ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 3

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Forwards

Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders – Scored Seattle’s second goal in the 58th minute but had an equally good (and remarkably saved) finish in the 17th minute. Acting as a focal point in Sigi Schmid’s impromptu 4-3-3, Martins’ holdup play helped Seattle produce its best performance of the season, a description that also applies to the Nigerian’s individual effort in Montréal.

We could be wrong about: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

Midfielders

Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas – Things can get easy when you have Blas Pérez and Mauro Díaz on your side, but as we see on a game-in, game-out basis, opportunities don’t always translate to execution. Castillo continuously created chances for his team until he opened the scoring in the 71st minute, helping Dallas to a 3-1 win over Chivas USA.

Bernardo Anor, Columbus Crew  – A two-goal, first half outburst from the Venezuelan built Columbus’s lead in what turned out to be the weekend’s best match. His long distance strike in first half stoppage time will be one of the goals of the season.

Mauro Díaz, FC Dallas – This week it was about quality over quantity for the FCD playmaker. His 71st minute chip over Chivas USA’s high line burned the Goats ahead of Saturday’s opening goal, while his long ball behind left back Tony Lochhead on Dallas’s second set up Je-Vaughn Watson’s game winner.

Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew – A dominant performance in the middle of the park for Columbus’s 21-year-old anchor appeared on the highlight reels when he dispossessed Vincent Nogueira ahead of Anor’s bomb. Involved in both Crew goals, Trapp has just as much of a Player of the Week claim as his teammate, if not more so.

Michael Bradley, Toronto FC – It was a typical Bradley performance, but against a D.C. United midfield that offered no resistance, both he and Jonathan Osorio were allowed to have big days. Bradley, however, sparked the movement for the first goal as well as managed the game while Toronto spent the first hour breaking their visitors down. Add in the qualities that make him a perpetual candidate for this team, and the U.S. international earns the nod.

We may be wrong about: Federico Higuaín, Columbus; Dax McCarty, New York; Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle; Je-Vaughn Watson, Dallas; Dillon Powers, Colorado

Defenders

DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders – A couple of shaky moments when Seattle started to bunker may have stuck in people’s minds, but around those hiccups, Yedlin gave his best performance of what’s already a strong sophomore season. Montréal, leaning toward its right, stayed away from Yedlin for the first half-hour, after which the U.S. hopeful was involved in everything. Both in defense and in possession, Yedlin made the right choices on Sunday.

Chad Marshall, Seattle Sounders – Why more people aren’t talking about Marshall’s performance, I don’t know, but the offseason import for Columbus was a rock for Sigi Schmid in Montréal. As if tuned into the Impact attacks, Marshall continuously and calmly cleared Montréal’s forays toward goal, helping Stefan Frei post a relatively easy shutout. He made this choice easy.

Ibrahim Sekagya, New York Red Bulls – Starting in place of the suspended Armando, Sekagya was excellent on Sunday, especially in the air. Particularly on chances in the 73rd and 93rd minutes in Chicago, Sekagya came up big, part of the reason the Red Bulls were able to take a point out of Toyota Park.

Jair Benítez, FC Dallas – What was supposed to be a matchup between him and Chivas USA right midfielder Mauro Rosales never materialized. Instead, Benítez used the space he was afforded to have an impact going forward, especially as Dallas turned up the heat in the second half.

We may be wrong about: Aaron Wheeler, Philadelphia; Josh Williams, Columbus; Matteo Ferrari, Montréal, Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake; Carlos Bocanegra, Chivas USA

Goalkeeper

Bill Hamid, D.C. United – Good Bill showed up in Toronto on Saturday, part of the reason D.C. was able to hold out for an hour against one of the best teams in the league. His first half, point-blank save on Jermain Defoe was the big one.

We may be wrong about: Steve Clark, Columbus

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia