ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 7

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Forwards

Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy – It’s more than the goal that Keane was able to provide late in Vancouver. Along with Stefan Ishizaki, the Ireland international is carrying the LA attack right now, scoring on a near-per-gmae basis while operating as a focal point that drifts around the attacking third. With the help of Rob Friend, he was able to provide what looked like a late winner, and while his team eventually gave that goal back, the draw doesn’t detract from another strong performance.

Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps – A one goal, one assist line is deceiving considering the role Jaime Penedo and the Galaxy defense played on Mattocks’ score, but in a season where the young Jamaican attacker has often seen his effort often go unrewarded, it was a refreshing change to see the plus side of good fortune – a mistake that his speed and determination caused. Drawing the attention of LA’s defense late, Mattocks set up Kekuta Manneh’s equalizer, allowing him to start accumulating numbers commensurate with his performance.

We could be wrong about: Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City; Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders

Midfielders

Lloyd Sam, New York Red Bulls – Because New York played on Wednesday and had the weekend off, another strong performance from Sam was overlooked, but with a goal in a second straight game, the Red Bulls’ midfielder is weaving a tale similar to Mattocks’. Though the first four, five games of the season, the performance was there but the numbers weren’t. Now Sam is getting onto the scoresheet and, as a result, our teams of the week.

Stefan Ishizaki, LA Galaxy – The Swedish midfielder has been one of the Galaxy’s best players since being moved to the tip of Bruce Arena’s midfield diamond. On Saturday in Vancouver, his (along with a couple others’) strong performance allowed the Galaxy to take an early, unexpected, and consistent control of the game. His goal gave LA its first lead of the day.

Juninho, LA Galaxy – Another key part of LA’s strong performance at BC Place, Juninho helped produce one of Pablo Morales’s least-influential performances of the season. The Brazilian led his team in passes, pass percentage, tackles and interceptions.

Ned Grabavoy, Real Salt Lake – Grabavoy gave provided his typical, strong showing throughout the first 78 minutes against Portland, but his effort on the day’s game-winning goal distinguished him from the week’s other candidates for this Best XI. Taking advantage of the path Portland paved for him, Grabavoy beat Donovan Ricketts late to give RSL a 1-0 win.

We could be wrong about: Jared Watts, Colorado Rapids; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Hector Jimenez, Columbus Crew; Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City; Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire

Defenders

Roy Miller, New York Red Bulls – Miller has become a bit of a meme around New York, with people going the extra mile to identify why he shouldn’t be playing. Last Wednesday, however, he reminded Red Bulls fans why Mike Petke continues to pick him. A constant presence down Philadelphia’s right, Miller assisted on the game’s first goal.

Aurélien Collin, Sporting Kansas City – Part of me wants to greatly diminish performances against a team like Montréal (they’re bad right now), but Collin had a late goal, a goal line clearance, and a nice dummy/near-post run on Sporting’s third score. Combined with his normal “win everything that comes near” production, Collin did enough to offset any strength of schedule concerns.

Matt Hedges, FC Dallas – Hedges is starting to garner attention as a potential U.S. national teamer, but he’s been mistake-prone, something that’s kept him off these lists. On Saturday, however, his goal and assist helped FC Dallas convert the two set pieces that took three points from Toronto. More importantly, going forward, there was no “I’ve followed Clint Dempsey too far,” “maybe I should follow Erick Torres to the near post” moment. If Hedges can start producing consistent 90-minute shifts, he’s an all-star-caliber talent.

Steve Beitashour, Vancouver Whitecaps – Those who didn’t watch the whole game in Vancouver will notice Beitashour’s diagonal for Mattocks ahead of Kekuta Manneh’s late equalizer, but the former Earthquakes fullback provided those types of contributions all day, giving one of his best performances since moving north this offseason.

We could be wrong about: Brendan Morrow, Toronto FC; David Horst, Houston Dynamo; Victor Bernárdez, San Jose Earthquakes; Chad Marshall, Seattle Sounders

Goalkeepers

Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake – We sang Rimando’s praises in our Player of the Week post, with the RSL number one claiming his first honor of the season (from us). Looking forward, it will be interesting to see if people remember these performances when it’s time to vote for Goalkeeper of the Year. The 34-year-old has never won the honor, a slight people are beginning to talk about. Too bad they didn’t talk about it last year, when Rimando lost out on the 2013 honor to Donovan Ricketts.

We could be wrong about: Bobby Shuttleworth, New England Revolution

Chelsea chase Alexis Sanchez; Man United want Dier

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The summer transfer rumors are heating up long before the heat of summer arrives…

[ MORE: Zlatan to stay at United?

On Wednesday it is being claimed by the Guardian that Alexis Sanchez has become Chelsea’s “No.1 target this summer” as the Arsenal and Chile forward has yet to sign a new deal with the Gunners.

Per the report, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has drafted up a shortlist of the players he wants to sign this summer and Sanchez is at the top of the Italian managers wishlist as he is also close to signing a new deal at Stamford Bridge.

Sanchez, 28, has a deal at Arsenal until the summer of 2018 but if the north London club fails to agree a new deal with him this summer (as well as Mesut Ozil and Arsene Wenger, but that’s another story…) then they’ll have to sell him on or risk losing him for nothing as a free agent next season.

The striker scored twice for Chile in their 2018 World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela on Tuesday and has been essential all season long to Arsenal, scoring 18 goals and adding nine assists after playing through the middle on his own for much of the campaign.

Would Arsenal really sell Sanchez to a PL rival? It wouldn’t be ideal but it’s not like they haven’t done that in the past. Think of Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy.

The thought of Sanchez on one wing with Diego Costa up top and Eden Hazard on the other wing at Chelsea should be enough to get Arsenal to offer their star man whatever cash he wants — the report states he wants $310,000 a week which would almost double his current $160,000 a week salary — when they sit down to discuss the new deal at the end of this season.


Elsewhere in north London, Tottenham Hotspur’s versatile defender Eric Dier has been linked with a $50 million move to Manchester United this summer.

According to Neil Ashton of the Sun, Dier, 23, is being lined up to replace Michael Carrick in the holding midfield role at United.

Now, Tottenham are notoriously tough to do business with and chairman Daniel Levy will not want to lose one of his top prospects and an England international to a direct rival in the Premier League.

That said, Dier has been used in multiple positions by Spurs this season and Mauricio Pochettino appears to prefer Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele as the holding midfielders and the emergence of Harry Winks has seen Dier’s importance questioned by some.

The fact that Dier can play in holding midfield or anywhere across the back line will also suit Moruinho who likes to have a smaller squad to work with and per the report the Portuguese boss has been a long-time admirer of Dier. His power to break up the play and also use he ball safely could work very well alongside Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera.

PHOTOS: Bizarre Cristiano Ronaldo statue unveiled

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Hang on, is that really meant to be Cristiano Ronaldo?

On Wednesday the Portugal and Real Madrid legend had Madeira Airport named after him just outside his hometown of Funchal and during the ceremony a bust of his head was put on show.

Except, it looked horrendous…

Take a look for yourself in the photos below. See.


 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirms Man United contract talks

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in talks with Manchester United about extending his stay at Old Trafford beyond this season.

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The veteran Swedish striker, 35, has scored 26 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions this season, and he has an option to extend his contract for another year. However, that option hasn’t been triggered yet by Ibrahimovic and United’s fans seem to be getting rather tetchy about the prospect of him not being around next season.

Ibrahimovic is enjoying life in England and revealed to the Manchester Evening News that he is in talks with the club about extending his stay in the Premier League.

“Let’s see what happens, we are talking,” Ibrahimovic said. “I have an option for another year, I want to do great as long as I’m here, so let us see, there is a lot of time. I’m enjoying being at a fantastic club, without doubts, one of the biggest clubs in the world with a great coach (Jose Mourinho).

“I know him before (from our time at Inter Milan), he’s a winner, he’s the perfect coach for this club. Being a Manchester United player, I don’t know how many people have that possibility but I am a Man United player, people wanted me here, I chose the club, I chose the best English club, that’s the way it works.”

Ibrahimovic also hinted that he would stay by stating he “never leaves a job unfinished” when talking about his dedication.

“I’m a person when I go into something I put my head 200 per cent, and I do what I’m good at. I go in, I go for the kill and I go out,” Ibrahimovic said. “And when I go out there is no complaints, that’s what I do. I never leave a job unfinished. I always go in, do my job, and in the way that is a fair play, a fair deal, that is what I do.”

With offers reported pouring in from Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, Ibrahimovic will likely have those kind of deals on the table next summer too. His current deal at United sees him paid over $310,000 per week but after joining from Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer it could be one of the best pieces of business in United’s history if he helps them win the Europa League and/or finish in the top four in the PL this season.

If he leads the Red Devils back to the UEFA Champions League and has one more season as the talisman for Mourinho at Old Trafford, then leaves to finish out his playing days elsewhere, the legendary forward will go down as a hero in the eyes of United’s fans.

Portugal airport to be named after Ronaldo near his hometown

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FUNCHAL, Portugal (AP) Welcome to Cristiano Ronaldo Airport.

That will be the message awaiting passengers in the Madeira Islands from Wednesday, when the local airport will be renamed after the local star by the regional government.

Ronaldo is expected to attend a ceremony at the airport outside his hometown of Funchal on Wednesday, a day after his Portugal side lost 3-2 to Sweden in the city in a friendly.

The name change attracted a lot of attention locally, with many politicians opposing it.

Portugal’s squad landed on Monday at the airport displaying the trophy it won at the 2016 European Championship in France.

Funchal also has a Ronaldo statue and a museum about the player, as well a hotel complex named after him.