Tag Archives: Jordan Morris

The Rubber Match Preview: Seattle Hosts Toronto for Tie-Break MLS Cup

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

December 10th, 2016. I sat on my couch in a Seattle suburb balancing a bowl of popcorn on my belly. It was my due date for my first baby boy, Sawyer, and I was beyond ready to meet him. Due dates are hardly ever accurate though, especially with first pregnancies.

Nevertheless, I sat there that day especially hopeful to be in labor soon, but not for at least another 10 or 15 minutes. The Seattle Sounders had just played 120 long, grueling minutes in their first MLS Cup appearance in club history and were now heading to a penalty shoot out. My blood pressure was through the roof.

But the rest is MLS history. Seattle would win the shootout 5-4 and Sawyer wouldn’t be born for six more days. We welcomed him into a world were the Seattle Sounders were reigning MLS Cup Champions. To this day, I’m still not sure which was the greater joy for my husband.

Photo Credit: Ashley Savage

MLS Cup 2017 was not as kind to the Sounders, as Toronto swiftly defeated them. The postseason of 2018 was not much better, as the Sounders were eliminated by their biggest rivals, the Portland Timbers, who went on to lose the MLS Cup final to Atlanta United.

In the span of those two seasons, my son attended nearly every home Sounders match. He smiled brightly every time the Sounders scored a goal and fire shot from the goalposts. At two, he held his hand over his heart for every national anthem and would mumble sounds that somewhat emulated the lyrics. These games brought him so much joy, just as he brought joy to our family.

The 2019 season for the Seattle Sounders was one that I would not describe as joyful. There were so many injuries. Brad Smith, Kelvin Leerdam, Victor Rodriguez, Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Roman Torres, Kim Ki Hee, Will Bruin and Joevin Jones all spent significant time out injured. Chad Marshall was forced in to retirement prior to mid-season. The team dropped more points at home than any of their previous ten seasons.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

But there were also many moments of magic. Jordan Morris put together his best season in MLS and was rewarded with the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. Stefan Frei was an absolute force in the net game after game. And when it mattered most, the team grabbed enough points to finish second in the Western Conference and haven’t looked back since.

Photo Credit: Seattle Sounders FC

Raul Ruidiaz has scored three goals and three assists in his playoff appearances this season. Nicolas Lodeiro has two goals and four assists in three post season appearances.

While the Sounders were not dominant in their opening playoff victory against FC Dallas, the team posted a shutout in the next round against Real Salt Lake. Then, they did the unthinkable by traveling to Banc of California Stadium and put on a clinic to near perfection on how to beat the greatest regular season team in MLS history, LAFC.

Now, thanks to a lightening bolt strike from Nick DeLeon that defeated Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Final, Toronto FC are heading to Seattle for the MLS Cup Rubber Match. For impartial fans, this story-line is probably getting old. But for me and my family and the city of Seattle, this is the most anticipated day we could possibly imagine.

The city of Seattle hasn’t hosted many championships. During the 1978 and 1979 seasons the Seattle Supersonics hosted several finals games and the Seattle Storm have hosted in the 2004, 2010, and 2018 seasons when they won their respective titles.

For a metropolitan area of nearly 3.89 million people, hosting this championship means everything. Possibly to no one more than head coach Brian Schmetzer, who was born in Seattle, played for the Sounders USL side and has taken the team to three MLS Cups in his four seasons as head coach. For this city, for this team, and for this writer, this game means everything.

The game will kickoff at 12:08 PM PST on Sunday November 10th at CenturyLink Field and will broadcast on ABC. Tickets for the match sold out in minutes and it’s estimated that nearly 71,000 fans will be in attendance.

One of those fans will be my son, Sawyer, who is now almost three years old and insists on wearing his Nightfall Jordan Morris jersey to every single match. While he was a few days late to witness the Sounders first MLS Cup, here’s hoping he gets to see the Rave Green hoist the trophy in person this Sunday.

