ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 4

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Forwards

Álvaro Saborío, Real Salt Lake – Our PST Player of the Week, Saborío scored twice while helped RSL to a 3-0 win over Toronto FC – a No. 1 vs. No 2 matchup, based on last week’s Power Rankings.

We could be wrong about: Blas Pérez, FC Dallas

(MORE: Explaining Player of the Week – Saborío over Zusi)

Midfielders

Mauro Díaz, FC Dallas – The young Argentine is becoming automatic on this list, but whereas last week Díaz took a backseat to Fabian Castillo (or, drew so much attention that he paved the way), the former River Plate midfielder played hero on Saturday. His late goal against Portland lifted Óscar Pareja’s team to its third win of the season. Last week’s performance may have been more heralded for that otherworldly ball he played for Je-Vaughn Watson, but his contribution against Portland was more influential.

Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake – As RSL’s focal point on Saturday, Morales exploited the space between Toronto’s lines to play a key part in his team’s last two goals. Beyond the goals, however, Morales was central to taking advantage of the work of Luis Gil and Ned Grabavoy, allowing the reigning Western Conference champions to hand TFC its first loss of the season.

Pedro Morales, Vancouver Whitecaps – An amazing display of passing over Saturday’ first half hour saw the former Málaga midfielder spraying the ball all over BC Place’s field, his first timed, long balls always leaving the Whitecaps within one touch of finding Darren Mattocks and Kenny Miller. His cross after an early corner began the play which created Vancouver’s opening goal.

Lee Nguyen, New England Revolution – It was already Nguyen’s best night of the campaign before a 93rd minute counter attack allowed him to end San Jose’s 21- match unbeaten run with his first goal of the season.

Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders – A typically destructive performance from “Ossie” was made all the more special as his skill in possession almost allowed the 10-man Sounders to preserve a draw against visiting Columbus.

We could be wrong about: Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City; Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers; Michael Bradley, Toronto FC; Ricardo Clark, Houston Dynamo; Perry Kitchen, D.C .United; Federico Higuaín, Columbus Crew

Defenders

Michael Parkhurst, Columbus Crew – When defending is good, it should look easy, but that doesn’t mean Parkhurst shouldn’t be acknowledged. His was the best defensive performance of the weekend, one which saw him constantly cleaning up the space between Steve Clark and the Columbus defense while Seattle was playing with 11. Another week, this could have been a sneak Player of the Week winner.

Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake – Borchers didn’t make it look quite as easy; then again, he was going up against Jermain Defoe. Not renown for his foot speed, the RSL defender kept up with the England international, leading the effort that kept Defoe off the scoresheet for the first time this season.

Jair Benítez, FC Dallas – A second straight Team of the Week appearance for Benítez, who most will remember for the fouls he laid on Darlington Nagbe during Saturday’s first half. Beyond that rough play, however, Benítez was again the weekend’s best left back, his crossing help produce Dallas’s first goal.

(MORE: Last week’s Team of the Week.)

Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas – It was an off week for the league’s right backs, allowing Acosta’s role on Dallas’s first goal to claim a spot in this team. Playing against 10 men, Acosta saw more room through midfield than usual, space he used to help provide width for his own 10-man side.

We could be wrong about: Aaron Wheeler, Philadelphia Union; Jordan Harvey, Vancouver Whitecaps; Armando, New York Red Bulls; Eric Miller, Montréal Impact

Goalkeeper

Steve Clark, Columbus Crew – Clark’s save on Lamar Neagle in Saturday’s first half may have been the most important stop of the weekend, but it wasn’t the new Crew No. 1’s only contribution. Among other strong moments, Clark came up big again just before Djimi Traoré’s sending off, helping Columbus stay close enough to take advantage of the Seattle defender’s dismissal.

We could be wrong about: Dan Kennedy, Chivas USA

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

Pete Christopher//The Oregonian via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

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

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Ederson harbors no ill will after Mane’s personal apology

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As far as Ederson is concerned, Sadio Mane‘s studs-to-face assault is a thing of the past — save for, the elongated scar he’ll likely wear on the left side of his face for the rest of his life, of course.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

The Manchester City goalkeeper, who was forced from his side’s 5-0 victory over Liverpool on Sept. 9 after his face was raked by the studs of the Reds’ star attacker, revealed this weekend that he received — and accepted — Mane’s personal apology in the days immediately thereafter — quotes from Goal.com:

“Yes, I had contact with him, he sent me a message. I told him to stay calm, those things happen inside the pitch, it could happen anytime. I told him to not worry and wished him a good season.”

“I ended up having a hard hit in the face, but in the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I felt a strong kick, but I was always conscious. I knew it had been a long cut. I wanted to keep playing but, for medical issues, I couldn’t keep playing.

“But I was always conscious, even if I had my face a little bit swollen. But after a week it was normal again. In the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I faced that game full of confidence again, without any fear and happy for the result we achieved.”

Bundesliga: Leverkusen throttle HSV; Hannover remain unbeaten

Marius Becker/dpa via AP
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BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.

A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.

Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.

“The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.

Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.

The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of $28.6 million on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.

Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.

Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.

Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.


Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.

Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.

“The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. “We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”

Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.

Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.

“We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.

Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.