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

Fabinho admits interest in Manchester United

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If even a fraction of this summer’s transfer interest is real, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has taken every precaution against his biggest 2017 enemy: scheduled congestion.

Mourinho was a regular critic of United’s schedule last season in the run-up to its UEFA Europa League title win over Ajax, and is building his roster up for the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Saief completes USMNT switch ]

The manager already had plenty of attacking options, and has added Victor Lindelof to his stable of defenders while reportedly flirting with PSG’s Marquinhos, too. Defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic is also a reported target (as are half of the world’s elite footballers).

And now, a wry smile from Monaco’s Fabinho hints that Mourinho may be making progress with another target.

‘‘It’s a tempting invitation. … I would first talk to my agent, Monaco too, to decide everything right. But it’s a great club, sure enough I would think well about it.”

Fabinho played mostly right back in 2014-15 before splitting time between that position and defensive midfielder the following year and seeing most of his time at CDM last season. Mourinho has lavished praise and given a contract extension to right back Antonio Valencia and has Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Paul Pogba at CDM (though the latter can certainly operate higher up the field).

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.