U.S. Soccer

Lloyd Hat Trick Leads WNT to 8-0 Victory against Haiti in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Sept. 20, 2015) – The World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s National Team continued its Victory Tour with an 8-0 win against Haiti in front of a record crowd of 35,753 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. The crowd was the largest ever for a stand-alone WNT match in the southeastern United States. 

It only took a minute for the U.S. to find the net as Kelley O’Hara took a short corner and crossed it in to Julie Johnston, who converted for the match’s first goal. The goal was one of five that would come for the WNT in the first half. Lloyd scored her first on a penalty kick in the 16th minute and one minute later Crystal Dunn put in her second goal in as many games after receiving a brilliant through ball from Megan Rapinoe. Lloyd would close out the half with two goals to complete her hat trick and in doing so became just the fifth American player with five international hat tricks (Hamm, Parlow, Wambach, Akers), three of which she has earned in the WNT’s last five games. 


The USA continued to dominate possession and produced a number of chances in the second half. Amy Rodriguez converted the sixth goal of the game six minutes into the second frame, while Alex Morgan and Heather O’Reilly each tallied in the final five minutes of regulation to bring the WNT scoring total to eight and seal the win for the USA, which pushed its unbeaten streak at home to 100 consecutive games (88-0-12). 

It will be a month before the WNT takes the field again when they will match up with Brazil for a pair of matches that continue the Victory Tour. The first match will be in the Pacific Northwest at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. on Oct. 20. After that the team will travel back across the country for the second match at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 25. For more information on tickets, click here.  

Goal Scoring Rundown:  
USA – Julie Johnston (Kelley O’Hara) 1st minute: 
Before a full minute of soccer had even been played, the U.S. found its first goal. It came from a short corner that O’Hara took from the right. The Haiti defense was slow to get into position, and O’Hara capitalized on the mistake and smashed in a low hard cross that found Johnston. Johnston directed in the cross with a confident touch that found the back of the net for the game’s first score.  USA 1, HAI 0  


USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty kick), 16th minute: After making a cutting move on the left hand side of the box, Alex Morgan was brought down, which set up the WNT with a penalty kick. Carli Lloyd stepped up to take it and calmly tucked it into the left corner to double the U.S. lead. USA 2, HAI 0  


USA – Crystal Dunn (Megan Rapinoe), 17th minute: Just a minute after scoring its second goal, the WNT put the finishing touches on the third. After Haiti lost possession from the kickoff, Megan Rapinoe played a hard through ball up to Crystal Dunn. Dunn raced past the defense and ran onto the ball taking a controlling touch before smashing into the bottom left corner. USA 3, HAI 0  


USA – Carli Lloyd (Alex Morgan) 22nd minute: Alex Morgan jetted down the left had side and attacked to the end line, where she blasted a cross in front of goal. The ball just got by Crystal Dunn, but Lloyd had run in behind and was there to bury for her second goal of the game. USA 4, HAI 0  


USA – Carli Lloyd (Megan Rapinoe) 39th minute: Megan Rapinoe took the free kick from 35 yards out and looped a ball into the top of the box. Lloyd outmuscled her defender and rose for a header. She flicked on toward the goal and the ball dipped in over the jumping goalkeeper, clipping the cross bar and falling in. USA 5, HAI 0 


USA – Amy Rodriguez (Kelley O'Hara) 51st minute: With little pressure on the ball for Amy Rodriguez, she took a few settling touches near the top of the box before ripping a blast from 20 yards out that beat the diving goalkeeper for a score.  USA 6, HAI 0 


USA – Alex Morgan (Whitney Engen) 85th minute: After producing a number of chances throughout the match, Morgan was finally rewarded for her efforts, scoring the matches seventh goal on a header in the 85th minute. It started from a short corner. O’Hara took the ball and attacked the box whipping in a cross that Engen got a touch to. The ball floated up and Morgan headed it into the net.  USA 7, HAI 0 


USA – Heather O’Reilly 88th minute: The U.S. did the work to get the ball down near the goal. After a deflection and a missed clearance the ball ended up at the feet of O’Reilly, who capitalized and kicked in for the eighth goal of the game.  USA 8, HAI 0 FINAL 


Next on the Schedule: The WNT continues the 2015 Victory Tour with a stop in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 21 where it will face Brazil at CenturyLink Field. 
Broadcast information: ESPN2, WatchESPN (7 p.m. PT; Oct. 21) 
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram 


Milestone Watch:
 

  • Johnston’s goal was the fifth of her career goal and just the second to come from her foot. The slim majority of her goals (three) have come from headers. All five of Johnston’s goals have come off of set pieces. 
  • With her second hat trick in as many games, Carli Lloyd pushed her career total to 77 goals and in doing so passed Cindy Parlow for 6th on the all-time U.S. goal scoring list. Lloyd is the fifth American with five international hat tricks (Hamm, Parlow, Wambach, Akers). 
  • Lloyd has scored 16 goals this year, which is her career-high for a calendar year. She previously had scored 15 in 2012 and 2014. She has scored 13 times in her last eight games and today marked her 11th multi-goal game for the WNT.  
  • Amy Rodriguez scored the 30th goal of her career. 
  • Alex Morgan’s 54th goal moved her into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time U.S. scoring list, breaking her tie with Carin Gabarra. 


Additional Notes: 

  • Dunn’s goal is her second in as many games. She scored the first goal of her WNT career in the USA’s last match against Haiti three days ago. 
  • The USA improved to 6-0-0 all-time against Haiti with 42 goals scored and none conceded. 

 

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -  

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Haiti  
Date: Sept. 20, 2015  
Competition: International Friendly – Victory Tour  
Venue: Legion Field; Birmingham, Ala.  
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. CT  
Attendance: 35,753   
Weather: Hot, humid – 85 degrees   


Scoring Summary: 1    2    F  
USA                          5    3    8  
HAI                           0     0    0   


USA – Julie Johnston (Kelley O’Hara)                1st minute  
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty)                                 16  
USA – Crystal Dunn (Megan Rapinoe)               17  
USA – Carli Lloyd (Crystal Dunn)                        22  
USA – Carli Lloyd (Megan Rapinoe)                   39  
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Kelley O’Hara)                 51  
USA – Alex Morgan (Whitney Engen)                 85  
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Amy Rodriguez)           89   


Lineups:  
USA: 1-Hope Solo (21-Alyssa Naeher, 46); 5-Kelley O’Hara, 19-Julie Johnston (6-Whitney Engen, 46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 22-Meghan Klingenberg (9-Heather O’Reilly, 60); 25-Crystal Dunn, 14-Morgan Brian, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (7-Shannon Boxx,, 46), 15-Megan Rapinoe (11-Ali Krieger, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (8-Amy Rodriguez, 46); 13-Alex Morgan    
Subs Not Used: 2-Sydney Leroux, 12-Lauren Holiday, 16-Lori Chalupny, 17-Tobin Heath, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 20-Abby Wambach  
Head coach: Jill Ellis   


HAI: 12-Ednie Limage (capt.) (1-Jonie Gabriel, 90+1); 2-Soveline Beaubrun, 3-Jennifer Limage, 4-Clorene Rateau, 5-Sabine Chandler, 6-Kimberly Boulos, 7-Roselord Borgella (18-Kensia Destinvil, 46), 9-Nerilia Mondesir, 10-Betcheba Louis (21-Emeline Charles, 84), 16-Darline Radamaker (13-Zila Lafleur, 46), 17-Yvrose Gervil  
Subs Not Used: 8-Sherly Jeudy, 19-Bencia Erleus, 20-Phisline Michel  
Head coach: Shek Borkowski  


Stats Summary: USA / HAI  
Shots: 39 / 0  
Shots on Goal: 19 / 0  
Saves: 0 / 8  
Corner Kicks: 10 / 0  
Fouls: 6 / 12  
Offside: 1 / 0   


Misconduct Summary:  
HAI – Nerilia Mondesir (caution)72nd minute  


Officials:   
Referee: Margaret Domka (USA)      
Assistant Referee 1: Amanda Ross (USA)  
Assistant Referee 2: Veronica Perez (USA)   
4th Official: Kate Abt (USA)  


Budweiser Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd 

Read more
WNT Sep 20, 2015


- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -
  

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Haiti  
Date: Sept. 20, 2015  
Competition: International Friendly – Victory Tour  
Venue: Legion Field; Birmingham, Ala.  
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. CT  
Attendance: 35,753   
Weather: Hot, humid – 85 degrees   

Scoring Summary: 1    2    F  
USA                          5    3    8  
HAI                           0     0    0   

USA – Julie Johnston (Kelley O’Hara)                1st minute  
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty)                                 16  
USA – Crystal Dunn (Megan Rapinoe)               17  
USA – Carli Lloyd (Crystal Dunn)                        22  
USA – Carli Lloyd (Megan Rapinoe)                   39  
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Kelly O’Hara)                 51  
USA – Alex Morgan (Whitney Engen)                 85  
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Amy Rodriguez)           89   

Lineups:  
USA: 1-Hope Solo (21-Alyssa Naeher, 46); 5-Kelley O’Hara, 19-Julie Johnston (6-Whitney Engen, 46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 22-Meghan Klingenberg (9-Heather O’Reilly, 60); 25-Crystal Dunn, 14-Morgan Brian, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (7-Shannon Boxx,, 46), 15-Megan Rapinoe (11-Ali Krieger, 46), 10-Carli Lloyd (8-Amy Rodriguez, 46); 13-Alex Morgan    
Subs Not Used: 2-Sydney Leroux, 12-Lauren Holiday, 16-Lori Chalupny, 17-Tobin Heath, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 20-Abby Wambach  
Head coach: Jill Ellis   

HAI: 12-Ednie Limage (capt.) (1-Jonie Gabriel, 90+1); 2-Soveline Beaubrun, 3-Jennifer Limage, 4-Clorene Rateau, 5-Sabine Chandler, 6-Kimberly Boulos, 7-Roselord Borgella (18-Kensia Destinvil, 46), 9-Nerilia Mondesir, 10-Betcheba Louis (21-Emeline Charles, 84), 16-Darline Radamaker (13-Zila Lafleur, 46), 17-Yvrose Gervil  
Subs Not Used: 8-Sherly Jeudy, 19-Bencia Erleus, 20-Phisline Michel  
Head coach: Shek Borkowski  

Stats Summary: USA / HAI  
Shots: 39 / 0  
Shots on Goal: 19 / 0  
Saves: 0 / 8  
Corner Kicks: 10 / 0  
Fouls: 6 / 12  
Offside: 1 / 0   

Misconduct Summary:  
HAI – Nerilia Mondesir (caution)72nd minute  

Officials:   
Referee: Margaret Domka (USA)      
Assistant Referee 1: Amanda Ross (USA)  
Assistant Referee 2: Veronica Perez (USA)   
4th Official: Kate Abt (USA)  

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd 

2017 Development Academy Playoffs Reach Knockout Round

ADVANCEMENT SCENARIOS

After completing the first two days of games of the U-15/16 and U-17/18 Academy Playoffs at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., 64 teams are set to officially conclude the 2017 Summer Showcase and Playoffs, participating in their final playoff group games taking place on Monday, June 26. The 32 games are set to kick off starting at 2:30 p.m. ET, ending with a winner-take-all U-17/18 showdown between hometown favorites Indiana Fire and MLS powerhouse Orlando City SC at 7 p.m. ET from the Grand Park Stadium Field.

Known as the most intense day of the year for Development Academy competition, the third and final round robin set of group games features no shortage of drama. With 46 teams still alive, each one of them will be fighting to win their respective group and advance to the Knockout Round on July 6 and 7.

Check out the complete group standings here and learn about the Development Academy's tie-breaker protocol here.


FOR ALL THE MARBLES

In the U-15/16 age group, nine teams have been officially eliminated from contention, and three of the 23 teams still in the hunt control their own destiny, needing solely a win to advance: Weston FC (Group E), Crew SC Academy Wolves (Group F) and New York Red Bulls (Group H). Their three opponents, who also control their own fate, can advance from the group with a win or tie: Sporting Kansas City (Group E), FC Dallas (Group F) and Seattle Sounders (Group H). Each of those games will be streamed and fans can find links to each live broadcast here.

Additionally, at the U-17/18 age group, Monday's matchups will be the last game of the 2016-2017 Academy season for nine clubs. Of the 23 remaining teams, another set of three teams controlling their own destinies and needing a win are Real So Cal (Group E), Orlando City SC (Group G), Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Group H). Two direct opponents and one additional team can punch their tickets to the knockout phase with a win or tie: Colorado Rapids (Group F), Indiana Fire (Group G), Real Salt Lake AZ (Group H).

PLAYING SPOILER

Three U-15/16 squads may be mathematically out, but you can bet that won't stop them from playing the role of spoiler and ensuring that their Monday foe also does not advance.

Group

Spoiler

Current Group Leader

B

Cedar Stars Academy - Monmouth

Colorado Rapids

D

Capital Area Railhawks - CASL

Bethesda SC

G

Real Colorado

Sacramento Republic FC

At the U-17/18 level, the following five teams are also playing the role of villain:

Group

Spoiler

Current Group Leader

A

Bethesda SC

Crossfire Premier

B

FC Boston Bolts

LA Galaxy

D

Sacramento Republic FC

Texans SC Houston

E

Philadelphia Union

Crew SC Academy Wolves

F

Capital Area Railhawks - CASL

Baltimore Armour


UNDERDOGS ON TOP

Before the Academy Draw took place, the top 32 teams from each age group were seeded from 1 to 32 based on points-per-game-played average. Seeds 1-8 were placed into the top grouping, ensuring that none of the top eight teams would face each other in the same Playoff group. The same was done for seeds 9-16 (second highest group), 17-24 (third highest group) and 25-32 (bottom group). Entering Monday's showdown of games, three teams from the top groupings have been eliminated, while eight teams from the (25-32) bottom grouping, combined from both age groups, are still alive.

Lowest seeds still in the hunt (regular season seed earned)

U-15/16 Group A: Montreal Impact FC (27)
U-15/16 Group C: Houston Dynamo (30)
U-15/16 Group D: Oakwood Soccer Club (28)
-
U-17/18 Group A: Crossfire Premier (27)
U-17/18 Group B: LA Galaxy (32)
U-17/18 Group C: Beachside Soccer Club (29)
U-17/18 Group E: Real So Cal (28)
U-17/18 Group F: Colorado Rapids (30)

DOUBLE DATE CONTENDERS

Of the record-high 23 Academy programs that made the Playoffs in both age groups, 14 clubs are still in contention to send both of their teams to the Knockout Round. Those clubs are:

Atlanta United
Chicago Fire
Colorado Rapids
Crossfire Premier
FC Dallas
LA Galaxy
Montreal Impact FC
Weston FC
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake AZ
Real So Cal
Seattle Sounders FC
Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

YOUTH INTERNATIONALS STILL ALIVE

With 90% of U.S. Soccer Youth National Team players coming from Development Academy clubs, it's always a safe bet that the third and final day of round robin play will feature some of the nation's top young talent. In 2017, five players from 2017's U-17 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying roster are still in contention with their Academy Clubs:

Taylor Booth Real Salt Lake AZ U-17/18
Christopher Gloster New York Red Bulls U-17/18
Zyen Jones Atlanta United U-15/16
Jaylin Lindsey Sporting Kansas City U-17/18
Bryan Reynolds Jr. FC Dallas U-17/18

U-20 World Cup rostered player Lagos Kunga, of Atlanta United, is also expected to play a pivotal role for his U-17/18 side.

Read more
ACADEMY Jun 26, 2017

Dom Dwyer Living the American Dream with U.S. MNT Call

The goals have always come in droves for Dom Dwyer, but it’s safe to say he hadn’t considered his latest one for some time. One of the most prolific forwards the past four seasons in Major League Soccer, the English-born striker gained his U.S. citizenship in March, paving the way for this month’s long-anticipated U.S. Men’s National Team call-up for the Gold Cup.

In so many ways, his path to the U.S. MNT epitomizes the American dream. 

“It’s brilliant,” the Sporting KC forward told ussoccer.com after his first U.S. MNT training session Monday. “It’s something I’ve really worked hard for, and it’s really nice to actually be here now and be around the guys.”

A Norwich City product, Dwyer had professional dreams, but after breaking his right foot on three different occasions he mostly gave up on the idea of making soccer his career. Handed the chance to get a free education in the U.S., he jumped at a scholarship to play at Tyler Junior College in Texas in 2009 and went on to lead the school to back-to-back national championships before winning the Junior College Player of the Year award his sophomore season.

That attracted interest from the University of South Florida, where Dwyer continued his scoring tear by racking up 16 goals in 21 matches, putting him in the shop window for the M.L.S. SuperDraft in 2012. Selected 16th overall by Sporting KC, the young striker initially found playing time hard to come by, but maintained his scoring touch when he went out on loan to the USL iteration of Orlando City SC in 2013. There, he recorded 15 goals in 13 matches, earning himself a recall to Kansas City where he lifted an M.L.S. Cup later that season and made a name for himself ever since.

A constant in the Sporting KC lineup, Dwyer has shown to be a pure finisher as he’s tallied a remarkable 57 regular season goals – the fourth most in M.L.S. since 2012 – and racked up double-digit marks each of the past three seasons. With five goals already in 2017, he seems a good bet to extend the streak to four.

As the goals continued to come, Dwyer admits the idea of playing for the U.S. moved further up in his mind.

