Nagbe

PST Man of the Match: Darlington Nagbe

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SEATTLE — Portland Timbers wunderkind midfielder Darlington Nagbe turned in another gem of a performance against Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday. He scored the second goal of the 2-1 first leg of the MLS Western Conference semifinal.

With his team up a goal, Nagbe began a run on the left wing that left multiple Seattle defenders frozen in place. Kalif Alhassan played a pinpoint ball to Nagbe’s foot, and he took a touch to turn and then fire past Marcus Hahnemann to seal the match — and probably the series.

Beyond his nose for goal in that instance, Nagbe had another steady game as Portland’s creative outlet on the wing. He completed 24 of 27 passes, good for a 88.9-percent success rate.

In a first half largely dominated by the Sounders, Nagbe held the ball up well in the attacking third. In the 42nd minute, he burned two defenders on the right side of the penalty area before Osvaldo Alonso had to take him down.

Diego Chará receives an honorable mention for Man of the Match, mostly as a result of his tireless work rate and constant ability to find the action areas. Everywhere the ball moved, Chará was on the spot, whether it was in attack or defense.

He pressed forward from his holding midfield spot more often than usual, leaving Will Johnson to cover. Chará received a secondary assist on Ryan Johnson’s opening goal, as it was his pass that found Jack Jewsbury overlapping on the right side.

On the other side of the field, Alonso also played well on both sides of the ball. He completed 100 percent of his 23 attempted passes in the first half, finishing with 54 of 59 successful passes in 90 minutes.

Defensively, he patrolled in front of Seattle’s center backs as usual, with varying success. But in a game where the Sounders failed to create many clear-cut opportunities, despite its clear superiority in attacking personnel and boisterous home crowd, Alonso kept possession ticking and looked for seams going forward.

When the Sounders needed an influential player to step up, Alonso was on the spot in the form of his 90th-minute volley to give his team some hope on Thursday. Should Seattle mount any sort of comeback, it will have its Cuban talisman — steady all season and his entire career in rave green — to thank.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113rd minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.

Palmer-Brown heads U.S. U-20s to win over Mexico (video)

Erik Palmer-Brown
@ussoccer_ynt
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The United States U-20 men are on the precipice of the U-20 World Cup after beating Mexico 1-0 on Monday, scooping their first win against El Tri in 31 years.

Brooks Lennon continues to look the part for the U.S. ahead of his loan season from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops again ]

The youngster sent in this free kick that Erik Palmer-Brown, himself a loan man at Porto from Sporting KC this year, headed into the Mexico goal courtesy of a back post defender who opted for his right leg over a decent clearing attempt.

The U.S. took that lead into halftime.

Things got chippy as the second half unfolded, with referee Melvin Matamoros turning a blind eye to a few clattering tackles.

Tab Ramos subbed NYCFC prospect Jonathan Lewis into the match, and he sprung a counterattack that should have put the match to bed. But Lewis’ through ball missed FC Dallas’ Coy Craft and the latter took too much time, frittering away the chance.