Tommy Smith & Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids vs Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)
Where to start? Where to start? The only proper game we’ve got feels like as good a place as any, with the Rapids and the Loons going head to head in an MLS x Flying Kiwis Derby. Only thing was that Tommy Smith and Michael Boxall have both been in and out of their teams in recent times and Deklan Wynne went off injured last week. So the first thing to do is check in on Dekkers and after getting his foot jammed last game he was only listed as questionable for the Minnesota clash so a much better diagnosis than it could have been, even if he was eventually deemed unfit to play this one.
Tommy Smith was all good though, beginning his fifth game in a row as his resurgent little stretch continues. And on the other side was none other than Mike Boxall. Picked on the right side of defence for once. Getting in where you fit in, always something to strive for.
The game itself? Typically not much of a spectacle. The Rapids tend not to be involved in those unless they’re on the wrong side and the Loons haven’t been as clinical away from home as they have been at their new stadium. But what the game lacked in outright quality (and Minny weren’t helped by international break absences) it made up for in end to end action, highlighted by Kei Kamara’s 29th minute goal from a Jack Price corner. Rapids keeping up that post-Huddo bounce.
Minny were missing basically all their midfield thanks to international duty though and they were struggling to put too many passes together. They controlled most of the ball but it was sloppy and their crossing was straight up mud. Boxall did whip in one beauty of a cross though, which Lawrence Olum couldn’t quite turn into the net. MB was then hooked after 57 minutes as they went for a more attacking option out wide but Tommy Smith came closer to scoring than they did. That’s a first clean sheet at home for eleven months for the Rapids who win this one 1-0.
Conor Casey: “Lalas [Abubakar] has continued to impress. Him and Tommy [Smith] have a good relationship now and Keegan [Rosenberry] as well. There’s a lot of guys that can hold their hand up and say they had big performances tonight.”
Up Next: Minnesota Utd vs Sporting KC on Thursday at midday / Colorado vs New Mexico Utd on Thursday at 1pm – both US Open Cup fourth round games (NZT)
Katie Rood – Lewes (English Championship)
Signing season has officially begun! Katie Rood kicks us off here. After joining Bristol City a year ago, she spent the last half of the season on loan with Lewes in the second tier of England trying to get some games under her belt (mission accomplished). So with her deal at City winding down, she’s recommitted on a permanent basis to Lewes and things are sweet as. Rood played seven times on loan with Lewes, interrupted by international duty in the middle of that, scoring three goals – with the highlight her double against Aston Villa including a 90th minute equaliser.
Katie Rood: “I'm looking forward to being back in the red & black of Lewes FC next season. There's a definite buzz around the club from the community and a real sense of purpose within the club. We saw glimpses of what we were capable of at the end of last season and I know we can show a lot more of that with a full season under Fran. It's going to be great to get going next season and back up the awesome work the club is doing off the pitch by showing what we as players can do on it!”
Manager Fran Alonso: “Everyone at the Club is delighted that Roodie has signed a permanent deal after the 5 months loan. Since I signed for the Club she has been our top goal scorer and also had a few assists. We have a plan to work together to make sure Roodie has a fantastic season that will be rewarded with her becoming a key player for New Zealand too, that’s our goal”
Lewes were a long way off promotion last season as the big bucks of Manchester United saw that team, in their inaugural season, take a deserved place as champs while Tottenham Hotspur also joined them in promotion as the WSL expands to 12 teams next season. Lewes had a rubbish start but they did get on a nice run soon after Roodie joined as fixtures aligned for them. In Rood’s six starts, they earned seven points. In the other 14 games they earned 10 points. As she said, there were glimpses of something they’re building towards and with the Championship returning to relative normality next season (seriously, Man Utd had a +91 goal difference from 20 games), it’s all nicely poised.
Meanwhile, Rood was one of the unluckiest players to miss out on the Footy Ferns World Cup squad but, slight silver lining, that has at least kept her busy on the media front. Always got a great perspective on things, does Katie.
Up Next: Cheeky offseason
The Ole Academy Fellas – Torslanda IK (Swedish Division 2 Västragötaland)
The Ole x Torslanda Project took another step this week as Dominic Woolridge hooked up with the crew after completing his U20 World Cup. Word is that Nando Pijnaker is there as well, though haven’t seen official confirmation of that one yet. He played way more at the U20WC so probs getting a little rest first.
And Woolridge had an immediate effect too as he slammed in the opening goal on debut against Lidköping a couple days back. The Liddos fought back to take a 2-1 lead but Elliott Bäcklund levelled in the second half before Lidköping had a goal disallowed deep into injury time before Bäcklund went down the other end to score his second. Bloody crazy game of footy there and Torslanda finally had their first win of the season.
This came after two draws which had helped steady things after a horrid beginning to the season. One point from their first eight games, conceding copious goals. But this was always gonna be a pretty drastic shakeup so here’s hoping things are starting to click now. They’re still bottom of the table but, you know, they’re improving. Harry Edge and Owen Parker-Price have been there for a couple months now. Dan Keat was involved in a coaching/director role but seems to also be lacing up the boots. Now a couple more kiwis into the mix. And of course let’s not overlook the godfather Declan Edge spreading the gospel himself as well.
Up Next: Stenungsunds IF vs Torslanda IK, Sunday at 2am (NZT)
Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)
There was no game for the Timber this week, which was pretty nice timing considering that Bill Tuiloma went of injured last time. Since then, not a lot of news, but we know it was a hamstring. Here’s the gaffer on the chat…
Gio Savarese: “Bill is still recovering. We’re assessing how long it will take for him to come back and train fully, but, at the moment, he’s not available for training. So, definitely, he’s right now being assessed. Hopefully, it’s going to be something that’s not too concerning.”
That was as of a week ago, a couple days after the game where he got injured (a 3-2 defeat to LAFC) and without the lads being in action there hasn’t been a lot of media opps to offer any developments. No dramas, rest up Billy and crack on later.
Up Next: US Open Cup, Thursday at 2.30pm, away to Seattle Sounders (NZT)
Greg Draper – The New Saints (Welsh Premier League)
Always love a bit of Greg Draper celebration.
Drapes has won the Welsh Premier League every single year since he signed in 2011. There’s a true champion for ya.
Up Next: Still looking for a golden right boot
Jeremy Brockie – Mamelodi Sundowns (South African Premier Soccer League)
Soccer Laduma: “Jeremy Brockie’s immediate future at the club has been one of the most talked about subjects in the football fraternity, with the New Zealand international’s camp believed to be working hard behind the scenes for the player to make the move away from Sundowns.”
Soccer Laduma, again: “According to Siya sources in the know, Kaizer Chiefs are believed to be assessing Jeremy Brockie’s situation at Mamelodi Sundowns. Brockie is being heavily linked with a move away from Sundowns and will very likely head out the exit door in the upcoming July/August transfer window. Indications are that the New Zealand international already has a few interested suitors, with Amakhosi now also believed to be a possible option. Chiefs were keen on signing Brockie prior to his move to Sundowns in January 2018, with sources indicating back then that Amakhosi made an enquiry in to the player’s availability, this while he was still on the books of SuperSport United. However, Siya sources have indicated that Amakhosi are assessing Brockie’s situation once more and it remains to be seen whether the club will look to intensify their interest and possibly approach Sundowns with an offer for his services.”
Up Next: ???
James McGarry & Michael Woud – Willem II (Dutch Eredivisie)
Michael Woud’s been getting all sorts of chat lately in Aotearoa and abroad thanks to his stellar last few months’ rise, including a top notch effort at the U20 World Cup. But don’t forget about old mate James McGarry, who also played a few times for Willem II this season and he’s been chatting with the Otago Daily Times recently.
JMcG: “It was tough but I knew it would be as it was a big step up from where I had been playing at the Phoenix. But to be honest I think I did quite well. I managed to keep up with the pace. You are playing against some big teams, Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV - teams that have done really well in big European competitions. It was an amazing experience. I played in 5-6 games which is more than I played in the four years I was at the Phoenix.”
McGarry started the first couple Eredivisie games last season but was only used as a sub after that, though the fella who was ahead of him in the ranks, Diego Palacios, has been absolutely killing it at the U20 World Cup with Ecuador to the point that Ajax, PSV, and even Barcelona are all being linked with him now. PSV are believed to be winning the race so that’d open things up for Jimmy for sure.
Meanwhile Michael Woud’s been chatting too, check this out…
On the overturned penalty in the shootout: “Yes, it was insane. I thought I had stopped the first three, but the third had to be taken again. It hurts me a lot, especially knowing that if you make three saves, you will probably end the penalty series winning. But this is football and things like that happen in football. It still hurts me a lot, but I will use it as a motivation.”
Differences between Sunderland and Willem II: “The difference is that the standard with Willem II is higher and that Harald [Wapenaar] always pushes me to the limit to get better. There is also more faith in me than at Sunderland. Harald helped me a lot to get better and I am sure he will continue to do that.”
Aims for next season: “In the coming season I want to be the club's first goalkeeper and make sure that I produce constant performances. I want to become a player that my teammates and supporters can build around. But first I will have to work hard to get into the team.”
Up Next: All of the above, pretty much
Max Crocombe – Salford City (English League Two)
Quick buzz here to confirm that Max Crocombe was among the players retained by Salford City for the 2019-20 season. The keeper was a backup the whole way as Salford earned promotion into League Two but he and number one Chris Neal are both coming back so things good. Salford will probably buy a bunch of new players now that they’re up, given their financial backing, but that’ll mostly be further up the park. Fingers crossed, at least.
Crocombe will be one of three kiwis in League Two next season. Steven Old is still under contract with Morecambe who remained in L2 avoiding relegation nice and comfortably. Can’t say the same for Scunthorpe United and Clayton Lewis though, they tumbled down from League One after a shocker of a last couple months. However Clay’s still got one more year on his contract and having finally got an extended run towards the end of it there’s hope he can be more of a factor one division lower.
Grimsby Live Scunthorpe Squad Prospects: “Clayton Lewis - Managed to force his way into the first team reckoning at the end of last season. It remains to be seen if he can do the same this season. Lewis has shown very small glimpses that he can offer something to the side but if he does get offered the chance he needs to take it. Otherwise he may be out of favour and a loan move could be on the cards.”
Up Next: Prepping for a bunch more Flying Kiwis Derbies in 2018-19
Niko Kirwan – Urbs Reggina 1914 (Italian Serie C)
Staying on the re-signing theme, it sounds like Niko Kirwan is ready to re-up on his contract with Reggina. Reports outta Italy suggest that a two-year extension is in the works and should be confirmed sometime soon. Kirwan played 35 times for the third tier Italian side, scoring once and playing more minutes than any other joker in the squad (mostly at fullback). He continued to be a key player as they forced their way into the promotion playoffs but Reggina were swept aside 4-1 in the second round versus Catania. Some of this google translate is a mess but you get the idea…
Sport Team Calabria: “The future of the New Zealand right-back could soon be settled, with the club ready to offer a contract renewal until 2021. Reggina and Niko Kirwan, will they still say yes? We believe that all the premises are there, both being willing to put on paper. The New Zealand right-back has been the protagonist of an excellent season… In the coming days the two sides should sign the agreement, with Kirwan being ready to renew and thus becoming more and more an integral part of the ambitious Reggina project, determined to compete for the top leagues and win promotion.”
Up Next: Let’s see that contract confirmation
Nikko Boxall – Viborg FF (Danish Division 1)
Up Next: A long, cruel offseason until the next one starts
The USL Crew
James Musa (Phoenix Rising) – Just you take a peek at this majesty…
Right on a dime. And Phoenix went on to do it easy against Tulsa, winning 5-0 to keep up their sudden goal scoring magnificence after all their early struggles. That’s 13 goals scored in three games now. All wins. Suddenly they’re up to second in the West. The Moose has been in and out of the squad a bit so this was his first start for almost a month.
Elliot Collier (Memphis 901 FC) – Ninety minutes for Elliot but ninety rough ones as Memphis went down 3-0 at home against Indy Eleven (who he played for on loan in 2018). Memphis have only won two of thirteen games so far and have scored less than a goal a game so not the ideal circumstances for a winger/striker to show off what they’ve got.
Kyle Adams (Rio Grande Valley) – A few of the Houston Dynamo MLS fellas were in town with an international week meaning the top team didn’t have a game. So that relegated Kyle Adams to the bench for just the second time this season… and they might regret that one after conceding five in a 5-3 defeat to Real Monarchs.
Sam Brotherton (North Carolina FC) – A quality season continues, winning 3-1 away to Tampa Bay Rowdies. Brotherton has started every game and missed just six minutes of action all year.
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