Tag Archives: Yamil Asad

High Hopes: DC United Prepares for the 2019 Season

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official DC United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

To say that DC United has had an eventful preseason would be an understatement. Although the team bowed out of the 2018 season after a heartbreaking loss to the Columbus Crew in their first (and last) playoff game, the fact that DC made the playoffs at all is giving fans hope for 2019. As DC United reaches the halfway mark of MLS training camp, let’s recap some of the biggest news from the preseason.

Head Coach Ben Olsen Will Remain Through 2021

Head coach Ben Olsen is a fixture at DC United, where he spent his MLS career as a player. This preseason, DC signed Olsen to a multiyear contract extension that will endure until 2021. After Peter Vermes, Olsen is the longest tenured coach in MLS.

 “I am thrilled that ownership has shown faith in the path my staff and I are taking with this extension. Our aim is to continue to put a team on the field that our fans and community will identify with and be proud of. The major goal, however, remains the same since the day I took the job and that’s to bring trophies back to D.C.” – Ben Olsen

Promising Acquisitions

DC United has made some very promising acquisitions during this preseason. Defender Leo Jara was secured on a season-long loan from Boca Juniors and midfielder Lucas Rodriguez will also come to the District on a year-long loan with the option for a permanent transfer from Club Estudiantes. Both Argentines have experience playing together and with DC United favorite Luciano Acosta, which bodes well for the squad’s on-field chemistry.

The FloSports Broadcast Deal

DC United’s supporters’ groups and fans have been vocal since the announcement of the team’s new broadcast deal with FloSports. The new deal will require a subscription in order to view all 21 regionally broadcast DC United games over the season. Games not regionally broadcast will require fans to have access to cable in order to watch. Although season ticket holders and supporters’ group members will receive a discount on the subscription service, the games are still behind a paywall and geofenced, causing many to argue that casual fans or prospective fans will be discouraged from watching. While the deal promises additional team content, fans remain skeptical.

Luciano Acosta [Almost] Signs with Paris Saint-Germain

Jul 14, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) celebrates with midfielder Luciano Acosta (10) after a goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

DC United failed to strike a deal with Paris Saint-Germain as the final day of the transfer window passed, assuring that Luciano Acosta will remain in the District for the time being. The offer made by PSG is said to have been between $7 million and $8 million, but DC United deemed the offer too low for Acosta. Alongside Wayne Rooney, Acosta was part of a dynamic dyad that drove DC United toward their 2018 playoff spot. While the move to Europe would have given Acosta a significant pay raise, losing the Argentine midfielder would strike a significant blow to a team that many feel is just starting to come into its own again after many years of lackluster performance. Although the failed transfer was a blow to Acosta, his value has certainly increased.

The Saga of Yamil Asad

Yamil Asad scoring the first goal for DC United at Audi Field

Preseason has been full of ‘will he or won’t he,’ in regard to charismatic Yamil Asad remaining at DC United. Asad spent the 2018 season on loan to DC United from the Argentine club, Velez Sarsfield. Asad had spent his whole professional career at Velez prior to moving to MLS in 2017 to play for Atlanta United.  DC United fans spent much of this year’s preseason wondering if they will see Asad play for the Black and Red again. An interview with Radio Republica hasn’t given fans much hope. Asad said, “as of today my head is with Velez. I’ve decided to stay and hope to take advantage of this second chance.” It’s looking less and less likely that Asad, who scored the team’s first goal at Audi Field, will make a return.

Chris Odoi-Atsem is Cancer Free

In arguably the best news of the preseason, Chris Odoi-Atsem is cancer-free after a being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year. He has just completed his final treatment and his teammates are looking forward to welcoming him back. Hopefully, Odoi-Atsem will make an appearance soon by attending the second half of DC United’s MLS training camp beginning on February 13th.

What’s Next?

Now, DC United fans will wait out the final three weeks until the Black and Red take the field against Atlanta United in their March 3rd home opener at Audi Field. After the dramatic comeback the club made during the 2018 season, it’s hard not to be optimistic about 2019. Will DC United make another run for the MLS Cup?

Featured image: @dcunited

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GRESSELMANIA!

Robyn - Atlanta 100x165
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, May 14: 1-1 Draw

Full disclosure: I haven’t rewatched the game from Sunday against Portland Timbers, so I’m going to just gloss over the finer details of it and talk about a few observations I noted while watching on Sunday. For another perspective of the game, you can read my MLSFemale counterpart, Sheba’s article here.

I have to agree with Sheba about the ball Yamil Asad took to the head and the possibility of him having a concussion and yet continuing to play. I know Atlanta United takes these injuries seriously – Jeff Larentowicz just returned from being out for two games because of a hit he took a few weeks ago. Not sure if Yamil took it seriously, though.

And I don’t disagree that the tackle that Carlos Carmona got a yellow for was far more dangerous than it needed to be. I don’t want to see him get suspended, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he is.

Things we learned this week:

  • Miguel Almiron has no right foot – he had a couple of chances for goals, but either passed to someone else who missed or had a shot saved or shot with his left foot and missed.
  • Asad can do more than throw ‘bows – scroll down to #1 in Matt Doyle’s weekly recap to see Asad’s backheel nutmeg pass to Almiron.
  • Rookies can score goals! Julian Gressel was picked 8th in the MLS SuperDraft this year and has been having such a great start to the season that he’s already gotten a catchy nickname (Gresselmania) and his own fan-made t-shirt. On Sunday in Portland, he scored his first goal – and it was lovely.

And, in case you haven’t seen the shirt yet, here’s the tweet I sent out after the game (that Gressel liked!):

And finally:

  • Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is probably the best CB in MLS right now – totally my opinion, but I’m not the only one who thinks so:

It was a much better game for us with Tito Villalba up top instead of Kenwyne Jones. Much love for Kenwyne, but he’s just not fast and this team was built for speed. The boys still need to work a bit on finishing their chances, but these numbers tell me we’ll be ok:

For the first time ever in ATLUTD’s short history, we have back to back home games!! This Saturday, we are hosting Houston Dynamo and May 28th we host NYCFC on a correctly sized field. 😉

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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ATLvDC

 

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, April 30: 1-3 Loss

I am really struggling to find something to write about. There wasn’t much good that came out of Sunday’s game. We scored two goals, but one was an own goal… We dominated the game, stats-wise, but we still lost… No red cards, but we ended up having a player suspended anyway.

Sunday morning started out cloudy and a little rainy. Shortly after noon, the sun came out and brought the humidity with it. I’m not sure it affected the players, but it did affect the crowd a little. Drinking adult beverages for 4 hours at the tailgate + temperatures over 85 degrees (in April!?) made things a bit uncomfortable in the stands. I heard that several people had to be treated for possible dehydration. I drank two bottles of water in the second half alone.

I was, however, really excited about this game because my favorite soccer store set up a tent at the Terminus Legion tailgate and I finally got my training jersey personalized with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez‘s name and number on it, completing my Argentinean trio of jerseys.

The game itself started off pretty well for Atlanta United. We controlled the game for about the first 25 minutes before it all went to hell. Tito Villalba had two shots in less than two minutes – both of which were saved by Bill Hamid. In the 9th minute, Miguel Almiron snagged the ball just outside the box and passed to Greg Garza, who tapped the ball to Yamil Asad. Asad slid to his right to get around a DC United defender and lifted a cross right into the path of Kenwyne Jones, who headed the ball into the back of the net. A few minutes later, Jones had another chance, but the ball went wide of the net.

In the 25th minute, DC got their first goal by way of an unfortunate own goal by Michael Parkhurst. Parky was probably a half step too late to touch that ball and ended up deflecting it past Alec Kann into the net. This was about when the game started to go downhill for Atlanta.

While we still managed to dominate the game (see the graphic below), Atlanta couldn’t manage to get the ball past Hamid. We had 26 shots. TWENTY SIX. And 74% possession. How about that passing accuracy, too? I still don’t know how we didn’t win this game.

Yamil Asad was shown a yellow card in the second half for raising his elbow while going in to take the ball away from Lloyd Sam. I’ve watched the clip a few times and it doesn’t look like any contact was actually made, but DisCo reviewed the tape and ended up suspending Asad for a game anyway. That kid really needs to learn to keep his elbows down (no more listening to Ludacris’ “Southern Hospitality” before games, I guess). I’m considering bringing duct tape to the next home game for him.

I feel like there was something off about our defense this week. Was it because Jeff Larentowicz was out (concussion protocol)? I can’t put my finger on it, but I hope they work out the kinks in practice this week and get it together for NYCFC next weekend.

Our next two games are away – in two of the trickiest stadiums to play in. Yankee Stadium because of it’s weird dimensions and the following week in Portland because of Timbers Army. With any luck, the slightly odd dimensions of Bobby Dodd and the crazy ATL crowd will have prepared the boys for what they’re about to face.

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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Atlanta United Inaugural Season Opener

Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini

Almost 24 hours later, I’m still trying to process everything that happened Sunday. So much happened during the day that I almost don’t even remember the actual game itself at all. Fortunately, I remembered to record it so I’ve got it playing in the background while I write this.

I was so excited and anxious about opening day that I had to take some sleep aids on Saturday night to make sure I got some sleep. And then I woke up at 5am and forced myself to go back to sleep for a little longer. I woke up about every half hour after that until I finally gave up and got out of bed.

As I went through my morning routine, my head was filled with how I wanted this day to play out. As a member of leadership for Terminus Legion, the tailgate planning took over my week. Food trucks, games, beer, parking spaces…the list goes on. I arrived at the tailgate around 11:30am and paced for about an hour until the food trucks arrived to set up. Once everything was in place, I got to walk around and talk to people. And there were SO MANY PEOPLE. All four of the ATLUTD supporters groups were tailgating in the same lot, and combined, we have well over 1000 members, but there had to be 4000-5000 people in that parking lot. It was elbow to elbow and lines everywhere. Everyone was having a great time, though – I didn’t even hear any complaints when our kegs were tapped!

Me and Susannah Collins from the MLS Digital Team

During my tailgate tour, I saw the MLS video crew walking around and tapped Susannah Collins on the shoulder to tell her I was her boss’ sister. Once the crew heard that, they were all too excited to get me on the live show, where Susannah and I played a round of Giant Jenga, so that was fun. I also did a quick Facebook live video interview with Doug Roberson of the AJC and leaders of the other supporters groups.

Seven hours after arriving at the tailgate, I finally walked through the 3rd Street tunnel to Bobby Dodd Stadium. I walked over to the Golden Spike and signed it. Walking up the stairs to the supporters section is when the goosebumps came. Standing in the supporters section and watching the players – OUR players – walk out for practice was when the noise really started. But it wasn’t until right at the end of the National Anthem that my eyes started to water. And then the whistle blew and it was game on!

I missed quite a bit of the first half due to the fact that I couldn’t find a spot within any of the sections and I walked back and forth looking for someplace to settle. I did, however, catch the first ever MLS goal (that counts – I saw plenty in preseason) for Atlanta United FC. In the 25th minute, Ty Mears lobbed a cross to the far corner of the 6-yard box and Yamil Asad slid in to push the ball into the goal. The noise at that moment was absolutely deafening. Everyone was jumping and screaming and hi-fiving. It was such an amazing moment.

The crowd outside before the game courtesy: Robyn Saghini

ATL did have one additional chance late in the first half. Greg Garza passed to Josef Martinez, who shot it right at Luis Robles for a save. The second half saw a few more chances for ATL, but it was the New York Red Bulls who ended up with two goals to take the win. Carlos Carmona was shown a straight red card late in the second half after a rather deliberate and unprofessional foul.

Despite the loss, I walked out of the stadium with a smile on my face. I understand that the team has only been together for just over a month and they’re still working on getting their rhythm and that it will take a little time. I get that the majority of this team doesn’t have any MLS experience and may not have even watched a single MLS game before this weekend. Eventually, all of that will come together and the wins will come.

But 24 hours later, I’m still smiling because the moment I’ve waited for has finally arrived. Atlanta United is here. My team is here. And we’re not going anywhere. #UniteAndConquer

Featured KICKOFF image courtesy: Robyn Saghini

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Atlanta United FC Preseason Recap, Part I

Official Atlanta United FC Reporter
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini

February 26, 2017 – Atlanta, GA

One week. We are ONE WEEK away from the first ever season opener for Atlanta United. I have been waiting for March 5, 2017 for over three years, when I heard some rumors about Arthur Blank bringing a team to ATL. I’m kind of in shock right now. My brain can’t process this.

So, instead of focusing on the first “real” game, I’m going to re-live the preseason games in two parts. First, the first EVER ATLUTD game in Chattanooga and then a recap of the week-long Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, SC.

We got to see all of the ATLUTD players together live and in person for the first time ever in Chattanooga, TN on February 11th when they played the NPSL side Chattanooga FC. The excitement before the game was incredible. As my dad and I drove the two hours up I-75, we talked about all of the players and how Tata Martino would make it all work.

When we arrived at Finley Stadium around 11am, the joint tailgate with Chattahooligans, Terminus Legion, and Resurgence was well under way. The Chattahooligans had an amazing brunch spread and one TL member brought his tailgate trailer and had an EPL game showing near the cornhole boards. Around 2pm, I heard some chatter about the ATLUTD team bus arriving, so I made my way across the street to see what I could see. Hundreds of fans with flags and drums were out in the street, chanting and singing while they waited to greet the bus.

I ran into ATLUTD club president Darren Eales in the midst of all this and even though I’ve talked to him dozens of times, I have to admit that this is when I started to freak out. While talking to Darren, it suddenly hit me that THIS IS HAPPENING. In an hour, we’ll see our team on the field. I may have started to get a little emotional.

Fortunately, before I actually started crying (with joy, of course), the bus arrived. The chanting got really loud when that bus door opened and the players started walking out. I heard in some of the post-game interviews that the players were really surprised and thrilled that so many fans showed up.

Nearly 12,500 people showed up for the game, and at least two-thirds of them were ATLUTD fans, most of whom drove up from the metro-Atlanta area. The noise when the team walked out of the locker room was insane. Nine minutes into the game, the first ever ATLUTD goal was scored by (my favorite) Tito Villalba. Later in the first half, Yamil Asad scored a beautiful goal he curled into the upper 90 of the net.

At the half, the ATLUTD staff gathered about 50 fans over to one of the corners of the stadium and handed out gold boxes that, as it turned out, had the team’s 2nd (away) jersey in it. Some were authentic and some were replicas, but they all had number 17 on the back, which was “given” to the fans this year. When the team walked out of the locker room at the half, they were wearing the away kits.

In the second half, we got to see nine new players (two of the starters were subbed off in the first half; the rest of the starters were subbed at the half) and two more goals; one from the newest DP, Josef Martinez, and the final goal from Atlanta’s first Homegrown Player, 16-year-old Andrew Carleton. The fact that he ran straight over to the fan section to celebrate was the moment of the game for many of the fans. The roar of the crowd for that goal was incredible.

After a 4-0 win, everyone went back home to Atlanta happy and if it’s even possible, even more eager for March 5th. Before that game, though, there were three more preseason games to play in Charleston, SC. Recaps of those games are coming up in Part II.

Featured image courtesy: Atlanta United FC facebook

Come chat with me on twitter: @robynsaghini