TORONTO, Canada — Jermain Defoe was at it again on Saturday, seemingly everywhere on a sloppy pitch as he carved up DC United before finishing one of his myriad chances to give Toronto FC a win in its home opener.
It was impossible not to notice his quality, and his manager certainly did.
“I’ve gotta watch what I say here cause if I was Roy Hodgson, I’d pick him in a heartbeat, but I’m Ryan Nelsen,” said the TFC manager. “What I’d say is he’s got a natural ability to do what you’ve seen out there. If he keeps this up, he’s obviously putting up himself up as a candidate for the striker (position).”
Defoe’s goal Saturday was more of the poacher’s variety, as he coolly slotted in a rebound of a Gilberto attempt. Michael Bradley started the play with a gorgeous ball over the top that had Nelsen searching for the right adjectives.
“The ball from Michael Bradley and the run to Gilberto for the goal was just gorgeous to tell the truth,” Nelsen said. “Beautiful. It was such a weighted pass and touch and shot. It was a good save and it was only going to ever fall to one guy. It always does fall for him.”
Bradley was asked about the difference between playing against Defoe and having him as a teammate. The American midfielder chose to go a different route with his response, praising him effusively.
“He gets chances and scores goals,” Bradley said. “He works for the team. He finds himself in good spots. He knows we need him coming other need. He sniffs out chances and when chances fall for him, he’s really good at knowing what he wants to do with it.”
For his part, Defoe admitted the American game is a tough one. For the second straight week the Englishman took a beating, including some out of the way shots from Jeff Parke.
“It’s difficult,” Defoe said. “On a personal note, you’re playing against defenders who are really physical. But you’ve gotta embrace it. I’m playing with a good team.”
Liverpool, who have based themselves on the sunny, warm Stanford University campus as part of their preparations for the 2016-17 Premier League, took on the collegiate side and played the youngsters to a 1-1 draw.
Klopp failed to get his name on the scoresheet, though the former Mainz striker had one golden chance turned away by Stanford’s goalkeeper. The same couldn’t be said for physiotherapist Ruben Pons, who scored from beyond the halfway line on a mishit long ball over the top.
Following Steve Bruce’s sudden and unexpected resignation this week, Hull City find themselves without a first-team manager 20 days before the 2016-17 Premier League opener, which will pit the PL newcomers (again) against the reigning PL champions (not again) Leicester City on Aug. 13.
The man presently in charge of the club, Mike Phelan, who served as Sir Alex Ferguson‘s no. 2 for a number of years at Manchester United, has essentially no first-team managerial experience, but he’s eager to cut his teeth and wants the job anyway — quotes from the Hull Daily Mail:
“I want to be a manager. I don’t really see why I shouldn’t want to be a manager. Time will tell. That decision doesn’t sometimes come down to you.
“I’ve had a small chat and I was asked if I would carry on being in charge for now. We have games, we have preparations, we’ve still got three weeks to go.
“My job is no different to what it has been except now I’m stood on the touchline in games doing my bit. We just have to do our job, there’s nothing else we can do until the powers that be make their decisions.”
Here’s why it’s (obviously) crazy for the club to delay a final decision any longer than absolutely necessary: with every passing day, important preparations for a PL season, a campaign in which the Tigers will almost certainly be fighting for their top-division status, are being undertaken by an interim boss who, based upon the daily whims of an outgoing owner, may or may not be the man to lead Hull into that 38-game battle.
Phelan previously served as interim manager for Norwich City in 2015, for a period totaling four days.
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Serge Aurier scored twice and Paris Saint-Germain beat Inter Milan 3-1 on Sunday at the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium.
Layvin Kurzawa also scored for PSG on a free kick in the 61st minute in the International Champions Cup match. Stevan Jovetic scored for Inter Milan on a penalty kick in stoppage time following the first half.
Autzen Stadium, the home football field of the Oregon Ducks, hosted the match, part of the International Champions Cup. Real grass was laid down on the artificial turf field, obscuring the yellow `O’ at midfield.
The International Champions Cup is an exhibition tournament involving 17 teams playing on four different continents. It serves a tuneup for the regular season.
Inter Milan was coming off a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake earlier in the week in Utah. Striker Mauro Icardi played in that match, and was given the day off against PSG.
Paris Saint-Germain, which beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 its last time out on July 14 in Austria, is embarking on its first season under Unai Emery, who took over for Laurnet Blanc. In addition to the new manager, PSG will also need to adjust to the departure of enigmatic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who signed with Manchester United earlier this month.
