MLS Western Conference Championship - Real Salt Lake v Los Angeles Galaxy

Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 10

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Goalkeeper:

  • Montreal’s Donovan Ricketts

Rationale, motive and intent: Montreal’s No. 1 put all that longness and lankyness to work in six saves during a 1-1 draw with Los Angeles. It must have felt good; the Galaxy shipped Ricketts off to Canada in the offseason.

Back line:

  • Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran
  • Real Salt Lake’s Jamison Olave (pictured)
  • Montreal’s Matteo Ferrari
  • Houston’s Andrew Hainault

Rationale, motive and intent: On another day Houston’s fullback could have been shown a card or two for work that was as physical and aggressive as it was important on a huge day in South Texas. But, since he managed to make it through the match, we’ll consider is “mission accomplished.” Beltran and Olave were huge in helping RSL secure two shutouts on the road. And Ferrari was busy dealing (and dealing well) with David Beckham’s snappy service as Montreal drew with Los Angeles.

Midfield:

  • New York’s Dax McCarty
  • Houston’s Brad Davis
  • Chicago’s Sebastián Grazzini
  • New York’s Joel Lindpere
  • New England’s Lee Nguyen

Rationale, motive and intent: McCarty sure knows how to keep the party going, as the man’s outstanding run of form helped New York squeeze out a 1-0 win over Houston and then go take all the points over the weekend at Philly. (McCarty even played in a different position in that one, accommodating Rafa Marquez’s return to the lineup by moving forward in the starting arrangement.)

Lindpere did his part in all that, too, adding the first goal in New York’s road win Sunday and generally working his little Bulls off.

Davis turned up with one of the biggest goals in Houston Dynamo history. Nguyen turned up with two goals of his one in New England’s win over Vancouver.

Forwards:

  • Seattle’s Fredy Montero

Rationale, motive and intent: The pickings were slightly slim this week for front-runners. But Montero’s work off the bench in Seattle’s mid-week match deserves recognition. He beat the Dallas back line twice to help Seattle navigate its busy stretch and take all three points out of Dallas.

 

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

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In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).