Mike Magee-Chicago 3

Tracking MLS Most Valuable Player: Still a three-man race between Magee, Keane and Di Vaio

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1. Mike Magee:

Chicago took a big step toward the playoffs in Round 29 with a “six-pointer” win over New England, which, like the Fire, is scrapping away for one of those last playoff spots in the East.

That was No. 16 this year in league play for “Magic Mike,” still two off Marco Di Vaio’s league-leading pace.

But as we’ve said before, the critical element to consider as it relates to Magee MVP talk is this: The Fire has to make the playoffs for any real traction. Dwayne De Rosario is the only performer from a non-playoff MLS team to claim MVP, and it’s probably going to remain that way for a while.

In this case, there are two other wonderful choices, so Magee coming away with the big honor just won’t happen without a post-season appearance for the Toyota Park bunch.

2. Robbie Keane:

Truthfully, we should mark this list as 1, 1A and 1B in terms of their tracking for MVP. Because if Robbie Keane and Marco Di Vaio are not equals as potential choices, they are just a wee smidgen away from being so.

The Irishman is fourth in league goals (13) and third in assists (11), and no player can match his combined totals. His pace isn’t slowing one bit as the Galaxy jostles from playoff positioning: Keane had a goal and an assist in the team’s 2-2 weekend road draw at D.C. United. In fact, his offensive contributions would have been even greater but for two unusual booboos along the Galaxy back line, as three potentially huge road points devolved into a lone point.

L.A. has a huge match this weekend against Seattle; Keane doing something special in this one could propel him into the lead in this close-quarter, three-man chase.

3. Montreal’s Marco Di Viao

What is all this talk of retiring, Marco? Major League Soccer’s Golden Boot Winners have gone on to bigger, better things before, using a mighty season of league scoring as a launching pad for a move abroad. But to retire?

Yes, the man is 37. And of course he misses his family back in Italy. But … retire? When you continue to lead the league in scoring, now with 18 goals? Say it ain’t so!

By the way, 18 goals would have led the league at season’s in 10 previous MLS campaigns. So with just a little more continued production in Montreal’s seven remaining matches, we could be talking about something approaching a historically great scoring season. He probably won’t approach Chris Wondolowski’s record-tying 27 from last year, but even getting into the low 20s might be too hard for MVP voters to overlook.

Kasper Schmeichel wants to play for Denmark 6 days after hernia surgery

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City in action during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Swansea City at The King Power Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was tough, but his son might be tougher.

Leicester City shot-stopper Kasper Schmeichel had hernia surgery earlier Monday, and while that seems like it would sideline him for some time, apparently not.

The 29-year-old tweeted from the hospital bed that he is aiming for a return on Sunday – just six days removed from surgery – when his native Denmark takes on Armenia in World Cup qualification.

That’s…ambitious. Not surprising though, given the ambition Leicester City showed last season stunning everyone to win the title.

Schmeichel was injured against Swansea on Saturday in Premier League play when he made a clearance and came up notably uncomfortable. He was replaced in the 57th minute by new Foxes signing Ron-Robert Zieler. According to manager Claudio Ranieri, the club had already planned surgery for this problem even before Saturday’s flare-up due to the recurring nature of the problem.

Sadly, the Wednesday’s friendly against Liechtenstein comes a little too soon for Schmeichel. It will be the first international match he will miss since March of 2015. We’ll give him a pass, considering most of us would still be in post-op then.

Report: Zardes injury is serious, broken foot could end his season

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 16:  Gyasi Zardes #9 of the United States dribbles against Jefferson Montero #7 of Ecuador during the 2016 Quarterfinal - Copa America Centenario match at CenturyLink Field on June 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The United States beat Ecuador 2-1.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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According to Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep, the injury that forced Gyasi Zardes to withdraw from USMNT consideration for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers is serious and could have much larger consequences.

Zardes reportedly suffered a broken right foot, and could not just miss the rest of the 2016 MLS season, but the rest of the calendar year, ruling him out of not just the two upcoming matches, but also the beginning of the Hexagonal in November should the U.S. advance to the next round.

The 24-year-old was injured just after halftime in an MLS match against Vancouver on Saturday, when he was brought down by Kendall Watson. It’s hard to see in full-speed what happens, but upon closer inspection, it appears that Watson’s follow-through catches the inside of Zardes’s right foot. He continued to play but looked less than healthy when he was finally substituted off in the 87th minute.

Zardes has been a rare youthful yet important cog in the USMNT machine the past few years. He played every minute of the Copa America run to the 3rd place match, and he has missed just two matches since making his debut in January of 2015, giving him 31 caps already despite a debut just 19 months ago.

The injury is also a serious blow for the LA Galaxy. Zardes had come onto the field in the 31st minute to replace an injured Steven Gerrard, and in-form defender Jelle van Damme had also departed the match with a knee ligament injury which will see him miss 2-3 weeks.

Michail Antonio thought he was being pranked when he got his England call-up

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  Michail Antonio of West Ham during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham at Etihad Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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Many were surprised when they saw West Ham winger Michail Antonio on Sam Allardyce‘s first England squad list.

Including Michail Antonio.

In fact, Antonio admitted he thought he was being pranked, or at the very least, the butt of a joke. Then he saw the proof, and began to get emotional.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Speaking with the official England Instagram account, Antonio said, “So literally I’ve done an interview at the end of the game [West Ham’s 3-1 loss to Manchester City on Sunday] and then I’ve come in and the physio’s come over to me and gone ‘you’ve been called up.’ I was like ‘haha funny’ and he’s gone ‘no no seriously’ and I was like ‘good banter!'”

[ MORE: West Ham falls to Manchester City 3-1 ]

The 26-year-old said he stared at the physio for a good 30 seconds before he was shown the official paper, at which point he began “welling up.” The water works came soon after. “So I gave my missus a call, obviously she doesn’t pick up. And then I just got myself mentally ready and waited for it to come out.”

Antonio has two goals in three Premier League games this season, although he struggled in West Ham’s season opener against Chelsea when forced to deputize at right-back. The London-born winger has never played under Allardyce, having joined the Hammers just a few months after Big Sam’s departure from West Ham.

Earthquakes fire longtime general manager John Doyle

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 25: San Jose Earthquakes owner, John Doyle announces the San Jose Earthquakes new stadium ground breaking set for October 21st 2012 before the game between the Colorado Rapids and the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on August 25, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images)
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The San Jose Earthquakes fired longtime general manager John Doyle on Monday, replacing him with technical director Chris Leitch on an interim basis.

Coach Dominic Kinnear and his staff remain in place, the team said.

Doyle, who in 2005 was the inaugural member of the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame, had been the general manager since October 2007 and helped bring the franchise back following a two-year absence. He is a former player, assistant coach and color analyst with the organization.

San Jose has a 7-8-11 record for seventh place in the Western Conference and was three points back of Portland for the final playoff berth.