Ibrahimovic had 38 goals in 31 French league games last season, helping PSG to a fourth successive title. On Sunday midfielder Javier Pastore wore No. 10.
Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier entered as subs for Paris Saint-Germain in the second half.
Di Maria had just returned to his club team earlier in the week after taking some time off following the Copa America tournament. He played for his native Argentina in the final, which Chile won on penalty kicks.
David Luiz apparently did not make the trip to Eugene from Los Angeles, where PSG was training.
Aurier, who played in the 2014 World Cup for his native Ivory Coast, left-footed the rebound of a free kick off goalkeeper Samir Handanovic into the bottom left corner.
Inter Milan evened it on Jovetic’s penalty kick into the top right corner in extra time following the first half. The penalty was awarded when Lucas Moura was called for a handball.
Aurier had a good chance in the 57th minute but his shot hit the crossbar. A few minutes later, Kurzawa struck a perfectly placed free kick that Handanovic couldn’t reach that put PSG in front.
Aurier’s second goal was a header off a cross from Alec Georgen in the 87th minute.
Is MLS MVP a three-horse race at the All-Star “break”?
With the 2016 MLS All-Star Game set to be played Thursday night (versus Arsenal, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif.), it got me thinking about the race for this year’s Most Valuable Player award. (If MLS is going to continue holding the All-Star Game every year — and they are — it should include an actual break, as is the case in all other America sports.)
While the field is a small one at this point of the campaign, it’s also much closer than it was last year, when Sebastian Giovinco took home the honor in an absolute landslide of a vote.
Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
The reigning MVP is on pace for something of a come-down in his second season in MLS, but when you put up 22 goals and 16 assists in your debut campaign, can you really expect to replicate that kind of production from one year to the next? Still, 11 goals (on the most shots in the league – 124) and 7 assists through 20 games (Giovinco has played in 19) has him on pace for 18 goals and 12 assists. Of course, when you consider he snapped a skid of eight games without a goal with a hat trick Saturday night, and that he’s unlikely to endure such a slump through the final 14 games, 18 and 12 should be considered the proverbial floor.
TFC have scored just 25 goals this season, and Giovinco has scored or assisted 18 of them (72 percent).
As for TFC’s present standing and how that impacts Giovinco’s MVP candidacy, fifth place through 20 games is a disappointment considering this was to be “the year” where they were less of a collection of talent, and more a functional team. Of course, injuries (and national team call-ups) have robbed the Reds of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Will Johnson for lengthy periods already. That TFC find themselves presently a playoff team, and a measly six points back of the Eastern Conference’s top spot with two games in hand, should benefit Giovinco’s case more than hurt it.
David Villa, New York City FC
This one’s pretty simple: NYCFC weren’t supposed to be anywhere near the top spot of the East this season, yet that’s where they find themselves at the break, and Villa has spearheaded their unlikely run by scoring 13 goals (most in MLS – on 117 shots – 46 more than the next-closest player) and one assist through 22 games (Villa has played in 21). The question is this, though: will Patrick Vieira’s side still be there come the end of the season? So much of Villa’s claim to MVP is that he’s been the best player on one of the best (and certainly most surprising) teams in MLS this year.
If they’re to fall back into the pack (they’re just two points clear of the New York Red Bulls following Sunday’s 4-1 derby disaster, and only four points from fourth), Villa will quickly fall from MVP candidate to “the best best player on a subpar team.”
Ignacio Piatti, Montreal Impact
The Impact have, for my money, the most complete roster in the Eastern Conference. Didier Drogba is arguably the most dominant goal-scoring force MLS has ever seen (8 goals in 12 appearances this season; 11 in 11 last year), and the depth in midfield and defense is unparalleled, yet Piatti has been the unrivaled star through the first 20 games of the season (he has played in 18). His 12 goals and 5 assists are rivaled only by Giovinco’s numbers, and he’s been a far more consistent contributor than the Italian (never more than three games without a goal, while playing as a non-forward, unlike Giovinco).
The knock on Piatti has always been his inability to stay healthy and approach a pace of 30 appearances in a single season. Finally consistently healthy in 2016, he’s taken his short-term production and replicated that same kind of output over 90 percent of his team’s games this season. If he can reach 30 games played this year, Piatti has the best chance of stopping Giovinco from becoming the first back-to-back MVP winner in league history.
On the fringe, with a chance to catch the leaders: Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls – 5 goals, 12 assists), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers – 9 goals, 5 assists)