Flying Kiwis – March 5

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Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)

Whoever decided it was a good idea to play a game of football in these conditions probably shouldn’t be in charge of deciding about where games of football are played as the Colorado Rapids hosted the Portland Timbers in their opening game of the 2019 MLS season in the coldest temperature ever recorded for an MLS game. Luckily for Tommy Smith he was injured with a knee thingy and could dress up warm in the crowd. Luckily for Bill Tuiloma on the Timbers he was still recovering from a preseason strain and also wasn’t able to take part. But poor Deklan Wynne was picked at centre-back by old Uncle Tony Hudson and it was a wild one, let me tell you.

At the start it was merely freezing and the Rapids took a nice lead after quarter of an hour when Kellyn Acosta, Dillon Serna, and Kei Kamara all linked up for the latter to tap home. Two blokes from last year’s squad making a difference to set up new signing Kamara for the goal – who ever said Huddo wasn’t a good coach? But that start was ruined in the 27th minute when Axel Sjoberg, Wynne’s partner at CB, was shown a straight red card for diving over and blocking a shot with his arm. Kinda rough as there wasn’t a whole lot of intent and he does sort of need his arms for balancing (not like he was leading with them or anything)… but then it stopped a goal-scoring opportunity so whatever. Portland actually scored anyway but there was an offside in there so we came back for the penalty… which Diego Valeri missed initially, shout out to the evergreen Tim Howard, but “the follow-up was an easy tap-in”, as per the commentator.

By this point the snow was tumbling down faster than the All Whites’ chances of making the World Cup when Anthony Hudson left Chris Wood on the bench that time in Peru. Tim Howard seemed to be the only person able to see the ball with those big hands keeping the score level until the Timbers finally turned one in from a corner in first half stoppage time. Seb Blanco got the touch.

Benny Feilhaber equalised straight after the half with a goal that you’d have to call seasonal given the impact of the snow in it all, then in the 66th minute Deklan Wynne did this and the Timbers were up 3-2…

At that point it was looking like the only smart one was Sjoberg for getting first dibs on a hot shower. But there was one last bit of drama deep in stoppage time, the fourth minute of four minutes, when a couple cracks at goal each fell to a teammate and finally Andre Shinyashiki (some funky names to spell in this Rapids side) slipped it past the keeper for the 3-3 draw.

In fairness, a pretty excellent result first up for Anthony Hudson’s lot against the defending Western Conference champs. Three goals from three new signings. A bit of resiliency despite the red card. All very un-Hudson things based on last season so sweet as. And of course Deklan Wynne got ninety minutes even if he scored an own goal in the middle of them. Not sure on the severity of Smithy’s injury and interesting that they played with a back four as well. Might mean it’s tougher for Wynne to get game time as the season progresses.

As for Tuiloma, he was only likely to be on the bench anyway so missing this game with that groin strain shouldn’t do too much harm. Expect he’ll be back on the bench soon – he was only listed as questionable. Meanwhile…

Up Next: Away to Seattle Sounders, Sunday at 4pm (NZT)

Tyler Boyd – MKE Ankaragücü (Turkish SuperLig)

The maaaaaan.

Fresh from scoring his first goal for the club last week, Tyler’s done it again with a strike in the sixth minute of injury time capping off a 4-2 win away at Antalyaspor. A fourth positive result in a row (three wins and a draw) and they’re in range of moving right up that table if they can keep repeating this.

Fellow new signing Dever Orgill scored a hatty in the game and Tyler Boyd set up two of those goals – safe to say that was some quality January transfer window business. Boyd has settled in fantastically with the chance to start games each week and play a key role. What’s more is that should really have been two goals because after delightfully lifting the ball over the keeper on the end of a sharp run across the defence, Boyd’s cross/shot looked to be going in anyway when Orgill put a head on it from basically on the line. I mean, look at this dastardly striker’s play, honestly…

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No hard feelings from Boydy, who went on to set up what was effectively the winner for Orgill after Antalyaspor had equalised in between and then he got his own one at the end. In five games he’s already scored twice and set up four goals.

Up Next: Saturday 11.30pm at home against Bursaspor (NZT)

Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

Ah well, they can’t all be like the last couple weeks. Chris Wood had two games in the last seven days, midweek away to Newcastle and weekend at home to Crystal Palace. Two games against teams in a similar position to them trying to outrun the relegation threat, with the possibility to really put some space between themselves and any danger. But that’s not the way it went.

The Newcastle game was a bit of a dud from the start. Playing midweek with all the buzz of their win over Tottenham, the Clarets fell back to earth when Fabian Schar scored a good old fashioned thunderbastard of a goal to put Newcastle up 1-0 in the opening stanza. The Woodsman went close to levelling immediately but Martin Dubravka got in the way, the jerk, and then Jack Cork lost the ball in midfield and Sean Longstaff soon had his first Premier League goal. James Tarkowski missed one he should’ve done much better with later on and despite bringing Robbie Brady on at half-time Burnley lost a pretty dull one 2-0, snapping their unbeaten league streak at eight games. Wasn’t much else to mention as far as Chris Wood goes, subbed off in the 82nd min.

Then Crystal Palace came to town and Woy ‘Odgson’s lot were a little too good. Stormed through the Claret’s midfield and Wilfred Zaha was too much of a handful and when his cross was sent back across by Jeff Schlupp, poor old Phil Bardsley had himself a 15th minute own goal. Maybe Woody can put him in touch with Deklan for a bit of peer support.

Wood had his best chance when he ran off a slick little return touch from Ashley Barnes but his shot was driven straight at keeper Wayne Hennessey who made a good save. Then Michy Batshuayi scored with a powerful driven effort for 2-0 soon into the second half. Woody nodded one back down to Barnes who wasn’t able to get a shot on target – Burnley had their chances here, 18 shots in total but only four on target. Then Wilf Zaha made it three after ducking and weaving through the Burnley defence and leaving them slipping and sliding like bambi on ice. Ash Barnes did score a consolation goal in the last minute but Woody had already been subbed off by then. Also Hennessey made a great save right at the end to deny Peter Crouch his first goal as a Claret. Guts.

Lancashire Telegraph: “With Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, neither of who had their greatest game, in such prolific form in recent weeks, service into the frontmen is crucial. Barnes showed with his late header, from a neat Ashley Westwood delivery, what he can do and Wood was unfortunate to be see his powerful effort well saved by Hennessey after Burnley had managed to put together a constructive attacking move. Solve the distribution issue and the Clarets will create more chances and score more goals.”

Hey but next week they get to have a big old say in the title race!

Phil Bardsley on the Barnes & Wood combo up topskees: “I try to give them a boot in training like defenders do on a Saturday. That’s what it’s all about, playing against top players and pitting your wits against them. Those two are absolutely outstanding and they’re causing problems for anybody. They’ve got a good understanding. Once one gets on the half-turn, the other gets on his bike. We’re putting it in areas where we can affect other teams. If you’ve got willing runners and two strikers who are wanting to work their socks off and they can get themselves a goal then it’s brilliant for the team.”

Up Next: Liverpool vs Burnley, Monday at 1am (NZT)

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

Okay then, here’s a funky one. Instead of competing in the NWSL this season, where Rosie has played the last couple years, she’s gonna hang about in Aotearoa and go hundies ahead of the World Cup instead. This is a pretty surprising move from the perspective of a player trying to advance their career by playing less professional footy but obviously there’s a plan in place. White was likely to be more of an impact sub for the Red Stars again, given the presence of players like oh I dunno Sam Kerr, Yuki Nagasato, and Steph McCaffrey in the squad, so she’s probably not missing as much actual football as you’d think. Plus it keeps her in focus for all the pre-tournament friendlies lined up and reduces the injury risk for a player who missed a lot of 2018 for that reason.

Rosie White: “Thank you so much Chicago for everything, especially to the great fans and my amazing teammates. It’s time for me to open a new chapter in my career and redirect my focus for the World Cup and Olympics in what will be an exciting time for Team New Zealand. I am sad to say I won’t be returning to the Red Stars, as my main focus will be for my country. I wish my teammates all the best of luck.”

CRS Owner Arnim Whisler: “We know how much this World Cup means to Rosie and all of New Zealand. Her training over in New Zealand during the lead-up time before the World Cup and preparing for the biggest stage is in her best interest. We wish her the best of luck in the World Cup and appreciate everything Rosie did for this club in 2018.”

Not to be overlooked is the cheeky final paragraph of the story which begins: “The team and player will evaluate their options once the tournament is complete.” So the door is very much still open for July onwards – which isn’t that much later than last season when she returned to the field in late May.

Up Next: Cup of Nations, Footy Ferns, World Cup… all the good ones

Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)

Mike Boxall will have had a bone to pick in week one of the MLS. His team were away to the Vancouver Whitecaps, a team that he spent a brief amount of time with back in the day and a team which in their former state as the Vancouver All-Whitecaps were home to several kiwi players in their first team and reserves. But they’re all gone now, cast adrift into the wintery Canadian breeze. So forget about the Caps and up, up Minnesota!

As anticipated, the Loons started with Francisco Calvo at left back to make room for new defensive mastermind signing Ike Opara next to Mikey at CB. Fellow signing Romain Métanire was at right back. Plus a new midfield, a new goalkeeper, and a few new attacking options – basically MU were taking the good left over from last season and chucking in some proper new and experienced talent next to them. Should do wonders for Boxall to have a sturdier defender next to him, while Calvo’s best/reckless tendencies should balance well as a fullback. Calvo reckons he prefers CB… but after the Vancouver game he looks like a bloody marvel on the left. And Métanire was excellent too. Sweet as.

E Pluribus Loonum: “Adrian Heath’s 4-2-3-1 will return for a third season. New goalkeeper Vito Mannone started in goal, despite missing a chunk of time early in the week to sort out visa issues in England. Francisco Calvo kept the captain’s armband as he started on the left side of the defense. Michael Boxall and new-arrival Ike Opara anchored the back line, and newbie Romain Metanire held down the right flank. The all-new midfield of DP Ján Greguš and Ozzie Alonso sat behind an attacking three of Rasmus Schuller, Darwin Quintero and Miguel Ibarra. Romario Ibarra capped off the formation as the striker.”

It began poorly. Somebody didn’t track their runner from a deep free kick on five minutes and Erik Godoy stuck a foot on it to score. But this Minny team might actually be half decent and Boxall’s hairdryer treatment from the far post after watching that goal unfold must have done something because they looked sharp in regular play. Calvo popped one off the crossbar after half an hour before winning a penalty with some sheer energy and determination. Darwin Quintero was by far the team’s best player in 2018 and he crunched that spottie into the top corner like a champ.

Minnesota continued to play with confidence and Quintero set up a second after 65 mins with a delightful chip to Calvo who got his head to it before the keeper could decide whether to charge out or not. Four minutes later Romario Ibarra scored from a deflected effort, again after some nice work from Quintero – this time in winning the ball high up the field.

There is one obvious problem here: set piece defending. With the game in control they allowed the Caps a lifeline when they inexplicably left two players wide open in the middle of the goal. Doneil Henry picked out the near post and there you go. Ten minute left. But Vancouver weren’t able to respond and 3-2 was the final score. Away wins were pretty rare in 2018 so a huge start for the Loons.

The Athletic: “If you get a chance to share a conversation with Michael Boxall and Ike Opara, you would be forgiven for thinking the duo have been teammates for a decade. The Minnesota United defenders are already happy to crack jokes with each other off the pitch. On the training ground, they’re quick to cover and switch marks as needed. The pair seem poised to be the Loons’ main center back pairing for the duration of the 2019 season, offering some solidity to the back four.”

Up Next: Away to San Jose at 10am on Sunday (NZT)

Jeremy Brockie – Mamelodi Sundowns (South African Premier Soccer League)

That’s about as close as Jerry’s getting to the field these days. A 0-0 draw against Bloemfontein Celtic was frustrating but it was enough to put them one point clear at the top of the ladder, though Brockie didn’t even make the bench. Just like he didn’t make the bench for the 3-2 win over Cape Town City last week. Or the 1-1 draw away to Bidvest Wits before that. Or the 0-0 draw with ASEC Mimosas in the Champs League. He didn’t play a single minute in the month of February. Bit of a bummer there, just gotta stay ready in case he’s called upon.

Up Next: 6.30am away to Cape Town City on Wednesday (NZT)

Elliot Collier – Chicago Fire (American Major League Soccer)

Not a surprising rumour to be honest. Collier spent the second half of last season on loan and the Fire have restocked since then. Quite a good option for him as it should mean a whole lot more minutes than playing off the bench for the Fire – who gave him zero minutes in preseason, probably because they knew they were loaning him out. Also with international roster spots as crucial as they are he’ll really need to earn his gig in the long term and this is the best way to do that.

Up Next: Gonna have to see about that, won’t we?

Monty Patterson - Hønefoss BK (Norwegian Division 3)

The Python! Back in focus finally, although the fourth tier of Norwegian club footy isn’t perhaps the most glamorous stage out there. From a bloke who was on the verge of getting through at Ipswich before his contract ran out, to the Wellington Phoenix thing that didn’t work out at all, to an up and down short spell in the USL of America… The Python has had an odd career so fingers crossed that this is the one where he gets some proper opportunities to play often and score and create goals like he’ll always do at his best. This is one level below the division where Moses Dyer will be playing after his team Fløro was relegated from division one in 2018. The new season begins in a month.

Up Next: Hønefoss vs Bodø / Glimt II, 3.30am on March 13 (NZT)

Erin Nayler – Girondins Bordeaux (French Division 1 Féminine)

Up Next: Footy Ferns

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

For the first time since Marco Rojas signed with Sonders he’s tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of victory. A 3-0 win over Randers… although Marco was a 68th minute substitute and the goals were all scored in the first half. First man off the bench though, just gotta work his way in with his new club.

Rojas has played in all four games he’s been available for however the two most recent have been off the bench. There are two more games before the league splits in half (almost – it technically splits into six and eight) for the championship and relegation rounds, which should be decent for Marco on a personal level since his team can’t make the top six from here so they ought to be one of the better teams in the bottom half. Hopefully that at least means a few goals and assists.

Up Next: Home to Esbjerg at 2am on Monday (NZT)

Nikko Boxall – Viborg FF (Danish Division 1)

Viborg lost this week, going down 1-0 away to Næstved. Andreas Moos scored with ten minutes to go and that was it. Absolute ripper of a goal from distance to separate a couple of the better sides in the division. Not the best way to return from a long winter’s break but they are still hanging on in first place on the ladder with 13 more games to play. Looking for automatic promotion to the Danish top flight where Nikko can have a crack defending Marco. Nikko who has only missed one game (suspension) this entire campaign so far.

Up Next: 1.45am on Monday at home to Hvidovre (NZT)

Greg Draper – The New Saints (Welsh Premier League)

Honestly, the state of this bloke. He couldn’t not score goals if he tried. In a cup tie against Llandudno this week he only went and scored a cheeky five of them in an 8-1 win. It’s enough to put TNS into the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup and as we well know he’s been having zero trouble bagging goals in the Premier League either despite coming off the bench half the time. He scored the third in a 3-0 win in their previous game and TNS currently sit second on the ladder but only by two points with a game in hand over Connah’s Quay Nomads. Those old rivals Barry Town are hanging about in third too.

TNSFC.co.uk: “Greg Draper, Goal Machine - Having found the net five times, the New Zealand international could quite easily monopolise the Talking Points column on his own this week. Watch the Sgorio highlights tonight (Monday, March 4) and see for yourself, as Greg turns on the style in his own five star performance. Sadly, the goals don’t count in the race for the Golden Boot, as it’s limited to the JD Welsh Premier league. However, on current form, it’s looking good for Draper as he looks to retain the coveted award.”

CLWB PEL-DROED: “The BBC has worked out that Greg Draper averages a goal every 39 minutes. This comes from 695 minutes of football played. Compare this to Bala Town’s Steven Tames who is averaging 111 minutes per goal, having played 1186 minutes more of football than Draper. Liam Thomas who is also on 17 goals this season, averages 138 minutes per goal. He has played 2340 minutes this season. This means Greg Draper has played 1645 minutes less than the Old Gold forward but has scored a goal more. Coming out of the league, Draper’s record compared to English Premier League forwards Mohamed Salih and Sergio Aguero, Greg Draper still has a higher minute per goal record than the Argentine and the Egyptian. Salah has scored 134 minutes per goal in 2286 minutes of action, whilst Aguero has 99 minutes per goal in 1678 minutes.”

A goal every 39 minutes in league action. At any level on the goddamn planet that is an astounding statistic. He’s started six games and come off the bench seventeen times to score 18 goals. Last season he won the Golden Boot with 22 goals and he’s played way fewer minutes this term with seven more games still to play... and we just saw what he can do in cup footy when given the chance to start for once. Easily one of the crazier underground Flying Kiwis yarns in a long time.

Up Next: Big one away to Connah’s Quay Nomads at 6.15am on Sunday (NZT)

Clayton Lewis – Scunthorpe United (English League One)

Always nice when that happens. This was his longest stint in a League One match since that one game when he started last season. Chucked on straight after Oxford had gone 1-0 up too, which is a vote of confidence from the gaffer.

Didn’t quite work though. Oxford scored again through Jerome Sinclair (who also got the first) and it wasn’t until George Thomas scored in injury time that Scunthorpe had anything to show. A 2-1 defeat, which lifts Oxford out of the drop zone and leaves The Iron only four points clear of it. Still eleven more games to go.

Up Next: Scunthorpe vs Bristol Rovers, 4am on Sunday (NZT)

Steven Old – Morecambe (English League Two)

Another goal, what do ya know? Oldie’s second of the season after scoring a few weeks back at home to Bury. Unfortunately that was a 3-2 defeat as Old’s goal wasn’t added to, Morecambe unable to come back from giving Bury a 3-0 headstart. And, erm, this was a bit similar. Old’s goal was a nice little stab home from a few yards out following a set piece and it levelled us up at 2-2 with only a few minutes left. But that didn’t last long as Yeovil Town found a (deserved) winner courtesy of Ryan Seager and last minute winners don’t come much better than that one. Morecambe are five points clear of the drop zone with eleven games to go.

Up Next: Morecambe vs Forest Green Rovers at 4am on Sunday (NZT)

Ali Riley – Chelsea FC (English Super League)

Ali Riley: “During my senior year of high school my dad, who is from New Zealand, saw a news article that said Australia’s men’s team was leaving the Oceania confederation to join the Asia confederation. Why did that matter? Australia were doing it because the Asia confederation had more guaranteed World Cup spots. Oceania, on the other hand, only had half a spot. Even if you won the World Cup qualifiers, you would still have to go for a playoff to make it through to the tournament.

Of course at that time, they took the women’s team with them, which left New Zealand with a real chance to get through to the World Cup in the Oceania confederation, and it just so happened that New Zealand were looking to invest in their women’s football team. My dad saw this (I don’t know how, given that we lived in LA!) and emailed the coach of the New Zealand national team saying, “Hey, my daughter is eligible to play for you.”

No one got back to him for a while, but months later John Herdman – who was appointed the coach – was checking through old emails and found the email from my Dad! He replied saying, ‘great we need as many players as we can get!’ We sent a DVD over to him, and the next thing I knew I was being invited to go and play in a couple of friendly matches before the Under-20 World Cup in Australia in the spring.”

And another one…

Up Next: Another one still with the Fernies

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