Flying Kiwis – July 23

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Sarpreet Singh - Bayern Munich (German Bundesliga)

OH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT!? Nothing much to see, just Sarpreet Singh playing for Bayern Munich against Arsenal is all. Getting minutes alongside Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman and Joshua Kimmich and the lads. Singh was named on an extended bench wearing the #42 jersey and kinda shockingly he was one of the eleven subs made at half-time with Niko Kovač changing his entire starting team. That last bit wasn’t so shocking but with his main starters staggered between the two line-ups, it was a hell of an opportunity for Sarpreet Singh on debut. Particularly with the likes of Renato Sanches and Alphonso Davies remaining on the bench throughout.

Then a few days later we did it all over again as Singh was given twenty-odd minutes off the bench against the might of Real Madrid (albeit a Real Madrid side looking a bit rusty early on in their pre-season). Twenty-odd minutes in which he almost set up a goal, came close to getting on the end of one himself, and then finally did put the ball in the back of the net with a nice turn and shot only for it to be ruled out for a pretty obvious offside.

Now, it’s always important not to get too carried away by preseason minutes. Bayern are mixing it up with their squad as everyone eases into match fitness and some bonus prominence here doesn’t make him a lock for the Bundesliga squad all of a sudden. It shows that they’re serious about investing in him but everything along this journey has been a believe-it-as-you-see-it experience so no need to change that approach now, just savour each development as they arrive.

Bayern took eight youth team players on tour here. All but one has seen some time out there during the first two games of these travels. Daniels Ontuzans, Ryan Johansson, and Jonas Kehl (all teenagers) were even named to start the Arsenal game… though the trio then weren’t required for the Real Madrid game as Kimmich, Sanches, and Coman came into the starting XI for a more first team feel. 18 year old left back Louis Poznanski and defensive mid Angelo Stiller both played the second half against Arsenal, alongside Singh, but that pair also didn’t feature against Real Madrid while centre back Ivan Mihaljevic is the unlucky joker not to feature at all from the travelling squad… maybe he gets a crack against AC Milan next up? Which leaves Maximilian Zaiser who was subbed on with Singh against Real Madrid (having not played v Arsenal) but was subbed back off again ten minutes later when the backup keeper Sven Ulreich was sent off which then saw Ron Hoffman, third sting keeper and reserves grad, brought on for his first minutes of the tour.

Which means that of the players registered as reserves fellas for the upcoming season, Singh has easily been the most prominent so far – the only one to appear in both games. That might mean they’ve had a good look at him and will sit him out for their third and final game… although that might also go against the trend (and the priority) of giving the best players more prominence as the games progress. Lewandowksi, Sule, and Pavard are amongst the big names who haven’t started either of these games. Bayern also have a couple games back in Germany after this before they kick off the serious stuff, which you’d figure would feature completely first team squads but you never know. We weren’t even expecting Singh to be on this tour in the first place but here we are.

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Blessed 🙏

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Meanwhile the reserves side began their new season (and their first season in the Liga 3) this very weekend with a 3-1 defeat away to Wurzburger Kickers. Having just got promoted we don’t really know how competitive they’ll be in this division but definitely no surprise to see them well beaten with a decent chunk of dudes missing with the first team (although not all are reserves/U23 players, a few are still U20s).

Up Next: Bayern vs AC Milan, Wednesday at 1.30pm (NZT)

Ali Riley – Bayern Munich (German Bundesliga)

Staying on that same theme… for the second time in a month a New Zealand international has joined Bayern Munich. This time it’s Football Ferns captain Ali Riley, who departs Chelsea after one season. A bit of a shame to lose another WSL kiwi but absolutely the right call for Riley. At Chelsea a preseason injury interrupted things for her and she was behind Swedish left back Jonna Andersson in the ranks anyway. Which for one season was okay as she still made 17 appearances, scoring a couple goals, though a lot of those were off the bench. Problem was that Chelsea’s third placed finish means they didn’t qualify for the Champions League this time which means fewer games and less squad rotation and frankly that wasn’t gonna work out too well, hence Chelsea haven’t stood in her way… in fact they’ve been pretty amazingly positive about her impact even over just twelve months.

CFC manager Emma Hayes: “Ali never really got started with us after suffering an injury in pre-season, which made it hard for her to get in the team on a regular basis. As the captain of New Zealand, and for a player her age, it’s absolutely vital she’s playing week in, week out. We couldn’t guarantee that with the squad numbers we have and the lack of Champions League football. She’s made a telling impact on the Chelsea community, throughout the club – the amount of compliments I’ve received, from the media team, the education department, through to commercial. They’ve all said what a wonderful role model she is for the women’s department. She’s an advocate of a lot of positive news stories and I wish her all the best with her next career move. She’ll be a huge success.”

Instead the 31 year old will kit up for Bayern Munich over in Germany, a nation where plenty of kiwis have found a home over the years (including, currently, Meikayla Moore at MSV Duisburg and Paige Satchell at SC Sand). She signs for this upcoming season. Bayern’s women’s team aren’t as dominant as their men’s team, not with Wolfsburg running the show over there, but they’re pretty bloody good all the same – finishing second last season which means Champions League footy for Riley after all.

Ali Riley: “I'm very excited and looking forward to getting started and being part of this great club. Of course I want to win titles and I'm looking forward to playing in the Champions League. I want to bring in my experience and spirit and help make the club successful.”

Bayern manager Jens Scheuer: “Ali is an important new addition to us because of her vast international experience. It can be used very flexibly on both wings and will be an important element in our team for a successful season.”

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Guten Tag 👋🏽 @fcbfrauen @fcbayern @die_liga

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Up Next: Freiburg vs Bayern, TBD on Sunday 18 August (NZT)

Rosie White – Seattle Reign (American National Women’s Soccer League)

Back where she belongs at the top level of pro footy, Rosie White has signed on with Seattle Reign for the rest of the 2019 season. That means heading back to the league where she’s played the last few seasons and linking up with a team that’s looking pretty decent odds to make the semis at this stage too. Three kiwis at three NWSL clubs and all three are competitive.

For Seattle, it was a busy few days because on the same day they signed Rosie White they also snapped up Addison Steiner and Steph Cox as permanent squad members having already been at the club on a temporary basis replacing national team unavailabilities (of which a certain Megan Rapinoe was one)… and the day before they signed a new backup keeper with Aussie international Lydia Williams out injured for at least ten weeks with an injury picked up at the World Cup before trading another Aussie international, Elise Kellond-Knight, to Washington and added Canada’s Rebecca Quinn in that vacant international roster spot. They also signed another right back so six new contracts offered out in two days.

Vlatko Andonovski (Reign head coach): “We’re happy to add Rosie to our squad. She brings valuable experience, both in our league and in the international game. I think she can integrate well with the offensive system that we have in place and I am excited to work with her.”

This was actually a long time coming for Rosie. She’d tried to orchestrate a trade to Seattle at the start of the season when she was still with the Chicago Red Stars – her partner lives in Seattle – and they attempted to figure something out but it wasn’t to be and she ended up deciding to go separate ways without agreeing on a new deal in Chicago. Hence she prepared for the World Cup playing men’s footy in Wellington. But under the dramas of contract rights in American sports, she then qualified as a ‘discovery player’ (whatever that means) so that made her eligible to be signed by a new team now. Or something like that. And suddenly Seattle were in a position to be able to offer her an international roster spot with Japanese midfielder Rumi Utsugi recently qualifying for her green card.

Part of the reason they needed such a change-up was down to a horror run of injuries lately. Williams is one, they’ve also lost Welsh star Jess Fishlock for the rest of the year with a knee thing and they were two of the ten players unavailable last week, not to mention the World Cup departures… Allie Long (USA) and Jodie Taylor (ENG) being the others still missing at this point alongside Rapinoe, all three plus Rosie White were expected to be available for their next game which is in another week. They had a bye this most recent weekend.

Up Next: Monday at 8am at home to… Chicago Red Stars, Rosie White’s old squad (NZT)

Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)

It’s a good sign when a Premier League team comes to town for a cheeky midweeker against the locals and you’re not playing. Despite the experience of possibly locking horns with Jack Grealish and Aston Villa, the fact that Michael Boxall was not a part of a heavily rotated team (that had an MLS game a few days later) is proof of his recent renaissance with the Loons. Brent Kallman had taken his starting gig for a while there but Kallman played ninety minutes against the Villans while Boxall was saved for the trip to Real Salt Lake on the weekend. Aston Villa won 3-0 by the way, with goals to Grealish, Henri Lansbury, and Bikir Bjarnason.

Coming off a run of congested fixtures and missing a couple key players, Minnesota weren’t at their best against RSL. The altitude can’t have helped in Utah either. But they were able to rough it up with their hosts which led to a pretty scrappy midfield battle for most of the first half. Coming out with a little more energy in the second, both sides were able to spark the odd chance and it was MU who struck first thanks to a Darwin Quintero header, poking in at the far post from a corner. He then gave it the Homer Simpson woop-woop celebration on the floor, the funny bugger.

The lead didn’t last fifteen minutes before Real Salt Lake scored after a corner of their own, Marcelo Silva slamming in on the volley after a deep initial cross was whipped back into the danger zone. Just nobody reacting quick enough to the second phase, really. Too much room to strike. That was the way that the game finished, although Jan Gregus had been a pest all day with his strikes from distance and with a couple minutes remaining he flicked one off the post which had the keeper rooted to the spot. So nearly a dramatic winner… but a point on the road is a good point as the Loons keep pressing for a first ever playoff spot.

Up Next: Home vs Vancouver Whitecaps, Sunday at midday (NZT)

Betsy Hassett - KR Reykjavik (Icelandic Úrvalsdeild kvenna)

Couldn’t hardly have had a better week here. First off Hassett and KRR had a midweek game against struggling HK/Víkingur. It didn’t look so good at half-time when they were trailing 1-0 to a team that’s sitting in the relegation zone, Eva Rut Ásþórsdóttir with the goal in stoppage time, but KR hit back swiftly after a little half-time wake-up call and it was Betsy Hassett who struck the leveller. Ripped it from the edge of the area on the left peg after a poor defensive clearance, get in there!

Ingun Haraldsdóttir made it 2-1 before Ásþórsdóttir equalised with her second of the day… but goals to Gloria Douglas (assisted by Hassett) and Katrin Omarsdottir gave KR the win 4-2 and some desperately needed breathing room on the ladder between themselves and their opponents… who had sacked their coach the day before so no new-manager-bounce for them, clearly.

Visir: “For KR, Betsy Hassett played in the midfield and she ruled the park there - especially in the second half. She scored a magnificent goal as well as laying up another. Great game for the New Zealand player.”

Betsy Hassett: "Great game, especially after we fell behind 1-0. We played very well in the second half and I'm very proud of the girls. We need to be winning these games so we are all very happy. We had a good half-hour chat, we knew we'd win the game if we adjusted, so we got together and went over a few things. For example, going higher with the backs and getting some looks at goal that led us to score three, no I mean four goals in the second half.”

But that wasn’t all because they then took on Thór/KA in the cup semis and having survived a decent penalty shout in the first half, KR once again provided a quality second forty-five. They took the lead through Ásdís Karen Halldórsdóttir ten minutes into the stanza, survived a bit of pressure coming back the other way, then polished off a lovely win when Betsy Hassett scored her second in four days in the 84th minute. As per usual, Hassett’s performance got some rave reviews in the local media – her coach talked up her killer goal too, where she managed to lob the keeper from a tight angle running away from goal. Outstanding stuff. They now play Selfoss in the final in about four weeks after that lot beat Fylkir 1-0 in the other semi. Trophy on the line, mate. Can’t ask for more than that.

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We made it to the Cup Finals! #mjólkurbikarinn

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Up Next: Away to top of the table Valur on Wednesday at 7.15am (NZT)

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

It’s always a sneaky big occasion when Aotearoa’s best player and the best defender in the NWSL goes head to head against Australia’s best player and the best striker in the NWSL. Abby Erceg vs Sam Kerr. North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars. But unfortunately on the day that the Courage welcomed back their USWNT stars it was the blimmin’ Aussie that got the gold.

