MLS Week in Review – Round 18

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Quite a weekend in MLS, with wild finishes and results that had two prominent manager blowing their stacks!

Let’s get into it …

West is best: At least for Round 18. Five matches featured a team from the Eastern Conference vs. a team from the West. The left coast went 3-0-2 in those matches, even though four were played in Eastern Conference grounds. That West-leaning record includes road wins by Real Salt Lake, Vancouver and Colorado. FC Dallas drew in Philadelphia. The only dent, such as it was, in that mark was Chivas USA’s draw at home with New England.

Coach blowing his stack, East Coast Version: If you want to see a man under intense pressure, watch the way D.C. United manager Ben Olsen handles himself in the post-game press conference. Olsen was incensed that referee Matthew Foerster adjudged a penalty area foul on young goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Vancouver’s resulting spot shot was the only goal in a 1-0 Whitecaps win at RFK Stadium. So, was Olsen right to go all whacko? We’ll have more later today … but do consider that his team is in last place and was just shut out for the 11th time in 17 matches. That’s a hint on what’s to come.

Coach blowing his stack, West Coast Version: Man, on man, anybody want to be a player at LA Galaxy practices this week? They could get nasty, because Bruce Arena was one unhappy two-time defending champion camper. His team went up 2-0 Saturday on California rival San Jose and probably should have put the game in its back pocket with other chances. But …

“I’m absolutely embarrassed at that performance, it’s disgraceful.” Those were Arena’s words not long after the Earthquakes scored the third goal in stoppage time, harkening back to all those 2012 stoppage time comebacks.

The comebacks: The Earthquakes’ 3-2 win over L.A. wasn’t the only big rally worth talking about. Montreal took leads of 2-1 and 3-2 at home over Colorado, but Oscar Pareja’s men dug in with two late goals for a 4-3 win over Montreal.

Dallas was down a man and a down a goal on the road when Blas Perez scored deep into stoppage time

The Rapids’ rookie parade: Will the Rookie of the Year race be an all-DSG Park affair? Versatile midfielder Dillon Powers must be in the conversation; he had a goal an assist Saturday as his fine season moves forward. But so should forward Deshorn Brown be in the running; he struck for his fourth goal of 2013.

The week’s big off-field news: Before the summer transfers from abroad start trickling in, how about one who is staying around? A darn good one, too. That’s Graham Zusi, who signed a new deal with Sporting Kansas City late last week. It’s a smart move to tie up a guy who keeps improving, protecting their asset and doing all they can to keep a good U.S. star at home.

source:  We assume the Houston Dynamo WILL score again this year: But, who knows? They were just shut out for the fourth consecutive match in the 2-0 loss at New York.

The next call for goal-line technology: We get these from time to time. In this case, justice appeared to be done, because FC Dallas was wrongly denied a goal late against Philly … but did squeeze one past the Union defense late to manage the draw anyway. You be the judge. The telling photo is on the right as Sheanon Williams clears Blas Perez’s ball from just behind the line.

The big crowds: Red Bull Arena was sold out for a 2-0 win over Houston. It may not sound like anything worth shouting about, but they tend to fill that swell building less than you think. Across the country, 50,028 were at Stanford Stadium to see the Earthquakes rally against the Galaxy. Presumably, they do know that David Beckham isn’t playing anymore.

The weekend’s top goal: Watch the two superb touches from Sporting Kansas City’s Kei Kamara – and consider that he is running at top speed as he collects that original ball. Enjoy.

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Report: Wenger ready to pay Ozil, Sanchez club record deals

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Arsenal knows its departure from the UEFA Champions League has to be a short one, and that keeping its two best attackers around is imperative.

That’s why Arsene Wenger is preparing to make Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez the top paid players in Arsenal history, according to a report from The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson.

The contract status of both players has been a touchy one this season, and Sanchez especially has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe (including London neighbors Chelsea).

[ MORE: Yaya to stay at Man City ]

But perhaps the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph over Chelsea has Ozil and Sanchez feeling good vibes about the Emirates Stadium set, and Arsenal is ready to pounce. According to the report:

Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stays together and is supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Ozil is understood already to have been offered more than £250,000 a week and the club are ready to go to around £280,000 for both him and Sanchez.

The Gunners need both players healthy and happy heading into next season, and appropriate additions as well (A top striker is a must. Again). Wage structure is important, but Arsenal will have a blessing in disguise if another player can make a legit case he deserves to be paid like Ozil and Sanchez any time soon.

West Ham, Everton, and the superstar striker’s need for the Champions League

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Come up with a list of active elite level strikers, and it’s likely to be a short one filled with names from UEFA Champions League clubs.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Harry Kane, even Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rarely do names like these move to a non-UCL club while in their prime, and it’s just as uncommon to see them stay at clubs which have failed to qualify for the UCL.

The money, the prestige, the endorsements; All are amplified by the world stage. Given the massive import of their domestic stage and spotlight, Premier League sides have bucked this trend on occasion — see Romelu Lukaku — but it’s the exception to the rule.

That’s what puts an ambitious club like West Ham United between a rock and a hard place. The Irons have been vocal about their desires to bring in a top-end striker, and it’s likely they’d be happy to spend what it takes to attract Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang, or Cavani to town.

Lyon reportedly rejected a $45 million bid for Lacazette last season, admitting that ultimately the player’s desires would determine his future. Higuain, too, was linked to chairman David Gold’s wallet before moving to Juventus. Carlos Bacca also saw his future connected to the Irons.

Instead, Gold landed Andre Ayew from Swansea, and had to hope Andy Carroll could stay healthy or Enner Valencia would deliver. Not a striker, Dimitri Payet apparently decided to skip town soon after West Ham’s Europa League exit at the hands of Astra Giurgiu.

Now it’s Kelechi Iheanacho being linked to the London Stadium, another hopeful swing from the Irons that points a strong finger at the problem: West Ham can be as ambitious as it likes, but it’s going to need a miracle to pull an elite striker to London without European football.

And it shouldn’t happen, but what if Everton is bumped from the UEL in the third qualifying round or playoff next year? Will Lukaku follow Payet’s lead and sink another team from joining the discussion? Though an argument can be made it’s better for Everton to lose those summer games, the Toffees very much need to succeed in the UEL qualifying and also show signs of strength in the early PL docket. That’s the unforgiving life of sitting on the outskirts of the powerful tier.

Every team at every level is searching for the next elite striker. Some, like West Ham, will need to luck into a young buck on the rise or a flawed striker finding his potential. And how do they hold onto that player, one who will have alerted the big boys to his arrival, without qualifying for Europe? It’s improbable.

The ability of teams like Chelsea and Liverpool to compete for a European slot in the PL standings thanks to missing out on the UCL the year before signals hope for clubs like Everton and West Ham. And five Premier League sides competing in the UCL this year could extend an invitation to stay longer in the Top Seven discussion for sides like Southampton and Leicester City, too.

So this summer’s striker captures are huge for Slaven Bilic and David Gold. This is a window the league’s “next group” won’t have open annually, and West Ham’s hopes of barging into the discussion again hinge on who shows up by August.

Toure reportedly set for another year with Man City

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Never say never.

Yaya Toure looks like his season-long peace with Pep Guardiola will stretch into a new season, with Toure’s combustible agent admitting talks with Manchester City regarding a new contract.

Dimitri Seluk is among the worst agents on Earth Toure’s agent, and said, “We are talking. We will see what happens but City is a club that is in Yaya’s heart.”

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

But Seluk has not been in City’s heart, having made numerous poor decisions on when to open his mouth, deepening a rift between Toure and Guardiola that kept the player off the pitch for some time. Earlier this Spring, Seluk also suggested that Toure could join Manchester United.

So, yeah, smart guy. Hates microphones and publicity.

Toure turned 34 this month, and became a fixture for Guardiola once he broke into the lineup. The midfielder made nine-straight starts around the turn of the calendar, scoring five goals in the Premier League.

Wolfsburg holds off Braunschweig with Vieirinha blast (video)

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Outworked and outperformed in the first half of their playoff second leg at Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg needed a wake-up call to steady its hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.

That came off the boot of longtime right back Vieirinha, as the Portuguese veteran ran onto a rebound and fired a 17-yard arrow into the goal to boost Wolfsburg aggregate lead to 2-0.

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

That would mean the 2.Bundesliga hosts would need three goals to give the second tier a third promotion this season. An 82nd minute red card to Braunschweig’s Maximilian Sauer effectively ended those far-off dreams.

Ingolstadt and Darmstadt were relegated in the season, and Stuttgart and Hannover were promoted from 2.Bundesliga.