Seattle Sounders v Portland Timbers

Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 28

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  • D.C. United’s Bill Hamid

Rationale, motive and intent: He could have nailed down a place on this team just for brilliant performance in the final, frenetic 10 minutes of Saturday’s bail-biter, the 2-1 win over New England (which propelled the Black and Red back into a playoff position). FYI: His club will need more of the same going forward.

Apologies to Houston’s Tally Hall, whose work was essential in the Dynamo’s road draw at Sporting Kansas City.

Back line:

  • Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams
  • Portland’s David Horst
  • Portland’s Rodney Wallace

Rationale, motive and intent: Wallace was generally in control defensively along Portland’s left side. And to score such an important goal off a corner kick, in a huge rivalry game that meant so much to Timbers supporters – I think they call that “the stuff legends are made of.” Street named after him in the Rose City soon? Stranger things have happened.

Horst made all the important challenges in the same game, even if he could not do enough to turn away Fredy Montero’s second-half golazo.

Yes, yes, everyone scores late against Toronto. Still, Williams was the one to do so in Saturday’s draw, getting forward off his right back spot for the Union’s late equalizer at BMO Field.


  • L.A. Galaxy’s Marcelo Sarvas
  • D.C. United’s Chris Pontius
  • FC Dallas’ Julian de Guzman
  • Chicago’s Alvaro Fernandez

Rationale, motive and intent:

Young Sarvas always seem to look good when he gets into the lineup – which isn’t often considering David Beckham and Juninho occupy the central midfield spots in front of him in the Galaxy order. Sarvas’ body of work represented a complete night in L.A.’s 2-0 win over Colorodo.

Dallas was about 25 seconds from realistic playoff elimination before de Guzman happened, hitting what is surely the club’s biggest goal this year. He was highly capable all night as a linking man in the home team’s critical win over Vancouver.

In a close, 2-1, result over New England, Pontius did exactly what everyone said he needed to for D.C. United: kick up his already excellent season another notch to cover for the Dwayne De Rosario gap.

Fernandez has been solid since coming over from Seattle. In Saturday’s 3-1 win over Montreal, he saw that “solid” and raised it by an “exceptional.” This was “Flaco’s” top performance yet around Toyota Park.


  • New York’s Thierry Henry
  • Seattle’s Fredy Montero (pictured)
  • San Jose’s Alan Gordon

Rationale, motive and intent: Henry hit one goal that mattered and then an encore effort that was pretty much just for show. But, oh, what a sweet one his “show goal” was!

Talk about making a goal out of very, very little! Did you see the Montero strike? That kid can turn a match like so few others in MLS.

As for Gordon, it was really a matter of “take your pick” between he and teammate Chris Wondolowski. Both helped set up one goal and scored the other.


Chelsea: Conte expects warm reception for Mourinho; Terry is fit

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  A fan wears a Chelsea scarf with the image of the club's former manager, Jose Mourinho before the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on December 26, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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The managers are meeting the media ahead of this week’s Premier League matches, and many eyes are trained on one specific match-up.

Chelsea and Manchester United meet on Sunday, the first time Jose Mourinho will manage against his old side since his unceremonious exit last winger.

[ USWNT: Holiday has tumor removed ]

Mourinho, of course, led Chelsea to the 2014-15 title only to see a miserable start to the following campaign. He was hired at Manchester United this summer, but Conte thinks Mourinho’s Chelsea laurels have earned him some love from Stamford Bridge.

“I have great respect for Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club’s story.”

Conte also touched on Paul Pogba‘s decision to head back to Old Trafford. The manager guided the French midfielder during their time at Juventus.

“It was Paul Pogba’s dream was to return to Manchester United. I wish him well, but only after this game.”

Conte said John Terry is available to return for Chelsea, and that could be invaluable against a big, strong forward like United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With the Red Devils having played Thursday, Conte will like his chances a bit more than usual.

Canada vs. U.S. among top-notch CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JUNE 20:  Gershon Koffie #28 of the Vancouver Whitecaps brings the ball up field against Dax McCarty #11 of the New York Red Bulls at B.C. Place on June 20, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jessica Haydahl/Getty Images)
Photo by Jessica Haydahl/Getty Images
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The bracket is set for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and ensures that at least one MLS vs. Liga MX semifinal will happen next Spring.

No. 1 seed New York Red Bulls will cross the continent to meet No. 8 Vancouver Whitecaps, with the winner moving on to face the victor of Mexico’s Tigres UANL vs. Pumas UNAM.

[ VIDEO: Previewing all 10 PL matches ]

The possibility of an all-Liga MX or all-MLS final still exists, with Pachuca and FC Dallas on opposite sides of the bracket. Arabe Unido gives Panama hope for its first CCL semifinalist, while Saprissa can be Costa Rica’s first semifinalist since 2011.

Of the remaining teams, only Pachuca has won a title in the CCL era (2008-present). Tigres lost in the 2016 final, the only other team to make it that far.

Full schedule
New York Red Bulls (1) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (8)
Tigres UANL (4) vs. Pumas UNAM (5)
Arabe Unido (2) vs. FC Dallas (7)
Pachuca (3) vs. Saprissa (4)

The first legs will be played in late February, and the bright side to the intra-league quarters will be one MLS side waiting a round before facing a more in-form club playing a traditional season schedule (though that’s an overblown excuse at this point).

Some fans don’t care much for the tournament, while others — myself included — are extremely keen to see an MLS team win the CCL and represent North America in the Club World Cup, where it can get a high profile litmus test in a serious competition (Real Madrid beat Cruz Azul 4-0 in a 2014 semifinal).

Report: USWNT star Holiday has brain tumor removed

Costa Rica v United Staes: Final - 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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World Cup champion Lauren Holiday has had a brain tumor removed, one month after giving birth.

Holiday’s husband, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, announced that his pregnant wife was diagnosed with an operable tumor in September, and Lauren Holiday has publicly thanked fans for support while requesting prayers.

[ MORE: UCL Final in United States? ]

The Holidays welcomed their first child earlier this month, and Jrue left the Pelicans preseason to help his wife.

The BBC added this tidbit:

Unbelievably as a three-year-old, she had open-heart surgery to repair a defect and went on to become one of the world’s most respected football players.

Get well soon, Lauren.

WATCH: FC Dallas rocket goal sends Guatemalan rainwater flying off net

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Carlos Lizarazo #22 of FC Dallas looks on during the second half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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Carlos Lizarazo’s ridiculous rocket shook rain off the net in an aesthetically pleasing CONCACAF Champions League goal on Thursday.

The Cruz Azul loanee struck a vicious shot for FC Dallas’ fifth goal, which boosted out of the No. 8 seed for the quarterfinals after a 5-2 win at Suchitepéquez in Guatemala.

[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]

Lizarazo, 25, had two goals in 10 appearances for FCD heading into the game, with both coming in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.