Important MLS games tonight, Panthers remain undefeated in the Sun Belt: Starting Lineup, Sept 30
by Jason Longshore
1- Everyone asked going into Atlanta United's bye weekend if I'd have a break from calling games. I would just laugh. I'm calling two games this afternoon, 2pm Georgia State men hosting #4 West Virginia followed by 5:30pm Clayton State women hosting #19 North Georgia in Morrow. This is after a game Tuesday night, Thursday night, and last night. Welcome to college season and welcome to the grind. I'm headed to Chattanooga tomorrow, Oglethorpe Monday night, travel to Philly and then MLS Wednesday night, Kennesaw State on Thursday, an Oglethorpe doubleheader on Friday, Atlanta United next Saturday, and then Georgia State on Sunday. Tea and honey are becoming my good friends...
2- Last night was a great match as Georgia State found a second half goal to defeat a strong Texas State women's team 1-0. Seika Ikezoe's goal puts the Panthers at 3-0-0 in Sun Belt Conference play, it was created through hard work on the flank by Bree Barley. Jaddah Foos and Ariana Anderson combined for the clean sheet for the Panthers, their fourth combined shutout of 2023.
The Panthers are deserving of more recognition around the region and country. They are now 7-1-3 overall with their only loss coming against Ole Miss (on a long throw-in immediately after a hydration break). Their next match is on Thursday afternoon against a tough Southern Miss team that is 2-0-1 in conference play. You can go see them in person at the GSU Soccer Complex next Sunday as they host Arkansas State for a 1pm kickoff.
3- Big night in Major League Soccer as playoff positioning is very tight in both conferences. We'll start in the East as Miami still has lots of ground to make up, but they get the team that they're chasing for the final playoff spot in Ft. Lauderdale tonight as the Pigeons of NYCFC visit. Jordi Alba is dealing with a hamstring issue and is out. Lionel Messi is day-to-day (aren't we all?) with an unknown injury that has kept off the field for all but 38 minutes since playing for Argentina in Buenos Aires in WCQ. The Herons are 5 points behind NYC.
4- St Louis CITY can become the first expansion team to win their conference regular season title tonight as they host their rivals Sporting Kansas City. If St. Louis doesn't get that crown tonight, they have an 8 point cushion over 2nd place LAFC, they'll get it. Kansas City is running out of time to play themselves into a playoff spot, they trail Dallas by two points going into tonight's action for the final wild card position.
5- Atlanta United fans will be watching Columbus vs. Philadelphia for many reasons tonight. These are the next two opponents for the 5 Stripes, starting with a banged up Philly squad on Wednesday. The Union are on 50 points in 3rd place, one ahead of Columbus and Atlanta. Philly has had four straight draws, while Columbus is 2-2-1 in their last five games.
6- Brighton came crashing back to Earth this morning as Ollie Watkins' hat trick powered Aston Villa to a 6-1 win. It was the first time that Brighton has conceded six in a top flight match in their history. Villa was running wild straight out of the gates, going 3-0 up after 26 minutes.
7- Barcelona defeated Sevilla 1-0 yesterday afternoon due to a Sergio Ramos own goal, which surely pleased the Barca faithful. Raphinha went down injured for Barcelona in the first half, but it was the 16-year old Lamine Yamal who forced Ramos into the own goal.
The match was also the latest in a string of controversies for Barcelona as Sevilla dignitaries skipped a pre-game meal with their Barcelona counterparts due to more reports in the investigation of payments made by Barca to the vice president of Spain's referee committee. Barcelona hit back with a statement about severing official relations with Sevilla and stated again that the payments were for reports on referee's tendencies, not bribes. Stay tuned...
8- Lorne Donaldson will be leaving the Jamaican women's national team program as he will not renew his contract. The federation announced the news yesterday. Donaldson took the Reggae Girlz to the knockout rounds of the Women's World Cup for the first time this summer and came up one round short of qualifying his team for the Olympics for the first time. "The JFF wishes to place on record, our thanks to Lorne for his services to Jamaica's football over the years, and specially making us proud at the recent Women’s World Cup," the JFF said in a statement.
9- Times are tricky for Boca Juniors as they drew at home in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores semifinal with Palmeiras on Thursday night, face their nemesis River in a Copa de la Liga SuperClasico tomorrow afternoon, then head to Brazil for Thursday's second leg with Palmeiras. Boca hates to sacrifice anything to River, but resting anyone that is a question mark ahead of the Libertadores semifinal would be the prudent decision.
10- On this day in 1968, the Atlanta Chiefs Booster Club met at Emory University to continue their efforts to keep the club going into 1969. They ended up selling over 4,000 season ticket deposits for the next season in the build-up to the meeting, which gave the club some security as they mapped out what would happen next for the North American Soccer League. Just two days removed from winning the championship, the fight was on to save professional soccer in the US.
11- On this day in 1995, Mariah Carey became the first female solo artist to enter the US charts at #1 with her single "Fantasy". While the original is great, ODB's verse on the remix is one of my all-time favorites. Enjoy your Song of the Day: