PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Clint Dempsey

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For the first time this season, we’ve fallen in line. Week after week, PST’s found a reason to disagree with the league’s choice for Player of the Week, but in the season’s sixth round, there was no room to disagree. Seattle’s Clint Dempsey was hands down the league’s best player, scoring twice and forcing a Stephen Keel own goal in the Sounders’ 3-2 win at Dallas.

Statistically, the performance was actually a step back from his hat trick in Portland, but as is always the case with this game, numbers don’t tell the whole story. Whereas last week a late penalty drawn by DeAndre Yedlin helped Dempsey’s final line numbers, the U.S. captain’s performance at Toyota Stadium transcended his two goals. Playing underneath Obafemi Martins in a 4-4-2 formation, Dempsey was back in his most effective role, one that allowed him to define Saturday’s match.

Formation had nothing to do with Dempsey’s first goal, though – a breathtaking blast from 28 yards slammed against the bottom of Chris Seitz’s crossbar. Defying the headwind that plagued the game in Frisco, Tex., Dempsey pulled Seattle even after Stefan Frei’s early miscue, taking the sole possession of the league’s scoring lead while going so.

source: AP
Dempsey’s six goals in four games (three starts) are tops in Major League Soccer, putting him one ahead of Chivas USA’s Erick Torres. (Credit: AP Photos)

After half time, Dempsey nearly added a second spectacular strike after turning on a ball above the penalty area. His strike off Seitz’s cross bar may have went into the crowd this time, yet it foreshadowed what was to come. In the 75th minute, his ball from the right of the penalty ahead forced Keel to concede an equalizer, while a close-range finish off a 85th minute give-and-go with Chad Barrett gave Dempsey five goals in two games. Capping a second straight late game comeback, Dempsey’s sixth goal of the season delivered full points for Seattle.

For the second straight week, it was classic Dempsey, with his small switch in role allowing him to get back to what he does best. Jumping into the midfield, getting the ball wide, ghosting into the box, and picking his spots in front of goal – they’re the skills that made him so successful at Fulham and a valuable contributor at Spurs. Dropping away from the line, keeping possession in front of the defense, moving the ball to the right spots on the periphery – it’s the subtle difference between the burden with a playmaker’s role and the freedom to check, pass, and probe.

On Saturday, Dempsey was at his checking, passing, and probing best, something that ended with Dallas’s first loss of the season. Averaging a goal every 50 minutes, “Deuce” is not only at the top of the league scoring charts, he’s challenging our notion that Michael Bradley is clearly the league’s best player.

Over the last two weeks, Dempsey has rekindled that debate, giving U.S. fans reason to believe their captain will be at his best come June 16.

PST Award MLS Award
Week 1 Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo
2g, 1a vs. New England
Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
8 saves, PK save at LA
Week 2 Víctor Bernárdez, San Jose Earthquakes
2g, 1a vs. Real Salt Lake
Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
2 goals at Seattle
Week 3 Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas
1 goal vs. Chivas USA
Bernardo Añor, Columbus
2 goals vs. Philadelphia
Week 4 Álvaro Saborío, Real Salt Lake
2 goals vs. Toronto FC
Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City
1 goal, 2 assists at Colorado
March Player of the Month Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
3 games, 0 goals, 0 assists
Mauro Díáz, FC Dallas
4 games, 2 goals, 0 assists
Week 5 Diego Chara, Portland Timbers
2 goals vs. Seattle
Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
3 goals at Portland
Week 6 Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
2 goals at Dallas
Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
2 goals at Dallas

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
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“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”

Boa Esporte goalkeeper back to prison as murder appeal denied

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The risk clearly wasn’t worth it for Boa Esporte.

The Brazilian club signed Bruno Fernandes de Souza in March, not long after the convicted murderer and goalkeeper was released from prison on appeal.

Fernandes, 32, had been jailed for ordering the murder of a lover, who was fed to dogs by the killer. Boa Esporte lost several big sponsors for signing him, but vocally defended the move.

The owner, Rone Moraes da Costa, said he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to revive his career. Fernandes admitted his mistakes but said he wasn’t “a bad guy”.

According to the Associated Press:

“Brazil’s Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to deny an appeal to Boa Esporte goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who was released in March while appealing a 22-year sentence in the 2010 killing of Eliza Samudio.”

So it’s back to jail for Fernandes, and we’ll be waiting with baited breath to hear from Boa Esporte’s owner.

Conte: Chelsea “ready to fight to the end”

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Following Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs and Tuesday’s blowout of Southampton — the 4-2 score line didn’t tell the story of the second half — Antonio Conte is fired up for Chelsea to complete its Premier League title run.

The manager admits that his side was under pressure after Spurs narrowed the table gap to four points last week, but the wins have eased the Blues’ burden.

Chelsea had lost two of four PL matches before the weekend.

From Football.London:

“I think we passed a big, big psychological step after the defeat to United. We lost three points and had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham and then another tough game in the league. In that moment we had a really important test and our answer was very good.

“We must think that this race is open, we have reached the final of the FA Cup. The situation in the league is totally open. We are ready to fight to the end. We must be proud for the job we are doing and to fight to the end.”

Spurs can bring the gap back to four with a win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but have a tougher run-in with five matches to play. As long as the gap is within six points, anything is possible, but the Blues have certainly answered the bell over the past four days.

Chelsea: Big win “feels like a massive step” to title

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“It feels like a massive step to be honest,” said game-changing goal scorer Gary Cahill of Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s Premier League lead stands at seven points after the win, which saw a dominant second half from the hosts.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Perhaps it was cued up by Cahill’s first half stoppage time header, which boosted the Blues to a 2-1 lead just before the whistle.

Cahill darted in front of Diego Costa‘s scissor kick attempt to power a header past Fraser Forster.

“(Costa) tried to claim it afterward as well,” Cahill said. “When the ball’s just lofted over, it’s dying to be attacked. We went into halftime with our tails up and it was a big boost for us.”

Cesc Fabregas said Southampton surprised the Blues tactically, leading to an entertaining first half that could’ve seen either side ahead before half.

“We needed a little bit of time to adapt to what they did because we prepared for something else,” he said.

Fabregas said the win was big with second-place Spurs watching at home. Tottenham plays at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

“We needed a good response after the Man United game. We have to keep going with five games to go, to keep it up and make the last push. It would be a big shame if now we relaxed. We just have to push now more than ever,” he said.

“It’s a statement for (Spurs), for us, for everyone, but most of all for us.”
Eden Hazard agreed.
“We scored four beautiful goals,” said the Belgian, who scored the game’s first goal. “It’s good to play before and put pressure on them.”