Tag Archives: Michelle Huitink

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

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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