Cardiff City 1-0 Swansea City: Home side takes first-ever top-flight South Wales derby (video)

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A historic matchup began cagey but ended furiously as Steven Caulker’s bullet header earned Cardiff City the victory in the first-ever South Wales derby in the top flight.

Swansea begun on top at Cardiff City, but like Spurs could not muster a serious amount of definitive strikes on goal.

It took Cardiff a while to finally make their way into the Swansea half, but once they finally did, they slowly gained a stronger grip on possession.  Gary Medel was a key cog in the Cardiff buildup, and the midfield work by the Bluebirds finally forced Swansea to do some defending by the 25th minute.

Angel Rangel, who made some disparaging prematch comments on Cardiff’s signing of Medel, was key in the Swansea defense as Cardiff pushed further forward.

With both teams appearing to be playing timidly, the snoozer of a first half came to an end with nothing much to show for it.

Things opened up a bit in the second half as rain slowly increased.  The first real chance fell to the home side in the 54th minute, with a great ball sent into the box for Craig Bellamy, who headed back to the center of the 6-yard box where Don Cowie was waiting, but Cowie just missed the header.

Finally, seemingly out of nowhere, the deadlock was broken in the 62nd minute.  Cardiff won a corner, and former Swan Steven Caulker rose high above Chico Flores for a towering header and directed it past both Michel Vorm and Jonjo Shelvey into the net.

source: Getty Images
Craig Bellamy and Cardiff put everything they had to keep Swansea out.

The goal erupted Cardiff City Stadium to life, and brought new life to the dull match on both ends.

Swansea were dealt a blow just after the goal as Michu was forced off with an ankle injury.  He had been off on the sidelines for some time adjusting his boots before returning, only to be substituted off after the goal, and he headed straight for the tunnel.

Swansea looked their brightest while fighting back from a goal down, but Cardiff continued to exert their full energy to keep the lead. Substitute Frazier Campbell had a great opportunity from close range in the 81st minute.  His first attempt was blocked by Chico, and although Campbell worked hard for a follow-up, it came from a tight angle and Vorm saved comfortably.

The visitors continued to push in the rain, with Jonathan de Guzman putting a good header on goal in the 87th minute, but David Marshall saved well.  Numbers continued to fly forward from the Swans, with Pozuelo testing Marshall just before added time.

But the biggest blow to Swansea would come in stoppage time. A long ball found Frazier Campbell, and Michel Vorm came out of the 18-yard box to challenge, with all numbers forward and no defenders back. Vorm stuck his foot high to challenge and Campbell went down, earning the Swansea goalkeeper a straight red card.

With all substitutes used, defender Angel Rangel went into goal and was immediately tested from the free kick, turning the ball over the bar well, impressively even for a defender.

That was the end of Swansea though, and Cardiff saw the game out.  The three points for Malky Mackay and Cardiff are massive, taking them from 17th to 12th in the table and jumping Swansea in the process.

GOALS:

Cardiff City – Caulker 63′

LINEUPS:

Cardiff City – Marshall; Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham; Medel (Kim, 88′), Mutch, Cowie, Theophile-Catherine; Bellamy, Odemwingie (Campbell, 75′).

Swansea City – Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Chico Flores, Taylor; Britton (Pozuelo, 71′), Shelvey, De Guzman, Routledge (Vasquez, 81′), Dyer; Michu (Bony, 65′).

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in duel-nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

[ MORE: PST names Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.

Pro Soccer Talk’s 2017 MLS awards: Who earned the hardware?

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Decision Day tipped the scales for several players and clubs as Major League Soccer transitions towards the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Now, it’s time to take a look back at the best players/coaches from the 2017 season, including the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Below, PST hands out its awards for the 2017 MLS regular season and gives some insight into the selections.

MLS MVP

Matt Reed Joe Prince-Wright Nick Mendola Andy Edwards Kyle Bonn Dan Karrell
1st place David Villa  Sebastian Giovinco Sebastian Giovinco Diego Valeri Diego Valeri  Sebastian Giovinco
2nd Diego Valeri  Miguel Almiron Diego Valeri David Villa David Villa Nemanja Nikolic
3rd Nemanja Nikolic  Diego Valeri Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic  David Villa

PST thoughts — Reed: “This may be one of the most difficult MVP races to assess in recent seasons simply because of the way that things shaped up towards the end. Nikolic was brilliant, and deservedly won the Golden Boot, but Valeri and Villa each carried their teams to first-round byes with strong efforts throughout the course of 2017. I think Sunday’s effort against the Crew showed just how important Villa is to NYCFC, though, as he nearly picked up his second hat-trick of the season. Without his goals, NYCFC drops to fifth place.”


Manager of the Year

Reed JPW Mendola Edwards Bonn Karell
1st place Tata Martino  Greg Vanney Tata Martino Tata Martino Caleb Porter  Greg Vanney
2nd Greg Vanney  Carl Robinson Chris Leitch Greg Vanney  Greg Vanney Veljko Paunovic
3rd Chris Leitch  Wilmer Cabrera Greg Vanney Patrick Vieira Patrick Vieira  Caleb Porter

PST thoughts — Edwards: “It’s crazy to not put the coach of the all-time points record holders first here, but what Tata did this year — quickly melding together 20 guys over the course of seven months and turning them into legitimate contenders — is a slightly tougher task. TFC rolled over 10 of 11 players from last year’s MLS Cup side (adding only Victor Vazquez, the unquestioned missing piece), which significantly lowers the degree of difficulty of the task as hand.”


Rookie of the Year

Reed JPW Mendola Edwards Bonn Karell
1st place Julian Gressel  Julian Gressel Julian Gressel Julian Gressel Julian Gressel  Julian Gressel
2nd Abu Danladi  Abu Danladi Jack Elliott Jackson Yueill Abu Danladi  Ian Harkes
3rd Jack Elliott  Ian Harkes Jonathan Lewis Alex Crognale Jack Elliott  Abu Danladi

PST thoughts — JPW: “A rising star for Atlanta, his ability to create goals in a dynamic attack has not been overlooked. Just edges the award ahead of Danladi, Harkes and Jack Elliott.


Newcomer of the Year

Reed JPW Mendola Edwards Bonn Karell
1st place Nemanja Nikolic  Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic Josef Martinez Miguel Almiron  Nemanja Nikolic
2nd Miguel Almiron  Josef Martinez Romain Alessandrini Nemanja Nikolic Nemanja Nikolic  Miguel Almiron
3rd Victor Vasquez Bastian Schweinsteiger Miguel Almiron Romain Alessandrini Victor Vasquez  Victor Vasquez

PST thoughts — Mendola: “Was this the best year of imports in MLS history? It’s hard to say otherwise, with Romain Alessandrini, Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, even half-season talents like Vako Qazaishvili and Paul Arriola. Well, wow. Nikolic’s 24 goals give him the distinction of leading three different leagues in scoring across four seasons.”

Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host 2018 MLS All-Star Game

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Atlanta United has done just about everything right in its first season in MLS, and the club is already being rewarded.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

On Monday, Major League Soccer announced that Atlanta will host the 2018 MLS All-Star Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The new venue has already been a part of MLS history when Atlanta hosted over 71,000 supporters on Sunday in the club’s regular season finale against Toronto FC.

“We’re proud to bring our 2018 All-Star Game to Atlanta, a city and Club that have taken Major League Soccer by storm,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “Atlanta United’s success is one of the most compelling and impressive expansion team launches in the history of pro sports, and a testament to Arthur Blank’s vision and leadership, and the tremendous team that he has built both on and off the field.

“Atlanta and its supporters have earned the opportunity to host MLS All-Star week and showcase their passion for the beautiful game.”

The expansion side has taken MLS by storm in its first season in the league, with its supporters purchasing more than 36,000 season tickets and the club averaging roughly 48,200 fans per home match.

[ MORE: PST names its Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

To this point, the date and opponent for next year’s All-Star Game are yet to be determined.

Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards

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The yearly debate as to whom the best player in the world is won’t be settled in the minds of fans across the globe, but on Monday, FIFA gave its two cents.

Real Madrid attacker Cristiano Ronaldo took home Best Male Player honors at the FIFA Best awards, beating out Lionel Messi and Neymar for the title.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy award, beats out Pulisic, others ]

Meanwhile, all three superstars were named in the FIFA Best XI for the year, alongside the likes of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Andres Iniesta.

Here’s a look at some of the other winners from Monday’s FIFA awards.

Best Male Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

FIFA World XI: Gianluigi Buffon; Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Leonardo Bonucci, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Andres Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar.

FIFA Men’s Coach of 2017: Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)

Puskas Award for Best Goal: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

Best Female Player: Lieke Martens (Netherlands)