MLS Cup Man of the Match: Sporting Kansas City’s Aurelien Collin

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KANSAS CITY — Aurelien Collin may not have been the very best player on the field Saturday from a technical standpoint – but talk about finding a way in the big moments.

His team wouldn’t even have been in the final, record-setting, 10-round nail-biter of a penalty kick shootout but for Collin’s big second half header, when he out-jumped and out-competed RSL defender Chris Schuler for Graham Zusi’s corner kick and Sporting Kansas City’s only goal Saturday night.

Schuler was actually right with his marker, but Collin just wanted it a little more – perhaps still a little stung for having his own paw prints nearby as Alvaro Saborio opened the scoring for RSL.

Collin was his usual, physical self, walking the line as always. He crossed it in the 35th minute and had to carry a yellow card from there.

Allowing Saborio to break free for some shooting space was Collin’s only big mistake in the back, but he more than atoned with the 76th minute goal, one that positioned his team for its 2nd MLS Cup triumph in 18 years, and the city’s first professional sports championship in 13 years.

He was also named the game’s official MVP, just the second time a defender has claimed the honor over those 18 years. (The only other time was last year, when the LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez was named MLS Cup MVP.)

Collin’s penalty kick, the 10th, was about as sweetly hit as possible. It was audaciously, perhaps even dangerously, high and right. But when Collin put the spot shot right there, no goalkeeper on Earth would be able to reach it.

He was No. 10 on the list because, apparently, he isn’t the best PK taker in practices. He and manager Peter Vermes joked about it after the match, the SKC manager insisting that was the very best he has ever seen Collin hit a 12-yard shot.

Collin said he couldn’t remember ever taking a penalty kick, certainly not it the run of play and not even in a tiebreaker situation. So that was the first, he was asked, for clarification?

“Yes, and hopefully the last!” he said with a big smile.

At long last, Butland returns to full training with Stoke

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Stoke City’s long-coming goalkeeping dilemma will come to a head soon, as Jack Butland is back in training.

A year ago today, the Potters confirmed that star backstop Butland would miss EURO 2016 with a broken ankle. He’d need multiple surgeries as recovery dragged on and on.

[ MORE: Complete Panama-USMNT preview ]

That was more palatable thanks to the play of Lee Grant, who arrived on loan from Derby County but became a permanent Potter in January. Grant has been a key part of Stoke’s season.

Butland is contracted to Stoke through 2021, and he’ll ascend to the starting gig sooner rather than later. But Grant is in the catbird seat for now, and at least will have made himself attractive to other clubs seeking a keeper.

Report: Everton linked with $4 million swoop for Canada’s Larin

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The Sun only hits on a few of the many transfer rumors it tosses around, but this one bears a second look for fans of Everton, MLS, and Canada.

Everton is already eyeing replacements for Romelu Lukaku, according to the report, and is hunting for a bargain in Canadian national teamer Cyle Larin.

Larin, 21, was the first overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City SC after an electric career at UConn.

[ MORE: Complete Panama-USMNT preview ]

He’s since scored 35 goals in 63 matches for the Lions, picking up three in his first two matches of the 2017 season. The 6-foot-1 Ontario native has five goals for Canada in 19 caps.

The Sun says Larin would cost close to $4 million, a fraction of what the Toffees will get if they sell Lukaku.

Fan dies after falling off football stadium in Brazil

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SAO PAULO (AP) A Brazilian football fan has died after falling 25 meters from the top of Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo onto a parking lot.

The height is equivalent to an eight-story building.

Bruno Pereira da Silva, aged 23, suffered head injuries and died upon arrival at a local hospital on Sunday.

[ MORE: Complete Panama-USMNT preview ]

He and other fans were attempting to jump to a section of the stadium where they could get a better view of the Sao Paulo state championship match between Sao Paulo and archrival Corinthians. The game ended 1-1.

Friends of da Silva told Brazilian media Silva was attending his first football match.

CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers: CRC, Honduras get off the mat

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The two traditional CONCACAF powers are riding high following Friday’s round of World Cup qualifiers, while the two other sides to qualify for Brazil 2014 are licking their wounds.

Honduras and Costa Rica both found themselves on the wrong side of shutout losses to the United States and Mexico, while Trinidad and Tobago injected itself into the discussion with a home win over Panama.

[ WATCH: CONCACAF qualifiers on Telemundo ]

What’s cooking for Tuesday? Read on:

Honduras vs. Costa Rica — 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday

Two sides which love to play physical, on-the-edge soccer meet on the heels of Friday losses. Expect Jorge Luis Pinto’s Catrachos to adapt after a 6-0 beatdown at the hands of the U.S., but they’ll have to do much, much better at home.

The dates at Estadio Morazan have to be the key for Honduras to climb into the Top Three, and it’ll be buoyed by memories of its 3-1 win over T&T two rounds ago. As for Costa Rica, Los Ticos aim to respond from conceding their first two goals of the Hex.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico — 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday

Kevin Molino’s strike gave T&T its first three points of qualifying, but its odds of getting a result against visiting Mexico aren’t nearly as good. The Soca Warriors desperation will be easy to see, as June’s qualifiers include trips to the U.S. and Costa Rica.

El Tri now has wins in two of its trickier Hex matches after adding Friday’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica to its upset of the Yanks in Columbus. Ten points through four matches would be exemplary; A draw or loss leaves the door open for Costa Rica to summit the Hex table.

United States vs. Panama — 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday

Read our extensive preview here, but the upshot is this: The United States can rise into the Top Three by beating Panama, while Los Canaleros will be happy to scoop a draw to stem any bleeding cause by Molino and T&T.