Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 7

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ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI from Week 7 in Major League Soccer includes two men from Houston’s bustling midfield and one Colorado rookie who keeps leaving a big impression:

Goalkeeper:

  • Toronto FC’s Joe Bendik

Why we like him: Nine saves for Toronto FC from the former Portland Timbers man in his team’s 1-1 draw. Not bad at all considering he’s the backup to Stefan Frei around BMO Field.

Back line:

  • Portland Timbers’ Mikael Silvestre (pictured)
  • New England’s José Gonçalves
  • FC Dallas’ George John

Why we like them: Second week in a row on this list for Silvestre, who has clearly found his MLS feet after a couple of notorious, early wobbles.

Goncalves was big all night in guiding the Revs to a well-earned point on the road, and his late intervention on Steve Zakuani from point blank range before intermission was absolutely critical.

John gave up a potentially costly PK, but we’ll provide some benefit of the doubt here because Jose Villarreal was clearly looking for the contact and could have easily avoided the FCD defender. Besides, John scored the winning goal and laughted off a beer can to the noggin’. That’s a good night!

Midfield:

  • Houston’s Dynamo’s Andrew Driver
  • Portland Timers’ Will Johnson
  • Real Salt Lake’s Ned Grabavoy
  • Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis

Why we like them: The two Houston Dynamo men, Driver on the right and Davis on the left, were dominant in the Dynamo’s record-setting 2-1 win over Chicago.

Grabavoy’s bustling industry was impressive as it was important as RSL went on the road to get a point in Vancouver.

And what a free kick from Johnson; we love our goals around here that are technical as well as important and Johnson’s was certainly both, the game-winner as Caleb Porter’s team won its second consecutive match.

Forwards:

  • New York Red Bulls Thierry Henry
  • Colorado Rapids’ Deshorn Brown
  • Columbus Crew’s Dominic Oduro

Why we like them: Yes, D.C. United’s Bill Hamid should have done better on Henry’s clever curler to open the scoring Saturday at RFK – but it was still a clever curler. Henry continues to be a real difference-maker when healthy; this was his first start in almost a month.

Brown was one of the few Rapids who made Chivas USA defenders work in Colorado’s big three points on the road. Besides, telling a rookie to go take the penalty kicks (this one turned out to be an early game-winner) shows a tremendous amount of faith in the guy.

Oduro’s stinger in a 1-1 draw with Montreal (one delayed 24 hours by weather) was among the weekend’s top goals.

Dempsey’s last-second PK lifts Sounders past Minnesota

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SEATTLE (AP) Clint Dempsey converted a penalty kick in the final seconds of stoppage time on Sunday night, lifting the Seattle Sounders to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota United.

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A corner kick by Seattle’s Joevin Jones floated into the penalty area, and Minnesota’s Jermaine Taylor was called for a hand ball in a scrum of players battling for possession. Dempsey stepped up and drilled his kick to the right side past Loons goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the fourth minute of stoppage.

Dempsey’s goal was his 11th of the year.

Referee Ismail Elfath blew the final whistle as soon as Minnesota kicked off.

Chad Marshall also scored for the Sounders (11-7-7), who tied a club record by extending their unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3). The team had an identical 6-0-3 mark from May 28-July 16, 2011.

Seattle was forced to rally after its club-record shutout streak ended at 421 minutes on a goal by Minnesota’s Ethan Finlay in the 21st minute.

The Loons (6-14-4, 22 points) are still looking for their first road win of the season. They are 0-8-2 away from Minneapolis.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.