Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)
These remain rather slim times for the Flying Kiwis crew but a few hearty souls are holding things down amidst all the World Cups and off-seasons. It was US Open Cup week in the States and that meant a unique opportunity for our Kiwi x MLS & Kiwi x USL crew to compete on a level playing field. Beginning with Michael Boxall and Minnesota United, who used a home tie against fellow Sporting Kansas City as an opportunity to mix it up with selections and that meant Boxy at centre back again having played out on the right last time up. At this point he’s redeemed himself since getting dropped but he’s not gonna be a first choice CB unless there are injuries, suspensions, or the team play with a back three. Which is fine, that’s how it goes.
This was a pretty cool way to start things off…
What a wholesome moment within a ruthless sport. Makes your heart weep. Shot, Mikey.
Not sure if this one classifies under the ‘wholesome’ tag though…
Anyway, the Loons scored almost immediately thanks to Angelo Rodriguez after just 117 seconds. Snuck in behind the defence and there you go. Perfect start. Gerso levelled it up in the 27th minute, wearing a massive cast on his arm, when he got to a bouncing ball before Boxall could and his bouncing volley into the ground was good enough. But the Loons rolled from there on. It took 117 seconds to score in the first half but that was slack compared to the 42 seconds it took Ethan Finlay to hit the net in the second half. Similar goal to the first too, SKC’s backups not nearly as sharp as Minny’s. This time Minnesota banked on it, Carlos Quintero scoring in the 55th minute and 67th minute and it was only the offside flag that denied them a fifth. Pretty nice way to ease on into the round of 16… where they’ll face the defending champion Houston Dynamo, who themselves have a kiwi connection too, more on that in a second.
Up Next: Houston Dynamo vs Minnesota United, Wednesday at 11am (NZT)
Elliot Collier – Memphis 901 FC (American USL Championship)
That is most definitely the one. An equalising goal soon into the second half of a cup game against MLS opposition in Orlando City, Memphis were well on the way towards doing something special. But that parity only lasted five minutes before Sacha Kljestan scored his second of the game, after a penalty in the first half, to put Orlando back on top and a Robin Jansson goal from a corner with twenty remaining finished it off. Memphis 901 going down 3-1 and exiting the cup in the fourth round. But it wasn’t a game without its drama.
Elliot Collier: “It was an equal game at that point. So, game on. We’re going to push for the next goal and the win. I feel like we got cheated on the (no-call), the foul on Dan Metzger in the middle of the park. They go down the other end and score and it’s 2-1.”
The argument there was that a Memphis player was fouled in the lead up to the second goal, which put Orlando in front again. Which is just the way it goes sometimes, unfortunately. But on the bright side that’s a goal against an MLS team for Elliot Collier, who is looking to use this season as a launching pad to get back up into the MLS himself on loan from Chicago Fire.
Didn’t quite have the same shooting boots on a few days later up in Canada against Ottawa FC back in the USL. Collier had a trio of decent chances in that one but wasn’t able to put any away under the pouring rain on the way to a 0-0 draw. He came bloody close though. One rocking off the crossbar and another tipped just wide by the keeper in a one on one situation. So it goes.
Up Next: Memphis vs Pachuca, Sunday at midday (NZT)
Joe Bell – Unattached (Sort Of)
After two years or dominating for the University of Virginia and having captained the U20 men’s World Cup squad recently, not to mention playing absolutely outstanding there, Joe Bell has a lot of fans. There was a quote from Wynton Rufer in one of the papers that he’d had interest from Bundesliga clubs (Borussia Dortmund are the only one that’s been named although key to remember that interested does not equal offers – Michael Woud has had interest from Monaco too but that doesn’t mean that’ll happen).
So… how does Norway sound? Because Eliteserien club Viking have invited Joe Bell to trial at the side after his efforts at the U20 World Cup and he was there to have a geeze as Viking beat Lillestrøm 2-0 away in their latest game. Bell was outstanding as New Zealand beat Norway in that second game so no secrets as to when they spotted him. But he’s got at least a week to reinforce that opinion now.
Bjarne Berntsen, Viking coach, to Aftenposten: “There were several different people in our club who watched the World Cup. We discussed if there were some players we liked, and Joe Bell's name came early. He is a very exciting player and he was excited to come here. We have invited him to stay here and train with us for this week. He is already in Stavanger. Maybe Bell will stay more than one week. But we haven't concluded yet if we are offering him a professional contract.”
What’s funky about this is it proves that Bell is willing to go professional right now, rather than waiting until the end of his studies in the USA (meh, polish them off long distance over time, no worries). Which means that even if he doesn’t sign here, there’s a decent chance he signs somewhere on the back of that U20 World Cup performance. The Wellington Phoenix are on record as being interested in their old boy… but it looks like he’ll have much better offers which, to borrow a word from Mr Berntsen, is pretty exciting. Viking are probably a midtable team in Norway, although they were relegated in 2017 and are in their first year back in the top flight after bouncing straight back up with first division champions medals.
Up Next: …
Kyle Adams – Rio Grande Valley (American United Soccer League)
Houston Dynamo: “The Houston Dynamo signed Rio Grande Valley defenders Kyle Adams and Andrew Samuels to Short-Term Agreements, making them available for the club’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round match against Austin Bold FC later this evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. Per MLS rules, clubs may sign players from their USL Championship affiliates to Short-Term Agreements (up to four-day contracts) for U.S. Open Cup, Concacaf Champions League and exhibition matches. Adams has served as the captain of RGV FC throughout the 2019 USL Championship season and has played in 12 games for the Toros. The defender leads the team with 54 defensive clearances and 26 aerial duels won so far this season.”
Yeah, there you go. US Open Cup week meant a pretty sweet step forwards for Kyle Adams as he was named on the bench for the Houston Dynamo for their game against Austin Bold. The defending champions Dynamo got on a right old roll in the first half too, taking a 3-0 lead into the break. They let that slip with a couple goals against them in the first fifteen minutes of the second half though, which probably cost them the safety net to be able to slip Adams out there for a possible debut. Andrew Samuels didn’t get out there either but a 3-2 win means there’s more where that came from. Plus obviously just to get the call up for Adams is a big deal, the closest he’s gotten to the Dynamo first team yet. Dude’s been laying it down in the USL lately so it’s well deserved too.
We’ll see if he gets the nod for the next round against Mike Boxall’s Minnesota United but he wasn’t included in the Toros squad as they beat Colorado Switchbacks 3-0 in the USL, despite Andrew Samuels taking his regular place back at right back for that lot. Interesting little dynamic there.
Up Next: Wednesday at 11am, US Open Cup Round of 16, Houston Dynamo vs Minnesota United (NZT)
Tommy Smith & Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)
The Post-Hudson resurgence has been nice but this Rapids side still has some of that old DNA and against a very strong lower league side in New Mexico United, one of the top USL sides this year, they served up one for old time’s sake. They managed to concede after just two and a half minutes but bounced back with a goal either side of the half to lead 2-1 going deep into the game. But defender Axel Sjoberg got himself sent off diving in late in the 72nd minute for sliding in late and that’s a second yellow, my son.
Which meant that Tommy Smith was subbed on for the last fifteen minutes… or what they hoped would be the last fifteen minutes. But they weren’t because with 61 seconds of the five minutes of stoppage time remaining, New Mexico levelled it up with a rocket off the left boot of Kevaughn Frater and thirty minutes of scoreless extra time later we were off to a penalty shootout… where Danny Wilson and Sam Nicholson both missed and the Rapids were bundled out 4-2 on spotties. Losing to a USL team, getting a red card, conceding in injury time… the ghost of Anthony Hudson remains.
Meanwhile Deklan Wynne was nowhere to be seen as he continues to rehab that foot injury from the other week. He’s still considered questionable but at least that means it shouldn’t be too long until he’s back to fitness.
Up Next: Away to Vancouver on Sunday at 2pm (NZT)
Sam Brotherton – North Carolina FC (American USL Championship)
Continuing on the US Open Cup party, Sam Brotherton got the chance to test himself against New York City FC. It was his first opportunity to play in this competition… but it went about as well as you’d expect. Actually, no, worse. North Carolina lost the game 4-0. They fell behind in the 25th minute to one of those unavoidable own goals on a powerful square ball across the goal (not Brotherton, thankfully) and it got worse from there. But worse still because Brotherton didn’t return from the sheds after half-time, subbed off at the break with the score at 2-0 and he wouldn’t feature on the weekend either so it sounds like a bit of an injury situation, which is no bloody good at a time when Deklan Wynne and Bill Tuiloma are both working their way back to fitness themselves.
Then some trusty USL action, where Swope Park Rangers came to town and served up nothing much until the 85th minute when they hit the crossbar. Before then they’d been pretty thoroughly overrun by NC’s midfield with Yamikani Chester and Dre Fortune both scoring inside the first quarter of an hour. Swope Park had the bulk of the ball but when NC struck they struck fast and it was a bit of a miracle they didn’t concede more in the second half as North Carolina found innovative new ways to almost but not quite score. But SPR didn’t have a shot on target so 2-0 was enough even without their kiwi defender.
Up Next: Saint Louis FC vs NCFC, Sunday at 12.30pm (NZT)
The Ole Academy Fellas – Torslanda IK (Swedish Division 2 Norra Götaland)
Here’s your evidence that Nando Pijnaker is also on the books with the Torsies. He made his club debut over the weekend starting at CB away to Stenungsunds, with Dan Keat and Owen Parker-Price also in the starting eleven (no Harry Edge or Dom Woolridge on this occasion). And it was Keat got the scoring going after quarter of an hour with a header, then OPP made it 2-0 ten minutes later and that was still the score at the half. Sweet as.
Then things went wrong as Pijnaker was subbed off in the 48th minute, some kind of injury there you’d have to assume, before Stenungsunds scored three times in the last half hour – Adam Bergholtz with the equaliser in the first minute of stoppage time and Pontus Olsson with the winner in the fifth minute of injury time. Mate, that’s a rough one. A win would have gotten them off the bottom of the ladder but at least they’re competing better these days.
Up Next: Home vs Vårgårda on Thursday at 9am (NZT)
James Musa – Phoenix Rising (American USL Championship)
Good to see The Moose getting regular minutes again, logging a cheeky ninety in a 3-0 win over Orange County. He also picked up a yellow card in the middle of it all. Musa has been in and out of the side lately but he’s started the last two as Kevon Lambert has popped off to represent Jamaica at the Gold Cup – which means he could miss between three to five weeks, which should keep Moose in the starting team for a spell.
The win over Orange County was their fifth in a row and it puts them top of the Western Conference table. Things had started off sloppy for the Rising but in recent times they’ve gotten back to the lockdown defensive unit that they were last year. However they did lose on penalties in the US Open Cup to New Mexico United early on in that USL winning streak, so no action in that old one for this lot.
AZ Central: “’It’s where we’re supposed to be,’ Schantz said. ‘These guys are a very talented bunch, everyone knew that at the beginning of the year, it was my job to get them to become a team.’ Schantz credited midfielders James Musa and Jose Aguinaga for their ability to control this game against Orange County's strong midfield. Both accounted for 14 duels won. The Rising finished 57.4 percent possession compared to Orange County's 42.6 percent.”
Up Next: Reno 1868 vs Phoenix, USL, Wednesday at 2.30pm (NZT)
Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)
No sign of Tui this week, as you’d expect. At a time when teams are rolling out a few reserves with that opportunity to call up reserve players and everything, there was no reason whatsoever to throw out a first teamer who has been recovering from injury recently. What’s a little annoying is that there hasn’t been any real news about him since the club admitted that he’d missed a couple days of training immediately after the game in which he was replaced. We should find out something tangible later in the week as to how long he may or may not be out for.
Without him, the Timbers beat Seattle Sounders away thanks to a Brian Fernandez double. 2-1 was the final result and they’ll play LA Galaxy in the next round in a couple days. Sounds good.
Tell you what, though, if teammate Larrys Mabiala’s insta is anything to go by then the bloke’s got a backup plan if the footy thing goes south…
Hold up, we’re not done there either. Break it on down, son.
Up Next: Thursday at 3pm at home to LA Galaxy in the US Open Cup R16 (NZT)
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