Flying Kiwis – July 11

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Ali Riley – FC Rosengård (Swedish Damallsvenskan)

For the final time, Ali Riley strolled out in her FC Rosengård jerey. At home to Växjö in the last game before the Swedish league takes a break for a month, during which Ali officially joins Chelsea and will jump from midseason back to preseason over in England.

Bit of an emotional affair, no doubt, leaving the club after seven years, a whole heap of games and an immense amount of trophies. Three league championships and three runners-ups, three Svenska Cupens with another runners-up and three Swedish Super Cups. Not to mention numerous Champions League knockout games.

It wasn’t quite the fairytale finish as the Rosies needed a late equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw, which dropped them down to third on the ladder. Rosengård had the chances to get more outta this one but so it goes. This was also the last game for the club for Olivia Elofsson, who is leaving to play college football in the USA, and both of them were acknowledged before the game with a rousing applause as well as the presentation of flowers and a signed jersey by all of their teammates. Lovely stuff… now Chelsea awaits.

Ali Riley to Sydsvenskan: “It's actually just very strange. I will miss Jonas as a coach, the atmosphere of the team and how everyone in and around the club is like a family. Clearly it's tough, but nothing is over. There’s a long way to go yet in the season. I always want to win whether I’m leaving or not and therefore it is hard, but I'm proud of how we reacted today after we conceded and I still think that the team can win the title. I hope we can relax and still celebrate the first half of the season, that we won the cup, that I could be here with the team and that I can say hi to everyone in a good way and take that positive feeling with me.”

Oh and ah…

Up Next: Chelsea Football Club

Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)

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A couple games this week for Boxy, with three goals conceded in each. Not the best way to welcome back his central defensive partner Francisco Calvo after the dude’s World Cup sojourn with Costa Rica. Having said that though, they still managed to win against Toronto FC. Darwin Quintero scored a hatty and Miguel Ibarra had another and with an hour played they were up 4-1.

Quintero’s first was a ripper of a finish while Ibarra’s goal came from a great ball (and some terrible defending by Toronto) outta the back from that lad Calvo. They played a back three again with Brett Kallman playing central and Calvo on his left, Boxall on his right. Seemed to do the trick in the first half until one of their midfielders dropped back in and tried to dribble a ball out of trouble only to unwittingly set up a goal. Quintero struck again after the break though, twice in six minutes, and each of his goals was better than the last. Jeez, this was a quality hat-trick. Chipped the keeper for the last two, the third being absolutely perfect. Have some of that.

Toronto actually had a lot of the ball in this one yet it took a rocket from Sebastian Giovinco to get them back in it. However Jordan Hamilton’s injury time third came too late and Minny held on for the 4-3 win at home. Still, someone fell asleep on the marking and Boxall was not a happy chappie.

Zone Coverage Player Ratings: “CB Michael Boxall, 7 — Has been one of MNUFC’s most consistent performers all season long, and Wednesday was no different. Would like to have seen him keep his defense fully aware at the very end, but conceding that final goal didn’t change the result.”

He’d have been no happier a few days later when they chased that win with a 3-0 defeat away against Houston Dynamo in some stickily hot conditions. Same formation except Calvo didn’t play and Tyrone Mears started at RCB, with Boxall moving to the middle. Philippe Senderos scored the first goal in the 36th min, stabbing a foot in front of Boxall from a set piece. Then Mikey, who was wearing the captain’s armband again, lost the ex-Arsenal defender on another corner after the break and it was 2-0. Alberth Ellis made it three in stoppage time and that was that.

Zone Coverage Player Ratings: “CB Michael Boxall, 4 — Did little wrong in open play, but as the leader of the defense — especially with Calvo out — and as the team’s predominant winner of aerial balls, he has to take responsibility for a team that allows so many goals off of set pieces.”

Mike Boxall: “For us to underperform like that (on the road), it’s an embarrassment to our jobs; it’s what we are paid to do. We can’t do our jobs 50 percent of the time, we have to do it 100 percent of the time.”

Up Next: Minnesota Utd vs Real Salt Lake, Sunday at 12pm (NZT)

Emma Rolston & Meikayla Moore – MSV Duisburg (German Frauen-Bundesliga)

A little while back it was announced that Emma Rolston had signed up with Duisburg in Germany, building on a year that’s seen her debut for the Footy Ferns and play a season with Sydney FC in the W-League. Now she’s got a little company in that team with Meikayla Moore making the switch to MSV after her FC Köln team was relegated last season. Means we’ll still have at least two kiwis in the German top flight.

Still waiting to hear what’s up with CJ Bott and Amber Hearn after their respective clubs were relegated but there’s plenty of time to go yet. It’s a long offseason, after all.

Up Next: Like a lot of these Flying Kiwis, a whole lotta preseason

Abby Erceg – North Carolina Courage (American National Women’s Soccer League)

Four more goals and three more points, this is getting crazy for NCC. Erceg’s team lost their first game of the season three games back and since then have scored eleven times in those three contests for maximum points. They’re seven points clear at the top and running away with things.

The latest win was a 4-1 triumph over Chicago Red Stars. This was actually one of their tougher games in recent weeks, Chicago are in some top quality form and they carved out a fair few chances to score here. Probably down to their second striker, a certain Rosie White getting back in the starting team alongside Sam Kerr – a Kiwi and an Aussie playing up front together. Shout out to the Anzacs.

And no surprises about this incident, two of NZ’s finest competitors going head to head it was bound to happen. Long ball into the box and Rosie couldn’t quite get there in time, clashing with Abby off balance and coming off much the worse. Erceg was there with a helping hand to get her compatriot back on her feet.

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White played the first hour in her second start since she returned from injury and her first minutes after a month on the bench. Some major speed and a sharp finish from Crystal Dunn had given NCC he lead in the 20th minute but when White made way for Yuki Nagasato with an hour played it was still 1-0 and this game was very much open. Then within ten minutes it was 3-0, Lynn Williams with one and Debinha with a remarkable third, before both teams scored late on. Kristen Hamilton in the 87th min to make it four and then Nagasato converted from the penalty spot in injury time. 4-1 to North Carolina who have now won 12 games from 16 this season.

And of course that kinda run is going to get you a few accolades…

Up Next: Thursday at 11am, home to Washington Spirit (NZT)

Rosie White – Chicago Red Stars (American National Women’s Soccer League)

That was it for the week for NCC but the Red Stars had another game and they bounced back in a genuine way with a 3-1 win over Sky Blue. Rebekah Stott remains injured, no update there, so she wasn’t able to keep Sam Kerr from wreaking havoc. She scored a hat-trick to pass 50 NWSL goals and this game was never in doubt once that collection had been completed. Rosie White was back on the bench for Nagasato again, Chicago back reverting to their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, but she did get a run for the last five minutes or so plus injury time.

Up Next: Sunday at 12pm at home to Seattle Reign (NZT)

Stefan Marinovic & Myer Bevan – Vancouver Whitecaps (American Major League Soccer)

Vancouver Whitecaps: “Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Myer Bevan has returned from a productive loan stint with Swedish club Husqvarna FF, the club announced on Tuesday. The 21-year old New Zealand international scored two goals in five starts and eight appearances in Division 1 Södra action after being loaned out last March 28. Bevan also made an additional substitute appearance in Svenska Cupen, Sweden’s main football cup competition.

During this time, Bevan also scored a goal in two starts and three appearances for the Kiwis in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup in India last month. The Auckland native now has two goals and six caps under his belt. Bevan, who signed a first-team contract with the ‘Caps last December after emerging in 2017 with Whitecaps FC 2, will be eligible for selection when the FIFA transfer window opens on July 10.”

That’s Myer sorted then. As for Stefan Marinovic, he finally made his way back to a matchday squad when Vancouver hosted Chicago Fire but he wasn’t ready to start. Unused substitute. Been a long wait to get him back playing so we can wait one week longer. As for the game, it was a quality one. 3-2 win to the ‘Caps. Elliot Collier came in off the bench for the final twenty minutes. Have at some highlights.

