Real Salt Lake Man of the Match: Nat Borchers

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Choosing between Real Salt Lake center backs Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler as the best of a very good bunch Sunday night at Jeld-Wen Field is like choosing between ice cream or cake for dessert.

That is to say, both were very, very good. Not just in Sunday’s 1-0 achievement, either, but over the entire 180 minutes of this stylish series. In fact, good performances were all over the field for Jason Kries’ team Sunday as RSL finished the Western Conference job with a steely, calm authority.

But Borchers, RSL’s veteran, 32-year-old center back, was maybe just a smidge more commanding than Schuler along an RSL back line that did very, very little wrong. (In fact, in terms of notable mistakes for the visitor’s rear guard, Lovel Palmer’s early yellow card may have been about it.)

Portland, down two goals in the series, came into the Jeld-Wen night desperate for goals. And yet, the home team was mostly reduced to a series of half-chances and a few shots from beyond the 18. RSL’s busy midfield was quite responsible, but so were RSL’s center backs. Borchers, Schuler and Kyle Beckerman, RSL’s ever-present screening midfielder, were always in the right places at the right time anytime Portland players seemed like they were thinking about shooting.

(MORE: Real Salt Lake earns place in MLS Cup final, downs Portland 1-0 to win Western Conference)

Until Max Urruti’s drive right at goalkeeper Nick Rimando in the 84th minute, Portland had managed just one single shot on target. One – in a match where they were determined to attack, attack, attack.

Rimando’s night otherwise was a lot of organizing and grabbing a cross here and there – the few crosses that Borchers didn’t deal with, that is.

Statistically, Borchers was credited with 18 clearances and three blocked shots – both game-highs for either side.

When not dealing with balls into the box, Borchers’ positioning was so wise that neither Urruti nor starting Timbers’ striker Freddie Piquionne was a factor in hold-up play nor in getting a sniff near goal.

Minnesota’s Molino lifts Trinidad and Tobago to big win (video)

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Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.

Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.

[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]

Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.

The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.

The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.

WATCH: Zaha drives Russia nuts with mazy dribble goal

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Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.

With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.

He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.

Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.

Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty

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A horror tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor snapped Seamus Coleman‘s leg in gruesome fashion on Friday.

Taylor was given a red card, and Coleman was stretched off the pitch in the 0-0 draw.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed what was apparent from the match replay: the Everton man has a broken ankle.

“It’s a bad break. He’s a fantastic player and character. It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good. He was holding is leg up and it didn’t look good.

This is not only awful for the player, but causes stress as Everton mounts its assault on the Top Six. The right back has also manned right mid for Ronald Koeman this season, and has four goals and four assists in 26 Premier League matches.

Mason Holgate, Muhamed Besic, and Phil Jagielka have played some right back for Everton, while Ramiro Funes Mori has deputized at left back.

Emotional McClean speaks after honoring deceased teammate (video)

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After wearing the No. 5 to honor of his recently deceased teammate, James McClean met with the media following Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.

Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).

“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.

“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”