Featured image: Seattle Sounders FC

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Sounders drop points at home… again.

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

It was another tough home match on Sunday night as the Rave Green dropped another important 3 points at home, this time to Sporting Kansas City. This was the second consecutive loss at CenturyLink Field, which has not happened in over three years. The Sounders now sit in a 3-way tie with San Jose and Minnesota for second place in the Western Conference.

Felipe Gutierrez struck first for Sporting in the 12th minute, silencing the nearly 38,000 fans in attendance. The Chilean would add his second goal only 21 minutes later after VAR determined Nouhou made a penalty-awarding tackle on Gerso Fernandez.

Although down 2-0 after 45 minutes, the Sounders still had some fight in them during the second half. Jordan Morris got Seattle back in the game with a beautiful strike just moments after kickoff. Nico Lodeiro picked up is 10th assist of the season, making this the third consecutive season the captain has tallied 10 or more assists.

In the 58th minute Erik Hurtado gave Sporting a 2 goal lead once again, recording his first goal of 2019 in his first start for SKC. The former Whitecap found his way through the Sounders’ back line after a pinpoint pass from Gerso Fernandez.

Once again, Jordan Morris made things interesting in the 82nd minute and converted his 7th goal of the season to make the game 3-2. While the Seattle native had several more opportunities through the rest of the game, neither Morris or his teammates could find another goal and the match finished with Sporting Kansas City leaving Seattle with 3 points.

While the loss was tough and not at all pretty, there were some bright spots to the disappointment. Jordan Morris notched his 7th goal of the season and scored in back to back games for the first time since September 2016. It was also his third multi-goal game as a Sounder. Morris is now the second leading goal scorer of the season.

However, the positive marks basically end there. While the last time the Sounders dropped 2 home games they eventually won the MLS Cup, these losses don’t indicate a light (or trophy) at the end of the tunnel. The entire team looked flat and uninspired against the Timbers two weeks ago and the same could be said of the play last night.

Joevin Jones, who is filling in for the continuously injured Victor Rodriguez, looked out of place on the left wing for most of the match. He misplayed several passes inside the box and attempted to play down the middle through Lodeiro.

Nouhou, who was starting for the injured Brad Smith, made defensive error after error and despite the speed and agility both players possess, he and Jones could not get any chemistry going down that left wing.

While Jordan Morris single-handedly kept the Sounders in the game, he made his second consecutive start for Raul Ruidiaz, who is still in concussion protocol.

Gustav Svensson missed another match with a hamstring injury and was replaced by 16 year old Danny Leyva. Kelvin Leerdem was in the 18, but did not feature and Saad Abdul-Salaam started at right back in Leerdem’s place.

Xavier Arreaga started at centerback for the suspended Roman Torres and played alongside Kim Keehee. However, Kim did not display the comfort and partnership next to Arreaga that he has always had with Marshall and Torres.

The injuries and lineup adjustments are officially a concern for the Sounders. While General Manager Garth Lagerway has continually been quoted as saying he “likes our current squad”, the recent record and dropping of points indicates some reinforcements need to be brought in… and soon.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

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Sounders Show They’re A Group of Tough Kids In Gutsy 1-1 Tie To LAFC


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

On a sunny Sunday in Seattle, LAFC traveled to play the Sounders for the second time in 7 days. This game was, in so many ways, the definition of “so MLS”.

Still battling injuries and missing Chad Marshall, Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, Victor Rodriguez and Will Bruin, a depleted Sounders opened the scoring just 45 seconds in to the match. Jordan Morris picked off a faulty LAFC back pass and scored the second fastest goal in club history. And there ends the happy Sounders highlights a mere 1 minute in to a 94 minute match.


Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Captain Carlos Vela (who else?) equalized in the 4th minute, leveling the score to one all, which would remain the same 90 minutes later after many yellow cards, missed chances (by both teams) and tough soccer.


Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

In the 18th minute, the Sounders went down to 10 men after Cristian Roldan received a red card (which a review committee rescinded) for being pushed in to Eduard Atuesta and making hands to face contact.

The Sounders simply toughed out a tie, which considering Kelvin Leerdam’s stoppage time red card for DOGSO (Denial of Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity), LAFC’s 21 shots (5 on target) and 74% possession was a gritty and well earned point.


Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

The Sounders move to 5-1-3 on the season and sit third place in the Western Conference with 18 points behind LAFC and LA Galaxy.

Injuries

After an incredibly hot start right out of the gates, the Sounders have softly sizzled due to injuries and lack of first team depth. Raul Ruidiaz, Will Bruin, Chad Marshall, Victor Rodriguez, Gustav Svensson, and Nouhou Tolo all missed Sunday’s match due to injury. While Bruin and Nouhou have not been consistent starters this season, Ruidiaz and Rodriguez make up a bulk of the Sounders’ offensive attack. Chad Marshall is also a defensive powerhouse on the back line, even though Roman Torres is a seasoned backup.

While the Instagram Story of Ruidiaz has indicated he will travel to Minnesota, it is unclear whether or not the forward will factor in to Saturday’s game considering he hasn’t participated in training for several weeks.

The Battle For Who Gets To Call Him Honey Badger

The Sounders travel to Minnesota this Saturday for their first look at the Wonder Wall and also at Ozzie Alonso on the opposite side of the field. The loss of Ozzie has been met with mixed emotions by Seattle fans, but with the current lack of midfield depth more are missing him than not.

Cristian Roldan has made comments to the media that he is especially glad his red card has been rescinded so that he can play against his mentor. That midfield match up will be a must watch for Sounders and Loon fans alike.

Featured image: @jillmpeck on Instagram

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Sounders Suffer First Loss Of The Season To LAFC, 4-1


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Coming to Los Angeles as the last undefeated team in MLS, the Sounders were definitely a lesser version of the team that started the season with the greatest run in franchise history. With Chad Marshall, Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin all missing the trip, Jordan Morris became the lone forward in Seattle’s 4-2-3-1 lineup.

After a midweek flop in Vancouver, the Black and Gold were aggressive and borderline vengeful with their attack from the opening whistle. After repeatedly knocking on the door, Carlos Vela finished off a beautiful pass from Mark-Anthony Kaye for the game’s opening goal.

The remainder of the first half, Seattle seemed unable to get anything started offensively and had several miscues on defense. Shortly before the halftime whistle, Eduard Atuesta took Roman Torres for a slip and slide as he slotted home the second goal for LAFC in the first 45.

Known for his compelling halftime speeches, Brian Schmetzer’s boys came out of the locker room with an improved look and created some excellent build up play. In the 51st minute, Victor Rodriguez found an open Harry Shipp, who tallied his first goal of the season and brought the Sounders back within one.

However, four minutes later Carlos Vela scored an almost identical goal to his first of the day, this time assisted by Atuestsa. In the 61st minute, Christian Ramirez tapped in a sitter from six yards out that gave Kaye his third assist of the day and LAFC a 4-1 lead.

While the game finished with a 4-1 score, the saga continues less than seven days later as LAFC will travel to Seattle for an incredibly quick rematch in the Emerald City. With injuries plaguing the Sounders in Los Angeles, a full squad and home field environment should help the Sounders put on a better display. However, a midweek home match against San Jose will likely require some squad rotation and depth is a luxury the Sounders do not currently have.

A comment on fan behavior

Let me start this by saying I’m not a Sounders fan who hates all other Western Conference or MLS teams. When I first became a season ticket holder, I went to an away game in Portland. A small group of us were grabbing beers at a bar far from the stadium that was playing morning football games (the Seahawks were playing) and no one in the bar was wearing Timbers gear. Eventually, a small group of Timbers came in to the bar. A girl from their group walked up to me, threw sardines in my face and tossed a salmon head on the table while saying “today we gut the fish”. I was in shock. I promised myself then and there I would never become a fan fueled by hatred for other teams, only passion for my own.

I enjoy watching other teams do impressive and inspiring things, because it benefits the league. I love what Atlanta is doing with their fanbase and attendance. I love Minnesota’s new soccer specific stadium. I love what Mia, Magic and Will Ferrel are building in LA and I respect the hell out of Bob Bradley. Having him coach in this league helps make MLS more respectable globally.

What does not help the reputation of MLS is LAFC fans throwing beer on opposing team players. It is atrocious beyond explanation. Watching a sideline fan throw beer on Nouhou, who was simply attempting to throw the ball in, was disgusting. And it’s not the first time. When facing RSL in the knock-out round last year, the referee stopped the game for 5 minutes after fans from the LAFC supporters section were throwing beers at Nick Rimando. This should not be a representation of team or fan culture if we ever hope to progress MLS to the level of the EPL, Bundesliga or La Liga, three leagues where actions like this would never be tolerated.

RSL Goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s tweet after having beer thrown on him in a playoff game last season.

While LAFC were a beautiful display of skill on the field Sunday, it disappointed me to see fans still throwing beers on opposing team players. I hope that fan behavior can someday replicate the professional integrity of the teams.

Featured image: @SoundersFC on Twitter

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Seattle continue best start in franchise history with 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

It was El Capitan to the rescue once again in Seattle. Nicolas Lodeiro bagged the only goal of the game early in the first half to give the Seattle Sounders a 1-0 win at home over Western Conference rival, Real Salt Lake.

The Sounders started the game with a lineup adjustment as Raul Ruidiaz was held out of the 18 due to a knock he sustained in the Vancouver game the previous week. Ruidiaz had been limited in training and head coach Brian Schmetzer had stated he would be a game-time decision. However, with 3 games on the schedule in only a 6-day span, Ruidiaz clearly needed the rest.


Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

MLS veteran (and new dad!) Will Bruin replaced Ruidiaz; he put in a solid shift frustrating the RSL defenders and contributing great give-and-go plays with his teammates.

After again pressuring heavily from kick-off—a season staple so far for the Sounders—both Jordan Morris and Victor Rodriguez had good looks at goal early. Appeals for a penalty
were shouted in the 10th minute after Rodriguez was taken down heavily, but referee Nima Saghafi would not be swayed.


Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

After 18 minutes of consistent attacking, it was the captain, Nicolas Lodeiro, who scored an absolute stunner with a thunderous volley that flew past Nick Rimando. Cristian Roldan also grabbed his first assist of the year on the service to Lodeiro.


Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

No highlight reel efforts graced either team the remainder of the game, and the Sounders held on to their 1-0 lead at home. They remain unbeaten as they prepare to face the Colorado Rapids on the road this Wednesday before greeting old MLS Cup rivals, Toronto FC, back at CenturyLink on Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m.

Another road game followed by a tough home match-up will be a solid test for the Sounders, especially with Ruidiaz’s status unclear and Victor Rodriguez being subbed relatively early the past few games as a precaution. With 13 points out of a possible 15 so far this season, the Sounders will definitely be pushing to continue building on their best start in franchise history.

Featured & all images: @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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Seattle Sounders get First Road Win versus Chicago Fire


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The Seattle Sounders rolled in to Chicago just as hot as they’d started at home. From the opening whistle, the Sounders were firing on all cylinders down both wings and through the middle with Nicolas Lodiero.

The first goal came in only the 8th minute when Victor Rodriguez found the back of the net from an insanely accurate cross from Jordan Morris. The 1-0 lead was doubled in the 15th minute when Morris chipped Chicago goalkeeper David Ousted with the outside of his right foot. The finish was just as highlight-reel-worthy as the ball in from Nicolas Lodiero.



The Sounders returned to the field in the second half with a clear offensive push that showed they were not content with only 2 goals. Rodriguez drew a penalty after a hard take-down and el capitan, Lodiero, placed the ball on the spot. While the initial kick seemed to have hit the woodwork, the shot hit the crossbar and bounced down crossing the goal line, giving Nico his first goal of the season and increasing the Sounders’ lead to 3-0.


Image: Seattle Sounders FC

Minutes later, Raheem Edwards, a first half substitute, pulled one back in the 56th minute. The two teams battled for the next 30 minutes and Fabian Herbers made things interesting in the 84th when he scored a second goal for Chicago making it 3-2 Seattle. Raul Ruidiaz came to Seattle’s rescue, however, and tallied his third of the season in the 88th minute to make the final score 4-2 in favor of Seattle.



Takeaways

Morris Might Be (he definitely is) For Real

There was so much speculation and excitement surrounding Jordan Morris’ return to soccer. After more than a year out with injury, there was still a good deal of skepticism even after his dominating performance in the home opener. For whatever doubters might still be lingering, his goal and play this game showed that the hometown kid is back and better than ever. Morris left Chicago to join Gregg Berhalter and the US Men’s National Team in Orlando where he’s hoping to spark a comeback in the stars and stripes as well.

Dominant Offense, Dreary Defense

The front four of the Sounders were at it again from the opening whistle until each (excluding Ruidiaz) were subbed off. The dynamic tandem on the left side with Brad Smith and Victor Rodriguez was an issue early on for Chicago, as it was for Cincinnati and Colorado previously in the season. Kelvin Leerdam had another open look at goal, Morris and Lodiero put on a show of skill and Ruidiaz scored a goal in his 8th consecutive MLS game.

Stefan Frei was called upon a few too many times this game, although he rose to the occasion for many of them. The Fire put up 25 shots and 12 on target and maintained 52% possession during the game. While the Sounders still secured a solid 3 points on the road, it wasn’t their cleanest victory.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

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Opening Stunner Can’t Stop Sounders

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

The newest team in MLS, FC Cincinnati, struck first with an opening cracker of a goal, but it was the Seattle Sounders who ended the night on top sailing to a 4-1 victory.

Prior to kickoff, the Sounders presented Sigi Schmid’s wife and family with the Golden Scarf, a Sounders honor given to a select few members of the soccer or Seattle community. The crowd raised their scarves to honor Schmid, a loss that the Sounders community felt deeply.

As kickoff opened on the Sounders 10th season and FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season, the Sounders pressured early. Raul Ruidiaz sent in a firing header in the 3rd minute, forcing an early save from goalkeeper, Tyton, that hit off the post. 

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

In the 13th minute, FC Cincinnati opened their MLS goal scoring account with an absolute stunner from Leonardo Bertone. However, their lead was short lived when Kelvin Leerdam found the equalizer in the 27th minute after connecting on a deflected cross from Nicolas Lodeiro.

The rest of the game was simply a showcase return for Jordan Morris. After waiting 500 days to start in an MLS match after recovering from ACL surgery, Morris slotted home two goals in 10 minutes. His first goal curled past the keeper in the 33rd minute, ending in a full-team pile up of celebration.

The stadium cheered to one of the loudest volumes in years, rejoicing for the joy of their hometown boy’s return to the score sheet and the field.

In the 43rd minute, Morris powered home a left-footed rocket assisted by Victor Rodriguez to give the Sounders a 3-1 lead. Raul Ruidiaz tallied his own goal in the 87th minute to close the game 4-1.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale
Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Take Aways 

Sigi Started It All

Celebrating their 10th season in the league, players from the inaugural season returned to CenturyLink to be honored in the opening ceremony. They were also joined by Sigi Schmid’s widow, sons, daughter, father and grandchildren. It was a somber moment for Sounders fans to celebrate the team and man that started it all a decade ago. 