Up Next: DC United vs Vancouver, Sunday at 12pm (NZT)

Niko Kirwan – Urbs Reggina 1914 (Italian Serie C)

Got one worth a glance here as Niko Kirwan has made the jump from one third division Italian team to another, transferring to Reggina from AC Mestre where he started eight times and came off the bench a further 13 times last season. It’s a sideways move. Mestre finished tenth out of 19 teams in their regional pool of the Serie C division while Reggina were a little worse but still dodged the relegation playoffs by a comfortable enough five points. Fingers crossed for more games and a few goals this time. Niko has signed on a one year contract with an option for two more.

Up Next: Preseason, of course

Winston Reid – West Ham United (English Premier League)

West Ham are back in preseason, already played their first friendly which was a 3-2 defeat against Winterthur of Switzerland, but an injured Winnie probably won’t be back kicking footballs until the end of the month. He’s getting there though. In the meantime, celebrate his 30th birthday the other day with a memorable goal and a personal quiz. And a quadrupled graphic. The only proper way to celebrate a 30th.

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Up Next: More friendlies, more fitness tests

Marco Rojas – sc Heerenveen (Dutch Eredivisie)

45 minutes of preseason footy against Borussia Munchengladbach and a goal to go with it? Yeah not the worst platform to build upon for the coming season. Rojas was part of the second XI, subbed on at half-time, but he did supply a tap-in for the third goal in a 3-3 draw. Sweet as.

Up Next: The Eredivisie starts up again in mid-August

Katie Bowen – Utah Royals (American National Women’s Soccer League)

Right so not the best news there. And it didn’t get any better for the Royals as Tobin Heath scored in the second minute for Portland and a long ninety minutes later they’d been defeated 4-0. Let’s move on swiftly from this and hope it’s not too long before Bowen’s back starting.

Up Next: Seattle Reign vs Utah Royals, Thursday at 2.30pm (NZT)

James Musa – Phoenix Rising (American United Soccer League)

Told ya he was going great guns with the new club. James Musa even made the USL Player of the Month shortlist, which is some achievement for a defensive midfielder when your job is often done best when you’re sliding under the radar.

The Moose didn’t play this week, Phoenix Rising had a week off. But they did just cap off a full month without conceding a goal – 466 minutes of clean sheetery. If that ain’t enough for Player of the Month alone then better drop the deeper cuts right here…

Voting’s already closed and he took 17% of the vote (tied fourth, Emmanuel Ledesma of FC Cincinnati got 42%), which comprises 51% of the poll. The national media and USL technical committee also get a say in things. The winner will be announced on Friday NZT. Probably won’t get the gong but making the shortlist is already a big deal.

Tell you what, the lad can move too… sort of.

Up Next: Fresno vs PR, Sunday at 2pm (NZT)

Hannah Wilkinson – Vittsjö GIK (Swedish Damallsvenskan)

Hey Ali Riley wasn’t the only kiwi in the Swedish top flight and Hannah Wilkinson, who hasn’t had as many starts as she might’ve preferred lately, got to play a big part in Vittsjö’s final game before the break. With Wilko on the bench and her team down 2-0 with half an hour to play, the gaffer did what needed to be done. On came Hannah in the 62nd minute. By full time it was 2-2 and Vittsjö had found the point they needed to be out of the relegation spots (on goal difference) going into the month off.

Wilkinson replaced American Lorina White after two quick second half goals had given Djurgården a 2-0 lead. Injury had meant she’d missed the last three weeks but she was fit enough to play a part as a sub here and they needed her. It had been mostly Vittsjö in control in the first half and here they were facing defeat. But mere minutes after Wilko came on, Clara Marksted made it 2-1 and then with ten mins remaining Wilkinson assisted Linda Sällström in the box for the leveller. Decent impact then.

Up Next: Away to Linköping at 1am on Monday 6 August (NZT)

Jake Gleeson & Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)

Another week, another win. Portland got a double from Sammy Armenteros on their way to a 2-1 victory over San Jose Earthquakes, with Florian Jungwirth making things frisky at the end with a goal three minutes from time. Same old with Tuiloma and Gleeson on the bench but this time neither got a run. 11 MLS games in a row without defeat, 13 games overall. The streak continues.

Tui instead got a game with the T2 side. Solid ninety minutes at the back there in a 4-2 defeat against Fresno. Even picked up a yellow card, the hombre. No Cory Brown in the Fresno side however as he missed an opportunity for a kiwi clash in the USL. Brown was subbed off at half-time a couple games back and hasn’t featured since so you’d have to assume there’s an injury at play there.

Up Next: LAFC vs Portland, 10am Monday (NZT)

Tommy Smith & Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)

Aaaand we’re back to regular service. Two games this week and to 2-1 defeats for the Rapids. First off was a game at home to Seattle Rapids. Kortne Ford did go back into the starting XI as predicted and he did so at the expense of Deklan Wynne at right centre back… but Wynne is a Huddo fave and he just moved out to right wingback instead. Yeah, right wingback. But whatever, just glad to see him still starting.

The Sounders began fast on the press and twenty minutes in they were up 1-0 thanks to Will Bruin. Some kinda crap defence from the retreating midfielder to blame there as the ball was deflected backwards into Bruin’s path and Smithy couldn’t catch up in time. However the Rapids did manage to otherwise limit Seattle to difficult shots and hopeful crosses. Then five minutes before halftime they were back in it. Edgar Castillo with the cross and Sam Nicholson with a superb guiding header.

Bloody cool… until an hour in when Tim Howard tried to play the ball out in traffic and Shkelzen Gashi lost the ball, ping ping ping and Bruin had his second, the goal that ended up being the winner. Seattle scored with their only two shots on target, both coming from Rapids errors. A couple late chances for Colorado didn’t help and they went down 2-1.

Then for the second game and think a second if this sounds familiar…

Burgundy Wave: “If you were looking for some entertaining soccer, this was not the game for you. If you were looking for a stout defensive effort, you got more than you counted on. The Colorado Rapids (4-11-3), playing their third game in six days, with two travel issues on each leg, came out in a 5-4-1 defensive posture with Yannick Boli on an island up top, and that’s about all they contributed in the first half (taking zero shots—not on target, shots). The Rapids struggled greatly in keeping possession, with Montreal possessing 67% of the time, but fortunately struggled to put the ball on frame. 0-0 at the break.”

Deklan Wynne played the full game at left wingback this time, Tommy Smith at CB as per usual (he doesn’t have to worry about the squad rotations, he’s a regular and hasn’t missed a second all MLS season). Hudson even played defender Danny Wilson in midfield. But all that defensive effort and shape was wasted in a three minute span in the second half when Saphir Taider grabbed a brace and while Dominque Badji did pull one back with a dozen mins left it was one of the rare shots that the Rapids would manage all game and they were well beaten despite the 2-1 scoreline. Overly defensive for no reward. Sounds about right.

Up Next: Colorado vs Houston Dynamo, Sunday at 1pm (NZT)

Trials of the Triallists…

Yeah, there we go. Max Mata is currently working on a month's trial looking to step up into the pro ranks with Grasshopper in Switzerland. He's already featured in preseason games. Love to see him making moves with the first team straight away.

Then we’ve got Logan Rogerson, who’s been getting games with the first team in preseason at FC Carl Zeiss Jena. What’s more is that the club’s sporting director Kenny Verhoene has been reported to have confirmed that there’s a contract in the works for the lad, although they haven’t said yet whether he’ll continue to be involved with the first team once he signs. Either way, good gig.

And there’s one more because James McGarry, another former Nix junior, has gotten himself a go with Willem II in the Dutch Eredivisie. The 20 year old has been rumoured away from the Phoenix for ages now and here’s the reason for that. Willem II aren’t exactly PSV or Ajax but we’re still talking a top flight club, who finished 13th out of 18 last season. This is a legit move here.

You want a quote about this impending transfer? How about Darije Kalezic then? Yup, that’ll do.

Dangerous Darije: “It is remarkable that he gets a chance at the level of the premier division. I have not seen him at work much because of injuries. A boy with a very good mentality.”

Kalezic goes on to suggest that McGarry’s got a great left foot and is strong and quick with a good shot on him, although his decision making needs work, same with his vision.

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