Hello all. I am Bridget McDowell, reporting from the ‘cold and frozen North’ on our Minnesota United Football Club.
I am a relative newcomer to the soccer world. I have always enjoyed the game, but asthma and knee problems prevented me from getting closely involved. Instead, I watched the game at every opportunity, but those opportunities were rare.
My first soccer memories are of the 1994 and ’99 World Cups held in the U.S. Like many others, I was glued to the ’99 title match, sitting just feet from the TV, but I wouldn’t understand the significance of that match, when the sports bra became synonymous with triumph, until much later. It would also take time for me to understand the massive role the ’94 and ’99 World Cups played in proving that the U.S. was a worthy host to the beautiful game.
It wasn’t until college, where I had access to cable and the knowledge of friends in the school’s DIII development program, that I was finally able to watch matches on a regular basis. Watching both the Premier League and MLS, I was most drawn to the fans. The supporters made watching soccer a more thrilling experience than any other sport. And then I went to my first Minnesota United match.
I accidentally bought tickets in the supporters section for a 2014 friendly against Swansea City AFC and it was the best mistake I have ever made. The drums, blue smoke, jumping and chanting, the capo lying on his back to catch his breath after a goal celebration. I became a season ticket holder just weeks later. For two years, I observed the supporters groups; in 2017, I joined them. This game, this club, and its fans have stolen more of me with each season. And I happily give it.
Soccer has roots in Minnesota that reach far beyond MNUFC’s NASL days. It’s a rocky past forgotten by many, but the club’s inaugural MLS season in 2017, despite being less than spectacular in terms of results (some standout performances are not well reflected on the table), proved that the game has a lot to gain from this state. The Snowpener was just the beginning of this latest chapter.
The supporters will only grow louder as MNUFC slowly and quietly shapes its roster and approach for 2018. I am excited to bring you the news from the North.
CONCACAF Champions League
1st leg: Feb 20-22 (away)
2nd leg: Feb 27- Mar 1 (home)
Pop quiz: when I say “Champions League” you say…?
Not surprising. UEFA Champions League is huge, with some of the most famous clubs in the world and tons of television coverage. But in this hemisphere, we have our own Champions League competition.
You didn’t know? Be honest with you, until last year, neither did I.
By virtue of being the top MLS Eastern Conference team to not win the Supporter’s Shield in 2016 (just go with me on this), the New York Red Bulls were placed in Pot 1 for the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League draw on December 18th. Other MLS teams participating in the tournament are Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, and Toronto FC.
The draw could be seen live on Univision Deportes as well as on YouTube. I watched on YouTube as Eddie Johnson and Carlos Pavon rolled the fishbowls of balls and drew them carefully before handing them to Philippe Moggio, Secretary General of the Confederation.
First, the teams in Pot 1 were matched at random to a spot in the bracket for the Round of 16. Then the teams in Pot 2 were matched the same way to get paired up with the Pot 1 teams.
Still with me? Good.
The only sticking point for the draw was that no two teams from the same country could face each other in this opening round.
First, RBNY was placed in bracket spot A3. Then the team to be placed in B3 was named: Club Deportivo Olimpia, un club Hondureño con una historia muy grande en Los Campeones de CONCACAF.*
Sorry. Soccer Spanish is all I’ve got.
If the Wikipedia page I dashed to for my crack research is to be believed, Olimpia has won this tournament twice, 1972 and 1988. They are based in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and enjoy a wide fan base, beyond the town they call home.
RBNY, on the other hand, have only qualified 3 of the last 4 years and before that… nothing, really. In fact, since the creation of MLS, only 2 American teams have won the Champions League (DC United in 1998 and LA Galaxy in 2000). This tournament has belonged by and large to Mexican teams, such as current back-to-back winners Pachuca.
So, now that I’ve dropped a little learning on you, and while you may enjoy the many…many… m a n y competitions available, perhaps you’ll check out the tournament, starting in mid-February. As I like to say, soccer never sleeps.
Introduction time! I’m Shae (Shy-Aye, not Shea) and I am so excited to be the new Orlando City Official Reporter for MLSFemale!
Soccer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I played defense from youth through high school until a foot injury ended that dream for me, so then I started following the pros (and some not so pros – Go UVA Cavs!). For the longest, I only paid attention to overseas, Real Madrid specifically and the World Cup teams. Then Orlando joined the MLS and I jumped in head first and never looked back.
It was kind of like fate. My favorite color has always been purple and, despite growing up in New York, I knew from age 15 I wanted to be in Orlando. When I moved in 2013, I fell in love with the city. And then I found out about Orlando City, who just so happened to be purple (which is not your typical jersey color). It struck me as my time to get involved with MLS.
I’ve been a diehard ever since, attending as many home games as physically possible. I’ve been known to scour Central Florida for a place to watch away games. I even celebrated my birthday last year out in Las Vegas and went searching for anywhere that would let me watch an out of market game. (We lost 4-0 to Houston but hey).
That’s just a quick intro to me! I look forward to sharing Orlando City news with you all and making new connections! I can be found on pretty much any social media network at @shaeeliz. Come by and say hey!
I have held on writing this article because I’ve been processing and crying and then processing and crying, and then processing and gearing up to fight.
Leaked early by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl late Monday night and announced by Anthony Precourt on Tuesday, Precourt is looking at “possibly” moving the team to Austin, Texas after the Crew’s 2018 season if a downtown stadium can not be built in Columbus. I say “possibly” because everything Precourt has done screams that he has no intention of keeping the Crew in Columbus, no matter what the city does to appease his demands.
Precourt didn’t even make the announcement in Columbus, leaving the players and coaches to deal with the media alone after just finding out about this Tuesday morning. He’s flown to Austin to meet with city leadership. Our mayor has stated that while they have discussed some options, the ownership of the team has not really been fully engaged.
He has ignored an offer by local Columbus partners to invest and become 50% owners. It’s been rumored that these local investors offered $75 million for a 50% share in the team, which is more than he paid when he purchased the team. There’s a huge trail of clues that this has been Precourt’s intention for some time.
I don’t know if Precourt thought we would roll over and let this happen. This is just an illustration of how out of touch Precourt is with the fans of the team he owns and the city where it is located. Immediately, cries of #savethecrew spead across twitter and the rest of the internet.
Then, it went beyond just Crew fans. It has spread across the league, and then to other leagues, and then continued to spread even further. They all realize that Columbus is an important part of MLS history as one of the original teams. They all realize that if the MLS allows this to happen, then no team is safe. They all know how it feels to really love a soccer team. They know how much it would hurt to lose it. So they are supporting the fans of the Crew.
They are doing things like changing their own teams’ badges to black and gold, tweeting and writing owners about how bad this decision would be, volunteering to hang banners in their own stadiums. We, as a soccer community are united and it brought, and continues to bring, tears to my eyes. How we all realize these things, and Anthony Precourt doesn’t, is beyond me.
So, how can you help?
If you are in or can get to Columbus this Sunday, October 22nd, attend the rally at Columbus’s City Hall at noon.
If you are in Columbus or not, you can still help.
Contact the cooperate sponsors of the Crew and let them know how you feel about this.
Contact other MLS teams encouraging them to not allow this to happen.
Sign the petition to save the Crew.
Tweet about saving the Crew.
Bring banners about this and wear yellow to your teams’ matches.
Do not let them forget this after a few days. Keep doing these things.
All the information about all those activities (including the petition) can be found at savethecrew.com including email template letters to the corporate sponsors of the Crew and to the MLS teams (along with contact information).
In many ways, the Crew has saved me with the community and family it has provided to me. So, it is time for us to Save the Crew. Please help us do it. #savethecrew
The Seattle Sounders faced off against Minnesota United just 15 days after their 4-0 rout in Minnesota. This time though; it was a very different story. The Sounders had to fight for this one, they had to come from behind and keep pushing for their well deserved 3 points.
Kelvin Leerdam–Roman Torres–Chad Marshall–Joevin Jones
Ozzie Alonso—Gustav Svensson
Nicolas Lodeiro—Clint Dempsey—Cristian Roldan
Seattle’s shutout streak ended at 421 minutes on a Minnesota goal by Ethan Finley in the 21st minute. Chad Marshall responded 10 minutes later on a cross from Nicolas Lodeiro to even the score at 1-1. The Sounders couldn’t grab a game winner before the 80th minute (this is Seattle after all) which carried the game into what I like to call ice-chewing-nervous-pacing-run-to-the-bathroom-500-times zone.
But, like what always seems to happen (this is Seattle after all) the Sounders got their shot at a game winner in the 94th minute. After a handball in the box, Clint Dempsey scored a PK to keep the unbeaten streak alive (9 games!!)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I love the Seattle Sounders but they WILL give me a heart attack one day. Evidence: this season Seattle has scored 5 goals after the 88th minute – 4 of those have been to tie or win a game, they’ve scored 3 (3!?) goals in the 94th minute.
Fun Facts and Notes:
The Sounders are in first place with 40 points!!
It’s Cascadia Week!! The Sounders play Vancouver Wednesday and Portland Sunday
I tried to come up with some eclipse humor for this but I couldn’t
I slipped and busted my hip while I was celebrating last night (Sounders fuzzy socks+hardwood floors=not great)
Are Fire fans cautiously optimistic for the remainder of the season?
It’s well known throughout the league that the Chicago Fire finished at the very bottom of the table during the last two seasons. It was disappointing and even devastating for countless supporters whose livelihoods revolve around the team.
This season has been much different. While the first couple of months started off at a moderate pace, the Men in Red have now been undefeated in their last 11 MLS games. It’s a new feeling for Fire fans, a feeling that with even a little skepticism is being embraced by Chicago’s supporters.
I, for one, cannot remember the last time I felt such happiness when at the stadium. It’s hard to believe that the product the Fire have put on the field has been of such good quality after watching them suffer the last two seasons. The team has also managed to get points in games when they aren’t performing at their best. In 2015-16 that wasn’t fathomable.
Now, with eleven games unbeaten there is a feeling of euphoria in the air. But is it a temporary feeling? Even with optimismamongst Fire fans, there is still a fear that lingers from past seasons making many wonder, is this too good to be true? As fans, we hope for the best, but we know it is possible the team could fizzle and lose momentum in the second half of the season.
I was able to chat with other Fire fans, here’s what they had to say about the Fire’s eleven game unbeaten and their thoughts on the remainder of the season. (Year followed by fan’s name is the year they became a Fire fan.)
“I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop after being burned from the past couple seasons, I guess. If I can push that out of my mind, though, I am very excited for the postseason.” – Cam Robbins (2000)
“It’s hard to believe the team is unbeaten in eleven MLS matches. I definitely didn’t expect it, but it’s a welcome surprise. I love that there’s more attention on the Fire throughout the city and Chicago media; people are taking notice and watching this team. I’m hopeful for the remainder of the season that they can keep up the energy and keep playing exciting soccer. They’re so fun to watch!” – Sarah Sampson (1998)
“We don’t want this to be a peak, or a plateau. There is a desire, not just among fans, but among staff, for this to be the beginning of a growth rate in relevance, performance, and progress that we aim to sustain for a long time.” – Jacob Peters (2009)
“I can’t wait to see what happens next! I’m just so happy the guys are playing so well and in contention!” – Melissa Kellas (2006)
“I’m still waiting for the bottom to fall out, but still managing to enjoy watching winning soccer.” – Carrie (1999)
“It’s been a fairytale of a season so far, the boys have been connecting well and I hope it’ll continue on that way for the remainder.” – Staci Lorz (1998)
“I get the feeling that there are many fans that feel the same as I do: cautiously optimistic and happy to be where we are, but still mentally prepared for disappointment if the bottom should drop out. It’s happened to us too many times over the past few years, and that’s a tough mental framework to shake. Or maybe I’m just speaking from experience as a lifelong Cubs fan (Though if the 2017 Fire want to follow in the footsteps of the 2016 Cubs, that would be fantastic!).” – Alexis McAdams (2008)
“I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a season. I thought nothing would ever compare to the Fire teams from 1998-2000, and even though the Blanco years were fun to watch, this year’s team is probably the closest to that. I can see them winning it all. And in the 20th anniversary, it’ll be perfect!” – Violeta Santillan (1998)
“I hope they can keep their streak alive, and I hope that everyone involved with the club works to build not just to “win now” but for enduring success on the field, in the front office, and in the stands.” – Dan Martin (2006)
“I can’t get over the feeling that the Fire might still lose somehow in the last few minutes of the game, after getting used to that the past few seasons, but I am excited. I’m of the I’ll believe it when I see it mind when it comes to playoffs, but things are definitely looking up. It’s an exciting time, but there are still a lot of factors that don’t always make me as excited as I should be.” – Betsy Tomszak (2009)
“I’m going to enjoy the moment for now. There’s been too many years of disappointment to be all in. I only hope this feeling lasts until the Fire lift the Supporters Shield and MLS trophy at the end of the season. The excitement that this could actually happen is something to hold onto.” – June (2002)
“I’m trying not to inflate my hopes too much. I’ll call my mood at present as cautious optimism. I’m holding on to the pessimism just enough so that it doesn’t hurt too much if our luck turns. I’m thrilled by our current form, but very aware that there are key players that must be on the field to support our current style of play. If any combination of Niko, Basti, Polster, Dax, De leeuw were to be injured long-term we may see a very different result from the rest of the season. Fingers crossed they stay healthy.” – Carmen Norgaard
“It’s really exciting- but at the same time, the better they do and the longer their winning streak goes- the more pressure that gets added and the more nerve-wracking games can be! But overall, it’s just so great to see our team win and know that we love them no matter what!” – Hallie Moberg Brauer
“I’ve spent so many nights watching the Fire perform badly at 1am my time. I’m so proud of my men in red and how they’ve turned things around this season. I’m really excited to see what happens next. I’m so happy my first visit to Toyota Park, getting to meet many of the fantastic Fire family has coincided with a revival in the Fire’s fortunes.” – Emma Price (2013)
We’re unbeaten in 11 and less than 24 hours away from going for No. 12 💪
From where I sit, three thousand miles away in my northern California home, having only ever spent a whirlwind twenty-four hours in New York City, hovering on the edge of my couch every matchday, New York is blue.
