TSG met photog Matt Mathai when we accidentally used a photo of his on our site last summer without attribution. Oops.
Next thing you know, Matt was offering us shots whenever we needed them and we were requesting more and more.
TSG is very proud that Matt asked us if we wanted to sponsor him for a credential to shoot the tune-up friendly game in Philadelphia next Saturday. If he doesn’t get a credential–we should find out today or tomorrow–I’ll cry injustice and ask just who is better.
Now, a photo documentary from Matt. We asked him to put together a series of his favorite photos. One thing he imparted was most of his top pics were emotional or candid moments, not action shots.
Let it be said that his pictures speak volumes and the captions he adds to them just refine their focus….and show his attention to his trade and the passion behind it. Thanks Matt.
1) The Posse. This was taken in July 2006 at a game in Chicago’s Toyota Park. it was pretty cold and rainy that night and DCU had been losing for most of it. Pretty much out of nowhere, Eskandarian scored a late goal and we stole a draw. After a rowdy celebration (the goal was right in front of Section 8) the stadium went quiet. The players turned and walked back to the center to restart play. This was the core of DCU that year, and the toughness and togetherness of that team comes through in the image.
Update: Alecko Eskandarian weighed in on Twitter this morning on the picture above: “Thats awesome. Definitely one of my favorite pictures of all time. They should have never broke that team up…”
2) Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez celebrating Jaime’s chipped PK down the middle vs. Chivas USA. These two were unstoppable that year, and DCU played some beautiful soccer.
3) DCU played Chivas of Guadalajara in the CONCACAF Champions Cup in March 2007. Conditions were terrible – it was freezing cold and the rain was bucketing down. I almost gave up shooting because my hands were so cold. I’m glad I stayed. In this shot, Martinez knocked down Jaime Moreno from behind. Moreno got up very angry, and I thought he was going to pop Martinez. The only thing in focus in the entire image is Jaime’s eyes.
4) DC United had more skilled players, but nobody could match the heart of Ben Olsen. He remains my favorite DCU player of all time. Had he not been badly injured while on loan to Nottingham Forest, I’m convinced he’d have left a huge mark on the national team. I took this image during the lineups in New York. Benny had his game face on.
5) During the bedlam that was Beckham’s first trip to DC (the first match in which he actually took the field) all the photographers were roped off away from the players. I walked some distance away and my angle made it look as though there was nobody else around. I caught Becks in this reflective moment just before kickoff. (In technical terms, this is probably my best portrait ever.)
6) USA – Costa Rica at RFK stadium, Oct 2009. A memorable night for a couple of reasons. First, the USA clinched qualification for WC 2010. Second, it was right after Charlie Davies’ car accident, and I got this shot of the CD9 celebration.
7) USA – Costa Rica. This shot of Timmy celebrating after the game was a quieter moment in the euphoria in the stadium that night.
Bonus: Matt & I had this discussion after he submitted his piece.
TSG: Was a big Ben Olsen fan myself by the way…
Matt: Since you like Benny, here’s one more shot that I didn’t include in my original set because it isn’t very clear. It’s a powerful moment, though. In 2005, Olsen had been trying to come back and play. He wasn’t fit enough, his ankle wasn’t strong enough, and he couldn’t continue.
He was in tears coming off the field, and Piotr Nowak (a notorious tough guy) consoled him on the sideline. I wish I’d had a better camera and longer lens at the time. I love this shot, and I get emotional seeing it even today.
TSG: Do I have permission to include the comments in your post — this is a GREAT shot…
Matt: Sure, that’d be awesome. I’m glad you like it. It’s one of my favorites.
Matt: Shit, I left off my favorite shot of all time from that original list!