Tag Archives: Michelle Huitink

LA Galaxy: should’ve scored more, but didn’t

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, April 14: 0-1 Win

Starting XI
David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget; Ola Kamara, Zlatan Ibrahimović

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Substitutions
Justin Vom Steeg, Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Servando Carrasco, Baggio Husidic, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius

“We come with the sun, they come with the wind, but the sun was the stronger one today.”  -Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Oh, the wind and the rain. SoCal has been quite warm lately, 85F just a few days last week. So, traveling to Chicago where it’s 35F, raining, windy, and cold; we are too LA for that. Sure, the weather played a big factor, but I will not use it as an excuse.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the lone goal, the lion leading the pride. Sure, he’s doing his thing, but this is cause for concern among fans. The second half was sloppy for us and it wasn’t because of Mother Nature. We did the best we could under those conditions and the first half really showed that.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Sebastian Lletget and Zlatan Ibrahimovic started! This is fantastic since they’re both getting back to fitness coming off injuries from last year and also because they’ve been scoring this year. We also know that this means they’ll be subbed. We’ve got to take care of our key players. We want to be up in goals before they come off the pitch.

The most frustrating was two LA Galaxy goals being rescinded. In the 5th minute, Ola Kamara was called offside, which he was but barely. He’s a hungry panther and hasn’t scored since the home opener. Then, in the 8th minute, VAR took what would’ve been an own goal on Chicago’s part. Yes, we should’ve scored more, but we didn’t.

We want to score goals, but as we saw in the second half of this game, we have to get the game on lockdown before the team, in this case, the Chicago Fire, take advantage of set pieces and score. We got lucky this time. But, Chicago had too many chances. It was scary after the 51st minute when they got three corners almost in a row. Even if we are up just one goal, let’s focus on defense rather than attack and scoring (I’m having deja vu, I think I said this in preseason and the home opener).

Complaints will happen no matter how we are doing, but let’s keep our cool like the Galaxy should as we watch our team work out the kinks. They need to play through, regain control and possession, and keep up the effort so we can figure out how to make the pieces work. We are going to continue to see problems in our defense, our finishing (especially in front of the net, I mean even Ibrahimovic missed twice), chemistry, tactics, and strategies until we get it right, so yeah mistakes and sloppy play are going to feel like deja vu. I just hope the Galaxy don’t get predictable either way.

Satisfactory doesn’t seem good enough for the best team in the league; that said, this isn’t the same team as last season, which in this case is a good thing. So, we take this win and keep the momentum going, focusing on what we’ve done right like Ashley Cole getting passes to Ibrahimovic that result in goals.

David Bingham made some really good saves, most of which took place in the second half.

Chris Pontius, Emmanuel Boateng, and Baggio Husidic came in as subs and I think these were good moves.

So far, I think we are doing quite alright. It’s week 7 and we are second in the west.

The next match is Saturday, April 21st at 7:30PST at StubHub Center. I’ll be out of town, but I’ll be watching.

Featured image courtesy: Romain Alessandrini Instagram 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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LA Galaxy Snap Back to Reality

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Sunday, April 8: 0-2 Loss

LA Galaxy Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos; Chris Pontius, Romain Alessandrini, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara

No game is going to ever live up to the LA Galaxy vs Los Angeles FC again in the MLS. So, it’s no surprise to me that reality would hit us in the face on this night.

If you’re a fan of the Galaxy and you’re reading this, you’ve known our defense needed work since preseason.

Our starting XI and our bench, with a couple of exceptions, are totally good players.

I hope this 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City reminds us of the work that needs to be done.  Let’s not overreact due to the past trauma that was the 2017 season; instead, let’s work on our finishing (because we had three shots that hit off the post, so now we are fighting the net at this point), and that we can’t rely on any single player. We are a better than decent team. We just need to follow through.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
LA Galaxy with a chance off a corner in the first half. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

The first half, we played well, much better than versus LAFC. Let’s also not forget that Sporting was missing their main man, Felipe Gutiérrez.  Still, this game was consistent and steady. We attacked and we created chances, putting pressure and often forcing them to get the ball back to their keeper. In the second half, we got sixteen shots on goal, five of which came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sebastian Lletget and Ibrahimovic are still getting back into fitness. It is ultimately up to head coach Sigi Schmid who he starts, but I, as a fan, have to trust in his decisions right now.

Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos, both designated players, starting and playing a good amount of minutes, and coming out hungry and strong, especially after returning from hamstring injuries is awesome but we can’t expect them to push past their limits.

I want everyone fit! We have a long season ahead still.

Overall, I didn’t understand the decisions made by the Galaxy when passing; they always play it on the sides, especially on the right. Then, they bunched up too much, which forced Ibrahimovic to go back with the ball, which doesn’t result in any chances.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Zlatan Ibrahimovic taking a free kick in the 82’. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

I didn’t expect to lose. I’m still not convinced Sporting should be in the number one spot in the western conference.

We had better control of the game and it was a physical match.  SKC just took more advantage of their opportunities when we let two balls slip past us. That’s all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump voice).

Our next match is Saturday, April 14, an away game vs Chicago Fire. It is available to stream via Twitter and watch on Univision Deportes at 12:30PT/2pmCT.

Romain Alessandrini takes on Zusi Graham image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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Ibrahimovic’s debut: the lightning and the thunder of the LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, March 31: 4-3 Win

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Servando Carrasco; Chris Pontius, Sebastian Lletget, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Substitutions

Justin Vom Steeg, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Emrah Klimenta, Dave Romney, Baggio Husidic, Ariel Lassiter, Zlatan Ibrahimović.

27,000 in attendance. A sold-out crowd. Los Angeles Galaxy vs Los Angeles Football Club: The first match ever of its kind, the LA Derby and El Tràfico, are some of the better names this was called. This game is going down in history and soccer people will be talking about it for the rest of our lives. Friends of mine who don’t even care about soccer or live in other countries heard all about it. We’ll get to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but just like we fans in the stands had to wait, so do you. Lol. It’s important to recognize how we struggled to appreciate our success.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Pre-game warm-ups. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

LAFC showed how fast they were in the first half. They also put a lot of pressure that the Galaxy doesn’t seem used to.  The pressure often forced the Galaxy to play on the right to Rolf Feltscher, who would try to get crosses or pass, but once the Galaxy would get a shot, LAFC would get the ball back and take it straight down the field as many described as one-way traffic.

All of this resulted in LAFC’s #10 Carlos Vela scoring twice in the 5th and 26th minutes.

The LA Galaxy seemed to second guess themselves. Ema Boateng would get good momentum and get the ball to Lletget, but a lot of our players were standing and waiting for the ball, and you don’t want to see the ball and Kamara not moving forward, especially down two goals.  The Galaxy also seemed to bunch up too much or too spread out on long passes.

Our defense was definitely lacking, we didn’t have designated players such as Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos due to injuries, and it looked like our guys were missing the chemistry to connect key players with the ball as a result.

Don’t get me wrong, The LA Galaxy are good. They had chances near the end of the first half, in the 45th minute when Chris Pontius knocked on LAFC’s door with the best shot so far, but just couldn’t make it himself nor could he service it to Kamara. Each of our players is capable and has credentials all their own. Ola Kamara is one of the best MLS goal scorers in the last two years. I watched us fight for the ball, Lletget taking on three defenders, getting the ball over to Feltscher. The trio of Boateng, Lletget, and Pontius working together to make plays and create chances. Servando Carrasco earned us a corner in the 48th minute.

LAFC was just the better team. Then, to kick us while we were down, fate would have it that Steres scored an own goal off a deflection.

So, what could coach Sigi Schmid do to improve and give us a chance to come back in the second half? The fans were calling for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But, when the second half started, there were no changes on either side. The game had changed, though, LAFC tried to slow down the pace, but as we saw in the first half, that isn’t how we play. We saw Zlatan warming up by the 52nd minute.

By the 53rd minute, Jorgen Skjelvik, Boateng, and Lletget had strong efforts and chances in the attacking third; Pontius maintaining our possession, which Perry Kitchen, Ashley Cole, and Carrasco got the ball for more chances there, which finally paid off.

LAFC’s defense opened up and in the 61st minute, Lletget scored! Baggio Husidic subbed Servando Carrasco, who assisted in said goal, right after that.

#michellelletget - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget taking a corner kick. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Within twenty minutes, pre-Ibrahimovic, we came back two goals, the second scored by Chris Pontius when he headed in a cross from Boateng and that wonderful goal breathed life back into the team. I emphasize this and my point that the LA Galaxy is a good team this season prior to what happened next. But, we’ll get to it.

The hope in StubHub Center was palpable. The fans were already loud, doing our best to drown out our noisy LAFC neighbors, but the energy was building. Those two goals were flashes of lightning in an important match. The LA Galaxy shirts and board read that we were unrivaled and we had to prove it.

Then, Zlatan Ibrahimovic entered the game in the 71st minute for Lletget. We had been calling for him. Still, despite what he can bring individually, the players on the field had to get the ball to him.

As soon as Ibrahimovic came on, the other nine Galaxy players on the field stepped it up. He provided enough distraction to LAFC and Chris Pontius scored two minutes later. It was just his presence that lifted the game. But, there we were only one goal back with plenty of time.

Then, in the 76th minute, our new number 9 leveled the match.

It was epic. I mean, it is the Ibrahimovic way, but to see a goal shot by him on his debut from 40 yards out after he’d spent so much time recovering and just the day before, his fitness and age being called into question.

Ibrahimovic earned a yellow card for taking off his shirt in celebration. Fans in the stands where I was did the same. The crowd really was thunderous now.

It was almost extra time and we would’ve been happy to tie. But, in the 91st minute, a ball from Cole was headed into the net by none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The crowd went wild, which is an understatement. I’ve supported this team for over a decade and have seen my team come back, but nothing has ever felt quite like this.

We really wanted the whistle at that moment, even though no one had stopped cheering.

Finally, it was over. We had won 4–3. We had come back from a 3 goal deficit. We defeated our new rival.

The LA Galaxy definitely need more control of the game. I spent a good chunk of this article on the first half because it should not be forgotten in all the hype and excitement. Vin Diesel said in The Fast and The Furious that “it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.” But, I want the MLS to be recognized as a solid league on its own. Ibrahimovic coming here gives it an unfair comparison to European leagues. Lletget and Pontius both deserve credit for what they accomplished this match.

I do have concerns as a fan that the Galaxy will rely too much on Ibrahimovic or that his ego will end him up on the bench, but since seeing him at the press conference, and after keeping good on his promise to help us and win, I really think he is the puzzle piece that this team was missing.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
The man of the match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Lastly, besides stressing the point of how skillful the Galaxy are, especially when we get our designated players back from injuries, I hear that Los Angeles has one team. Sure, I want my team to win, but I welcome the new rivalry. I really want the LA Galaxy and LAFC to coexist. One of the best things I saw as I walked back to the parking lot was an LA Galaxy fan walking, talking, shaking hands and being friendly with a LAFC fan then going their separate ways.

There’s another reason this game was special. On a personal note, I was the victim of a hit and run car accident over a year ago that totaled my car and I was lucky not to have been more injured. Many people stopped to help me, but there was a Good Samaritan, George, who stayed with me, kept me calm and helped me until my father and the police could arrive. We kept in touch and to show my gratitude, I invited him to what I knew would be a phenomenal match. This game exceeded both of our expectations. It was his first professional soccer game, but he is definitely a sports person and I enjoyed going over the game with him.

What a game it ended up being. I’m glad I was there. I can’t do this game enough justice, you really had to have been there. I still can’t believe it even after rewatching highlights and the match itself to write this article.

The next match is April 8th and I’m bringing three other friends. We’ll see what that game holds.

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink/mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic officially joins the LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

When I got the call from my LA Galaxy rep, Zack Krukowski, inviting me to attend the press conference as media, I was excited.

#michellecar
Representing MLSFemale, sporting our limited edition pin

As seen below, I embraced my media position:

#michellestand

Upon arrival at StubHub Center and finding my way to the media area, I wasn’t surprised by the frenzy per se, but I had never been part of anything of this caliber. Sure, after the LA Galaxy won in 2012, I joined other fans to see David Beckham and the team showcase the trophies.

This past January, I was at the Galaxy jersey launch party and interviewed players. Then, the next day, I interviewed USMNT forward Jordan Morris, and those experiences stand on their own as valuable. But today, it was literally like the only thing that mattered was that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had arrived.

#michellesmile

I found my seat a few rows back. I went live on MLSFemale’s Instagram. Head coach Sigi Schmid, president Chris Klein, and AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman all thanked Ibrahimovic for choosing the LA Galaxy, especially because he could play anywhere in the world. As Beckerman said, “[this signing] is monumental and the latest example of AEG’s commitment to our club, to our sport, to our league, and to our city.”

As soon as the new forward took to the mic, you could hear the shutters from the cameras going off. Fans cheered, welcoming him, and laughed along with his one-liners.  

Of course, he is here to win.

“I am not arrogant. I am confident.” He said about people who do not understand him. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived the previous night at LAX, he was greeted by fans and graciously gave autographs and took photos.

After seeing his interaction with fans via Periscope and today hearing him at the conference, I have a better understanding of the man and his choice to play for the LA GALAXY, regardless of whether it was an inevitable move. I am not blinded by his shining light. Ibrahimovic is a star, no doubt. I don’t even need to go over his stats and accomplishments because it’s a long list and could go on forever, as he admitted.

I had solid confidence in the overhaul the Galaxy team made after the home opener and our match against the Vancouver Whitecaps despite the problems that have arisen as a result of so many changes. Now, with the addition of Ibrahimovic, I see him fitting in as the self-described “extra puzzle [piece]” to the bigger picture of bringing the Galaxy to success once again. 

He is here to help the club, the coach, and his teammates.  The talk is good, there’s every reason that he will live up to expectations and walk the walk come gameday.

He made jokes addressing concerns about his age: “I feel young, I feel like Benjamin Button…[it is] only numbers I know what I’m able to do, I know what I will do.” He is family oriented and said he already brought them here.  His wife could care for the family so he could get to playing soccer. He added, “to settle in very fast, get to know my teammates, my coach, [and] the people around the club.”

As for concerns about his fitness: “I’m just excited. Looking forward to [playing], just want to go out on the field. I know it has been a long break for me where I haven’t been in my rhythm where I play every day almost because of the injury I had.”

#michellebackj
Head coach Sigi Schmid, president Chris Klein, AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman and Ibrahimovic pose for the media. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

He was available for the match against Los Angeles FC, and he’s willing to play as needed or not and for as long as Sigi requires. He is trusting the coach with the decision-making.

After his first training session and practicing shooting per Sigi’s approval, he said: “the lion is hungry.”

He has worked very hard, to prepare, and knows he has to keep working hard. He doesn’t want to be on the field just because of his name.  He sees the MLS as a competitive league and a real opportunity when compared to European leagues. 

LA Galaxy is recognized as the most successful club in the MLS. He’s aware he’s joining after such a terrible 2017 season, but he said this season is something new.

As for the World Cup, that’s another question. “Let me enjoy [LA] first,” he responded with a winning smile. “What happens here, we can take it further, my focus is on the LA Galaxy.” And that’s what every fan wanted to hear. 

Featured image courtesy: Michelle Huitink/mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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LA Galaxy backup players show up

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Saturday, March 24: 0-0 Draw

LA Galaxy Starting XI

David Bingham; Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Tomas Hilliard-Arce; Rolf Feltscher, Perry Kitchen, Sebastian Lletget, Servando Carrasco, David Romney; Emmanuel Boateng, Ariel Lassiter.

