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

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

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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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.