Thursday, June 14, 2018

Russia dominates Saudi Arabia 5-0 in first match of 2018 World Cup

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (June 14, 2018) In the first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, host nation Russia completed dominated Saudi Arabia by the score of 5-0 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Russia, 70th in the latest FIFA rankings, scores two goals in added time to down Al-Suqour (The Falcons), whose highest placing in World Cup history was twelfth in 1994.

Sbornaya, (The National Team) took a 2-0 lead into the locker room at halftime off the feet of  Iury Gazinsky (12th minute) and  Denis Cheryshev. (43rd minute). Arten Dzyuba also added an insurance goal in the 71st minute. The 3-0 lead was sufficient for the win after regulation, however the Russians kept the offensive pressure on the Saudis; scoring two addition goals in added time at the end of the game. Chershev scored his second goal of tournament (90th minute + 1 minute) to push the score to 4-0. Three minutes later, Aleksandr Golovin put the nail in the coffin of Saudi Arabia, to close out the scoring.

Next up for Russia is a June 19 match-up against Egypt  at Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg while the Saudis will play Uruguay on June 20 at Kazan Stadium in Kazan.




Saturday, June 09, 2018

Houston Dynamo posts 2-0 shut out over Colorado Rapids

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2018 A  Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (June 9, 2018) The Houston Dynamo posted two goals within six minutes of each other to top the Colorado Rapids by the score at 2-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.

The first goal came in the 30th minute when midfielder Tomas Martinez found himself "in the right place at the right time" for his fourth goal of the season. The Argentinian started in 12 games this season and has scored six goals in his MLS career. Forward Mauro Manotas (No. 10 shown above) converted a penalty kick in the 36th minute to close the scoring in the match. It was the sixth goal of the year for the Colombian; matching his total from the 2016 season. “I hit the ball with my left and it bounced back, so I finished with my right. The truth is that he (Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard) is a great goalkeeper who has a lot of experience and has been to World Cups. I’m content for scoring on him, ” said Manotas when talking to the media after the game.

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2018 A  Rights Reserved
Houston pushed their record to 6-5-3 on the season and gave Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera (shown right) his 19th regular season win while leading the Dynamo. He was quoted after the game;

“We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a tough match with a team that normally is going to be waiting deep with five in the back and two or three defensive midfielders and only one guy up top. It’s a team that when they win the ball, they try to counterattack and capitalize on your mistakes. Today I’m really excited and happy because the players were really focused and concentrated on the game and they were aggressive. We went after them and we took control of the game really quickly and we started to create options. When we didn’t create options, we were moving the ball and trying to find them with our 50/50 balls and that is important. Sometimes, it’s not about just going forward, it’s about being able to move the ball well, and we did that today. We have to be patient and we were patient. So overall it was a good performance and we were able to score in the first half and that is, of course, very important for us. Then, with the second goal I think we were in control. We were cruising, and they got a red card which helped us to continue keeping the possession. At half time, I told the guys that we need to be sure that we don’t make any mistakes, that we don’t get sluggish like when we’re dribbling the ball; let’s play serious, let’s try to score another goal, and (forwards) Romell (Quioto), Alberth (Elis), and Mauro (Manotas), they were trying. They were pushing. They were trying. We created a couple of options. We hit the post two or three times and then the goalkeeper, Tim Howard, is excellent in saving, but I think it was a solid performance overall.”

Next up for Houston is a Monday, June 18 Lamar Hunt Cup match against Minnesota United FC at BBVA Compass Stadium. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. CDT

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Houston Dash battle North Carolina Courage to one-all draw

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (June 3, 2018) Playing some of their best ball against the league leading North Carolina Courage, the Houston Dash battled to a one-all draw at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday evening. The draw was the best result the Dash has ever had against the Courage and extended the unbeaten streak to three.

In three previous meetings, Houston dropped a 2-0 decision earlier this season, on April 28, 2018, at BBVA Compass Stadium; along with two losses in 2017. They lost 1-0 on September 9, 2017 and 4-0 on September 27, 2017. 

Dash defender Haley Hanson battles three
North Carolina players for the ball.
Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved

The Dash found pay dirt in the 49th minute when forward Kealia Ohai (shown above) did what she does so well; driving down the pitch and firing a shot past the opposing goalkeeper. She received a pass from goalkeeper Jane Campbell at midfield, driving the ball down the field and into the net. The goal was the first-ever for the Dash against the Courage and pushes Ohai's total to two for the season. Campbell received the assist, her first of the season for Ohai's score. Rachel Daly leads the Dash for four goals in 2018, followed by Kristie Mewis, Veronica Lastko, and Ohai with two each. Ohai stated after the game, when questioned by the press:

Jane (Campbell) has a great service. I saw the outside back was pushed up pretty far so she served it to me and I took off. I actually toe poked it with my right foot and it went in. It’s huge for me. I’m just coming back from an injury and trying to gain that confidence is difficult. It’s more difficult than I had imagine. For me, getting goals is what I need to do. Two games in a row is huge for me.”  

North Carolina evened the score at one in the 79th minute on a goal by Frannie Course, in her first appearance for the Courage in 2018. She entered the game in the 63rd minute as a replacement for midfielder Meredith Speck.

Dash head coach Vera Pauw was asked, in the post-game press conference if North Carolina were able to score as a result of fatigue or lack of focus. She stated:

“It’s probably a surprise that we could dominate the game so much and then we forget what we’ve trained during the whole week – to switch play and that worked out in the first half very well. Then it’s about going forward and that last part which was very, very good in training, somehow we forgot to do that here. The teamwork in the last third of the attack was very difficult, so everybody needs to be completely on the same sheet and if one is jumping off that sheet, then you don’t get the desired outcome. So, that’s also the hardest to develop, the hardest part of the game is to improve and we need to make steps towards that. This team is a development team and has come really far and is very close to being a key partner in this league for the playoffs — a key (contender) for the playoffs.”


The draw brings Houston's record for the first half of the season to 3-4-5 (14 points) while the Courage continues to lead the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) with a 9-0-3 record (30 points). The Dash are currently in seventh place in the NWSL. When Houston returns to play, after a 19-day break, they will face the Portland Thorns on Friday, June 22. The Thorns are currently 4-4-3 (15 points) with one of their three draw coming against the Dash on Wednesday, May 9.