#michelle

Substitutions

Brian Sylvestre, Justin Vom Steeg, Hugo Arellano, Baggio Husidic, Joao Pedro, Chris Pontius.

Look at this starting lineup and the bench. Remember these names, because this is pre-Zlatan Ibrahimovic and we were missing so many key players, yet these guys stepped it up. Not only are we obviously better than last season, but a draw in Vancouver earns us a point. We were on the road and I tell you this is a good result in 39F weather that we are too LA for.  They really worked with the 3-5-2 formation.

I don’t care about big names. The performance speaks for itself and I hope coach Sigi Schmid is taking notes, taking names, and listening. The Vancouver Whitecaps could not cut through our back line and couldn’t score on counter attacks, which is what they’re known for.  Sure, they took bad shots and made poor decisions, but so did we.

David Bingham saved us in that first half. Our usual problems surfaced in the first 45 minutes and the match was dominated by Vancouver. Still, the defense held strong throughout the match.

Considering this was Tomas Hillard-Arce’s MLS debut, Sebastian Lletget’s first time captaining (and well deserved), and Ema Boateng needs to work on finishing, we held down the defense and created some of the best chances of the match. Ari Lassiter had a really good chance in the 52nd minute with a header off Servando Carrasco, he just couldn’t get there in time.  LA needs to put more pressure on the ball.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Lletget post-match interview image courtesy: @lagalaxy instagram story

Daniel Steres and Rolf Feltscher were very active. Jorgen Skjelvik and Dave Romney also did well to hold it down during Vancouver’s challenges. Perry Kitchen is looking better. The guys seemed steady. By the 59th minute, we got shaky and shadows of the first half could be seen as we tried to keep it together just a few minutes after Boateng failed to score when facing Vancouver’s goalkeeper, Stefan Marinovic, one on one.

Chris Pontius was subbed in for Lassiter, who hadn’t given much service, but his performance was decent. He’s got potential and just needs to find consistency.

Lletget got subbed out for Baggio Husidic, who took over the captain’s position in the 81st minute. It really is good to see Lletget playing for so long when at this time last year he suffered a foot injury.  He’s really come a long way in recovery and fitness.

Last change of the match was Joao Pedro subbed in for Carrasco, who really shined tonight and performed at a very high level.

I predicted against the LA Galaxy when I guest spotted as an “MLS expert” for LA is Our House podcast “Balls and Beers”. I’m glad this team proved me wrong. We have a lot to prove as we face Los Angeles FC this coming weekend on March 31st. But, I feel we are really prepared, Ibrahimovic debut or not. I’m concerned about Giovani Dos Santos coming back on the field, and I know the starting XI won’t look like today’s lineup. I’m putting my trust in Sigi. My confidence in my team is locked in.

As for Ibrahimovic joining us, I’ve gotten a grip. It can’t be denied what a magnificent and proud player he is and rightfully so, regardless of the minutes he hasn’t had; his resume speaks for itself. LA has always had big names and as long as he is fit, and helps the club and MLS grow, then I welcome him with open arms.

Image courtesy: @LAGalaxy_ES

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @AdorableEars

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The struggle is real for LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Sebastian Lletget, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

With a 4-2-3-1 formation, Ola Kamara was the lone striker, which should have meant getting more touches on the ball, but we just couldn’t quite get there despite our rigorous efforts.

The LA Galaxy played at Yankee Stadium, so I had to listen to my team struggle via the radio and watch per Twitter highlights.  The size of the field, 68 x 106 yards (70×100 meters), played a factor in our performance since it is the smallest in MLS and the smallest allowed by FIFA’s international guidelines. We aren’t used to playing on that, but it’s not an excuse.