If it seems impractical to support an MLS team on the other side of the country– well, it is. I’ll be the first to admit that. But I’ve never known geography to dictate where my heart lies when it comes to soccer. Real Madrid and Juventus can both count me among their most faithful from halfway across the world. Alexi Lalas is fond of saying that you have to feel something when you hear the national anthem, and for me that’s only ever happened for the Croatia national team. My loyalties are scattered across the globe, but each team I love is a part of me as much as my own blood and bones.
The long and winding road that led me to supporting New York City FC begins with David Villa. It was his goal against Chile in the 2010 World Cup that sparked my true passion for the sport. Soccer had always been part of my life on the periphery, and I always enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until I watched him sink the ball into the back of the net from fifty yards out that it finally clicked. Oh, I thought, blinking blearily at the screen in a German pub as Villa was engulfed by his teammates, heart swelling in my chest. Oh, I think I love this.
Villa was why I began watching La Liga, though in the end the team that endeared itself to me wasn’t the one he was on (either time). It always stung a little bit that I could never root for this player I’d quickly become so attached to. Couldn’t celebrate his triumphs, couldn’t suffer alongside his hardships, yet I couldn’t help but still be enamored every time I caught a glimpse of him at play.
Then, in those feverish days of World Cup anticipation, New York City FC announced David Villa as their first signing.
It was an easy choice to make. I’d never watched a single MLS match in my life, I didn’t know anyone who did, but that didn’t mean anything. I read the announcement and decided, that’s it. I support New York City FC now.
Here’s something I need you to understand about me: I’m incapable of doing anything halfway, and I don’t know how to like things casually. It’s a rarity when I don’t have a strong reaction to something. Extremes are where I live. No middle sliders. If I dedicate my time and emotions to something, I’m probably going to fall head over heels in love before I can stop myself.
I don’t know why I ever expected it to be different with NYCFC.
“I’ll follow them so I can watch Villa play again” quickly shifted to “well, I might as well learn about the rest of their players while I’m here,” which didn’t take long to morph into “I would lay down my life for Poku,” and before I knew it I was crying on the floor when we lost to the New York Red Bulls at home.
Since then, I’ve come to love NYCFC in the only way I know how — fully, deeply, and perhaps to a fault. I still get emotional every time I see Villa with the captain’s arm band, but it isn’t just about him. It’s about the whole team, the narrative of the club, each and every player. It’s about the passionate fanbase and our shared suffering over Yankee Stadium. It’s about constantly learning more about a league that I’m still very new to. It’s about learning more about myself as this team nestles itself against my heart. From every derby loss (and that one beautiful win) to qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time, NYCFC has me as their twelfth (wo)man. Always.
So here we are, less than a week out from the new season with a buzz in the air, the promise of possibility. NYCFC proved last season that the only way they have to go is up, and it’s a momentum they intend to keep as they enter their third season. Against all reason, I believe in them. I believe in us. I’m so ready to get started and see just how far we go.
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(February 7) – I’m sitting in my front room trying to put into words how it felt to go to my first game. How it felt to get into this sport for the first time.
As an American, obviously the sport wasn’t a primary sport like football or baseball was expected to be in my life. Let me paint you a picture of me, right this very second, as I write this.
I am a (late) 20-something female, sitting in front of my computer. A wall of Real Salt Lake scarves (8 to be exact) covers the wall to my left, a RSL tank top draped over me, and in front of me, various RSL memorabilia. Nick Rimando and Javier Morales (sigh) bobble heads, past season ticket holder gifts decorating bookshelves from previous years, and me with a tab open hoping that I get the RSL 2017 kit reveal soon.
I think I may be a little obsessed. Like a weird crush you can’t quite shake that texts you ‘what are you doing’ 7 times a day.
I’m the fan that talks about the team as “we”. “We” just acquired Brooks Lennon. I hope “we” are going to have a better year. “Our” season is almost here. I am part of the team at this point.
Of course I don’t play. No way I could, I am NOT that active, or talented. But I sweat and bleed Claret and Cobalt at this point. I go to the games on Saturday nights and watch them live, get in the car on the way home and watch the highlights, and Sunday morning I rack the game back up again and replay it again to see what I missed.
I love this game.
There is a reason they call this the beautiful game. This is a magical place to be. The people I have met here, the fellow fans, including ones from other teams… the passion that we all share; it has been incredible. So how do I portray how I feel about this game?
I can’t. You have to show up to a game. You have to watch the fans faces when we score, or when we miss a goal (see how I say “we” again?). You have to see the feeling of completion or heartbreak or devastation. You have to feel how magic it is.
It’s what makes me have a huge grin on my face as I type this with less than 3 weeks away before opening day. I can’t wait.