Tag Archives: MLS All Star Game

Maxi Moralez’s huge presence on NYCFC

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

In the last few days more media attention has been brought to New York City Football Club’s Designated Player, midfielder Maxi Moralez.  

His stats speak for themselves, (he currently leads the league with 13 assists and additionally has made 6 goals), but to those who have been following his career in New York, the numbers barely scratch the surface of the artful and creative style which is Maxi’s signature.  Maxi seems to be everywhere you need him while maintaining an overall vision of his teammates’ positioning.  It is a treat to watch him week in and week out.  

Last year NYCFC fans staged a virtual internet sit-in surrounding the MLS All-Star game by organizing the voting in of almost the entire Atlanta United team and refusing to vote in any of their own.  The general sentiment was that NYCFC was doing well (ironically right after this, the season started tanking) and that our players should not be wasting their time playing in a useless game where they risked potential injury on the artificial turf. 

With Atlanta as the run away front runner, other teams’ (ahem, NYCFC) fans were attempting to find any way to slow them down.  ‘Let them play in a game that doesn’t count! They think they are so great!  Maybe they’ll get hurt!’  

This season, perhaps because there is much yet to be decided in the Eastern Conference, New York City fans were less salty and overall more supportive of Maxi Moralez’s representation of the team in the MLS All-Star game. Maxi was about to head off to Orlando when he tweaked his calf in the game versus Sporting Kansas City.  The injury is apparently minor, but in order to protect him Coach Dome Torrent will be resting Maxi on Saturday in the away match versus Real Salt Lake.  

Let’s be clear:  Maxi deserves both to be recognized as an MLS All-Star and get some rest.  In general, Maxi’s roles in relation to the rest of this team reminds me of the role many mothers play within their family units. 

Both Maxi and most mothers are constantly running in 17 different directions, while keeping long term goals in their sights.  Both Maxi and many moms are their team/family’s  “emergency phone calls”, are constantly aware of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and when there’s an opportunity for a family member to learn on their own.  They know how to motivate others and experience joy at their teammate’s successes.

They don’t ask for their own spotlight and play hurt.  Both never stop moving until they drop and set others up for glory.  They know when others need to be scolded and when to protect them.  They know when to stay calm and when it’s time to raise hell.  All of these qualities are regularly demonstrated by Maxi Moralez, and NYCFC would be a far less cohesive unit and a far less successful team without him.  

As reported by MLS.com, Moralez stated in a pre-All Star Game player Q&A, that he would like to possibly end his career where he began, in Argentina.  There is a very strong chance that Maxi, a married 32 year old father with young children of his own, in his final year of his DP contract, is playing his last few months with the club.  He deserves to end his career on his own terms, but as a fan of the team I wonder what this will mean for its future. 

We will get a small taste of how the club plays without its ‘mom’ on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.  Like a grown child moving out of the house to pursue a job or education, they’d better get used to it.  

All Images:  NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Player Spotlight: Walker Zimmerman from club and country to MLS All-Stars

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

It’s that time of the year when the best players of Major League Soccer join together to face a European foe in the MLS All-Star showdown. The Los Angeles Football Club had four players selected to represent the club and among them is first-timer, Walker Zimmerman.

The Georgia native, a seven-year MLS veteran, has played for both club and country – but receiving his first MLS All-Star call up is a goal he can proudly cross off the list.

“It’s something that entering the league would be a goal of mine – to make sure to put myself in that conversation. And to finally get selected for my first [MLS All-Star game]; I’m excited […] and appreciative of all my teammates along the way who have helped me develop the skills back in Dallas [and] LAFC.”

The 26-year-old defender first learned the news of his selection while on the road with the United States National Men’s Team during the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Zimmerman was a major building block for LAFC’s backline in 2018 as LAFC set a single-season MLS points record for an expansion club. And continues to be a threat in set-piece attacking situations this year – tallying a total of 5 goals and 43 appearances, thus far. Including, reaching a new milestone on May 19 – recording 10,000 minutes in MLS.

