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.

Men In Blazers podcast: Mohamed Salah continues to shine

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo marvel at Mo Salah’s four goal, one dime haul in Liverpool’s 5-0 beatdown of Watford, analyze Jose Mourinho’s recent rants about football heritage at Manchester United, and recap Rog’s family trip to Stoke vs. Everton.

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1912 FA Cup winner’s medal stolen

South Yorkshire Police
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A 106-year-old footballing relic has been snatched from a house in England.

The home of the 82-year-old grandson of former Barnsley player Philip Bratley was burglarized last weekend according to the BBC and other reports, and among the items stolen was an “invaluable” FA Cup winner’s medal from 1912.

That year, Barnsley defeated West Bromwich Albion in the finals of the 41st FA Cup, with Bratley scoring the winning goal in the semifinal replay over Swindon Town. He went on to make over 100 appearances for Barnsley between 1910 and 1014 before moving transferring to Liverpool, where he spent one season before he left during the first World War.

“This item is of great sentimental value to the family and belonged to the 82-year-old victim’s grandfather who, at the time, played for Barnsley,” the South Yorkshire police said. “The family is extremely upset that this, along with many of their belongings, have been stolen. If you have any information please get in touch so we can try and reunite this invaluable item with its rightful owner.”

Barnsley has offered to assist the South Yorkshire police in their search for the stolen artifact, as those with any information are encouraged to contact either entity to share what they may know.

Griezmann sets pre-World Cup deadline for transfer future

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
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French striker Antoine Griezmann is no stranger to seeing his name in the transfer rumor mill, but that familiarity doesn’t make it any more enjoyable for the Atletico Madrid attacker (who celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday).

Long-tipped for a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United, Griezmann knows one thing: He wants his future sorted before the World Cup.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“I want to travel to Russia without this concern,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s not about knowing where I’ll play, but about having the peace of mind if I’m still in one place or another.

“It may be boring, but I have told my sister that, whether I stay or not, this will have to be resolved beforehand. What bothers me the most is that everyone asks me about this issue.”

That’s both honest and reasonable, and we can imagine it’s not a blast to answer questions on your future every day. He also has a contract through 2021-22, which won’t make any transfer a simple one.

Griezmann has 23 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Atleti this season, as La Liga’s second place side remains alive in the UEFA Europa League. He’s scored 106 goals for Atleti since arriving from Real Sociedad.

NYCFC signs second Homegrown Player in history

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Four years, two Homegrowns.

That’s the decent track record for New York City FC, which has spotted a second youngster from amongst its ranks in 15-year-old Joe Scally.

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Scally joins United States youth international James Sands as Homegrown Players from NYCFC. Here’s USMNT legend and NYCFC technical director Claudio Reyna:

“Joe has been one of the top performers in the Academy for the past few seasons and represented US Soccer at U-15 and U-17 level.”

“He has all of the attributes we look for in a right-back: he’s strong in defense and can support in attack to help create chances from wide areas.”

Sands was signed last summer, and played 23 minutes for NYCFC against Colorado in his lone senior appearance.