Los Angeles Galaxy v Portland Timbers

ProSoccerTalk MLS Player of the Week: David Beckham


If we’re being honest, the Portland Timbers’ atrocious defending set the stage wonderfully for David Beckham.

But don’t get too hung up on that. So very many players couldn’t coax the balls that Major League Soccer’s most illustrious right foot did so effectively on Saturday, even when afforded opportunities of such high possibility.

Beckham’s two goals Saturday were absolute stunners.

Yes, he had acres of space to line up that first goal, that highlight-maker that dropped behind Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins with such ruthless precision. But, again, how many times have we seen an uncontested shot from 25-30 yards fly harmlessly high, agonizingly wide or drop comfortably into the goalkeeper’s gloves?

Beckham took a look, set the sights and convinced his shot to go right where he wanted – as if the doggone things was laser-guided. And key to the effort was the wisdom of the years; Beckham didn’t need to crush the ball. It was moment that called for calm and finesse rather than bare-knuckle brawn.

On to his second strike:

Fouling a Galaxy attacker anywhere near the 18 is never a wise move. I mean … Beckham!

So, the former England international’s second act of high marksmanship was equally predictable in some ways. And yet, we see free kicks around the penalty area come and go each week in MLS, almost always finishing “more sizzle than steak,” as they say.

Not Beckham’s shot, which had room to spare as it fell with jaw-dropping effect into the Jeld-Wen Field goal.

His two goals also ask this question: is the Galaxy man about to take out his Olympic frustration on the rest of Major League Soccer? Answer: only the most un-wise of sides will provide such glistening opportunities to do so.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.