Premier League Week 2 Team of the Week (Video)

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It was another exciting week in the Barclays Premier League with plenty of twists and turns.

Manchester City, who looked so good last Monday against Newcastle, lost at new-boys Cardiff City. An undermanned Arsenal side bounced back from last week’s devastation to defeat Fulham. And two teams that everyone thought would impress, Manchester United and Chelsea, did anything but that in yesterday’s nil-nil draw.

At the end of it all, Chelsea remains atop the standings with seven points with Liverpool and Spurs both hot on the Blues’ tail at six points each and a game in hand.

Here is the Team of the Week for Week 2 of the Premier League.

Goalkeeper – Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)

Ben Foster was sublime during Saturday’s goalless draw at Everton. The West Brom net-minder recorded eight saves in the effort, including a face-busting parry on Marouane Fellaini from two yards out. The Baggies could struggle going forward, however, as Foster suffered a foot injury in the 78th minute that will keep him sidelined for the next 12 weeks.

Defender – Kolo Toure (Liverpool)

Manchester City must be reeling at having let Kolo Toure go in the off-season. In his two matches at Liverpool Toure has looked every bit a lock down defender, boasting two clean sheets. Last weekend he put the clamps on Villa striker Christian Benteke, who entered the match with three goals in two league contests.

Defender – Jose Fonte (Southampton)

After securing his side a clean sheet in Week 1’s victory over Sunderland, Jose Fonte was at it again last Saturday, securing a draw for the Saints with an 88th minute header.

Defender – John Terry (Chelsea)

After an injury riddled 2012-13 campaign John Terry has come out of the gates this season looking young and sprightly. Against Manchester United he was the highlight player for Chelsea in an otherwise drab match, recording 11 interceptions and winning 5 aerial duels to preserve a point for the Blues.

Midfielder – Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur)

After 9 loan spells in his first four seasons at Tottenham, Andros Townsend looked like a man marked for departure. But Townsend earned a start in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Swansea City and made the most of it, terrorizing the right wing and drawing the penalty that resulted in Spurs’ game-winning goal. The display impressed many, including England manager Roy Hodgson, who called Townsend into the senior squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova and the Ukraine.

Midfielder – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)

From the looks of it, Aaron Ramsey has finally arrived for Arsenal. The midfielder has been fantastic in both of Arsenal’s Premier League matches as well as their Champions League triumph over Fenerbahce.  Against Fulham, Ramsey was the best player on the field, orchestrating the Gunners to the 3-1 victory.

Midfielder – Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) 

Aron Gunnarsson was a hellion in the Cardiff City midfield on Sunday. With his box-to-box movement and defensive hunt, Gunnarsson frustrated the City attack while coming up with his biggest achievement to date, netting the Bluebirds first Premier League goal.

Midfielder – Sone Aluko (Hull City)

Sone Aluko was key to Hull City’s 1-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday, chasing down defenders and providing a creative spark for the Tigers going forward. After Yannick Sagbo was sent off, Aluko continued to give the Canary defense headaches, helping to secure his side’s first Premier League victory.

Forward – Frazier Campbell (Cardiff City)

Frazier Campbell was sensational in Cardiff City’s 3-2 triumph over Manchester City. The former Manchester United striker scored twice in the second half and embarrassed world-class defender Pablo Zabaleta while doing so. As to the $930,000 (£600k) transfer fee that Cardiff paid Sunderland for Campbell last January? Yeah, that’s looking like a pretty savvy investment.

Forward – Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

For the second consecutive week Daniel Sturridge made Liverpool fans forget about Luis Suarez as the Englishman bagged the winner in a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. Sturridge’s goal was one of pure class, dragging the ball across Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Antonio Luna before cleverly toe-poking into the roof of the net.

Forward – Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)

After being relegated to a substitute role against Aston Villa in Week 1, rumors began to circulate that the German forward may be on his way out of North London. But after his brace against Fulham suddenly those voices have quieted and everyone around Arsenal is keen on one thing – keeping Podolski happy. Funny how that works.

Honorable Mention – GK Allan McGregor; D James Chester (Hull City); D Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion); D James Collison (West Ham United); Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur); M Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur); M Etienne Capoue (Tottenham Hotspur); M Charlie Adam (Stoke City); M Theo Walcott (Arsenal); M Santi Cazorla (Arsenal); F Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

Photo credit: New England Revolution / Twitter: @NERevolution
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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

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John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”