With Alessandrini out for the match due to a hamstring injury, it was an opportunity for Sebastian Lletget to shine as the right winger. This was his first start and longest amount of time played (75 minutes) since his long recovery from a Lisfranc injury.  He brought speed and really fought hard to create scoring chances.

We were outplayed in the first half and the first goal came in the 22nd minute from Anton Tinnerholm on a well-timed run that Ciani just couldn’t push out.

This is only the second game in the season, but we can see the Galaxy need to work on keeping it together after substitutions and hang on in the later minutes of the second half until the end of the match. They also need to work on finishing goals because they had plenty of scoring opportunities. Lastly, we need to develop the chemistry between players (we are looking much better), but we need to play the way New York City FC’s Sweat and Medina set each other up.

It was 2-0 by the 33rd minute when David Villa scored on a rebound off Bingham’s save. Their other chances came when players like Yangel Herrera were given too much space, but Bingham really did well saving us most of the evening.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget’s first start and the most minutes he’s played since his recovery

Unfortunately, the match turned sour for the Galaxy when Ciani had to exit with what we now know as a hip flexor injury, but Steres was subbed in.

Set pieces are always opportunities for the Galaxy to score, but we missed those. We also had poor play out of the backline.

Finally, the breakthrough we’d been hoping for came in the 60th minute when Jonathan Dos Santos was able to score. He moved up when Carrasco subbed his brother, Gio, due to an injury ten minutes prior.  Jona had been on the ball but played too deep in his position in the holding mid before the change.

After that goal, the Galaxy had better energy. Skjelvik defended us well. Still, we need to keep from coming undone late in the game.

The last blow to us came when Ashley Cole, our beloved captain, got a second yellow card that resulted in a red and we were down a man. Cole made a challenge that took down Villa with little contact, which should have been up for VAR, but another key player was out.

At the end of it all, we are a more than capable team. As to be expected after the alterations this team has undergone, there’s still work to be done. But, I see us coming together despite this 2-1 loss. Missing key players means the rest of the team has to step up and show up.

Images courtesy: lagalaxy.com

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LA Galaxy PreSeason Wrap-Up

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Recap:

Feb 3rd-vs. Real Salt Lake we lost 3-1. The only goal was in the 33’ with a header from Ciani. Lletget played 35 minutes since his injury.

Feb 10th-vs. NYCFC we won 3-0 with goals by Kamara, Hillard-Arce, and Husidic

Feb 15th-vs. Fresno FC a 3-1 win that I was able to view on Periscope. Lletget, Pontius, and Hillard-Arce.

Feb 17th-vs. San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 loss. Ola Kamara scored twice and then the defense fell apart in the second half as we allowed three goals. Unfortunately, SJ scored twice off of Bingham’s deflected saves. A new attendance record was set at 5,015.

Feb 21st-vs. Closed door scrimmage loss vs Vancouver Whitecaps.

Feb. 24th-vs, Whitecaps 2-1 loss. This game I’ll focus on because I was actually in attendance and it’s the last game before the season starts. The only goal was a penalty scored by Giovani dos Santos, his only one in the preseason.  The Galaxy had 14 shots on goal! Ciani did the best we’ve seen him defending as a center back.

LINEUPS for the February 24th match (subs in parenthesis):

LA Galaxy: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Joao Pedro (Servando Carrasco 38’ [Chris Pontius 86’]); Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng (Sebastian Lletget 68’); Ola Kamara.

Lletget still won’t be starting as a precautionary measure to make sure he’s fit coming off his Lisfranc injury last season, a condition so rare in which one or more of the bones in the foot are displaced.

Speaking of injuries, Joao Pedro started because Jonathan dos Santos is injured, but expected to be available for the home opener.

I would’ve liked the Galaxy to have crushed it. I have to admit, at times, it looked like when I play FIFA 18 lol, yet we still love the game and keep trying. Let’s keep it real, though. They just came off being in last place and while the preseason doesn’t look good, I say, this is what preseason is for: to understand where this is coming from and tweak it so we can get good results. 