Next milestone has got be an MLS Cup for me. I think that’s the one that I really want. And it completes the Supporters Shield, the [Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup], and then MLS Cup is what I really need.”

Before joining the record-breaking club, Walker spent five seasons with FC Dallas before being traded to LAFC on December 10, 2017. The defender re-signed to a four-year deal using allocation money this January.

When he’s not saving balls off the line for LAFC or the USMNT, he’s hosting interviews with teammates, fans, and other guests on his podcast, “The Locker Room.” And is looking forward to doing a collaboration with the “Back-To-Back” podcast – hosted by his fellow teammates, Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey.

“Being interested in communications and wanting to get something out there, to get some experience – I decided to get my toes wet a little bit. And it’s been good, very enlightening, very challenging, [and] I’ve had some great guests on the show,” He continued. “It’s been good for me to […] understand what it’s like on the other side of the microphone to bring out conversations, stories, [and] bring out things that are going to inspire other people.”

Perhaps shortly, we will get an All-Star filled episode with Walker sharing stories from his week in Florida.

Until then, Zimmerman will join fellow teammates: Carlos Vela, Mark-Anthony Kaye, and Diego Rossi in Orlando, Florida this Wednesday as the MLS-All Stars face Atlético Madrid.

Featured Image: @LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

All-Stars and MLS: From the sidelines

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

By Tisha Gale // @TishaGale

The MLS All-Star Game is the third biggest, yet most controversial event in Major League Soccer’s arsenal of annual festivities.  In the grand scheme of things, a midseason friendly, no matter the opponent, has very little to no clout and offers more risks than reward. However, this is America, and an All-Star exhibition game is about as American as you can get.

#tishajuvdossantos
Juventus player, Alex Sandro toe-pokes the ball away from MLS All-Star, Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy). Image: Tisha Gale

This year, the midseason clash between the MLS All-Stars and the Italian bigwigs, Juventus, led us to a showdown in rainy Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday, August 1, 2018. In the weeks leading up to the match, the topic on everyone’s minds was the overall significance of the All-Star Game. I asked a few friends and colleagues to weigh-in with their opinions of the All-Star Game and here’s what they had to say:

“I’m of two minds when it comes to the MLS All-Star Game. On one hand, pitting our best players against a well-known European powerhouse draws more fans to our league, and ideally shows that we’re progressing in ability and quality with how we acquit ourselves in the friendly. The continued growth in fandom and support make MLS more viable as a major sport with key younger demographic groups. If you’re a fan of the league, you really have to appreciate that.”

“On the other hand, it’s a meaningless friendly in the middle of the season, where the players selected have little time to prepare and gel as a squad, making the possibility of a cohesive, well-drilled game plan difficult to realize and execute. There’s very little upside for selected players and greater risk of injury, especially when the game is played on turf. The game is held midweek during a brutal part of the schedule which doesn’t incentivize participation (so much so that a rule was created to punish those who skip it, even due to injury).”

“If I had a vote, I’d push for . . . a return to East vs. West [format] and make the outcome meaningful (e.g. home field advantage in MLS Cup Finals, or decide which leg to host in MLS Cup playoffs).”  Dave K. (@kilsey on Twitter)

Tisha Gale - MLS All-Star/mlsfemale
MLS All-Star captain, Carlos Vela, wins a 50/50 battle with Juventus star, Emre Can. Image: Tisha Gale

The last time Major League Soccer hosted an East vs West All-Star showdown was at the 2004 game in which the East defeated the West in a 3-2 match at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. In fact, there have been six “East vs West” All-Star games to date, with the East holding an impressive 4-1-1 record. As a proud supporter of one of the best teams in the East, New York City FC, I would be happy to see the return of East vs West format.

My MLSFemale colleague, Keira, echoed Dave’s opinions. However, her biggest complaint has not to do with the game itself, but with one of the rules surrounding it.