“I think it became a reality maybe three or four years ago that this could happen,” he said. “It’s something that I started to work really hard for since then. I’m delighted to be here, and I really hope I can give back to the country that’s given me a lot.”

Along with reviving a career he might otherwise have lost, the U.S. is also where he met his wife, U.S. Women’s National Team forward Sydney Leroux. The two began dating in 2014 and were married the following January, just months before Leroux helped the U.S. WNT to its third World Cup title that summer in Canada.

With the couple welcoming their son Cassius into the world last September, Leroux returned to the WNT from maternity leave during the side’s friendlies against Sweden and Norway earlier this month. And while other U.S. couples have suited up for their respective national sides at different points in their careers, it is believed that Dwyer and Leroux are the first married couple to have been called into their respective national teams at roughly the same time.

Married Couples That Have Played for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams

MNT

Years

WNT

Years

Married

Jim Gabarra

1988-1989

Carin Jennings-Gabarra

1987-1996

1992

Claudio Reyna

1994-2006

Danielle Egan

1993

1997

On Sunday, Leroux had no trouble hiding her excitement at Dwyer’s official call-up and the striker said he credits her as an inspiration and for giving some advice as he came into camp.

“She’s been there and done it all. Even though it’s a little different, it’s still the same kind of thing. She’s got good words of advice and she’s experienced a lot.”

And while he’ll fall into that modern-day football category of being a “dual national”, Dwyer is adamant that he very much feels a part of the fabric of the United States. 





“I think that’s the beautiful thing about the U.S. They’re very welcoming to all, and it’s an opportunity for me. My wife is American, my son is American, I’ve grown a lot of my life here as well and I’m delighted to have this opportunity. I hope the nation can welcome me as well and that I can pay back some love.”

Focused now on integrating into the team, he realizes the extended opportunity to impress Bruce Arena and his staff is a golden one. He’ll have his first chance at earning a cap in Saturday’s friendly against Ghana before helping the USA go for its sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup title next month.  

“There’s a lot of excitement. I bring my passion and I really just want to go for it. I hope I can bring some goals to the side and help them succeed. Right now the goal is to win the tournament, and that’s what we’re really focused on.”

Read more
MNT Jun 26, 2017

D.C.’s Lloyd Sam: Enemy of Soccer?

Twitter wasn’t kind to Lloyd Sam after he came off the bench and scored on amateur darlings Christos FC, effectively turning a close-run contest in the Open’s Cup’s Fourth Round between David and Goliath into a 4-1 rout for D.C. United. Sam jumped in the way of David’s fate-filled stone and paved the way for Goliath to maul the littler man. “I got a bunch of tweets and texts after the game with people calling me the enemy of soccer and things like that for scoring on Christos,” he said, laughing gently. “But that’s cool. I thought it was funny and I get it. I really do.”

A few of the Tweets went like this: Lloyd Sam is the Worst! & Lloyd Sam…just ruined the best story of #USOC2017 and one even did label him the enemy of the Open Cup and soccer writ large. Feelings were hurt. An underdog that people had come to care for met its end. Things were said. It happens and pros have thick skins. But far from an enemy of soccer, he’s a spirited advocate of the beloved Cinderella runs that imbue the Open Cup with its magic. “Those boys showed an awful lot of fight in that game and they made things really complicated for us. I mean that.” 

The 32-year-old speaks slowly in a laid-back, Londoner’s accent. You get the sense that when he talks about the green-clad Baltimore amateurs, a side sponsored by a discount liquor store, he really admires what they’re doing and what they did. He couldn’t help falling for the team he himself helped to eliminate. It doesn’t sound canned, like a pro saying the right things about an underdog just to say them.

Admiration for the Little Guy
“They had thousands of fans there,” Sam added, the smile growing in his voice. “I was asking myself, ‘how does an amateur team get all these fans?’ Everyone was wearing green at the Stadium and it was our home game! They were loud too! I was impressed. I’ll admit that.”

 

To call Sam mellow would be an understatement. Born in Leeds and raised in London, he grew up playing in the Sunday leagues with friends before getting noticed by scouts from Charlton Athletic. He spent a huge chunk of his youth at the club, age 14 to 25, and even made ten appearances in the Premier League. He was raised in the cauldron of the English game, with the most severe of professional demands. But Sam, now in the autumn of his career, is just so cool about the game. He takes his work seriously, but he wants to have fun doing it. You get the sense he might get along just famously with the gang from Christos FC, and fit right into that team of boasters and live-wires who play because they love it.

“It’s easy to forget that the game's supposed to be fun,” said Sam, having made the jump from England to the U.S. in 2012 when he joined up for his first of five seasons with New York Red Bulls. “It’s not just any old job you know. There have been times in my career when gamedays were the worst days, the most stressful days. It just shouldn’t be like that.”

Sam is a dynamic attacker, good enough to have earned a cap for Ghana, the country of his parents’ birth. When he was traded suddenly to D.C. United at the start of last season, Red Bulls fans weren’t happy about it. “We all started playing this game as kids because we love the way it made us feel. We need to remember that,” he urged. “If you don’t, you won’t be at your best and you’re not doing the right thing with your life. Simple as that.”

In all his years back home, Sam – who had early exposure to U.S. culture attending American schools in Senegal and England – never managed a deep Cup run, nothing memorable in the FA Cup. He did manage to reach the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup in 2003, losing out to a Manchester United side led by Kieron Richardson. But here and now in the American game, a veteran pro for over a decade, Sam’s eager for a run at the Open Cup.

Big Cup Ambitions
“We’ve started well. And there’s no reason we can’t keep it going,” said Sam, who has four goals this term and admits to his D.C. United side being out of sorts in league play, currently third from bottom in the Eastern Conference. The Round of 16 game on June 28 against New England Revolution represents a chance to kick-start something good. “It’s a good way to jump-start the season, to get out there and get some goals and get things going again. It’s a way to forget and move on. We’ve got some rhythm and we’re four wins away from a trophy in the Cup. That’s something to take seriously.”

 

Just because he’s laid back doesn’t mean Sam takes his role as a team veteran lightly. It’s quite the contrary. “I’m a little more vocal now than I’ve ever been,” said the long-time Arsenal fan, who holds his season playing alongside Thierry Henry in New York as the thrill of a lifetime. “Well, I was always vocal but not in the team-leadership kind of way. Now I’m vocal in the right way. You have to show the young guys that nerves are going to pass and to believe in yourself.”

This is precisely the reason Sam was the perfect substitute for D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen to bring on in the second-half and squash Christos FC’s dream, even if it meant making himself the villain of the piece (and the internet). “I was always going to be calm coming into that game,” he said after scoring a tidy third from 20 yards in a game that was still tight and in the balance at 1-2. “You can’t calm anyone else down, it’s not in your power, but if they see you relaxed and going about your business it might help them a little.”

The aim of any player – Christos FC’s amateurs or D.C. United’s top-tier pros – is to win. But for the MLS pro, it’s an actual job no matter how fun. “The guys from the lower leagues play like their lives depend on it – it’s a Cup final every time for them,” he said, brimming with respect for the men in green of Christos FC, at this very moment in front of desks or pushing lawnmowers. “It’s a great story for them and they want it to go on forever, but you never want to be on the other side of a big upset in the Cup.”

Read more
U.S. Open Cup Jun 26, 2017

Cincinnati, Ohio: Soccer City USA

Cincinnati, Ohio is the capital of American Soccer. Let it sink in. Say it out loud and let it roll around your mind. For the moment at least, all eyes are on this city where the Licking and Ohio rivers meet, known more for a devotion to bats, mitts, and the oval kind of football. “There’s a perfect storm going on here,” midfielder Andrew Wiedeman told ussoccer.com about his second-tier FC Cincinnati, on a run to the Round of 16 of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup that is drawing huge crowds to a downtown dead as doornails not long ago.  

“It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in in my career,” said Wiedeman, the San Francisco Bay Area native who admitted to getting goosebumps “literally, for the first time” when he marched onto the turf at Nippert Stadium on June 14 for a famous 1-0 win over nearby MLS outfit Columbus Crew SC. There were 30,160 fans in the stands – a record crowd for a non-Final in the Open Cup. And they weren’t just there. They were loud, easily drowning out Crew fans who’d made the 100-mile trip south. “And I say that having played in all the big MLS stadiums. Nothing comes close to that day. The Bailey was just crazy!” 

 

What’s the Bailey, you ask? It’s a section at the north end of the Stadium, built in 1915 for American football and part of the University of Cincinnati campus. It’s where 1,700 of FC Cincinnati’s hardest-core supporters stand and shout, ignite buckets of blue smoke, unfurl elaborate tifos, bang drums and generally intimidate the hell out of visiting teams. “I wouldn’t want to be an opposing goalkeeper and have the Bailey bouncing up over my head,” added Wiedeman, a whip-smart pro since 2010 with four seasons in MLS to his name. Believe him when he says there’s something special going on in the Queen City.  

The Bailey Effect
“I think the word Bailey comes from the old days and means some kind of castle wall,” said Ryan Lammi, a member of Die Innenstadt – one of a clutch of supporters groups that sprang to life and grew up with the new United Soccer League (USL) team since its founding just 21 months ago. “It’s a little tough to pronounce, and even tougher to spell,” 27 year-old Lammi laughed, taking time out from his job as a civil engineer to chat about the young club he’s come to love. Innenstadt means inner city in German and is a nod to the city’s sizable German roots. “When we get to banging on the banners up there in the Bailey it makes a ton of noise and can be pretty intimidating.”

 

Die Innenstadt isn’t the only supporters group to rise up around FC Cincinnati, now in its second season, but they’re crucial in the march that happens every matchday. About a mile from Nippert Stadium is a bar called Mecklenburg’s Garden, where Die Innenstadt’s die-hards hoist a few barley pops and make a few toasts to good health and cheer in the beer garden. When sufficiently lubricated, they begin to walk up Vine St. to Corry Boulevard. They pick up other crews along the way, all with their own names and their own home bar. By the time they get to the stadium and march up to the Bailey, they’re warmed up – singing and drumming and making the cocky noises of seasoned soccer fans.

Supporters on the March
“We just go outside our bar and wait for the crowd to come up the road,” said Payne Rankin, a Cincinnati native late to his love affair with soccer but an evangelist now – converting members of his family who hated the game because it wasn’t gridiron or baseball and was too different to care about. “Before the Columbus Crew game, I looked back at the march and it was huge – 2000 people maybe. We kept picking ‘em up and it grew and grew.”

The Crew fans, a creditable band of 1000 easy, never had a chance. They were drowned out early and completely. Come to think of it, the Crew never had a chance on the pitch either. Even with Federico Higuain, Wil Trapp, Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay in the starting XI – damn near a full-strength side – they couldn’t counter the power of the Bailey, FC Cincinnati and this particular moment in time and space. The Crew dictated the play in the first-ever Ohio Derby, but FCC held firm and the Bailey blow the ball away from the danger zones. 

 

“We’re up there perched like weird birds – It’s ominous and there’s smoke and flags and we’re just being annoying and looking down,” said 25-year-old Payne. His supporters group is called The Pride, and he’s found himself in the grip of an extraordinary sporting moment. “It’s impossible at the time to know how loud you’re being because you’re just one of many, but when we scored I’m telling you there were pretty stoic men crying in the stands.”

The only goal of the game came right under the Bailey at Nippert’s north end. It was just after the hour-mark of a game FC Cincinnati spent sitting back and bunkered in. “They definitely won the possession battle,” chuckled Wiedeman, who claims if ever an MLS bid were to come to the Queen City it would be “the second coming of Portland.”

 

The Crew took 19 shots to FCC’s five on the day. But the scorer was only ever going to be one man: Djiby Fall. He’s from faraway Senegal but he calls Cincinnati home now. A pro for well over a decade, he’s played in Denmark, Russia, Norway, UAE and Belgium. He’s the best header of a ball that Wiedeman’s ever seen. But at 32 and winding down, he’s just a gun for hire – a goal-slinger for money, right? Not quite. “I was emotional,” said Fall who’s scored three goals so far in the Open Cup and all of them match-winners. “When I saw our fans up there and the support they were giving us, how they reacted to my goal, I became very emotional.” 

Fall Tears Fell Too
Fall fell to his knees and shed tears. He shed them just like the Bailey’s stoic men – some of whom didn’t give a damn for soccer a few years ago but are right in the thick of it now. “You saw it when he scored,” said Rankin, who says he’ll never forget that night. “Fall started celebrating like it was just another goal, and then it hit him: he fell to his knees and got emotional because he knew what it meant to all of us up there. He went from happy to just collapsing – all because of this crazy, beautiful, awesome, frustrating game.”

 

And that’s not it. It would be enough for a lifetime if it was, but there’s more to the story. These fans in this city, who’ve made something special where there was nothing but empty seats and potential before, get to do it all over again. The gods have blessed them with another home game in the Round of 16, and it’s well on its way to a sell-out when Chicago Fire and their stars come marching into town. Broadcasters, with their eagle eye for numbers and trends, have taken notice too. ESPN2 will air the game in a national broadcast - rare for the Open Cup before the Semifinal Round.  

“We’ve got nothing to lose when the Fire come, just like we had nothing to lose when Columbus came,” said Wiedeman. “The pressure’s on them and they’ll have a lot to answer for to their fans if they slip up. If we do, our fans will be proud of us.” Rankin, one of those fans caught up in this singular moment in a quiet corner of the American Midwest, is ready to do his part – one loud, proud voice in a crowd: “All we can do as supporters is be as loud as we can and hope that makes a difference.” 

Read more
U.S. Open Cup Jun 26, 2017

WNT Rewind: Lloyd’s Spectacular Strike Gives Houston Crucial Three Points

In just her second game of the 2017 NWSL season, Carli Lloyd smashed a brilliantly-taken shot from 20-yards, meeting the ball just outside the penalty area on the right side and sending it across the goal and into the left-side netting to help lift the Houston Dash to a much-needed road win against the Orlando Pride. Here’s everything that took place for the U.S. WNT players this past weekend:

NWSL Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash (0-2; Goals: Lloyd, Daly)
It didn’t take long for Carli Lloyd to make her mark on the league in 2017. In her second game back with Houston, Lloyd scored the game-winner during first half stoppage time with a rocket from 20 yards out. The win was an important one for the Dash, which not only snapped a six-game losing streak but with the three points on the road, but also climbed out from the bottom of the standings and into ninth place. Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell made her second career NWSL start against the Pride and played well to pick up the shutout. With the win, Houston handed Orlando its first loss at home this season. Houston did suffer a setback in the match as top scorer Kealia Ohai went down with a knee injury that will keep her out for the rest of the season.

Boston Breakers vs. North Carolina Courage (0-1; Goal: Hatch)
The NWSL-leading NC Courage got its third win against Boston this season (also its second consecutive win vs. the Breakers after a 3-1 victory on June 17) with a 1-0 win at Jordan Field on Saturday afternoon. Samantha Mewis had the assist on Ashley Hatch’s goal, slipping a perfect one-touch spinning pass behind the defense for the rookie to score her third goal of the season. With the loss, Boston dropped to the bottom of the league standings while the Courage remain comfortably in first place.

Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns (1-0; Goal: Ordega)
In the 11th all-time meeting between these two sides, the Spirit won for only the second time, and for the first time since 2015. Nigerian Francisca Ordega scored the lone-goal of the match (her fourth of the season) as the Thorns dropped their second consecutive game.

Seattle Reign vs, FC Kansas City (1-1; Goals: Kawasumi; Ratcliffe)
Following a 2-2 draw last weekend in Kansas City, it was another draw for the Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City, this time in front of almost 4,000 fans at Memorial Stadium. FCKC scored first, but Megan Rapinoe’s cross set up Japanese international Nahomi Kawasumi for the equalizer.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC (2-1; Goals: DiBernardo, Huerta; Tiernan)
It was another strong outing at home for the Chicago Red Stars who came from behind to win its 11th all-time game vs. Sky Blue FC on Sunday afternoon as Vanessa DiBernardo and Sophia Huerta both scored fine goals from distance. Chicago hasn’t lost a game since April 29.

WNT Players in NWSL Action – Week 10
Defender Julie Ertz – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Midfielder Lindsey Horan – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielder Allie Long – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Defender Ali Krieger – 90 minutes (Orlando Pride)
Forward Sydney Leroux – 90 minutes (FC Kansas City)
Midfielder Samantha Mewis – 90 minutes, ASSIST (NC Courage)
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Midfielder Morgan Brian – 90 minutes (Houston Dash)
Midfielder Carli Lloyd – 90 minutes, GOAL (Houston Dash)
Forward Christen Press (capt.) – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe – 90 minutes, ASSIST (Seattle Reign FC)
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.) – 90 minutes (FC Kansas City)
Defender Casey Short – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Defender Meghan Klingenberg – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell – 90 minutes (Houston Dash)

Did Not Play
Forward Alex Morgan – Hamstring injury (Orlando Pride)
Defender Kelley O’Hara – Unused substitute (Sky Blue FC)
Forward Lynn Williams – Unused substitute (NC Courage)
Midfielder Rose Lavelle – Hamstring injury (Boston Breakers)
Forward Mallory Pugh –  Ankle injury (Washington Spirit)
Midfielder Tobin Heath – Back injury (Portland Thorns)
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris – Quad injury (Orlando Pride)
Forward Amy Rodriguez – Torn ACL; Out for the season (FC Kansas City)

Read more
WNT Jun 26, 2017
×