Justin Mapp

Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 10

3 Comments

ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI from Week 10 in Major League Soccer includes a lot of good men on the defensive end.

Goalkeeper:

  • New England Revolution’s Bobby Shuttleworth

Why we like him: When a good team (the Portland Timbers) gets shut out at home and walks away saying, in effect, “We played pretty good in this one,” you can bet there’s a goalkeeping performance worthy of a long, slow applause. Shuttleworth’s work (nine saves) in Thursday’s scoreless draw certainly applies.

Back line:

  • Real Salt Lake’s Chris Wingert
  • Houston Dynamo’s Bobby Boswell
  • New York Red Bull’s Jamison Olave
  • Real Salt Lake’s Nat Borchers
  • Portland Timbers’ Michael Harrington

Why we like them: Boswell was among the best Dynamo men in a big 1-0 win over the Galaxy, a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals. Harrington probably doesn’t get enough credit for his work around Jeld-Wen. His passing is still too erratic, but the man’s one-on-one defending is rock solid. It was in last week’s draw with New England.

Wingert, now healthy again, played along the left for RSL and provided a big push (along with accurate crossing) in a 2-0 win over Vancouver. Alongside Wingert on the Rio Tinto back line was Borchers, whose goal-line clearance helped keep this one under control.

Olave was Olave in the Red Bulls latest road triumph, a really good one, 1-0 in Columbus. We’ll say it again: he’s top 2-3 among league center backs when he’s healthy. When he is healthy.

Midfield:

  • Philadelphia’s Danny Cruz
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi
  • New York Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill
  • Montreal Impact’s Justin Mapp (pictured)

Why we like them: The cynic may say that Cruz’s two goals were “right place, right time” stuff. But each and every week we see guys pop up in the right spots, but unable to seal the deal. Cruz finished with authority. Twice!

Zusi had a goal and assist and ran the attack in SKC’s romp-and-stomp over Chivas USA, 4-0.

Cahill has a goal or assist in three consecutive matches, the league’s longest active streak. His goal Saturday in Columbus wasn’t just his third in two matches, it was the difference as Mike Petke’s in-form team won its third in a row away from Red Bull Arena.

Forward:

  • Sporting Kansas City’s Claudio Bieler

Why we like them: Beiler’s pair gives him six for the year. So, make room Mike Magee and Jack McInerney; SKC’s striker now shares the league with those guys.

Pep Guardiola: “Maybe I’m not good enough”

Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola has admitted he “may not be good enough” for his players at Manchester City.

Ahead of City’s clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola has been defended his squad after severe criticism from the media.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

City were hammered 4-0 at Everton last weekend, their worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever league defeat as a manager.

With plenty pointing the finger of blame at goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and City’s defense, their manager put himself in the firing line.

“They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good? So I don’t understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have been amazing players, and [people saying] they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them,” Guardiola said. “They are Manchester City players, top players. They have a lot of quality. They have shown that many times in the past and this season.”

Mind games.

Guardiola, 46, is no doubt facing the biggest challenge of his season as City look to at least seal a top four spot in this his debut season in England. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has already “said goodbye to the title” and if they lose against red-hot Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium then more questions will be asked of his tactics and if they can work in the Premier League.

So far the possession-based slow build up style has been hot and cold for City, with plenty of counter-attacking teams in the PL (Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, Leicester etc.) having a field day against a shaky defense.

Despite being 10 points off the pace, Guardiola is sticking by his philosophy. One thing really sticks out to me from his first few press conferences in England: “We will see if my style of play can work in the Premier League.”

So far, it’s not.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Swansea City (Lineups, Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16:  Kyle Naughton of Swansea City is closed down by Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool host Swansea City to Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Reds aiming to stretch their unbeaten run at home in the Premier League to 18 games.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Jurgen Klopp is a little concerned with the number of games his team have had to play over the past few weeks, but a victory against the struggling Swans would momentarily move his side just four points behind leaders Chelsea who play on Sunday.

As for Swansea, new manager Paul Clement knows a win would take his team out of the relegation zone and with new signings arriving that would be a massive boost. It would also be a massive ask for the Welsh side to get anything at Anfield but this may be a good time to play Liveprool after their midweek trip to Plymouth in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton coming up on Wednesday.

In team news Liverpool start with Philippe Coutinho once again, while Joel Matip is on the bench after the Reds finally settled the dispute with Cameroon. Swansea hand debuts to new signings Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Lucas, Origi, Matip, Woodburn

Swansea City: Fabianski; Olsson, Mawson, Fernandez, Naughton; Cork, Carroll, Fer; Sigurdsson, Llorente, Routledge. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Amat, Fulton, Dyer, Borja, McBurnie

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Leave a comment

PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
1 Comment

Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.