The Hometown Boy Is Back

Emotions were high from the start Saturday night, but peaked when Morris first put the ball in the back of the net. When every member of the team joined him in celebrating, their joy was echoed by every fan in the stadium.

While walking back to midfield, Nico grabbed Morris by the shoulders, pointed to him, looked up towards the crowd and cheered. In return, Morris broke away from the rest of his teammates and gave a fist raise and clap to the crowd.

Having an in-from Morris will greatly benefit the Sounders this season, who struggled to get started last season. But if his first game is any indication, Morris and the Sounders are storming into their 10th season.

Featured & all images: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

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The first steps of the USMNT in 2018

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
USMNT Key Contributor

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

International Friendly: 0-0 Draw

I was there at StubHub Center Sunday evening, January 28, 2018. I say this proudly. I paid extra to be on the sidelines during warm-ups. I watched this game live from what turned out to be a Bosnia and Herzegovina fan section and it was frustrating. I ended up moving to another section at the half.  Stay with me.

Having been there, it felt almost pointless to rewatch and analyze from my DVR at home, to critique a set of players that we may not see play together again. But, as a USMNT fan, I feel I owe it to my team (because I love and believe in them and want to see them qualify for the 2022 World Cup) to do them justice and properly share my perspective.

I’ll share my findings now. There are plenty of critics and blind followers out there, I am not one of them. You with me? Here we go.

For starters, I must say, I think it’s important this game ended in a draw. If we would have won, I think we would be too comfortable.  This is still a reflection of the upset of our not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup; we have a lot to work on still and we have the time to do it now. In addition, we have an interim coach (Sarachan), meaning we don’t have a set coach, so the problems we are seeing are because we don’t have a system.

Michelle Huitink - USMNT/mlsfemale

As to be expected in a first game of the year and the first game out of January camp, there were a lot of changes. We played differently in each half due to adjustments that had to be made with the changes. This was a first time team, too, for the most part.

I’ll admit, it was sloppy at times. But, this is what change and growth look like. These factors are not excuses, but they are reasons for why we need to keep a level head and keep realistic expectations for the future of USMNT soccer.  Let’s keep moving forward as we take a look back at this game.

Here’s a recap of the Starting XI in the 4-1-4-1 formation:

1-GK Bill Hamid

2-D Justin Morrow

3-D Ike Opara

21-D Walker Zimmerman

15-D Matt Polster

6-M Wil Trapp (Captain)

9- M Gyasi Zardes

4- M Tyler Adams

8- M Cristian Roldan

13-M Jordan Morris

17- F CJ Sapong

The defense was good in the first half, but the team did not seem connected at times. The exception to this was Roldan and Morris in certain moments where they found clear opportunities and took chances to score. Perhaps this is because they’re best friends, but they’ve definitely been playing together on the Seattle Sounders for two seasons, and I think their chemistry–the fact they know how the other plays– is key to how the USMNT as a whole can sync up.

In the first half, we were attacking more, both teams were equal in fouls, but we didn’t make good decisions in the end.

Overall, we played passively.  When we had the ball, we tried to put some pressure, but our strategy was not developed or fast enough. We couldn’t build a rhythm or momentum. Sometimes, the USMNT seemed unsure of what to do once they had the ball whether due to inexperience on the part of the young players or the players didn’t know each other well enough, which is normal considering they only played together for three weeks.  As a result, the game was slow. Sometimes it would be fifteen minutes before another chance to score showed itself.

One of the few highlights of the evening involved Jordan Morris.  In the 22nd minute, Morris took on a BIH defender, that was the kind of tactic we needed from other players. Morris faced players head on, which is what other players except Roldan and Trapp were missing.

He was a mid, a winger and a striker at times.  It should also be noted, this was the first full 90 minutes he’d played since his hamstring injury back on September 10, 2017 (I was at that game too).

