Selecting Player of the Week gets difficult when we get an outstanding performance – although one perhaps not as essential to a result as another bright outing elsewhere in the league.
Chris Wondolowski’s hat trick against Colorado got a lot of splashy headline treatment, and it certainly should have. The record-chasing element further elevates this intriguing story. But was it really the performance that tipped the balance in a match (one that finished 4-1)?
It’s just a judgment call, of course. Last week, Thierry Henry was our Player of the Week, and you could argue that his team might have been fine without his goal and three assist. Mostly, I suppose, it comes down to what else is out there and whether the night in question was spectacularly dazzling or just damned good?
In this case, I saw something else every bit as deserving as Wondolowski’s night, not only for the individual performance aspect, but also for what it meant to his team.
The Chicago Fire was going the wrong way, clearly, having lost two in a row at a highly inopportune moment.
So Sherjill MacDonald delivered the very kind of afternoon, smart, skillful and determined all at once, that can turn a team’s fortunes.
The Fire’s Dutch striker was massive in his hold-up play and work off the ball in the visitor’s 2-0 win at New York. He had both goals, opportunistic finishes in the 65th and 79th minutes as Chicago made a huge move up the Eastern Conference table.
Here’s his first goal, the better of the two:
It isn’t Dortmund, but that’s a good thing for Liverpool.
Our own Joe Prince-Wright was on the scene for Jurgen Klopp’s unveiling as the latest Reds manager, and the 48-year-old German had a lot to say.
Perhaps most poignant for Liverpool fans are Klopp’s words on the talent he inherits from Brendan Rodgers. Sure there are quips that will hit the headlines, but how about Klopp’s assertion that success shouldn’t take nearly as long as his dramatic work at BVB.
From JPW on Merseyside:
“We did in Dortmund what we had to do, to improve the players, to work for a common idea of play. That is what we did and its the same thing we want to do here. They are not the same players of course,” Klopp told NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk. “These players from Liverpool are better, more experienced in some ways and younger in other cases. Everything is okay, I am here. I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders is really good, defenders experienced and very young, goalkeeper is really good. Everything is there.”
Everything. A powerful word and one that doesn’t get lost in translation. Liverpool has a batch of world class talent, and Klopp’s is anxious to organize it in world class fashion. Strap in, Anfield.
So here we go: the biggest rivalry in U.S. Soccer, the one that sends fans racing for the stadia for a glimpse of history.
It’s the U.S. and Mexico for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, and it will play out at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
National pride is on the line, and national jobs may rightly be in jeopardy. Let’s swing through our coverage, and what’s at stake in just over 24 hours time.
Who is the key to Saturday’s match? Is it Michael Bradley? Fabian Johnson? Andres Guardado? Will Klinsmann opt for players with Liga MX experience, stay Euro Heavy, or appease the domestic set? Read more here.
So how will Klinsmann line ’em up? JPW has his preference, some options, and a prediction of what the manager will do.
What are the chances this one finds its way into the upper echelon of matches in the Mexico/U.S. rivalry? This is the company it could join.
The folks in the anti-Klinsmann brigade seethe with pure detestation of the USMNT boss. Any quote from him is self-serving and dishonest, any success accidental. Beat Germany or the Netherlands in friendlies on the road? Coincidental and Unimportant. Lose a friendly to Brazil? The worst thing ever.
[ MORE: The case for firing Klinsmann after a loss ]
So this match, being meaningful and testing his unbeaten mark vs Mexico, is going to be a clarion call for U.S. Soccer fans. Barring a cataclysmic loss in horrific blowout fashion, he won’t be canned. But a win will be validation for his supporters while a loss would cue a genuine hot seat. And for his detractors, already foaming at the mouth from the words of icon Landon Donovan? Kablammo.