Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 7

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Goalkeeper:

  • Los Angeles Galaxy’s Josh Saunders

Rationale, motive and intent: Omar Cummings’ penalty kick left so much to be desired, but it still needed quality work to be saved, and Saunders was up for the job. He was also sure-handed as the Rapids’ kept up the pressure but couldn’t squeeze an equalizer past Los Angeles’ last line of defense.

Back line:

  • San Jose’s Steven Beitashour
  • Houston’s Bobby Boswell
  • D.C. United’s Emiliano Dudar
  • Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares

Rationale, motive and intent: Beitashour is a recurring name in this spot for 2012; he’s having a great season. (Same can be said for everyone along San Jose’s back line.) “Beta” had two assists in a big 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake. Geoff Cameron wasn’t at his best along Houston’s back line, but Boswell was Bobby on the Spot when it mattered as Houston just keeps finding the points on this extended road stretch. Chris Pontius’ hat trick may have overshadowed Dudar’s return to the RFK back line, but don’t underestimate how much he added to the result (because as bad as the New York defense was, this one still could have been one of those wild, 4-4 shootouts if United’s rear guard  wasn’t ready for the Red Bull’s stacked attack).

Midfield:

  • Columbus’ Eddie Gaven
  • Portland’s Diego Chara
  • Philadelphia’s Michael Farfan

Rationale, motive and intent: Gaven, given more attacking’ freedom in a playmaker’s role for Columbus, sparkled in a 2-2 draw. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall could probably heard Gaven’s lash from beyond the penalty area more than he saw it. Farfan has been playing well for Philly, and Saturday was no different. Freddy Adu got the fancy backheel goal, but watch the video below as Farfan creates the chance with some incredibly crafty and skillful dribbling inside the home team’s 18. Chara was good in possession against Sporting Kansas City, and that’s harder than it sounds against the Eastern leader’s high-pressure ways.

Forwards:

  • D.C. United’s Chris Pontius
  • San Jose’s Khari Stephenson
  • Chicago’s Patrick Nyarko

Rationale, motive and intent: Pontius’ good work has been well-covered at PST; read all about it here and here. Stephenson’s contribution in the win over nine-man Real Salt Lake was a goal and an assist. As for Chicago’s 3-2 win over Toronto, either Nyarko or teammate Dominic Oduro could have been picked; they both were skillful in the counter attack against a TFC arrangement that was set up perfectly to be picked apart by it.

(Michael Farfan sets the table for Freddy Adu …):

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AT HALF: Lletget, Bradley, Dempsey spur USMNT to 3-0 lead

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The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes is off to a flying start.

As it stands, the 3-0 halftime lead provided by Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey has the Yanks up from sixth to fourth in the Hex table.

Sebastian Lletget scored a fifth minute goal to ease the tensions of the Avaya Stadium crowd in San Jose, though he’d leave the match with injury before the match was 20 minutes old.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal.

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks, Cameron; Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′)

LIVE – USMNT looks to right ship vs. Honduras

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The United States starts to make amends for its 0-2 start to the final round of World Cup qualifying with a match against Honduras on Friday in San Jose.

Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job and Bruce Arena will try things differently

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Most importantly for Arena, Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard are available this time around.

Cameron starts at right back, with John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez in the center of the back four. Jorge Villafana slots into the mix at left back.

Captain Michael Bradley will sit atop the midfield, with Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, and Christian Pulisic in the midfield.

Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are the forwards. Kickoff is set for 10:55 p.m. EDT from Avaya Stadium.

Minnesota’s Molino lifts Trinidad and Tobago to big win (video)

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Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.

Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.

[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]

Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.

The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.

The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.

WATCH: Zaha drives Russia nuts with mazy dribble goal

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Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.

With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.

He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.

Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.