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

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.

LAFC confirms second DP signing with Uruguayan Diego Rossi

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It’s been a fast and furious few days for Los Angeles FC, and that continued on Thursday with the signing of the organization’s second Designated Player.

LAFC announced the addition of Penarol forward Diego Rossi, joining manager Bob Bradley and the club’s first DP — Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year ]

Rossi, 19, became the second-youngest DP signing in Major League Soccer history upon completing his move from Uruguay’s first division, with only former FC Dallas attacker Fabian Castillo younger (18).

“Diego is a young and exciting attacking player,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “His experiences at Peñarol and his ability fit perfectly with our vision of the team we are building at LAFC. We believe Diego will mature into a top-class player.”

The expansion side’s current roster is now up to eight players, following a busy few days of MLS’ offseason. Rossi will join Vela, Egyptian international Omar Gaber, as well as Walker Zimmerman, Laurent Ciman, Tyler Miller, Latif Blessing, and Marco Ureña.