Brad Davis head shot

Eight teams, two World Cup hopefuls represented in PST’s Major League Soccer Team of the Week

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Forwards

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls – New York’s broadcast has talked about this on air, but the key to Wright-Phillips’ rise has been his fit with Thierry Henry. His single-minded commitment to patrolling the penalty area has provided a perfect complement, making the most of the attention his play-making partner draws. On Saturday, Wright-Phillips scored his seventh, eighth, and ninth goals of the season, nearly snagging another Player of the Week honor.

We could be wrong about: Mark Sherrod (Houston Dynamo), Patrick Mullins (New England Revolution)

Midfielders

Harry Shipp, Chicago Fire – Two rookies are among our reserves up top, but this first year pro claims a place in our Best XI. Thanks to three goals and an assist against New York, Shipp also snared our Player of the Week award.

Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo (pictured) – Quietly, Davis had an very good week, one that was overlooked because Sunday’s game against Real Salt Lake was played 10-on-11. Thanks to Davis, however, the game seemed like an even strength affair until Houston’s legs went late. Between an assist on Wednesday’s winning goal and another helper against RSL, Davis had the numbers to support his case, but watching him play, you see he’s taking All-Star form into Palo Alto.

Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake – Another controlling, occasionally dominating performance from Morales overcame our bias against selecting players who play against 10. Two of the RSL midfielder’s three goals came against a full strength Dynamo, while the rest of his Sunday showed why he deserves greater consideration in early Most Valuable Player discussions.

Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution – There he is! We’ve been looking for last year’s Diego all season. On Saturday, we found him. With two first half goals flashing the finishing that pushed him into double-digits last year, Fagundez finally got onto the scoresheet. Consistent production from last year’s leading scorer could lift New England from upstart challenger to true contender.

Matias Laba, Vancouver Whitecaps – If there was one non-scorer who had a case for Player of the Week, Laba was it. He recorded an astounding 10 tackles head-manning Vancouver’s defense against the Crew. The Whitecaps only won 1-0, but thanks in part to Laba, the team generated enough open chances to take a four-goal result out of Columbus.

We could be wrong about: Jose Mari (Colorado), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Diego Valeri (Portland), Andy Dorman (New England Revolution)

source: Getty ImagesDefenders

A.J. DeLaGarza, LA Galaxy – His most valuable position is in the middle, he started the season on the right, but on Sunday in Portland, DeLaGarza made his contributions on the left. Key clearances in the ninth and 31st minutes were the highlights of the versatile defender’s strong performance.

Victor Bernardez, San Jose Earthquakes (pictured) -It was a difficult call between Bernardez and partner Clarence Goodson, who (at times) seemed the better candidate. He also assisted on Cordell Cato’s goal. But Bernardez was actually the more prolific of the duo, recording 15 clearances as San Jose defended its lead against Dallas’s man advantage. Add in Bernardez’s contributions to Wednesday’s shutout of Colorado, and the Honduran international gets the spot.

David Horst, Houston Dynamo  – How can a player whose team gave up five goals be part of the team of the week? The answer is simple: By playing really, really well. Expect for one moment in Sunday’s game against RSL, Horst was his typical very strong self – somebody who has out-performed last year’s Bobby Boswell. The one time he made a mistake (allowing Javier Morales a chance on the counter), he also recovered to stifle the chance. Having also lead his team to a midweek shutout of Columbus (along with Tally Hall), Horst gets this spot.

Darius Barnes, New England Revolution – For a team that thrived after dispossessing Seattle, Barnes was involved in a number of first half turnovers at the edge of New England’s penalty area. In a three-minute span between minute 18 and 21, Barnes either created or contributed to five changes of possession. Between him and Andrew Farrell, Seattle was stunted drifting left after the match’s first moments.

We could be wrong about: Michel (FC Dallas), Farrell, Bobby Burling (Chivas USA), Dan Gargan (LA Galaxy)

Goalkeeper

Jon Busch, San Jose Earthquakes – Busch’s week: Two games, one goal allowed off the cross-bar, and a save on Blas Perez that made the highlight reels. Bobby Shuttleworth, however, made a similar save early in New England’s game against Seattle (recovering, attacker hit the ball right at the keeper). What really set Busch apart was his combined play over 180 minutes since Wednesday, a stretch that gives us a reason to tout a slightly underrated contributor.

We could be wrong about: Shuttleworth.

Loss to Sevilla quickly puts Real Madrid’s Zidane on the defensive

SEVILLE, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach of Real Madrid CF Zinedine Zidane looks on prior to  the match against Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on January 15, 2017 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images
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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s first loss after a 40-game unbeaten streak was enough to put coach Zinedine Zidane on the defensive.

Two days after Madrid’s unbeaten record was halted by a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the Spanish league, Zidane was forced to defend some of his players against criticism from fans and local media.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

Most comments were aimed at goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who failed to stop Sevilla’s injury-time winner on Sunday. Navas got to Stevan Jovetic‘s long-range shot but was unable to keep the ball from going in.

“He’s having a really good season,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “You can always ask for more, but if up until now we had gone 40 games without losing, it’s for a reason, and he has been there all the way.”