The Courage had taken the lead after half an hour when Lynn Williams finished after the find from Debinha. But that only lasted seven minutes before a chip over the top found Vanessa DiBernardo and there was your leveller. Into the second half and with the game on the line between two pretty excellent teams… Sam Kerr was able to cut inside past Erceg with the nutmeg and her shot evaded a desperate sliding block from the Footy Ferns defender before it squeezed past the keeper for what proved to be the winner. Kerr had another great chance later on which was well saved, while Kristen Hamilton came off the bench for NCC and almost kept up her impressive form when she hit the post near the end. Fine margins between top teams, as always. Chicago won it 2-1 in front of more than 17,000 fans – the NWSL trying to latch onto the World Cup hype and doing a decent job of it. This game was also broadcast live on ESPN2 in the States as part of a new telly deal.

But yeah, that’s bragging rights for Sam Kerr there unfortunately. Her fourth goal in three games this season against NCC to go with two goals against them in 2018 too. Probably a lesson for the Courage too that even with their best players back there was still going to be some World Cup hangover, with the Two Abbys not looking as locked on as a partnership as they usually do in their first game together since the end of April. That result sees NCC slip back behind Portland Thorns, who drew 2-2 with Katie Bowen’s Utah a day earlier. With Houston Dash winning this week there are just seven points between first and seventh on the ladder with the top four qualifying for the semis. It’s gonna be a crazy last three months of the season.

Dirty South Soccer: “The defense was mediocre, with Abby Erceg trying to holding things together on the back line while Abby Dahlkemper tried to get her feet back underneath her. Unfortunately, Kerr consistently finds ways to beat Erceg when the two are battling in front of goal.”

Up Next: Utah Royals vs NC Courage, Sunday at 2pm (NZT)

Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

Cheeky check in here just to confirm that preseason rolls along as usual for the Clarets and Chris Wood is doing what he does best, already getting in amongst the goals. He scored one and set another up as Burnley came from a goal down to beat Port Vale 3-1. The second goal assist was sublime, which his goal was a typical Woodsman header at the far post. This following the strike he had against Fulham a week ago as well as scoring a hatty in a closed-door game in between against Accrington Stanley in an 8-0 win. New striker recruit Jay Rodriguez also scored a brace.

LancsLive Player Ratings: “Chris Wood - Came close with early header and offered an outlet for the Clarets. Took his goal nicely and had a couple more chances to add to his tally. Set up Vydra for second - 7/10”

Up Next: Next preseason hit out against Fleetwood on Weds at 6.45am (NZT)

Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)

He’s back. Only as a late sub but he’s back. The Timbers aren’t being silly with any of this as Tui works his way to full fitness, playing 45 minutes for the reserves last week and then getting a few seconds off the bench this week – his first appearance since going off injured against LA Galaxy on 2 June. This was the first of a weekend double header (Thursday/Sunday) and the Timbers drew 1-1 at home to Orlando City, with Jeremy Ebobisse’s 82nd minute equaliser cancelling out Santiago Patino’s striker late first half.

As for the second side of the double header, Tui again found himself on the bench for the bulk of a pretty funky game as the Timbers went to rivals Seattle Sounders’ house and left with three points. Brian Fernandez scored a double including what proved to be the winner in the 51st minute immediately after Raul Ruidiaz had equalised for the hosts. There was some drama in this one. Portland were left defending their goal most of the rest of the way and as time ticked away, tempers began to fray. Eventually there was a bit of a brouhaha that had to be broken up between the two sides with some pushing and shoving after the final whistle. All goods for Tui and the lads, they won it 2-1. Tuiloma came on deeeeeep into stoppage time.

Up Next: Portland vs LA Galaxy, Sunday at 2.30pm (NZT)

Andre De Jong – AmaZulu FC (South African Premier Soccer League)

Andre De Jong: “Obviously, it's luck that the Kiwis who have come over here have done well. I am also aiming for that. Look, I'd love to sort of emulate that. I would like to score a few goals, but also assist when played as a number 10. I have been lucky enough to be called into the national team with Broks. He went really well in SA. I have been on a few tours with him. I have spoken to Boxall as well, trying to find out more about the PSL. He has been very helpful. I have a very good relationship with him.”

Exciting times for ADJ as he embarks upon the next stage of his career. Having been a national champion with Eastern Suburbs, and one of the top players in the Premiership for the last couple years, he’s now following in the footsteps of another NZ Prem hero in Emiliano Tade. That’s the funky story here, Tade was signed by AmaZulu from Auckland City and did so well there that he was quickly transferred to big boys Mamelodi Sundowns… which kinda proved to be the nail in the coffin for Jeremy Brockie’s time there. Yet that transfer, along with the successes of Jeremy Brockie and Michael Boxall at SuperSport, have gotten South African clubs looking towards Aotearoa for cheap imports with high upside. Now ADJ has been lined up to be the next fella off that production line.

AZFC manager Cavin Johnson: “Andre played in the same league as Tade and scored even more goals than Emiliano‚ so we are very excited about him. He is also a lot younger at 22‚ so hopefully once he understands the level of South African football‚ which is higher [than New Zealand]‚ he will be another excellent buy. We believe he can bring something‚ but you know there is a period of adapting and the player has to accept the new environment that he is in.”

For AmaZulu, they’re coming off an 11th place finish and will be expected to be scrapping against relegation once more… though with a mix of youth and experience in their squad there’s always the possibility that they catch fire. How prominent ADJ is from the start probably depends on how well he settles in and there’s a decent preseason schedule on the cards from this week. If Jeremy Brockie’s situation with Sundowns is cleared up sooner rather than later, with Kaizer Chiefs the club most rumoured with him, then we could have a pair of kiwi goal scorers doing their thing in the PSL.

Up Next: New season begins on Sunday 4 August at 6.15am, home vs Bidvest Wits (NZT)

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

Up against the Portland Thorns, both these two teams welcomed back their USA internationals and the result was one of the most enjoyable games the NWSL has witnessed all season. A floating volley from outside the box courtesy of Canadian star Christine Sinclair gave the Thorns a brilliant early lead… but the world class was flowing both ways this game and Christen Press soon took control for Utah and she scored a wonderful solo goal to make it 1-1 going into the break.

Katie Bowen played the full game at right back as per usual, drifting inwards and being an option in possession. She played a big part in Katie Stengel almost putting Utah in front… but for a magical save from Adrianna Franch. The second half got pretty stretched after that, although it was Utah looking most likely to score next. They didn’t though, instead Lindsey Horan scored a flukey one from deep free kick, the ball bouncing around in the box taking deflections from all over the show, and suddenly the Royals were on the brink of defeat with only five minutes remaining. Which is right when Scotland’s Rachel Corsie snuck in to level it up. In fact there was still enough stoppage time left for Utah to nearly win it twice but Franch was in better form than to allow that to happen. 2-2 was the way it ended. Keeps Utah out of the top four but it keeps them in range with a game in hand too.

RSL Soapbox Player Ratings: “Katie Bowen: 7- Bowen also played well, getting involved in the attack and being solid on defense.”

Up Next: Utah Royals vs NC Courage, Sunday at 2pm (NZT)

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

Much quieter day for Marco this week compared to his goal scoring heroics of a week ago but another decent result. Rojas seems to have cemented himself in the team on the left of a midfield three, which means he’s a little deeper than he’s used to but it also allows him to be a weapon in that transitional play. Against AaB this week, he Sonders were expected to lose and sure enough they did the bulk of the defending throughout the first half. Rojas was subbed off after 68 minutes with the scores still level… just before the fun began.

AaB had gone bloody close a couple times already when Lucas Anderson finally broke through in the 71st minute, his shot coming after a couple blocked efforts from teammates in a real scramble but it was a sharp finish at the near post. However that lead wouldn’t last ten minutes before Mads Albæk’s left-footed pile driver found the bottom corner from one of only three shots on target that Sonders had all game. Even still, they should have lost but in injury time AaB’s striker Tom van Weert inexplicably missed an absolute sitter at the far post. Bobbled it up onto the crossbar with an open goal in front of him. 1-1 making for a positive result for Rojas’ lads then, still undefeated albeit after only two games.

Up Next: Lyngby vs SønderjyskE, Saturday at 5am (NZT)

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

Still no real news on Deklan Wynne other than he remains out injured. So when the Rapids hosted NYC FC it was just Tommy Smith out there doing it for the Flying Kiwis. It all started so well. Sebastian Anderson scored in the sixth minute to become the Rapids’ youngest ever goal scorer… but then in the 33rd minute he earned a straight red for sliding in with his sprigs exposed and of course the Rapids went on to lose from there.

This team’s discipline is just awful, seems like they get a red card every second game (actually that’s three MLS games in a row with a red card now). The equaliser was an embarrassing one to concede as an offside trap went astray and Heber Araujo dos Santos scored with miles of space in the penalty area all to himself. Colorado then did well to take this thing deep and they nearly got out of there with a point until Alexandru Mitrita bagged a winner in the 83rd min. Just another week on the Colorado Rapids bus. They’re much better now than under Anthony Hudson but a lot of the same problems remain.

Up Next: San Jose vs Colorado, Sunday at 2pm (NZT)

Jesse Edge - FC Petržalka (Slovakian 2.Liga)

Another new home for one of the undercover brothers of the Flying Kiwis ranks. Jesse Edge has quietly been out there playing pretty well for a number of teams in Europe. Achilles 29 in Holland, then Podbrezova and Lokomotiva Kosice in Slovakia and it’s Slovakia where he’ll stay, having signed on with Petržalka for the upcoming campaign. And things started nice enough too with a handy little win over Slavoj Trebišov in the opener. Edge played the first half before being replaced, with Petržalka winning it 5-3.

Up Next: Away to Partizan Bardejov at 8.30pm on Sunday (NZT)

Meikayla Moore – MSV Duisburg (German Frauen-Bundesliga)

Obviously that Achilles injury which she suffered just before the World Cup is going to keep Meikayla Moore out of action for a fair while… but that surgery was taken care of swiftly and there is a slight chance that she could be back in action for MSV Duisburg before the winter break in December. If not then the clear target is to be back for the resumption of the league in early 2020 and help carry that team over the line, whether that means avoiding relegation or something better.

Up Next: Recovery

The USL Crew

Kyle Adams (Rio Grande Valley) – What a week for the USL crew here, aye. Starting with RGV and Captain Kyle who scored a dramatic late winner over the Simon Elliott-coached Sacramento Republic. Just gone 89 minutes, the scores tied at 1-1… Adams was exactly where they needed him to be. That snaps a run of four without a win for RGV and they remain well in the playoff hunt.

James Musa (Phoenix Rising) – But wait there’s more because James Musa scored this week too! He got the second in a 6-0 win over Austin Bold. It was only 1-0 at HT but Phoenix turned it on in the second spell and it only got worse for the Bold when they were reduced to ten in the 73rd min (it was already 4-0 at that point, to be fair).

James Musa: “It starts from the back. We work a lot on our shape and keeping the ball— our movements within the midfield three, the rotation and it just unbalances teams. They can't seem to deal with the movement and that, kind of, flows to the front of the team and we get our chances. They were good in the first 60 minutes, until we went 2-0 up, and then I think (it) got away from them. Their spirits were a little bit down because it's a tough environment to come (play) in the heat, but we had to fight. It wasn't easy, you know.”

While we’re at it, The Moose was also shortlisted on this USL thingamajig for best dressed players so you know what you’ve gotta do. Get on there and upvote him so the hombre can win it all.

Elliot Collier (Memphis 901 FC) – Not quite on par with those other two. Collier played 63 minutes in a 2-0 defeat against Nashville. He then got a full game against NY Red Bulls Reserves… but limped off injured towards the end after they’d already used up all their subs so it was a full game in technicality only. He had a few chances throughout, particularly in the first game, but some games you have it, some you don’t.

Sam Brotherton (North Carolina FC) – Just doing what he’s been doing, there was a clean sheet 3-0 win over Loudoun United in there before NCFC fell 1-0 to Pittsburgh. Solid defensive efforts in both but one game they found the goals at the other end and one they didn’t. But Brotherton’s quietly going about probably the best season of footy he’s played in his career so far following a frustrating time of it with Sunderland.

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