ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI from Week 19 in Major League Soccer includes a guy you may have heard of. They sometimes call him “Becks.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.
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The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”
His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”
Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.
Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.
In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.
He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.
Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.
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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.
“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.
“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”
Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.
PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.
[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]
Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.
Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.
There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.
Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.
Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.
Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.
Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.
The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.
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On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.
With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.
According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.
“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.
“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”
Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.