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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

Premier League Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Hull City

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  • Teams have only met twice in PL before
  • Boro have 6 draws from 13 games
  • Hull have won just once in last 11 PL games

Middlesbrough host Hull City at the Riverside Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in what can already be described as a six-pointer in the Premier League between two newly-promoted teams.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Boro has won just once at home in the Premier League this season and sits on 12 points, while Hull has only won once on the road and Mike Phelan‘s side has just one victory in their last 11 games as the Tigers sit in the relegation zone on 11 points.

In team news Hull’s Sam Clucas and Ryan Mason are available but Abel Hernandez and Shaun Maloney are both struggling with injuries and striker Dieumerci Mbokani is suspended. As for Boro, Daniel Ayala could return but George Friend is still out.

What they’re saying

Aitor Karanka on Boro’s bad luck: “I think for example against Stoke we could have won and against Watford and Crystal Palace we didn’t deserve to lose. But the truth is we have 12 points and one day we will not deserve to win and we will win. When you have been working in the Championship for two and a half years and know how tough every single game is, having the opportunity to work against the best teams in the world is amazing, but we know we have to improve every single day.”

Hull boss Phelan on the story so far: “We can talk about spirit and determination but we can apply that by taking the games on and getting in front. That still requires the same sort of detail but you can see the players are grafting. They are learning and observing things. It’s possibly taken us this far to understand where we’re at and what league we’re in.”

Prediction

This will be a tight encounter and it may not be pretty. Both teams need the points to drag themselves away from an increasingly congested relegation battle. 1-o to ‘Boro.

Blatter loses appeal against six-year ban

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JULY 20: Comedian Simon Brodkin (not pictured) throws cash at FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during a press conference at the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters on July 20, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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Sepp Blatter should get the message this time.

[ MORE: Zlatan defends kick ]

It was announced on Monday that the former president of FIFA from 1998 until 2015 has lost his appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a six-year ban from all soccer related activity.

After being found guilty of making an illegal payment of $1.65 million to the former head of UEFA, and close friend, Michel Platini, in 2011, the Swiss official has already had his initial eight-year ban reduced to six and Platini had his eight-year ban reduced to four years.

However, Blatter has reached the end game and at the age of 80, it is unlikely he will ever hold any position in world soccer ever again.

Plus, Blatter has the small matter of still being investigated by the Swiss authorities who are looking into FIFA’s records, and the FBI continues to arrest and charge officials within world soccer’s governing body due to allegations of widespread corruption over the past two decades.

Things could get much worse than a six-year ban for Blatter.

In a statement released by CAS, they revealed why Blatter’s appealed had been turned down:

“The appeal of Joseph S. Blatter has been dismissed. As a consequence, the decision rendered by the FIFA Appeal Committee (FIFA AC) on 16 February 2016 remains in force and Mr Blatter remains banned from taking part in any football-related activity at national and international level for six years as from 8 October 2015 and must pay a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs.

“By approving a payment of £1.3m to Mr Platini in 2011 for the balance of work carried out under the alleged oral agreement, Mr Blatter breached the FIFA Code of Ethics since the payment amounted to an undue gift as it had no contractual basis.

“The Panel further found that Mr Blatter unlawfully awarded contributions to Mr Platini under the FIFA Executive Committee retirement scheme which also amounted to an undue gift.”

Aguero banned four games, Fernandinho gets three

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The English FA have confirmed that Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho will be banned for four and three games respectively after being sent off late in the 3-1 defeat against Chelsea last weekend.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Aguero, 28, lunged in on David Luiz and was shown a straight red card for the tackle (if you can even call it that) and Fernandinho, 31, was sent off in the ensuing melee as he pushed Cesc Fabregas repeatedly and grabbed him around the throat.

In the case of Aguero, he would have already been banned for three games but his punishment has been extended by an extra game due to his suspended three-game ban which he received for elbowing West Ham’s Winston Reid back in August.

As for Fernandinho, he has been handed the standard three-game ban for being sent off for violent conduct.

Pep Guardiola‘s City ended the game with nine-men against Chelsea and looked frustrated after blowing a 1-0 half time lead as they lost 3-1 against the Premier League leaders.

Without Aguero and Fernandinho, their upcoming games against Leicester, Watford and Arsenal are now looking very difficult, plus Nicolas Otamendi will be unavailable against Leicester this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) due to picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.

With regards to the melee at the end of Chelsea’s win at City, it is expected the FA may fine both teams for their actions and Fabregas could also be implicated as some camera angles appeared to show him striking Fernandinho in the face first.

Let’s wait and see.

As for City, injuries and suspension are adding up and they’re now four points behind leaders Chelsea, plus they’ll have to do without their leading score Aguero who has 10 of their 30 goals in the Premier League.

A chance has now arrived for City’s only other central striker as 20-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho will likely be given the opportunity to lead the line, or if not Nolito or Kevin De Bruyne may operate as the highest player in a false nine formation.

Ibrahimovic denies deliberately kicking Coleman in the head

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United tangles with Seamus Coleman of Everton as they battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on December 4, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic was involved in an incident in the second half of Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at Everton on Sunday which have raised a few eyebrows.

[ VIDEO: Rojo red card? ]

As Zlatan and Everton defender Seamus Coleman tussled for the ball, the duo fell down and the Manchester United striker eventually fell on top of Coleman.

However, as he went to get up he kicked Coleman in the head and the Toffees’ right back was later subbed out with an apparent head injury.

Speaking to MUTV after the game, Ibrahimovic was asked about the incident.

The response of the 35-year-old striker — who scored once again for the Red Devils to take his tally this season to 12 — to the incident was not exactly the perfect PR answer…

“It was a physical game, they played hard,” Ibrahimovic explained. “I heard one of the commentators say I kicked someone in the head on purpose, but it was a 50/50 duel and he pulled me down. Trust me if I want to kick someone in the head, I know how to kick someone in the head and make him fall asleep. That is the only thing I have to say.”

It is unlikely that Zlatan will be facing any further action from the FA for the kick out but I look at that incident and say he was lucky to escape with a petulant act. He knew where Coleman was and took a chance on leaving his boot in and letting the Everton defender know he was there.

Sure, it may have been accidental but anybody who has played the game knows you can get away with certain things and when a master of the “dark arts” such as Zlatan is involved, I find it tough to believe he didn’t know what he was doing.

It was unnecessary from Zlatan and the act seemed to steam from the frustration of playing up top on his own against a bruising Everton defense.