ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Player of the Week: Will Bruin

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Will Bruin gave himself the luxury of not needing a full, 90-minute performance on Saturday. Perhaps that’s why his Player of the Week candidacy became a bit overshadowed. With two goals and an assist in the first 23 minutes against visiting New England, Bruin’s early dominance meant the Dynamo could click it into neutral for the rest of the game, secure in the knowledge their opening night’s work was done. As the final hour-plus ticked away and the Revolution unable to carve a way back into the match, it was easy to forget what the Dancing Bear had done to turn the game.

Bruins’ contributions started in the second minute, with Jose Goncalves playing a big part. Last season’s Defender of the Year overran a cross from Kofi Sarkodie, giving Bruin all the time he needed to measure his trapped ball as it fell back to the ground. Hitting it square on the laces of his right boot, Bruin blasted Houston in front minutes into the season, providing 16-yard finish that overshadowed the defense’s mistakes on the goal.

Fourteen minutes later, it was less the finish than the effort, though the touch a diving Bruin put on Corey Ashe’s cross was noteworthy, too. After the Houston left back forced a turnover at the edge of the attacking third, Bruin went on a looping far post run that left him wide open for his teammate’s cross. Diving into a slide in the six-yard box, Bruin had his second of the season, volleying past Bobby Shuttleworth to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

In the 23rd minute, the former Indiana Hoosier started filling up another column, finding an oncoming Boniek Garcia to record an assist on the night’s third goal. Houston would go on to win, 4-0.

No doubt about it, this is a case based on the numbers, but the underlying play is what distinguishes Bruin’s candidace from fellow two-goal scorers Kenny Miller and Federico Higuaín. Each of those creators scored from the spot, on penalties they didn’t earn themselves. Each added goals late, when their teams appeared in control of the match. Bruin was the only one of the trio to add an assist.

And there were other, non-goal scorers who made their case this week, most notably Nick Rimando, whose penalty kick save in the 92nd minute in Los Angeles preserved a win for Real Salt Lake. Had Robbie Keane not nailed the post with a first half chance, one made possible by a bad Rimando giveaway, the RSL veteran probably wouldn’t have won the league’s award. Thankfully for the U.S. international, Keane was having a rare off night. Rimando’s night was amazing but not unblemished.

For us, Bruin was Week 1’s best, providing a performance that will give Houston hope. After a season in which chances created too often became opportunities lost, a more efficient Dancing Bear is ready to tackle the 2014 campaign.

PST Award MLS Award
Week 1 Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo
2g, 1a vs. New England
Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
8 saves, PK save at LA

Three seriously injured, 120 detained in Bruges hooligan riot

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BRUSSELS (AP) Authorities are investigating a hooligan riot which seriously injured three people and forced Brugge police to detain 120 following the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy ]

Local police chief Dirk Van Nuffel says one policeman was among the seriously wounded as authorities sought to contain a brawl between Belgian fans reinforced by others who had come from the Netherlands.

By Monday morning all were released but investigators were still seeking to see who was at the core of the fighting. Van Nuffel says such hooligan fighting “hadn’t been seen for years.”

Everton fires Ronald Koeman

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A 5-2 home loss versus Arsenal sent Everton into the Premier League drop zone, and that’s apparently a bridge too far for the Toffees when it comes to their managerial position.

Ronald Koeman is out at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

Everton sits 18th in the Premier League with eight points, it’s minus-11 goal differential second-worst in the top flight. Its 18 goals conceded are third-worst, and only three clubs have scored fewer goals than its seven.

The Toffees won two rounds in the Europa League, beating Ružomberok and Hajduk Split, but have lost to Atalanta and Lyon while drawing Apollon Limassol in Group E play.

Everton faces Chelsea in League Cup play on Wednesday before a critical early season match at Leicester City on Sunday.

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The Best: Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi — Is there a front-runner?

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While France Football has its Ballon d’Or winner somewhere on a 30-man shortlist, FIFA’s “Best” men’s player is down to an unsurprising three ahead of Monday afternoon’s ceremony.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar are up for the award, and there was no major summer tournament outside of the Confederations Cup — only Ronaldo participated — to help tilt the scales in one’s favor this summer.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

Of course, Ronaldo claimed another UEFA Champions League crown, but was far from the simple standout of the club. In international play, both Ronaldo and Messi’s World Cup qualifying campaigns came down to the wire while Neymar captained Brazil’s dominant ride through CONMEBOL.

The award, which is said to be for on- and off-field behavior, was voted on by national coaches, national captains, select members of the media and fans.

Ronaldo is the favorite according to hardware, while Messi’s numbers and Neymar’s playmaking both can lay claim to the throne.

Stats since start of 2017

Lionel Messi

Club goals: 46
Club assists: 16
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 4
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Neymar

Club goals: 24
Club assists: 21
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 2
Country assists: 3
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Cristiano Ronaldo

Club goals: 31
Club assists: 7
Country caps: 11
Country goals: 11
Country assists: 4
Accolades: Confederations Cup semifinal, World Cup qualifier, Champions League winner, La Liga winner

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Mbappe wins Golden Boy over Rashford, Pulisic, Gabriel Jesus

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Paris Saint-Germain, France, and (former) Monaco starlet Kylian Mbappe has claimed the Golden Boy Award over Ousmane Dembele, Christian Pulisic, and others.

[ MORE: TFC sets MLS record ]

The Golden Boy is chosen from the top Under-21 players in Europe, and the short list had the above names and 22 more including Gabriel Jesus, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Marcus Rashford.

Mbappe, still 18 until Dec. 20, has four goals and four assists this season for PSG after scoring 26 goals with 14 assists for Monaco last season. He also has a goal for France.

The teenager likely played the biggest role at the biggest club last season, though Donnarumma was exceptional at Milan, Jesus’ injury conspired against him at Man City, and Marcus Rashford was very good for United.

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