Justin Mapp

Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 10


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.