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Why Bay FC’s global search led to a familiar name for its first coach – Equalizer Soccer

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Albertin Montoya, right, will lead Bay FC in 2024. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

When Albertin Montoya took over as interim coach of the Washington Spirit last year, both parties were clear: the relationship was only temporary. As highly regarded as Montoya is as a coach, he and his family have been based in the San Francisco Bay Area for decades. That was home. Plus, he was the longstanding technical director of a storied youth club there.

Coaching the Spirit, however, reminded Montoya of what he loved about the professional game that he had been part of in two previous leagues and two prior decades.

“I got the bug,” Montoya told The Equalizer this week. Now, he can put that feeling to good use.

On Wednesday, Montoya was named the first head coach of Bay FC, the San Jose, California-based National Women’s Soccer League expansion team slated to begin play in 2024. Montoya emerged from a long list of roughly 40 names “from every continent, from every type of background,” Bay FC general manager Lucy Rushton said, and a group of three finalists. In the end, the coach with deep, local ties was deemed the best fit by Rushton & Co for his tactical views and his ability to build culture and character within a team.

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Tigres, América punch ticket to Gran Final – Equalizer Soccer

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The final two are set for the Liga MX Femenil 2023 Apertura Gran Final.

Tigres and Club América will compete in the two-legged final on Friday, Nov. 24, and Monday, Nov. 27. Both matches are slated to begin at 9 a.m. The matches will air on ViX+.

This is Tigres’ eighth trip to the Gran Final, winning five titles. Meanwhile, Club América are the reigning champions, defeating Pachuca in the spring Clausura. América has competed in three finals, winning two — both against Pachuca.

Their lone final loss was to Club Tigres in the 2022 Apertura.

To punch their ticket to the final, Tigres took down C.F. Monterrey, while América took down Chivas de Guadalajara. Tigres won on a more controversial goal, while América and Chivas had a seven-goal affair between two legs. Take a look and catch up on what happened before this weekend’s Gran Final.

Tigres 1, Monterrey 0

After a scoreless first leg match on Rayadas’ home field, the teams met up at El Volcán on Monday night. Stephany Mayor scored the game-winning goal in the 81st minute, but not without controversy.

Tigres got the ball in the attacking half, and crossed the ball over to Lizbeth Ovalle. The veteran midfielder headed the ball down, but Pamela Tajonar blocked the shot out, instead of grabbing the ball. Maricarmen Reyes raced to gather the ball up quickly, slide tackling into a Monterrey player.

The referee whistled to play on, giving Tigres new life. The ball found its way to Mayor in front of goal and she smacked it on the valley past Tajonar. Rayadas played holler at the referee but a decision had been made to keep the goal.

Monterrey could not find the back of the net in the last few minutes. Tigres, on the other hand, advanced to their ninth Gran Final. Keeping a clean sheet against Monterrey isn’t easy, when facing off against the likes of Christina Burkenroad, Myra Delgadillo and Jermaine Seoposenwe. Tigres needs more lethal play from Reyes and Ovalle, their regular-season standouts. But, the defense can be satisfied with two clean sheets.

Club América 4, Chivas 3

Four different players found the back of the net for Club América in their two legs against Chivas. Club América didn’t dominate on the defensive side of the ball — letting three goals past them — but stunned offensively.

Katty Martínez and Alison González scored in the first leg, while Kiana Palacios and Andrea Pereira scored in Leg 2. To kick things off, Martínez scored off a header during the run of play, with midfielder Angelique Saldivar providing the assist. Meanwhile, González — whose time with América has been riddled with injuries — scored after winning a ball on a breakaway and then taking on Chivas goalkeeper Blanca Félix, slipping the ball through her legs.

At home for Leg 2, América were able to keep Alicia Cervantes off the score sheet — after she scored two goals in Leg 1. However, Chivas got on the board first thanks to Casandra Montero. The home field advantage propelled América, though, as Palacios and Pereira scored within five minutes of each other.

In the 75th minute, Palacios put a hard strike into the top of the goal, just narrowly sneaking it underneath the crossbar. In the 79th minute, Pereira picked up a loose ball off a corner kick and sent it, through traffic, into the low far corner of the net.

Club América were able to hold off Cervantes and company for the last 10 minutes and stoppage time, punching their ticket to a second-straight Gran Final.





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How Rose Lavelle continues to stun and cut opponents – Equalizer Soccer

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© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The OL Reign lost the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League Championship game to Gotham FC, so Rose Lavelle’s display could not be described as a match-winning performance. It was, however, a match-stealing performance. There was a back-heel, a deft chip, an outside-the-boot pass, all to cut open Gotham’s defense. There were shoulder drops, hip swerves, sudden accelerations of tempo or changes of direction, all to leave her markers dumbfounded. 

This was classic Lavelle. And this was a one-woman rampage against modern soccer.

Numbers matter now more than ever. There was a time, not so long ago, when those who counted the actions performed during soccer games were branded as outsiders. These were strange folk who did not belong in a sport that hated thinking, and they had to fight to prove their worth. Eventually, they did. Now, fairly and squarely, data analysis is inside soccer. And yet, data doesn’t tell the whole story, particularly when we talk about a player like Lavelle.

This has been a tough year for the 28-year-old, in many ways mirroring her career as a whole. She endured spells out with injury either side of the World Cup, limiting her to four NWSL regular season appearances, one assist, zero goals. Still, she was pivotal to the Reign’s chances in the postseason, all but defining the Championship game. The numbers are reductive. Lavelle can unlock games, and get fans out of their seats. Watching her is a feeling, not a fact or figure.

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XI things to be thankful for in women’s soccer in 2023 – Equalizer Soccer

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© Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

As we get ready for Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, here are XI things to be thankful for around women’s soccer.

I. The World Cup

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup may not have been kind to the United States team, and the hours were not ideal for those of us back home, but it was a rollicking good month of soccer that highlighted the incredible progress the game has made on the field. With 32 teams now competing (an evolution I still don’t care for) there was some doubt about whether the top teams would be challenged until the late stages. As it turned out, Germany and Brazil crashed out in group play and the U.S. women’s national team were oh so close to the same fate before going out in the Round of 16. Meanwhile, was there a better site in the sport all year than Sam Kerr celebrating her dramatic equalizer against England in the semifinals?

II. The NWSL Championship

No, it’s not quite the World Cup, but the last three years the National Women’s Soccer League’s ultimate match has turned into a suitable event. Things have changed a lot since the pandemic, but the NWSL Championship is now a time when I can count on seeing so many of the people I have come to know over the years covering women’s soccer. Let’s hope it keeps getting bigger.

The NWSL Championship is finally a big-time event

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