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Magic Of The US Open Cup On Show In Hartford Despite Defeat To New York Red Bulls

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US Open Cup third round week is when the magic of the cup really starts to happen. It’s the stage where the Major League Soccer sides from America’s top tier enter the competition, facing teams from the lower leagues and thus providing potential for upsets.

The competition produced a couple of these results on Wednesday night when popular USL Championship side, Detroit City FC, made their presence felt in this 107-edition old competition by defeating Columbus Crew in Hamtramck.

Elsewhere, Union Omaha of USL League 1 were able to knock out Chicago Fire after the game went to a penalty shootout at Soldier Field.

Hartford Athletic fans were hoping their side would become the next to cause an upset on Thursday night when they faced New York Red Bulls at the Trinity Health Stadium.

Their fans were in full voice right from kick off, as were the pocket of Red Bulls fans who’d made the trip to Connecticut and stationed themselves in the opposite corner.

It was the Hartford supporters who saw most of the action in this game, though. In the opening 45 minutes, their side barely got out of their own half as the Red Bulls attacked their end of the stadium.

The press from Gerhard Struber’s visitors hemmed Hartford in as they tried to play out from the back.

The home side’s goalkeeper James Slayton was the busiest of their players, making several good stops as the onslaught regularly entered his penalty area.

The Wethersfield, CT native between the posts was arguably the Man of the Match, but despite his interventions, Hartford went in 2-0 down at half-time.

Lewis Morgan managed to sneak one inside the post from outside the area, and Aaron Long pounced on a rebound to make it two, but the second half saw a much improved Hartford side.

They pulled a goal back when Daniel Barrera, rather than crossing as might be expected from a free-kick, slid the ball back to the onrushing Conor McGlynn who powered a shot home.

Younes Boudadi crashed one off the woodwork as the home fans saw their team create a number of openings in the second period.

It was a moment that showed everyone in the stadium that this tie might not be over just yet.

A red card for New York Red Bulls’ Cristian Cassares came too late in added time for Hartford to make anything of the extra man, but as the final whistle went and the Connecticut side were knocked out of the cup, this didn’t feel like a defeat.

“We were playing against a really, really good MLS team that are in the top part of their league and we competed with them,” Hartford head coach Harry Watling told the Hartford Courant after the game.

“We made a game of it. Our fans really got behind us again. It’s really important we compete in every game like that.

“We are talking about a club that has just been a start-up and now filling out a stadium, exciting people and exciting the city.”

Save for Atlanta’s 6-0 win against Chattanooga FC, and San Jose putting five past Bay Cities FC, the ties have generally been close even where the MLS side has come out on top.

New York Red Bulls knew they’d been in a game, and they were almost taken to extra time.

The MLS team will be happy to come away with a win following this tough 90 minutes, regardless of how it came about.

Hartford will hope to build on the added interest around their team as a result of their showing in a cup competition that’s increasingly getting the recognition it deserves in the US soccer calendar.



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MLS

Match Preview: OL Reign host Kansas City Current at Lumen Field

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OL Reign continues their three-game homestand with a Wednesday evening match against the Kansas City Current. The game kicks off at 7 PM PT at Lumen Field and will stream on Paramount+ (U.S.) and Twitch (Canada/international).

With a match last Sunday and another again this Sunday, expect to see plenty of rotation for OL Reign. The same goes for Kansas City, but for different reasons.

The Current are 0-3-1 to start the season and are about to play their fourth road game. After finishing at the top of the Central Division standings in the Challenge Cup, it’s been a rough start to the regular season for the club. In addition to some disappointing results, they’ve had a small outbreak of COVID-19 in the last week on top of injuries to key players. They’ll again deal with these challenges against the Reign, as the Current have six players out and three questionable.

Don’t let the early results or hurdles fool you. Like the Reign, Kansas City has competed in every match. “Even though they may not have got the results that they wanted so far, I think they’ve been in every game. They’ve made it really, really difficult for the opponent to break them down,” OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said in a pre-match press conference.

Here are five things to know ahead of Wednesday night’s match at Lumen Field.

Both teams won their divisions in the NWSL Challenge Cup, with the Current going 4-1-1 and OL Reign going 4-0-2 in group-stage play. Now, just like the other two Challenge Cup semi-finalists, the Reign and Current sit toward the bottom of the table in regular-season play after four games. Having to push through the Challenge Cup semi-finals clearly hurt both sides at the start of the season, but they still have plenty of time to right the ship.

The Current have deployed a range of formations and tactics throughout the Challenge Cup tournament and regular season. They’ve used a 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1. Sometimes, they shoot a lot from distance (they had the highest percentage of shots outside the box in the Challenge Cup). Sometimes, they have more intentional possession (they had 59.6% against Houston). Simply put, good luck scouting this team. That, according to Harvey, is the club’s biggest threat heading into the midweek battle.

“It’s a new team for us this season, and I think they’re probably the most unpredictable team we’ve faced in regards to scouting them,” Harvey said. “They play slightly different in all of their games, so I think just not knowing what we’re going to face is one of the big threats for us. We just have to be prepared for everything really and see what the game gives us at certain times and moments.”

Through five matches, OL Reign are undefeated at their new home, Lumen Field. As hometown hero Nikki Stanton said in a pre-match press conference, “I’m still so pumped because Lumen Field, that’s where the Seahawks, the Sounders play, so it’s still pretty surreal every time we go into the parking garage. The fans have been so great.”

Harvey takes it a step further, comparing the experience so far at Lumen Field to a place with plenty of memories for Reign fans.

“Honestly, I’ve said this a few times, I just feel like we’re in an upgraded Memorial. And I am the most biased person ever to Memorial. The atmosphere is so similar to me. Obviously, it’s just a very, very updated, modern, bigger version of it. I think the club’s done a good job of creating where people sit, microphones everywhere, etc. All those little things, I think, have made it a really fantastic environment.”

At the same time, to make Lumen a true fortress for opponents, Harvey is eager to fill the stands even more. “I say all the time, it will only stay home if people come watch us play, so we need to get more bums on seats and make sure people keep coming out to watch us.”

Kristen Hamilton, who joined KC last July in a trade with North Carolina, had a standout performance in the Challenge Cup. Hamilton led the team in shots (15) and goals (4) in the tournament and was named to the Team of the Tournament. The forward is speedy and has a knack for getting herself into the best positions in the box. She also can turn quickly to get a shot off in the box — making her also pretty unpredictable in tight spaces.

Rookie forward Elyse Bennett, a WSU graduate, is another threat up top who is making a real statement at the start of her career. Bennett led the Challenge Cup with four assists, and she’s already notched a goal and assist in regular-season play — despite playing limited minutes and dealing with a slight knock. She’s also fast, good in 1-v-1 situations, a strong passer, and can punish you in the air.

Because their opponent is unpredictable, Harvey is making sure the club focuses on themselves on Wednesday night. A big part of that internal battle will be finishing the many chances they are creating. The Reign lead the league in possession won in the final third and shots per match, and they are second in shots on target per match.

They are also third in the league in expected goals per game (1.58), but the Reign are ninth in the league in goals scored. We will keep repeating it until something changes: They are creating plenty of chances. Now the team needs to convert.

“We’re creating more chances than I think any of my teams have ever created since I’ve coached in this league, so that’s a positive,” Harvey said. “I think now we’ve just got to turn that into goals, and we believe that we can do that. Tomorrow is just another opportunity for us to put that right.”


KC Current

OUT: Chardonnay Curran (Covid Protocol), Chloe Logarzo (right leg), Hailie Mace (Covid protocol), Sam Mewis (right leg), Mallory Weber (SEI – right leg), Lynn Williams (SEI – right leg)

QUESTIONABLE: Izzy Rodriguez (illness), Lo’eau LaBonta (illness), Maddie Nolf (right leg)

OL Reign

OUT: None


OL Reign’s home match against the Kansas City Current kicks off Wednesday, May 25, at 7 PM PT. The game will stream on Paramount+ for fans in the U.S. and Twitch for international viewers.



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Klopp named LMA manager of the year

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A five match unbeaten run sees Defiance vault up the MLS NEXT Pro leaderboard. Tacoma Defiance rise to No. 2 in Week 9 MLS NEXT Pro Power Rankings | Tacoma Defiance

Welcome to another week of MLS Power Rankings, where the numbers are made up and the rationale doesn’t matter. Power Rankings: Austin FC, Real Salt Lake ascend after Weeks 12 & 13 | MLSSoccer.com

There’s intrigue aplenty as the US Open Cup enters its Round of 16 on Wednesday night, with 13 MLS teams left standing, including derby showdowns, potential Cupsets, rematches and more across the eight games. US Open Cup: What awaits MLS teams in the Round of 16? | MLSSoccer.com

The video review system in MLS moved to a centralized Video Operations Room last weekend. Centralized VAR system implemented in Week 10 – Professional Referee Organization

Aaronson is still drawing looks from the likes of Red Bull Salzburg. Paxten Aaronson reportedly drawing more interest abroad – Brotherly Game

Coming to The Banc this summer. Angel City FC announce friendly vs. Tigres Feminil on August 10 – Angels on Parade

Two years ago, WSU’s Elyse Bennett wasn’t even thinking about a future in professional soccer. Now, she’s quickly lighting up the league. Elyse Bennett wasn’t going to turn pro. Now, she looks like she’s been here all along – Equalizer Soccer

NWSL coaches and players have hammered the league for failing to protect its players from bad refereeing, but fixing it will take time and money. ‘Absolute madness’: NWSL’s poor refereeing and dangerous play criticized, but no quick fixes in sight | ESPN

A FIFA-appointed expert in women’s football has been cleared of charges of sexual harassment directed at players as young as 14. FIFA judges clear women’s coach of sexual harassment charges | ESPN

The Frenchman is accused of unprofessional behaviour towards players after complaint was made — club say they take the situation very seriously. PSG suspend women’s coach Didier Olle-Nicolle after accusations of inappropriate behaviour | The Telegraph

Leeds are wasting no time. Leeds United close in on £24m deal for Brenden Aaronson – Through It All Together

The message “Manchester United are rubbish” appeared on screen during a news broadcast on Tuesday. BBC apologises after ‘Manchester United are rubbish’ appears on screen – BBC News

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been named the League Managers Association’s manager of the year. Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool boss named LMA manager of the year – BBC Sport

Fan disorder seen at recent football matches is a “reflection of where we are as a country at the moment”, says England manager Gareth Southgate. Pitch invasions & violence: England boss Gareth Southgate says issue a “reflection” of the country – BBC Sport

Tottenham’s majority shareholders ENIC Sports Inc announced they will be putting an extra £150m into the club. Tottenham to get £150m boost after Champions League qualification – BBC Sport

Carlo Ancelotti said he “respects the decision” of Kylian Mbappe to turn down Real Madrid in favour of staying at Paris Saint-Germain. Carlo Ancelotti on Kylian Mbappe rejecting Real Madrid: I respect the decision | ESPN

Mbappe said Liverpool were one of the clubs he spoke to before deciding to extend his stay at Paris Saint-Germain. Kylian Mbappe reveals Liverpool talks before PSG extension | ESPN

The Premier League has approved the £4.25bn takeover of Chelsea with the consortium, led by US businessman Todd Boehly, passing its owners’ and directors’ test. Chelsea: Premier League approves takeover deal from Todd Boehly consortium – BBC Sport

12:00 PM: FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (Copa de la Reina) — ESPN+

12:00 PM: Roma vs. Feyenoord (Europa Conference League) — Paramount+ / TUDN

4:00 PM: Orlando City vs. Inter Miami (US Open Cup) — ESPN+

4:00 PM: Louisville City vs. Nashville SC (US Open Cup) — ESPN+

4:30 PM: NYCFC vs. New England Revolution (US Open Cup) — ESPN+

5:00 PM: New York Red Bulls vs. Charlotte FC (US Open Cup) — ESPN+

5:00 PM: Minnesota United vs. Union Omaha (US Open Cup) — ESPN+

5:30 PM: Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo (US Open Cup) — ESPN+

7:00 PM: OL Reign vs. KC Current (NWSL) — Paramount+

7:30 PM: LA Galaxy vs. LAFC (US Open Cup) — ESPN+

7:30 PM: Sacramento Republic vs. San Jose Earthquakes (US Open Cup) — ESPN+



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MLS

Is playing negative is a positive? Sporting KC MLS Podcast

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It turns out, all they had to do was listen to the show! Peter Vermes has deployed a different style and formation in the last two matches for Sporting KC, albeit out of necessity due to injuries & suspensions. But the change has yielded two straight results in league play.

One worrying note is a potential trend developing in which the defense concedes an ugly goal early in the second half. Robert Voloder took some blame on the last one, but he might have been the only one actually defending.

A look at the current MLS Western Conference table is quite jarring when compared to last year’s playoffs. Sporting KC is not the only team struggling. Seattle, Portland, Colorado, & Vancouver are all at the bottom of the table at the moment.

All of a sudden the young guys on the roster are starting to impress. Homegrowns Cam Duke & Felipe Hernandez are looking solid, while all three international U-22’s have been key contributors as well.

“God bless Ben Sweat.” But it’s really important how you say it.

Please subscribe, rate & review wherever you get your podcasts! Follow Cody @ThatCodyTho, Thad @TheBackpost, and Robert @SpKCLife so you can tell us what we’ve done wrong each week.





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