“A change must happen to the rules regarding missing the All-Star Game (ASG) for a documented injury. If you miss at least two games prior to the ASG due to injury, you should not be suspended from the next regular season game due to missing the ASG. It’s a punishment to players and their teams. The ASG should be a celebration of excellence in MLS, not a burden.” –Keira M.S. (@keiramunsmith on Twitter)

This ASG rule sparked some outrage in New York when it was announced that David Villa would have to miss the NYCYC’s regular season match versus Vancouver Whitecaps because he had to bow out of the All-Star game. Villa was coming off a six-game injury spell.

There is clearly a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the way the ASG is executed. While some people think a little restructuring would do the trick, others believe that a completely new blueprint might be the best option.

“I mean, All-Star games really are an American thing overall. The idea of this one kinda comes from MLB’s mid-summer classic . . . Personally, I think trying to Americanize soccer hurts it here; from scheduling to roster limits . . . What they should do is create an American Super Cup that pits the MLS Cup winners and the Open Cup winners together to start the season. Like the rest of the world does with their league winners and domestic Cup winners.” –Jeff W. (@J_Weisinger on Twitter)

For the players selected to represent MLS, the All-Star Game is the ultimate pick-up game. It is a chance for them to get together with their friends across the league, to set rivalries aside and enjoy a night of the beautiful game.

When Dudes in Blue co-host, Anthony Scarcello, asked Alex Ring what it was like to attend his first All-Star game, the New York City FC midfielder stated, “I think it was a nice couple of days seeing the guys from the other teams in the league. Playing a little bit, having some fun.” All in all, the game provides “a good opportunity to enjoy yourself a little midweek.”

#tishaalexring
Alex Ring, the only player to represent New York City FC at the 2018 All-Star Game, after Villa’s injury ruled him out of the lineup. Image: Tisha Gale

With the debate seeming to end in a stalemate, at least until things undoubtedly heat up again next year, on what side of the coin do you land?  Should the powers that be package the MLS ASG in maple and drape it in the stars and stripes, or will a simple restructuring make it a more appealing event for players and fans alike?

Tisha Gale - MLS All-Star/mlsfemale
Sami Khedira aerial challenge. Image: Tisha Gale

As for me, this was my first year attending an MLS All-Star game, and I was fortunate enough to do so while representing MLSFemale. The All-Stars also presented a unique opportunity for me to network with other fans, photographers, reporters and podcasters from across the league, including a few of my MLSFemale colleagues.

Tisha Gale - MLS All-Star/mlsfemale
MLSFemale Cooligans Crew: Robyn (ATL), Jess (COL), Eve (IMFC), Aya (ATL), Tisha (NYCFC) 🙂

ATL All-Star 18 - Tisha - MLS All-Star/mlsfemale

Pointless or not, the atmosphere inside the stadium was electrifying; all my senses were heightened. The thrill of flashing my “Photographer” media credentials to security as I roamed the belly of Mercedes-Benz Stadium was enough to give me the best heart palpitations. By the time the game started, I was already on cloud 9. The photographer sitting next to me who kept quietly chanting, “This is boring,” could do nothing to lull me out of my perpetual state of bliss, and neither could the star whose bulb blew at the absolute wrong time.

Tisha Gale - MLS All-Star/mlsfemale

Tisha Gale - MLS All-Star/mlsfemale
Image: Tisha Gale

Images by Tisha Gale 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @TishaGale

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Red Bulls vs Columbus: RBN-Why?

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, July 28th: 2-3 Loss

Last time the New York Red Bulls faced Columbus Crew, they traveled to Ohio and came home with a goal and a point. This time, hometown hero Mike Grella and the Crew made their way to a steamy Red Bull Arena for the rematch. This time, sharing wasn’t an option.

NEW NOMS ON THE BLOCK: Don’t get me wrong, I am well-fed by the Red Bull organization when I get to the game. But the latest buzz is for something I cannot readily get my hands on:

Being of South American descent, I have a mighty need for these empanadas. But alas, I have yet to try them. Don’t worry- when I get them, you’ll know.

