Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 19

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ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI from Week 19 in Major League Soccer includes a guy you may have heard of. They sometimes call him “Becks.”

Goalkeeper:

  • Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen

Rationale, motive and intent: Blessed with a good defense and a team structure that keeps the ball in the other fellow’s end, your presumptive All-Star starter hasn’t needed to be sensational and overly involved too often in 2012. Saturday at Columbus was the exception as the White Puma (high-five on the nickname, dude) led the way in a 2-0 win.

Back line:

  • Seattle’s Adam Johansson
  • Philadelphia’s Carlos Valdes
  • Chicago’s Austin Berry (pictured, right)
  • Houston’s Jermaine Taylor

Rationale, motive and intent: Johansson had two assists in the Sounders’ draw inside Red Bull Arena. When outside backs get two assists, they’ll have to ask beg not to be included on my team. Valdes was solid on defense and was later “Carlos on the Spot” to poke home the Union’s last-second game-winner. Berry is having an unbelievable rookie season, and Taylor keeps looking like a man who can siphon a lot of the pain out of Geoff Cameron’s departure from the Dynamo back line.

Midfield:

  • FC Dallas’ Fabian Castillo
  • Toronto FC’s Terry Dunfield
  • L.A. Galaxy’s David Beckham
  • Houston’s Geoff Cameron
  • Chicago’s Pavel Pardo

Rationale, motive and intent: Castillo’s goal and assist were huge as Dallas won for the first time in 14 matches. I covered Dunfield’s week full of awesome here. And I wrote about Beckham’s big bag of awesome here.  Cameron’s passing and presence, as he returned from a two-game injury absence, helped overwhelm 10-man D.C. United. Pardo did the midfield work (especially when the Fire went a man down) and turned a wonderful free kick into the game-winner.

Forward:

  • San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski

Rationale, motive and intent: Wonder Wondo has a league-leading 17 goals after his hat trick Saturday against Real Salt Lake. Only complaint: he’s taking a lot of the drama out of the Golden Boot race, running with the doggone thing just halfway through the season.

WATCH: USMNT’s Pulisic cues up ex-Man City teen for 1st goal

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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Jadon Sancho made history for English players in Germany thanks to a little help from an American teenager.

Christian Pulisic dribbled free from a pack of would-be tacklers to cue up the ex-Manchester City player for a finish against Bayer Leverkusen in the 13th minute of a match at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday.

[ MORE: Klopp rips West Brom ]

Sancho just turned 18 on March 25, and becomes the youngest English goal scorer in Bundesliga history having entered the match with one assist in 415 Bundesliga minutes.

As for 19-year-old Pulisic, the USMNT prodigy has five goals and seven assists in 39 matches across all competitions this season.

Dele, Alexis trade 1st half goals in FA Cup semi (video)

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Paul Pogba made amends for an early marking error that led to a Spurs opener by setting up Alexis Sanchez’s equalizer as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are tied at 1 after 45 minutes of their FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium.

[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]

Spurs went ahead through Dele, as Pogba lost Christian Eriksen as the Dane raced onto a long ball. Eriksen crossed to the back post for Dele’s sliding finish.

Pogba made amends in his preferred third of the pitch, stealing the ball from a Mousa Dembele and lofting an inch-perfect cross for Alexis to nod home. The headed finish was anything but easy, hit across the goal while falling to the pitch.

Sunderland relegated for second-straight season

Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
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It’s one-and-done for Sunderland in the Championship, though not in the way expected by most  supporters of the Black Cats.

[ RECAP: WBA 2-2 Liverpool ]

Relegated from the Premier League under David Moyes‘ guidance last season, Sunderland lost Saturday to leave them six points back of safety with two to play.

But either Burton Albion or Bolton will get at least a point from a match against each other, meaning Sunderland would need at least seven when all is said and done.

  • Twenty-one clubs have been relegated since the start of the 2010-11 season.
  • Six have sunk as low as League One (including Sunderland)
  • Seven returned to the Premier League (including Wolves for 18-19)
  • Ten are currently in the Championship

It’s a message to all Premier League sides expecting favorite status in the Championship, including likely relegation side West Bromwich Albion.

Here’s how the most recent sides have fared since dropping out of the top flight.

Relegated sides this decade, and current status
*club still alive for 2018-19 promotion to Premier League
#club could be relegated from current league

Hull City (2016-17) — Championship
Middlesbrough (2016-17) — Championship*
Sunderland (2016-17) — Relegated to League One
Newcastle United (2015-16) — Returned to PL in one season
Norwich City (2015-16) — Championship
Aston Villa (2015-16) — Championship*
Hull City (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance, then relegated last season
Burnley (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance
Queens Park Rangers (2014-15) — Championship
Norwich City (2013-14) — Has since been promoted, relegated back to Championship
Fulham (2013-14) — Championship*
Cardiff City (2013-14) — Championship*
Wigan Athletic (2012-13) — promoted to Championship for 2018-19
Reading (2012-13) — Championship#
Queens Park Rangers (2012-13) — Since promoted, relegated back to Championship
Bolton (2011-12) — Championship#
Blackburn (2011-12) — League One*
Wolves (2011-12) — Promoted to Premier League this season
Birmingham City (2010-11) — Championship#
Blackpool (2010-11) — League One
West Ham United (2010-11) — Promoted at first chance, still PL

LIVE, FA Cup semifinal: Man United v Tottenham

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Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur clash in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Saturday (12:15 p.m. ET kick off) with both Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho aiming to keep alive their only remaining hope of winning a trophy this season.

[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]

For Spurs, they are certainly used to playing at Wembley after calling it home all season long while their new stadium is completed. Yet Harry Kane and Co. know they will keep hearing about how they need to win a trophy to prove themselves as Spurs have gone 10 years without a piece of silverware.

Mourinho is the master of grinding out wins in these kind of situations but United were dominated by Spurs at Wembley back in January in the PL and were lucky to escape with just a 2-0 defeat.

[ MORE: Minute-by-minute on United v Spurs ]

Click on the links above to follow the action live, while we will have reaction and analysis live from Wembley right here on Pro Soccer Talk.