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
LA Galaxy in action. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

This team had an overhaul. This isn’t even the finalized team either. It’s too early to lose hope. They’re just starting to connect, our offense and defense are starting to build up, which showed against Vancouver.  We kept it together and created plenty of opportunities. We’re still working on our finishing, but this is all part of the adventure. 

I’m ready to get comfortable with the team. I welcome and welcome back David Bingham, Brian Sylvestre, Rolf Feltscher, Tomas Hillard-Arce, Emrah Klimenta, Jorgen Skjelvik, Servando Carrasco, Perry Kitchen, Ola Kamara Chris Pontius, Hugo Arellano, David Romney, Daniel Steres, Emmanuel Boateng, Michael Ciani, and Baggio Husidic. 

I embrace Ashley Cole as captain and can’t wait to see Sebastian Lletget play a full 90. We need to give the 2018 team a chance, which is why I’m not a supporter of Zlatan Ibrahimović coming here yet, if at all.  We’ve always relied on bigger names like David Beckham for far too long.  Alessandrini and the boys are more than capable and have reputations of their own to live up to.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Cosmo, our mascot, causing mischief in the stands. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

We fans don’t want to get accustomed to losing, but the key to getting results is who we have on the team and with coach Sigi Schmid. Kamara is very promising and I really think he’s the starter we’ve been looking for.

Soccer is psychological, this is why and when they need our support most of all.

I’m bringing more foreign friends to the home opener and slowly, but surely converting them to supporters of the LA Galaxy. Hope to see you there.

Matchday is scheduled for Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 7:00pm PT.

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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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IN TRUE LA GALAXY FASHION #SINCE96

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

January 21, 2018

This was a first for me. I know Los Angeles is seen as the city where dreams come true and where anything can happen, but when I submitted my intro article to MLSFemale, I wouldn’t have imagined it would get me in so fast and interviews with players at that!

Thanks to Allison Sorrell for getting me into the exclusive LA Galaxy launch party that was available to STM. I was dropped right in.

Flashy. That’s what some think of us here in LA. This party certainly was. It took place at The Novo at L.A. Live, right in the heart of downtown near the Staples Center and The Grammy Museum. The venue had a club vibe with a full bar and DJ. It was meant for all ages. Fans hanging around with the trophies and playing some FIFA 93, 2012 and 2018 on Xbox.

I and a few other media in attendance were allowed to speak with Ola Kamara first. I asked, “What attitude and expectations are you coming into the 2018 season with?” He made eye contact with me as he responded, “Of course, I want to keep scoring goals, that’s what I love. Hopefully, I can keep doing that for Galaxy, too. I think [LA] had a difficult season last year and I hope I can be an addition to the team that can help us into the playoffs.” His eyes sparkled and he flashed a winning smile. He’s the projected 11 for the team and has a healthy number of goals under his belt, so I have all the faith he will fulfill his role. 

Then, it was time for the reveal.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

Linda Pickle -the Galaxian long-time fan- along with up and coming soccer girls and Los Dos represented the jerseys the team has sported since 1996. It was fantastic to see beloved classics on stage: Cobi Jones, Mike Magee, Alexi Lalas, Kevin Hartman, Cienfuegos, and Carlos “Pescadito” Ruiz. Gold and blue confetti and smoke machines went off a few times. Our new LA Galaxy team was presented to us.

Sebastian Lletget, who mingled with fans till the end of the party, adorned the new uniform for the media. I asked him how he liked the new jersey and he said “Fantastic! I’m looking forward to scoring lots of goals in it and the fans like it.”  As he stood back after speaking with us, we took pictures. I called out to him: “looking good!” He appreciated that, saying, “that’s what I wanted to hear!” He gave a shaka sign angled like he was also giving a thumbs up.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

I was already excited for the 2018 season as the official reporter, but I’m even more hyped after meeting these guys and seeing the new kits in person! Their enthusiasm and optimism really shone. I can proudly say, I am officially a season ticket member after this event.

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @AdorableEars

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