Rapids had a new lineup this past weekend against FC Dallas. They played their standard 4-2-3-1 formation with Alan Gordon starting up top for the first time since May. Nana Boateng started the game as a center midfielder, and I have to say that I really liked him there. He was decently physical, though he does still need to learn a little restraint.
We’re a bit biased but this guy was the best player on the field tonight.
From the first whistle, both teams played fairly lackluster which was surprising considering Dallas needed points to move into playoff contention. The Rapids struck first with Stefan Aigner getting his second goal of the season in the fifteenth minute. Nana Boateng drew the first card of the match when he slid in hard and late on Dallas’ number 37, Maximiliano Urruti. Atiba Harris got the first yellow for Dallas when it looked like he had a late tackle on Stefan Aigner. The card was overturned once it was evident that Aigner dove and Harris never touched him. Aigner lucked out here because he didn’t get carded for simulation. Several attempts and a minute of stoppage time later, the first half ended.
Jesse Gonzalez proved himself vital to FC Dallas’ defense during the second half by making some incredible saves. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s going to be in the MLS much longer with his talent.
At the 53rd minute, Atiba Harris headed in the equalizer off of a corner kick and that would be the score for the rest of the game. Dallas uses their first sub, and Badji gets the second card of the game in the 67th minute. (It should be noted that this is the third game in a row that Badji has started an argument of some sort with the opposing team. With his contract being renewed for another two years, I wonder if this is something that will be addressed or not.)
Atiba Harris gets his true first yellow of the game when he elbowed the Rapids keeper, Zach MacMath, in the face while going up for a header. The contact was truly accidental as neither man saw the other coming because they were so focused on the ball. Once again, Nana Boateng shows just how much power he has when he kicked the ball from the halfway line into the 18 yard box. The tie would stand though, and move Dallas just above the line, while keeping Colorado ahead of L.A. Galaxy.
The Rapids face Real Salt Lake on Decision Day 2017 (Sunday, October 15, 2017) for their last home game of the season.
15’ – GOAL: Stefan Aigner (COL) – 1-0 Colorado
21’ – CARD: Nana Boateng (COL) – yellow
53’ – GOAL: Atiba Harris (FCD) 1-1
66’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Roland Lamah replaced by Tesho Akindele
67’ – CARD: Dominique Badji (COL) – yellow
69’ – CARD: Atiba Harris (FCD) – yellow
70’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Alan Gordon replaced by Mike DaFonte
82’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Maximiliano Urruti replaced by Cristian Colmán
83’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Stefan Aigner replaced by Shkelzen Gashi
88’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Mauro Diaz replaced by Victor Ulloa
Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
It was ‘neath the cover of October skies that the New York Red Bulls (13-12-7, 34 points) clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, now for the 8th straight season, with a win against Western Conference leaders the Vancouver Whitecaps (15-11-6, 31 points). September was a mess, but as coach Jesse Marsch said after the match, the team was able to turn the page:
“…September was difficult for us and disappointing. You know, we were all
disappointed with the results. But we continued to feel that we were playing well, and it was just a matter of time before we were going to start to have it add up more.”
Fans were stressed. The team was missing chances and dropping points. Mistakes were destroying morale and injuries are still whittling away at the team’s depth. Three players heeded national call-ups (Michael Amir Murillo and Fidel Ecsobar to Panama, and Derrick Etienne to Haiti), reducing team strength even further. But Marsch found a way to right the ship.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ll be honest. I’ve been challenging our defenders… to perform at a higher level because we’ve made too many mistakes. […W]e felt like if we could shore that up; if we could find the right balance of personnel and performance in the back that the rest will take care of itself, because there’s a lot of good things happening. So you know, got three good performances from the guys at center back…”
That would be Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, and Kemar Lawrence. Lawrence, who played a major role in Jamaica’s Gold Cup run, declined the call for an international friendly in Saudi Arabia. The team, the fans, and my fantasy lineup all heaved a sigh of relief. It’s just too bad that Lawrence got himself a yellow card in the 84th minute and is now suspended for the next game.