WHO WHAT WHERE: For the third game in eight days, it makes sense to give some of the hardest-working players a rest. Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has become the fastest MLS player to reach 100 goals, began the night on the bench. Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who is currently leading the league in assists, was also seated at the opening whistle. Defender Kemar Lawrence, who has emerged as a decisive force in the defense, never saw the field against Columbus.

So who got the start instead? Aurelien Collin and Connor Lade in the back line, and Derrick Etienne, Jr. up top. I’ve spoken of “Haitian Messi” before. Nice guy. Amazing skills on the ball. But the finishing wasn’t there. Does he lack confidence? That would be disappointing since he does so well with RBII. How will he know what he’s capable of if he doesn’t get more of an opportunity?

NOT ACCORDING TO PLAN: Head coach Chris Armas came into the match prepared. At their last encounter, the Crew got frazzled with a 5-1-3-1 formation that RBNY ran in the second half, which earned them the draw. But while the Red Bulls made the tactical adjustment, so did Columbus.  “[N]o matter what formation that we’re playing in, if we’re late to plays, a step late, if we’re not up for that part of it, they can just pick you apart,” Armas said of the decision following the match. And that is the overall theme of the first 45 minutes.

First came the foul that yielded a free kick. Jonathan Mensah scored the opening goal (7′). Then Patrick Mullins angled a shot past Luis Robles in the run of play (24′). But the nail in the coffin was the own-goal from Sean Davis (31′). 

DO SOMETHING: BWP and Kaku came on at halftime. And the tide began to turn. Daniel Royer crossed the ball to BWP. Mensah tried to keep the ball away but committed an own-goal instead (50′). Then Royer made a goal of his own (69′).

With the team back in a 4-3-2-1 formation, the possession settled back in RBNY’s favor. Tim Parker nearly nailed a header. Aaron Long almost got a bicycle kick past Crew GK Zack Steffen. A later attempt from Royer went over the crossbar. And Alex Muyl, who made the equalizer in the previous meeting, nearly socked Steffen in the gut trying to do it again. But the Crew saved themselves and took all three points back to Columbus. (And I’ll say it again: SAVE THE CREW. That sentiment transcends competition.)

The MLS All-Star Game is next, with BWP, Aaron Long, and Michael Amir Murillo slated to take the field against Juventus(‘s reserve squad) in Atlanta. Sadly, I won’t be part of the festivities. But I hold out hope for next year.

Featured image:  Bill Twomey Photography. Used with permission.

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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MLS All-Star Festivities Chicago-Style

Nicole Hack - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Nicole Hack // @nikhak

The 2017 MLS All-Star match is just around the corner. On Wednesday, August 2 the MLS All-Star team will face Real Madrid at Soldier Field. But you won’t want to miss out on the countless other soccer-related events happening in Chicago this weekend as we head into the main event on Wednesday.

Enjoy one or more of the awesome events below starting tomorrow, Saturday, July 29 up until the game on Wednesday. And I’m sure there will be an after party somewhere – if you have details on this, please share them with us. Until then, vamos!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Watch Parties

  • 6:30PM: El Clasico – Real Madrid v. FC Barcelona at Pub 97

Per Major League Soccer La Liga Legends Christian Karembeu and Gaizka Mendieta will be in attendance and will be available for autographs and fan pictures.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

  • 5:00PM-7:00PM: MLS All-Star Game tailgate hosted by Section 8 Chicago

Through partnerships with BuckleDown Brewing, Half Acre Beer Company,Two Brothers, Lou Malnati’s, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, 5411 Empanadas, Portillo’s, The Globe Pub and a few surprise guests. S8C are happy to announce they will be providing complimentary food and beverages to any supporters that decide to stop by our location on the North West Side of the Adler Planetarium lot between 5:00-7:00 on August 2nd (leading up to the match itself).

A full calendar of MLS All-Star events can be found here and MLS events requiring a RSVP can be found here.

Featured image courtesy: mlssoccer.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @nikhak

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale