Terry Dunfield for Player of the Week? He was this close

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Call me a big ol’ wussie, but I came this close to pulling the trigger on a real shocker and naming Toronto’s Terry Dunfield as my Player of the Week.

In the end, I chose one of the two guys everyone else is probably going to choose. What  can I say?

It’s something of a journalistic conundrum we sometimes find ourselves in. Perhaps Dunfield, a defensive midfield destroyer for Toronto FC, deserved the honor more than David Beckham (and more than hat trick man Chris Wondolowski, for that matter).

It’s a little hard to explain, but when the public perception and admiration tilts too far to one side, as it will this week with a luminary such as Beckham, any attempts to recognize someone else gets lost in the controversy and debate. (Not to be presumptuous; I doubt too many bar fights will start tonight over the ProSoccerTalk MLS Player of the Week, although one never knows …)

So, I chose Beckham – offered up with a side dish of Dunfield.

We’ll start here: Yes, I’m talking about that Terry Dunfield. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

The Canadian journeyman put in an amazing amount of the lesser seen, lesser studied, lesser YouTubed midfield work over two wins for Toronto.

Yes, I said two wins for Toronto. The team that started on an abysmal 0-9 downfall, the worst launch for any club over 17 MLS seasons, just won two matches consecutively. Praise be.

Dunfield’s role around BMO is to be the midfield harrier. His job is to run, work, sweat, kick and tackle so that Torsten Frings can do a little less of the same. Frings can organize, distribute and work the passing lanes, then selectively step into the tackles as needed, all the while reserving some chewing power for the juicier bits.

And what a couple of nights Dunfield had last week. In last week’s win over Vancouver, Dunfield’s old team, he turned up with a truly magic moment, a last-gasp header that provided the margin in a 3-2 win.

Four nights later on the road, Dunfield was all hustle and bustle once again, bothering and tackling the New England attackers through the middle third.  That’s not just my opinion, either. Veteran soccer writer Kyle McCarthy, working in this case for MLSSoccer.com, named Dunfield as one of his Men of the Match; when McCarthy’s keen eye says so, you can believe it.

Playing 180 minutes over four nights is tough for anyone. Playing 180 minutes over four nights for a man whose job exacts such a physical tax, and doing it well, is nothing short of remarkable.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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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.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

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.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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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.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

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.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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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.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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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.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

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.