Meanwhile back on offense, “all the night’s magic” made the fans stand up and cheer. Forward Danny Royer, just recently back from injury, shot the ball across the face of the goal and in for the 12th time this season in the 33rd minute.
As for assists, captain Sacha Kljestan posted 2 more on the night, bringing his season total to 17. Kljestan just might be on track to rack up 20 assists on the season for the 2nd year in a row. Mighty impressive, if you ask me.
So with two games to go, post season plans are being made. Let’s (Moon)dance.
Y’all. We did it. We finally got three points this weekend against the Montreal Impact. I don’t think I’ve held my breath that much since the USA/Honduras World Cup Qualifier last month. I walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a huge smile on my face, taking deep breaths, and telling my dad how good it felt to have a win. The truth is, this was easily the weirdest soccer game I have ever witnessed.
The first half saw Stefan Aigner getting his first home start of the season as the 10 alongside Marlon Hairston’s 7 and Joshua Gatt’s 11 with Dominique Badji up top. At 9 minutes in, Jared Watts got the first red card of the game thanks to the VAR. It was the right call. He slid into Chris Duvall’s ankle, studs up, in attempt on the ball. It was a bad decision on Watts’ part.
At this point in the game, the Colorado Rapids formation had to change from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-1 to accommodate for the now missing 8. Duvall was subbed out and the game restarted with 10 Rapids players to Montreal’s 11. Montreal’s Daniel Lovitz got the second red card of the game thanks to a stupid decision. Rapids defender, Mike Da Fonte went up for a header against Lovitz and ended up on the ground. As he was getting up, Lovitz stepped through and kneed him in the ribs. From my understanding of FIFA rules, the ref probably considered this a use of excessive force which would be why he was sent off.
As if two red cards in the first half weren’t weird enough, the ref whistled play dead and restarted with a drop ball when he lost track of the ball in the 41st minute. The fourth official indicated that there would be four minutes of stoppage time and in the second minute of that stoppage time, Aigner found the back of the net for his first career MLS goal. From the review of the play, Aigner moved from an offside to an onside position with a little stutter step which put him right in line with Mekeil Williams’ pass.
At the 46th minute, the Rapids used their first sub of the game and replaced Mike Da Fonte with Nana Boateng. Kort Ford got his first yellow in the 47th minute, followed by VAR coming to the Rapids rescue in the 51st minute. Hairston takes down Ignacio Piatti in the box and the ref called a PK. The play went to VAR which showed that Hairston made contact with the ball and the PK is overturned.
That relief was short lived as Mateo Mancosu got the equalizer in the 61st minute. Axel Sjöberg missed his opportunity to stop the goal when he turned to the side and let Mancosu go right past him. The shot was unsaveable because it went into the top corner of the net, just over Tim Howard’s fingertips. At this point in the game, both teams were playing with ten men on the field, Montreal used all of their subs, and Coloradoused 2 of their 3.
Michael Azira caught his ankle on the grass just wrong and it folded underneath of him. Mohammed Saeid came in as the Rapids third and final substitution. Two minutes later, Alan Gordon scored the game winner and got a yellow card for excessive celebration.
Shortly thereafter, Boateng saw an incredible attempt on Montreal’s goal, from the top of the Rapids’ box, go just wide by a couple of feet at most. The weirdness continued when Montreal went down to 9 men after Piatti twisted his knee and dropped to the ground with no players around him. After playing 89 minutes, Deian Bolder was shown off the field by the center referee because he forgot his shin guards. Mekeil Williams went down on the opposite side of the field with an ankle injury and had to leave in stoppage time.
Both teams ended the game with 9 players, but the Rapids came away with the win and 3 points. We finally moved ahead of LA Galaxy in the league standings thanks to a late goal by Kyle Beckerman to cause a draw between Real Salt Lake and L. A. The Rapids will face FC Dallas at DSG Park on Saturday, October 7th.
On Saturday night, Columbus Crew SC did what they did not look able to do in the middle of the season—clinch a playoff spot.What spot they actually finish in is still unknown, but Crew SC will play at least one playoff game during the 2017 MLS season.
Columbus Crew SC won 2-0 against one of their oldest rivals, DC United, who had a familiar face in the net.Former Crew SC keeper Steve Clark was picked up by DC and faced his former teammates.There wasn’t a lot Steve could have done to stop Crew SC’s two goals though.
In the first quarter of the game, Crew SC seemed to dominate play.Josh Williams headed in an Higuain corner kick in the 14’ to score the game’s first goal.Clark was pretty much left out to dry by his defense who left Josh unmarked.
In the middle of the game, it was much more of a back and forth match, but unlike earlier in the season, I never felt a sense of dread that Crew SC might let DC back into this match.Their unbeaten streak has given the team a much-needed boost of confidence and camaraderie, which has started to radiate into the stands as well.
This isn’t to say that DC didn’t have their chances, but Zack Steffen continues to make great saves.I hope that at some point the USMNT take notice of Steffen.
In the 56’, Artur sent a ball across the field toward Jimenez who let the ball go through his legs to Justin Meram.Meram hit a beauty of a shot into the far side of the goal.As the ball went toward the goal, I was pretty sure he was going to miss.I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I don’t think Clark had a chance to save the shot.I don’t think many keepers could have saved it.
Other thoughts about the match and Crew SC happenings:
TIFOSweat gets a huge shout out for the large TIFO they did to honor Frederico Higuain who had given all of us the impression that this might be his last season in the black and gold.
However, not only did Crew SC clinch the playoffs this week, but they also locked up Pipa for another year.Did the TIFO play a role in his decision?No one will ever know, but I’m going to go with yes.He is essential to this team, as I’ve said all season, so I’m glad to see him back for another year.Now, we just need to lock up Artur.
You can tell both Pipa and Santos grew up playing soccer with a similar mindset.They are often at the same place on the field at the same time.
If you had asked me to make a bet at the beginning of the season who I thought our starting center backs would be by the end of the season, I would have lost that bet.Who would have thought Josh Williams and Mensah would be our center back pairing?But it works.They look much more confident than any other pairing we have seen this year.
Finally, I know there was talk on Twitter, and apparently Facebook, about how to handle facing Steve Clark.Some people wanted to boo him before and after the game and some during the game.People can obviously do whatever they want to do within reason.During the game, I laughed when we scored on him and some chanted, “Steve says, ‘Yes!’” as some good-natured ribbing during the game is part of the sport.
However, I was proud that before the game and after the game the fans cheered Steve.Despite the goal that will live in infamy during the 2015 MLS Cup, Steve was a solid keeper for this team.He brought spirit and leadership to a team that desperately needed it, and he loved the fans of this club.Steve Clark will always be a Crew SC player that I respect and who played lights out soccer in a system where the defense in front of him isn’t always a keeper’s best friend.Despite how much I respect Steve though, I was glad we scored two goals.
After a break in the action, Crew SC picks back up and plays its last two games on the road to see which playoff spot it will actually have.And I am going to enjoy the journey.
This week has not been an easy one for the Colorado Rapids. Wednesday night’s loss combined with wins around the league has put the Rapids mathematically out of playoff contention. The tie between LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo means we are still in last place of our division, behind by two points now. Again, we are faced with needing the Galaxy to lose while we win in order to not come in dead last in the West. To top this off, the Rapids lost a center forward when Kevin Doyle retired on Thursday.
A win in Frisco would have meant that the Rapids still had the chance to challenge for the playoffs, however, FC Dallas had no intent of letting us off that easy. Like Saturday night, the Rapids again played in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Dallas’ 4-3-3. This match up saw the return of Bobby Burling and Dillon Serna to the starting lineup, and Stefan Aigner’s first start with the Rapids.
49′ – Just your routine TimHowardcrazysave.gif for this part of the match.
The Rapids played half-hearted nearly the full game on Wednesday night as if they had already given up any hope of ending the season with a win or two. Maynor Figueroa (FCD) started the game off with a goal five minutes in after Eric Miller missed a clear opportunity to clear the ball out of the box. Not four minutes later, Miller was beat once again, this time by Roland Lamah (FCD) for the second and final goal of the game.
Bobby Burling drew the first yellow card of the game after channeling his inner hockey player and hip checking Lamah. Colorado got their first opportunity at putting the ball in the back of the net when Matt Hedges drew a card after getting tangled up with Dominique Badji. Two more yellow cards came for the Rapids before the end of the first half when Stefan Aigner mouthed off to the ref and Mohammed Saeid threw the ball at Javier Morales’ head.
The frustration was evident in the second half of the game as the Rapids missed multiple opportunities on goal and, as a result, could not put together a comeback. The Rapids saw a bit of pick up in speed and goal opportunities late in the game after substitutions were made. Marlon Hairston came in for Stefan Aigner and his first touch was an attempt on goal. After being warned about time wasting in the 38th minute, referee Ricardo Salazar finally issued a yellow card for time wasting to Jesse Gonzalez in the 83rd minute.
The Rapids need more central players.
At one point in Wednesday’s game, the entire midfield was left open while players were either at the top of the box or at the midfield line. Kevin Doyle was one solution to that problem and was known for closing down the middle during games. Sadly, he announced his retirement from soccer on Thursday following medical advice from his doctors due to concerns about the risk of permanent damage from further concussions. He had not been seen on the pitch since the second half of the September 2nd game against the Galaxy after getting his second concussion of the season.
Doyle first came to Colorado from Crystal Palace in 2015 and had been a fixture on the Republic of Ireland national team since 2006. He finishes his 16 year career with 63 international caps, and the appreciation of Rapids fans everywhere.
Colorado next faces Montreal Impact at home on Saturday, September 30. Let’s go ‘Pids!
5’ – GOAL: Maynor Figueroa (FCD) 1-0 Dallas
8’ – GOAL: Roland Lamah (FCD) 2-0 Dallas
11’ – CARD: Bobby Burling (COL) – yellow
21’ – CARD: Matt Hedges (FCD) – yellow
44’ – CARD: Stefan Aigner (COL) – yellow
45’ – CARD: Mohammed Saeid (COL) – yellow
54’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Marlon Hairston in for Stefan Aigner
63’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Dominique Badji
69’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Shkelzen Gashi in for Mohammed Saeid
74’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (1/3) – Victor Ulloa in for Mauro Diaz
83’ – CARD:Jesse Gonzalez (FCD) – yellow
86’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (2/3) – Ryan Hollingshead in for Roland Lamah
89’ – SUBSTITUTION: FCD (3/3) – Luis González in for Javier Morales
It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about the New York Red Bulls in league play… sorry about that.
I made my way to Red Bull Arena to see the latest matchup for the Atlantic Cup (a *real* rivalry, mind you) against DC United. As I was driving home from the game, this 311 song came on the radio. I have taken to referencing Broadway musicals while I write these articles, and was all set to do so once again here. But the lyrics, which I had learned in my Junior year of high school, hit me so hard that I had to integrate them here. (And yes, this song is as old as our beloved Metro. And older than a couple of guys on the roster. Let that sink in.) I usually do a full run-down of the game and venue, but I’m going to try something a little different….
For those of you still slightly confused (or ridiculously young), you gon’ learn today:
Many moons: RBNY hasn’t won a league match since August 12th, while DC was coming off 2 wins and were trying to ramp up for a real winning streak.
“But… we’re commanding every game we play. Every single game we play, we’re pretty much controlling the game the way we want to control it. But we have to work so hard for our chances, and then when we do score, it seems like we find ways to literally just give goals away.” — Jesse Marsch, post game press conference
The dream will always be mine: RBNY will make the playoffs. How far they get in the playoffs depends on a lot of things. In the meantime, it’s really easy for fans to get bogged down by a draw like this: it should have been a win. Analysts and number crunchers keep reminding fans that the team is doing well in terms of points and stats. It’s just that those things aren’t resulting in wins.
“The will of the team is a big positive. Really the only negative is that we just can’t seem to reward ourselves.” — Jesse Marsch, post game press conference
Kill ‘dem stunning: Right Wingback Tyler Adams, who is younger than a couple of t-shirts I own, tallied his first AND second goals in MLS at this game (19′ & 74′). The soccer mom in me can’t help but be proud, because not only is he a talented player, he is a level-headed team member.
“We’re confident in our team, and we’re all determined enough to make it.” — Tyler Adams, locker room interview
Next thing you turn around and find the person is you: An own goal. That thing that helped RBNY win more than one game in the past has come back to give the devil his due. Defender Fidel Escobar was credited with the error that caused RBNY to drop 2 points in the 91st minute of the game, when it should really have been sewn up for the Red Bulls. He’s not the first player to do this, nor will he be the last. It will sting, but like a scraped knee after falling off a bike, the only thing to do is get right back to it and prove that was the exception to the rule.
That’s your best bet: There were several considerable bright spots, and I don’t want them to get lost in the quagmire. We saw the return of Danny Royer, who came on as a substitute in the 75th minute. Allow me to highlight the question I asked of Jesse Marsch, the first of my sports writing career (such as it is):
[H]ow did you feel about how Royer came in today? This is his first game back and everyone was excited to see him. What did you think, is he really there with you? Is there still more to work on?
“He’s got to get up to full fitness and everything, but he’s back. Was excited to get him back in the game. I think a high probability that he starts on Saturday, so it’s no time like the present. We need Danny. We need Danny now, so it’s good to have him
back. That is a big positive.”
Speaking of subs, Gonzalo Veron made some amazing runs, including one where he was brought down in the box and awarded the penalty kick, which he converted (78′).
Let go of regret: The sentiment from all the players was the same– let this go and focus on the next challenge: a weekend matchup against conference leaders and Supporter’s Shield contenders Toronto FC. I was never one to predict a result, but now…
You make me nervous
My brain is empty
Don’t know why
(I’ve had this song stuck in my head for nearly 24 hrs now… it’s your turn.)
Wednesday, September 20: 2-1 Loss (Open Cup Final)
I had to sleep on this post. A lot, it would seem.
I didn’t want to get sucked into all the “So Metro” talk leading up to the Open Cup final. The New York Red Bulls had made such a good run, defeating regional adversaries NYCFC, Philadelphia Union, and the New England Revolution. Fans reveled in the stomping out of Cinderella opponents FC Cincinnati and watched as they learned RBNY would have to face Sporting KC* in the final at Children’s Mercy Park. I was all set to attend another Watch party and celebrate a huge milestone in Red Bulls history: this was finally going to be the year the team lifted the Lamar Hunt Open Cup.
Well. Not so much.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Children’s Mercy Park is a fortress, and Sporting hasn’t lost at home all season. They weren’t looking to start anytime soon. As for me, a new job kept me super busy and prevented me from joining fans for the watch party (although I did meet a season ticket holder in my office– woop woop!). Thankfully, the Open Cup had finally garnered enough interest to be aired on ESPN2, so at least I wasn’t stuck watching on a tablet again.
I KNOW ABOUT POPULAR: SKC has now won 3 Open Cups and an MLS cup. RBNY has won 2 Supporter’s Shields, which would be huge if MLS didn’t have playoffs. Usually for me, comparing relative sizes of trophy cases is a serious turnoff. But it just can’t be helped. Both teams have history that spans the entire existence of Major League Soccer, and the Red Bulls should really have more to show for it.
I’M MELTING: There’s no other way for me to put it. Both of Sporting’s goals (Latif Blessing 25′ and Daniel Salloi 66′) came because they caught the defense sleeping. I commend RBNY coach Jesse Marsch for sticking with GK Ryan Meara as he had throughout the Open Cup run, but it just didn’t work as it should have. Alex Muyl was scrambling, Fidel Escobar was gassed. Sal Zizzo made a fatal error, and my personal favorite Damien Perrinelle didn’t even make the 18.
TRY DEFYING GRAVITY: It wasn’t as if the Red Bulls let SKC wipe the field with them. There was plenty of fight in the boys in red and white. The fact that Bradley Wright-Phillips was able to pull one back in the 91st minute shows that they didn’t give up. It may not have been enough, but I respect that it was still a lot.
So… it’s time for the team to focus on the remainder of the season. Maybe go deep through the playoffs. Plan for next year. Why then, oh why can’t we?
*If you weren’t aware, Sporting KC used to be known as the Kansas City Wiz. Between that and my penchant for musical theater, the article headings wrote themselves.
Since the Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened, Atlanta United have been unstoppable. Here’s a rundown of the stats for ATLUTD between 9/10-24:
5 home games
Have outscored opponents 19-3
2 hat tricks by Josef Martinez in back-to-back games
4 clean sheets for Brad Guzan
3rd place in the Eastern Conference
Still 2 games in hand vs most of the conference (only playing 1 Western Conference team in remaining 5 regular season games)
Going to a game at the Benz feels like going to a party. The huge tailgates before the weekend games (and slightly smaller ones on weekdays) just enhance that atmosphere. It feels like we’ve done nothing but party for 2 weeks straight.
So many goals to cheer for! NINETEEN GOALS in five games. Eight of those scored by Josef Martinez in the first four games – and back-to-back hat tricks! That guy knows how to put on a show!
When you score two hat tricks in the same week, well…
Last Wednesday, Yamil Asad had a great game, too. In a 4-0 drubbing of the LA Galaxy, Asad was involved in all of the goals, scoring two for himself and assisting on the other two. (Also note, the boys now wear suits when they arrive for games. *swoon*)
This Sunday, it was a little of everyone. Tito Villalba scored the first goal – another blast into the top 90 of the goal – which seems to be a sweet spot for him (see: Tito’s winning goal at Orlando City in July).
The other big news out of Sunday’s game was Miguel Almiron pulling up with a hamstring injury in the 17th minute. He was visibly upset walking off the field on Sunday and it was announced Monday that he will be out for a minimum of three weeks, which means he won’t be playing for Paraguay next week during the international break and may not be back until the last game of the season (vs Toronto) at the earliest.
With Sunday’s result, ATLUTD are now sitting alone in third place in the Eastern conference, just three points behind NYCFC and with a game in hand. Both teams play this Wednesday (ATLUTD hosts Philadelphia and NYCFC at Montreal).
ATLUTD will finally be caught up next week on games played after a trip away to New England and a home game vs Minnesota United – a game that should have been played in August, but was pushed back due to the MBS construction delays.
Other news of note this week:
ATLUTD have now scored more goals than any expansion team ever in MLS (63)
Homegrown players Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin and Justin Garces were all named on the 21-player roster for the U-17 World Cup in India, being played in October.
After his double hat trick performance last week, Josef Martinez was named MLS Player of the Week.
Yamil Asad was named to the MLS Best XI and Leandro Gonzales Pirez was “on the bench” for Team of the Week.
Kevin Kratz won Goal of the Week last week for his free kick goal vs New England; Tito Villalba’s rocket is up for Goal of the Week this week – and ATLUTD always wins the internet, so don’t be too surprised when Tito wins this one, too.
This season has been a rough one for Colorado Rapids fans. The end of 2016 saw us lose at home against the Seattle Sounders in the race for the MLS Cup, a victory that has eluded us since 2010. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park had been affectionately nicknamed the “Mile High Fortress,” thanks to their 2016 regular season record at home. This season began full of hope and promise.
And then came 2017.
The 2017 season has been rife with disappointment, losses, and upheavals in staffing and on the field. A team that finished second in the MLS West division to FC Dallas, and the Supporter’s Shield, in the 2016 season was now dealing with life on the bottom of the board. We just couldn’t put together cohesive play to result in more than a handful of wins and the frustration was visible in player interactions on the field.
The offseason saw us sign the likes of Alan Gordon from LA Galaxy, Bismark Adjei-Boateng from the Manchester City system, and not do anything else. Midway through the season we saw the devastating departure of team captain Sam Cronin and Marc Burch to the new expansion team, Minnesota United. In return, Mohammed Saeid and Joshua Gatt donned the burgundy jersey. The departure that seemed to hit the hardest, however, was that of longtime coach and former player, Pablo Mastroeni. The drop in morale was tangible in that first home game since his firing.
There has not been much turnaround for the team under the wing of interim coach Steve Cooke, but Saturday night’s game provided the opportunity for the Rapids to move ahead of LA Galaxy, and out of last place. The Rapids started a 4-2-3-1 against Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place with Jared Watts and Michael Azira playing as a defensive 6 and an attacking 8, respectively, and Dominique Badji at the top as a target player.
The first half saw an early goal go in off of a header from Freddy Montero to put Vancouver ahead 1-nil after Axel Sjöberg was late to the play. Jared Watts (COL) drew the first yellow card of the game in the 14th minute due to a tackle from behind on Yordy Reyna after the ball was gone. Tim Howard then denied Cristian Techera a goal with a sliding save. Tim Parker (VAN) saw an attempt go wide and then turn into a yellow card thanks to his hand ball in the 34th minute.
We finally saw some flashes of Colorado’s defensive capabilities when they denied four consecutive attempts from Vancouver. Dominique Badji scored the equalizer in the 44th minute, megging the keeper, David Ousted. This was his third goal in as many games, bringing him to 9 for the season.
The second half began with a completely incidental collision between Badji and Andrew Jacobsen (VAN), though both got up with a bit of a hobble. Montero had a chance for his second goal, but he went just wide with his attempt. It was a lucky break for Colorado as Howard was down with no chance to make the save. Yordy Reyna beat Howard in the 53rd minute to score the go ahead goal for the Whitecaps.
Tempers soon flared a bit between Marlon Hairston and Tony Tchani, but because of camera angles – we weren’t able to see what happened. However, neither cards nor fouls were issued for the interaction. Michael Azira received the fourth yellow card in the game for pulling down Yordy Reyna. There was no argument from Azira because it was, as announcer Marcelo Balboa called it, “a professional foul”. Despite multiple attempts at the end of the second half, the Rapids were not able to put anything away to bring the score even.
The Rapids face FC Dallas on Wednesday, September 27th in their next round of play. Should the Galaxy lose to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, we will have yet another chance to pull out of last place before the end of the season.
4’ – GOAL: Freddy Montero (VAN) 1-0 Whitecaps
14’ – CARD: Jared Watts (COL) – yellow
34’ – CARD: Tim Parker (VAN) – yellow
43’ – CARD: Mekeil Williams (COL) – yellow
44’ – GOAL: Dominique Badji (COL) 1-1
53’ – GOAL: Yordy Reyna (VAN) 2-1 Whitecaps
59’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Stefan Aigner in for Marlon Hairston
64’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Josh Gatt
69’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (1/3) – Bernie Ibini in for Cristian Techera
75’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Bismark Adjei-Boateng in for Jared Watts
76’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (2/3) – Alphonso Davies in for Brek Shea
82’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (3/3) – Erik Hurtado in for Fredy Montero