As the All Whites were squaring up against some of the best players in the world, including a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, other Kiwis of both gender were making their mark on the professional game elsewhere, in particular Jeremy Brockie.
In South Africa, soon after SuperSport United defender Michael Boxall took the field for the All Whites against Portugal, countryman Brockie helped the pair’s club successfully defend the Nedbank Cup in a 4-1 triumph over Orlando Pirates. Brockie was in the thick of the action for much of the game and spurned an opportunity to double his side’s 1-0 lead when his penalty kick was brilliantly saved just minutes into the second half. But he was quick to make amends, meeting a cross from strike partner Bradley Grobler with his head in the 61st minute to make it 2-0 and put SuperSport well on track to claim their fifth title in the Nedbank Cup, South Africa’s premier knockout competition.
Jeremy Brockie in the #NedbankCup:
Deadly in this competition. pic.twitter.com/ezkAmwp46M
— Joe Crann (@YesWeCrann) June 24, 2017
“After the penalty miss, Pirates probably thought they had a chance,” the 49-cap All White admitted. “Sometimes when things like that happen, the opposition can turn around and the team can head up quickly but we stayed strong and positive. And it was nice to make up for that miss a couple of minutes later.” Orlando will be sick of the sight of Brockie as he also netted in last year’s Nedbank Cup final against the same opponents. The former Wellington Phoenix striker has reportedly attracted plenty of interest from rival clubs in recent weeks but SuperSport officials have insisted he is not for sale at any price, underlining his importance to the Matsatsantsa cause.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) June 26, 2017
In the United States, Jake Gleeson featured between the sticks for the Portland Timbers as they drew 2-2 with the Seattle Sounders at home in front of a sell-out crowd of over 21,000. The big Kiwi custodian was unlucky not to keep out the Sounders’ first goal, making a good save from a Joevin Jones effort only for the same player to collect his own rebound and tuck it away mid-way through the first half. The Timbers then turned things around and took a 2-1 lead against a side that had been reduced to ten men just before the break. But their hearts were broken deep into additional time as former English Premier League star and USA international Clint Dempsey headed past Gleeson for a dramatic equaliser.
Also Stateside, Craig Henderson came on as a second-half substitute to help Indy Eleven record their second win of the North American Soccer League (NASL) season in a 2-1 triumph over North Carolina. The victory carries them into sixth place on the eight-team table. Meanwhile, former New Zealand U-20 international Daniel Bowkett was making an impact with the New York Red Bulls U-23 side, who play in the Premier Development League (PDL) – a national amateur league at the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid. The midfielder was recently added to the team’s roster and has adapted quickly, needing just two minutes to find the back of the net in a 3-1 win over Lehigh Valley United.
Reign FC battled back to extend their league-leading home unbeaten streak to 11 games. #SEAvKC
— Seattle Reign FC (@ReignFC) June 25, 2017
In the women’s game, Abby Erceg and the North Carolina Courage have continued their good run of form at the top of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) table after beating Rosie White’s Boston Breakers 1-0. Former Football Ferns captain Erceg took full part in the match but White was suspended after picking up five yellow cards. The teams of two other Kiwis also came up against each other elsewhere in the NWSL with Rebekah Stott’s Seattle Reign facing Katie Bowen’s FC Kansas City. Bowen did not feature from the bench as she continues her recovery from injury but Stott played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw that leaves the Reign in fifth. Stott and her team mates were forced to play for nearly the entirety of the contest with only 10 players after an early sending off.
North of the States in Canada, Myer Bevan made his eagerly-anticipated debut for Vancouver Whitecaps 2, coming on in the 65th minute of a 2-2 draw against OKC Energy. Bevan could not get on the scoresheet in his maiden appearance but his name did go into the notebook nonetheless via a caution in additional time. Fellow New Zealander Francis De Vries was an unused substitute for Vancouver, whose Kiwi contingent is set to rise even further with the return of Deklan Wynne from the Confederations Cup.
— GAIS (@GAIS_SE) June 21, 2017
On the other side of the Atlantic, a number of Kiwis are continuing to carve out a career for themselves, as well as a couple more earning trials at professional clubs. Tyler Lisette was the only New Zealander in action over the weekend in the Swedish Superettan as he featured in a full match against Helsingborg, which ended all square in a 1-1 draw. The result lifts IFK Varnamo into ninth place, above GAIS and fellow Kiwi Dan Keat, who was an unused substitute in his side’s 1-0 win over Frej. Until very recently, former All White Steven Old was a team mate of Keat but has now parted company with GAIS and moved to London for family reasons. Across the border, Brock Messenger and Nikko Boxall were both in full action in Finland. Messenger played 90 minutes in the second-tier Ykkonen for Jaro in a 2-1 win over OPS while, in the top-flight Veikkausliiga, Boxall featured for KuPS in a 1-1 draw against Inter Turku. The point puts KuPS into fifth, where they remain three points away from a UEFA Europa League spot.
Staying in Scandinavia, there have been mixed fortunes for New Zealand’s female footballers in that part of the world. Ali Riley grabbed an assist in the 20th minute for FC Rosengard to help earn a 3-0 win against Limhamn Bunkeflo in the Swedish Damallsvenskan. The win brings Rosengard into second place as they continue their good spell and remain unbeaten in five matches. Also in the Damallsvenskan, Hannah Wilkinson and Vittsjo had a tough encounter against table-topping Linkoping. Wilkinson played out 82 minutes before being subbed off as Vittsjo fell to a 2-0 defeat against the high flyers. The loss leaves Vitssjo in eighth place. Over in Norway, Kirsty Yallop took part in an intense 3rd-vs-4th match for Klepp against Stabaek in the Toppserien. Yallop featured throughout in her customary holding midfield position as the honours were shared in a 2-2 draw.
— NZFootballers OS (@NZFootballersOS) June 27, 2017
Elsewhere in Europe, All Whites pair Liam Graham and Moses Dyer may have missed out on a place in the squad for the Confederations Cup but are still very much on the club radar with Graham looking to resurrect his professional career after gaining a retrial with Chesterfield and new manager Gary Caldwell, who is yet to cast his eye over Graham after taking over the League Two team during his absence due to a knee injury. Graham will link up with the side during pre-season and will aim to impress enough to earn a contract. Dyer meanwhile has been training with Danish side Vejle Boldklub as he looks to break into the professional game. Also opening a new chapter in her career is Football Ferns striker Amber Hearn, who will line up for a different club in next season’s German Frauen Bundesliga after swapping USV Jena for FC Koln. The top international goalscorer in New Zealand’s history with 53 strikes, Hearn was equally as potent in front of goal for Jena, amassing 50 goals in 148 appearances.