ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 5

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Forwards

Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders – It wasn’t just that Dempsey scored a hat trick on Saturday. Those goals came in a match against Seattle’s arch rivals, with two equalizers and a winner from the spot allowing the Sounders to claim a result in Portland. Now tied for the league lead in goals (four), Dempsey was awarded with the league’s Player of the Week honor.

Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps – For weeks the young Jamaican has been doing everything but score, but after beating Drew Moor to a second half pass from Kenny Miller, Mattocks finally broke through, hits coveted first goal of the season complementing another strong all-around performance.

We may be wrong about: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

Midfielders

Diego Chara, Portland Timbers – Our Week 5 Player of the WeekChara doubled his career MLS goal tally with two long distance offerings against Seattle. The Portland destroyer also completed 94 percent of his passes and played a crucial part in another Timbers goal.

(MORE: Explaining Player of the Week – Chara over Dempsey)

Michael Bradley, Toronto FC – In addition to an 11th minute goal that proved Saturday’s game winner, Bradley was his typical influential self in the middle of the park, combining the disruptive effect of an elite destroyer with the surging runs that were also on display mid-week against Mexico. Though he only went 73 minutes, he did enough to earn a place in this XI.

Felipe, Montréal Impact – The Red Bulls didn’t offer much resistance, but with a goal and an assist, Montréal’s creator took advantage of what he was given, orchestrating Andrés Romero’s opener before running onto Justin Mapp’s second half cross for the equalizer.

Jose Mari, Colorado Rapids – The Rapids’ defensive midfielder was having a strong day before Matías Laba was sent off. Afterward, his two bombs from beyond the penalty area snatched the game from Vancouver, with this bender providing a surprise awakening for the previously unbeaten Whitecaps:

We could be wrong about: Baggio Husidic, LA Galaxy; Stefan Ishizaki, LA Galaxy; Justin Mapp, Montréal Impact, Je-Vaughn Watson, FC Dallas, Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers

Defenders

Justin Morrow, Toronto FC – Amid a strong set of candidates at left back, Morrow gets the nod, with a late assist on Issey Nakajima-Farran’s first MLS goal giving the former San Jose Earthquake a place on the scoresheet that complements a strong performance on the left.

Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake – It’s almost impossible to separate his performance from partner Chris Schuler’s, but his 27th minute clearance and 63rd minute save in front of goal earned the veteran our nod. We also saw him has slightly less culpable on an 11th minute chance on a long ball from Matt Besler to Dom Dwyer, but that may have been more of the team effort.

Bradley Orr, Toronto FC – For much of our last viewing of Toronto’s visit to Columbus, this spot was going to be Schuler’s. If anything, Orr’s partner, rookie Nick Hagglund, looked like he was giving the better performance. Starting in the 61st minute, however, Orr made five good defensive reads or clearances in the span of six minutes, a stretch that included a goal mouth clearance that may have saved a goal. A late, ill-advised foul at the edge of the penalty area nearly cost him this spot, but ultimately, we gave the Blackburn loanee the nod.

Seth Sinovic, Sporting Kansas City – I’m bending my rules by picking two left backs, because I can’t resist including Sinovic, who was just edged for the spot on the left. The gap between Sinovic’s performance and that of the weekend’s best right back was enough to convince me to reconsider, even though I like to keep these teams as representative as possible.

We may be wrong about: Chris Schuler, Real Salt Lake; Nick Hagglund, Toronto FC; Chance Myers, Sporting Kansas City; Dan Gargan, LA Galaxy

Goalkeeper

Jeff Attinella, Real Salt Lake – Perhaps the easiest choice on the board, Attinella made nine saves Saturday in Kansas City, with good reads in the 42nd and 63rd minutes allowing his performance to go beyond mere numbers. His was one of three Team of the Week performances RSL needed to survive Sporting Park.

We may be wrong about: Clint Irwin, Colorado Rapids

Off to slow start, Morris, Seattle know “things can change quickly”

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Both Jordan Morris and the Seattle Sounders are off to a rough start in defense of their MLS Cup title last Fall, and the USMNT’s star striker admits to recalling last season’s wild turnaround as an inspiration.

“After the game last week we mentioned that we have a lot of the nucleus from last year and we all know that things can change quickly,” Morris said to ProSoccerTalk this week.

Seattle won just seven games before Matchday 22 last season, rebounding with a burst after coach Sigi Schmid was replaced by assistant Brian Schmetzer. The Sounders went 8-2-2 down the stretch en route to an MLS Cup win over Toronto FC.

While he hasn’t scored in five matches and only has two markers in 12 games, he feels success is coming for the 3W-5L-4T Sounders. Morris said the club knows the results aren’t there, but also that they are producing chances.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

“It’s been okay,” Morris said. “Definitely not the start I would’ve wanted. It’s not an excuse but we’ve hit a lot of posts and had other near misses.”

Seattle has a huge opportunity to flip the script on its season when Cascadia Cup rivals Portland visit on Saturday. The free-scoring Timbers are dangerous in attack, but have been opened up 20 times this season. Only two teams have conceded more goals than Portland (which has played the most matches in the league, it must be said).

And it may or may not surprise fans that Morris’ focus has been one of his strengths: the final product.

“I’m working on the final third, whether it’s shooting or finding the open guy,” Morris said. “It’s a big deal for us to finish our chances. Scoring or the final pass in that final third.”

Despite his relatively cold start, it would be surprising if Bruce Arena didn’t tab Morris in his crop for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. The 22-year-old also seems relatively certain to be a part of the Gold Cup plans.

“I’m excited and hopefully I get called up,” he said. “These World Cup qualifiers are obviously a very big deal and Bruce has done a really good job of getting us on the same page.”

Morris is also participating in a unique promotional activity with Delta Air Lines for Sounders fans, as he and Cristian Roldan are among Seattle teams picking fans for “positions” in a Fan XI. Once assembled, they’ll travel to L.A. for a Sounders road match and even sign one-day contracts. Morris was happy to get on board with it.

“It’s for our fans, who are amazing,” he said. “Delta’s idea to make a Fan XI gives the fansa chance to have the behind the scenes experience of being part of a team put together by having different skills. We love rewarding our fans.”

Day Seven: All the action from the U20 World Cup (video)

Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP
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Mexico has automatically qualified for the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup despite falling to Venezuela.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup latest

Germany dropped below Mexico in goal differential after allowing a 3-0 lead to sink to one, though El Tri still likely would’ve advanced to the next phase despite Germany’s result.

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela

Caracas 19-year-old striker Sergio Cordova scored for the third-straight match in what is sure to make him a hot summer commodity as Venezuela clinched Group B with a perfect 3-0 record.

Germany 3-2 Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s potential name of the tournament Bong Kalo scored twice in the second half to sink Germany below Mexico on goal difference.

Guinea 0-5 Argentina

A brace from Lautaro Martínez gives Argentina hope of the knockout rounds with a third-place finish.

England 1-0 South Korea

Everton’s Kieran Dowell scored the lone goal of the match to give England the Group A crown.

Zabaleta staying in Premier League with West Ham move

@WHUFC
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A week after bidding Manchester City an emotional goodbye, Pablo Zabaleta has announced he’ll be staying in England.

The 32-year-old right back is moving to London, where he’ll join West Ham United on a two-year deal beginning July 1.

[ MORE: Three key battles in FA Cup Final ]

The San Lorenzo youth product went to Espanyol in 2005 to begin his European adventure, joining Man City in 2008. He won two PL titles, two League Cups, and an FA Cup, and was named the club’s player of the season in 2012-13.

From WHUFC.com:

“Manchester City gave me the opportunity to come to this wonderful league, the Premier League, something I’ve been enjoying a lot as a player and of course for me it was probably the right time to move on.

“Also, as a player, I thought I wanted to keep playing in the Premier League. For me, after being in this country for so long, this is a new challenge for me in the Premier League and I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”

Maybe he just wanted 3G.

Young Sam Byram can learn plenty from Zabaleta, and the signing means that star right-sided man Michail Antonio likely won’t have to be wasted at right back in emergency situations. Good risk by the Hammers.

Valencia extends Man Utd deal to great Mourinho praise

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his Antonio Valencia appreciation, and the Manchester United manager has rewarded his fullback with a new deal.

Valencia is nine appearances away from 300 in a Manchester United kit, with 22 goals and 61 assists as a Red Devil.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

Valencia said United has “been my life” since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, while Mourinho heaped praise on the Ecuadorian captain’s character with glowing praise.

“It is no secret that I had been an admirer of Antonio’s long before I joined the club. I knew what a fantastic player he was and he has not disappointed me on that front. However, what I could never have imagined was what a great person he is. I know I have said this before but I truly believe it is a real privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man. I am delighted he has extended his contract.”

Only Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly recorded better tackle rates at Old Trafford last season, and Valencia was credited with a team-best 1.5 crosses per game.