The first three changes in players at the half were good: Zack Steffen replaced Bill Hamid, Kelyn Rowe took Sapong’s place and Gyasi Zardes was not as effective this time, so it was better they put in Paul Arriola.

At the second half, the formation was changed to the common 4-4-2.  Morris and Roldan were the forwards.  Trapp made a good pass, creating a chance for Morris in the 50th minute. Morris had good control of the ball, reflected his experience, but he just couldn’t make it in the net. This opportunity coupled with Trapp’s good communication to try to bring the team together on the pitch, made him an excellent choice for captain.

The other highlight of the evening was Cristian Roldan.  He made so much effort to try to make goals happen.  He was an 8, but he played as a 9 and in the 22nd minute when Morris faced a BIH defender, he jumped in and tried to score, playing like a 10 when Sapong didn’t make the move. Roldan was not afraid to take risks and get in as needed to make plays happen. He took more responsibility as a mid forward.

After Roldan and Trapp were subbed (68th and 83rd minute respectively), the pressure had deflated.  BIH started to have the ball and had more chances.  We needed more control of the ball. There was too much of a gap between Morris and the midfield and he looked like a 9 position in the last minutes after Roldan left. The team started to disconnect with the changes.

Final takeaways:

We had seven corners throughout the game and didn’t take advantage of them.

We are still looking for a keeper. While Hamid was able to make a save in the 42nd minute after his bad pass to redeem himself, Steffan did his job, but that’s all.

In Opara, I feel we gained a defense, which is where we build from.

In the end, we earned the criticism we’ll continue to get.  But, there’s still that pride and enthusiasm to represent our country.  Now, we’ll have to see who will be part of the group moving forward.

Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @AdorableEars

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The Promise of USMNT Soccer

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
USMNT Key Contributor

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

You say you want a revolution?

Well, we are getting one.

We’ve got four internationally experienced players on the team, but the roster as a whole is new.

Take a look:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS (4): Alex Bono (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/DEN; 4/0), Cody Cropper (New England Revolution; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 3/0), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; 0/0), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club; 1/0)

MIDFIELDERS (11): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 15/2), Russell Canouse (D.C. United; 0/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Ian Harkes (D.C. United; 0/0), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 1/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 3/1), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 2/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 37/6)

FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 27/3), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City SC; 4/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 24/5), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC; 0/0), Rubio Rubin (Unattached; 4/0), CJ Sapong (Philadelphia Union; 3/0).

Michelle Huitink - USMNT/mlsfemale

The USMNT didn’t qualify for the 2018 Cup.

I hear ya.

I feel the pain (understatement, I know).

It’s not a reality we want to accept, but let’s press forward.

This is how real change is made. It’s slow, messy, and arduous to say the least. I trust in the process.

I’ve been calling for the team to have younger players for some time. I love Howard, Dempsey, Beasley and all the guys, but they’ve had their time and they’ve set a bar.

During USMNT warmups on Monday, January 22, in Carson, CA, I spoke with press officer Michael Kammarman who has a background in soccer research. The roster consists of all MLS players and according to Kammarman, it’s not unusual considering it’s the MLS offseason. As the start of a new cycle, he said they have a “refreshing staff” with players “eager to make a good impression”. They want to be national players and are getting an extended look in front of the national team staff. They see it as an opportunity and are hopeful.

I also decided to ask him what he thought of the relationship between the fans and the USMNT. He said fans need to be “realistic” in their expectations and that the USMNT isn’t the only country to have a setback and not qualify for the World Cup.

Standing beside us was longtime soccer columnist for the Southern California Newspaper Group Nick Green, who contributed to the conversation as we went over World Cup trivia. It is a national mourning when your country doesn’t qualify, he said, recalling when England didn’t qualify in the past.

That’s what’s important to remember, only eight countries have ever won the international competition. The USMNT just want to show that we are capable of competing in the World Cup.

Still, I think this is a real chance for the USMNT. It’s a fresh start.

Michelle Huitink - USMNT/mlsfemale

I was given the opportunity to speak with Jordan Morris after morning practice and he graciously answered my questions about their performance and the fanbase ahead of the January 28th match vs Bosnia and Herzegovina.

MH: How do you feel is the chemistry with this new team?

JM: It’s great, I think. It’s a lot of guys coming in that are hungry and their first camp and trying to come in and show themselves. And I think everyone’s done a really good job, coming together well, so hopefully, we can get a [winning] result.

MH: Some consider the fanbase kind of fractured with the US team. Maybe it’s a little bit harsh, maybe it’s just we have really high expectations, but what message do you have for the fans or how do you think we can make it better between the USMNT and the fans?

JM: Our message would just be we really appreciate all their support always and we know how disappointing it is, but we are gonna push forward and move forward and keep rebuilding and looking to the future. There’s a lot of exciting things to come so our message would be just thank you for all the continued support.

I couldn’t agree with him more. I’m writing this because I want the US fans to continue to believe in the USMNT.  My concern is regaining optimism and support in the fanbase and growing soccer in this country.  Of course, only time will tell and we’ll have to see what the future holds, but that’s the beauty in all of this and this game. Let’s not throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. I’ve supported this team for over a decade and I’m not stopping now.

The USMNT of 2018 is carrying the weight of the loss, but it’s still an honor to be called to camp and be able to play representing this country.  The team is very much alive and they’re here to prove we can compete internationally. We are looking forward to seeing how they can do this with the experience of Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo, and Paul Arriola leading the new team with new energy.  We are living history, and witnessing the new faces of the USMNT.

Watch and support the USMNT vs Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 at StubHub Center (6:30 p.m. PT; FS1, UniMas & UDN). Tickets and upgrades are available now!

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @AdorableEars

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A Timeline of My Life with the LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

July 4, 2005. My first MLS game. I attend a friend’s family tradition: Independence Day at The Home Depot Center, home of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The energy of the fans could be felt to my bones and I was turned on to a sport that would become a way of life.

From then on, I go to several Galaxy games per year but haven’t been able to commit to being a season ticket holder yet. But, if I wanted to see the LA Galaxy play against a good team–and quite the rivalry, my only experience with that were The Dodgers versus the San Francisco Giants in baseball–I go to see them play the Seattle Sounders.

I go to every playoff game and I was there at the stadium when the LA Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2011, 2012, and 2014!

I’ll never forget the feeling of anticipation and exhilaration as you watch your team fight for the ball and win.  Only soccer can give you this kind of experience.  On November 20,  2011, it was a rainy day, rare in LA, but it was pouring, which was even more incredible. We were soaked from head to toe and sloshing in the stands.

It was a chilly 53 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cold by LA standards. LA fans are notorious for leaving early. Not that day. We stayed and watched the LA Galaxy defeat the Houston Dynamo for their third MLS Cup. Everyone was united in elation.

September 10, 2017. I’ve got a soft spot for the Sounders and a crush on Jordan Morris. So, I visit a dear friend who moved to Seattle the year before. I take her to her first MLS game and the Sounders’ opponent was, of course, the LA Galaxy.

Well, on October 15th, I supported the Galaxy despite their being in last place. I still took student friends to the Galaxy game and even converted them to MLS. My students are foreigners, one a hardcore AC Milan fan all his life and he donned an LA Galaxy jersey. My Peruvian roommate admits to how awesome it was to be at StubHub Center and surprised at how close they allow you to the players; things I take for granted here in my resident city.

LA is proving to be expensive and a whole world awaits, so I’m looking to move in 2019, but wherever I go this is my home! As the official Galaxy reporter for MLSFemale, I look forward to sharing my love for the beautiful game and this team with you during the upcoming 2018 season.

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @AdorableEars

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale