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ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 1

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Forwards

Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo – Also known as PST Player of the Week Will Bruin, the Dancing Bear had two goals an an assist in the Dynamo’s 4-0 win over visiting New England.

We could be wrong about: Joao Plata, Real Salt Lake

Midfielders

Sebastián Fernández, Vancouver Whitecaps – Starting wide left in Carl Robinson’s 4-2-3-1, the Uruguayan was a constant presence cutting in underneath Darren Mattocks. He scored the weekend’s best goal, blasting home from well outside the area in Vancouver’s 4-1 win over New York.

Kenny Miller, Vancouver Whitecaps (pictured, above) – With his trademark relentlessness on display, Miller bagged a brace against New York, with his conversion from the spot opening Saturday’s scoring at BC Place.

Federico Higuaín, Columbus Crew – Two goals and his trademark command of Columbus’s counterattack helped Higuaín and the Crew overcome the absence of Dominic Oduro to hand D.C. United a 3-0 opening day loss.

Boniek Garcia, Houston Dynamo – The weekend’s best two-way performance also saw Boniek get on the scoresheet with Houston’s third goal. A Best XI-caliber player gave a Best XI-caliber performance.

Nigel Reo-Coker, Vancouver Whitecaps – The acquisition of Matías Laba allowed Reo-Coker to pursue the gaps in midfield, creating a balance that underpin Vancouver’s postseason hopes. His freedom to get forward was evident on Pedro Morales’ goal.

We could be wrong about: Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake; Mauro Rosales, Chivas USA; Mauro Díaz, FC Dallas; Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders; Maurice Edu, Philadelphia Union

Defenders

source: APJosh Williams, Columbus Crew – D.C.’s Nick DeLeon did little to hinder the run, but Williams early surge down the right and well-hit cross for Jairo Arrieta allowed the Crew to claim an early lead at RFK. Also helped his team keep a clean sheet, an effort that require him to remain strong when Eddie Johnson drifted to his flank to serve as a target for D.C. long balls.

Chad Marshall, Seattle Sounders – The value he provides on set pieces is already evident, with Marshall’s overall game also hinting he’ll be a significant upgrade to what Seattle took into last year’s playoffs.

Michael Parkhurst, Columbus Crew – Crucial tackles showed the value the U.S. international brings in Marshall’s place. Though he and his teammates were rarely tested by D.C., Parkhurst still showed the talents that could against make him one of Major League Soccer’s best defenders.

Corey Ashe, Houston Dynamo – A great read to create a turnover ahead of a well-served ball meant Ashe played a crucial part in Houston’s second goal. Already with two All-Star appearances, Ashe is off to a strong start in his quest for a third.

We could be wrong about: Amobi Okugo, Philadelphia; Bobby Burling, Chivas USA, Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake; DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders

Goalkeeper

Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake (pictured, with Chris Wingert) – Were it not for one (albeit big) first half mistake, the U.S. international would have been our Player of the Week. Even with that error, Rimando was clearly the week’s best keeper, delivering eight saves and a penalty kick stop in the Western Conference champions’ 1-0 win in Los Angeles.

We could be wrong about: Donovan Ricketts, Portland Timbers

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal ]

In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).