There have been calls for Zidane to give reserve goalkeeper Kiko Casilla a chance, but the coach said there was “no need to go over this again.”

Zidane also dismissed talk about signing a new goalkeeper.

“These are rumors,” he said. “We are focused on what we are doing this year. Whatever happens next I’m not interested and it’s not the time to talk about it. The three goalkeepers we have are important, they’re doing well and I’m very happy with them. I don’t want to change anything we’re doing.”

[ MORE: How Sevilla hope to break up the Madrid-Barca duopoly ]

Zidane defended forward Karim Benzema, who lost possession near midfield in a mistake that led to host Sevilla’s winner on Sunday.

“Everyone can say and write what they want,” Zidane said. “On a field, playing 90 minutes, you can’t do everything right. There is talk of lack of concentration, but we only had five bad minutes and that happens in football.”

Benzema also missed a chance to score from close range in the game, but a few days earlier it was the French striker who netted in stoppage time in a Copa del Rey match against Sevilla to help Madrid set the Spanish unbeaten record.

Zidane downplayed the end of Madrid’s unbeaten streak. The club hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat at Wolfsburg in the Champions League in April.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

“These things happen,” he said. “Nothing is going to change in what I’m going to do. Those who are not Real Madrid fans will want us to lose, but we must be ready and think that what we’re doing is fine. We lost a game, something that happens, and now we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Madrid hosts Celta Vigo on Wednesday in a first-leg match in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Celta has won all four matches this year.

“I am not surprised by Celta’s record because they’re a very good team, they fight and play very good football,” Zidane said. “It’ll be another complicated match for us.”

FA fines Man City’s Sagna over “10 against 12” Instagram message

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Scott Arfield of Burnley (L) tackles Bacary Sagna of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has fined Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna 40,000 pounds (around $50,000) for an Instagram post about a referee.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Sagna posted a photo with the caption “10 against 12.. but still fighting and winning as a team” on the social network site following City’s 2-1 win against Burnley on Jan. 2.

Sagna later amended the post to read “still fighting and winning as a team” after a match that saw referee Lee Mason send off midfielder Fernandinho.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

The FA also warned Sagna about his future conduct.

Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over in-limbo Matip

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Joel Matip of Liverpool and Andre Ayew of West Ham United compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
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Few footballing sagas will ever reach heights of absurdity comparable to that of the Joel Matip/Liverpool versus Cameroon/FIFA battle currently raging, as the Reds defender finds himself “ineligible” to play for his club due to an international call-up 18 months after announcing his international retirement.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright summed up the situation quite well, in full, right here. An excerpt:

Matip, 25, was called up by the Cameroon national team for the 2017 African Cup of Nations which is currently taking place in Gabon. However, the former Schalke defender has previously stated that he did not want to play for them and he had retired from international duty.

Cameroon called him into their initial 35-man squad for the competition anyway but did not include him in their final 23-man squad once it became clear Matip, along with six other players, had no interest in playing for them at AFCON.

FIFA has confirmed that Liverpool has been in touch regarding Matip’s status and it now appears that he will not be able to play in any other competition while Cameroon is still in AFCON action under Article 5 of FIFA’s rules.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

Fast forward a few days, and Jurgen Klopp and Co. have no further clarity regarding the situation. It’s so unclear, in fact, that Klopp said on Tuesday he may select the 25-year-old during one of two remaining games this week, and hope for the best — quotes from the Guardian:

“As you can imagine, we are in a lot of talks. We’ve done transfers quicker than this. It’s already long term but now it’s getting really tense on our side. We’ve tried everything but at the end I have to make the decision. Of course I have to ask [Liverpool’s lawyers] but the decision is for me to make. I could put him in the lineup. I don’t think the referee is going to say: ‘Stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch.’ But I will do it when it’s OK from our point of view. Of course I need advice — I’m not a lawyer.”

“Most of the time in life you know if you do this, then you get this. But it’s not 100 percent clear what happens [if Matip plays]. We try everything to win football games. If this can happen — out of the tournament or whatever — then we have to decide about the risk. He’s ready to play for us and that makes it difficult.”

What an utter disaster of a situation Cameroon have intentionally created here.

VIDEO: Jeison Murillo’s incredible bicycle from a corner kick

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 17:  (R-L) Jeison Murillo of FC Internazionale celebrates his first goal with Geoffrey Kondogbia during the TIM Cup match between FC Internazionale and Bologna FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 17, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Look away now, Andy Carroll. Take a bow, Jeison Murillo.

[ VIDEOS: All in a week’s work — Messi free kick no. 1 | Messi free kick no. 2 ]

Just three days after Carroll scored the bicycle-kick goal of the year (so we thought), here comes Murillo, Inter Milan’s 24-year-old Colombian striker, to steal his thunder (below video). The fact he did it directly from a corner kick, with the ball traveling roughly 40 yards before flinging his body into the air and striking the ball so cleanly, (somehow) trumps Carroll’s accomplishment from Saturday.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings — Tight at the top… and bottom ]

Sensational goals come in twos now, apparently, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Olivier Giroud scored stunning scorpion-kick goals (WATCH HERE and HERE) just days apart earlier in the season.