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ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 11

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Forwards

Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City – Despite the team’s worst week of the season, Sporting received a handful of strong individual performances. Benny Feilhaber was good in midfield, and Oriol Rosell was solid on Wednesday (before missing Saturday’s loss). Dwyer’s two goals, however, stood out. His late blast on Wednesday gave Zac MacMath no chance to stop his equalizer, while Dwyer’s header in Chicago briefly gave a 10-man Sporting hope. And with the hard-working Dwyer, it always goes without saying: Scoring was not his only contribution.

We could be wrong about: Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC), Patrick Mullins (New England Revolution), Obafemi Martin (Seattle Sounders)

Midfielders

Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution (pictured) – Another goal and an assist has put Fagundez’s first two, silent months behind him. Though the numbers are nice, his contributions in other facets are also creating chances, often jumping in to be the extra man in the attacks New England’s using to pick apart its opposition.

Lee Nguyen, New England Revolution – Another stand out day for Nguyen produced his second open play goal of the season (fifth overall). Just like Fagundez, his read of the game is proving decisive in these big Revolution results, but whereas Fagundez is choosing when and where to create New England’s advantages, Nguyen’s choices are often when to push and when to possess, when to run and when to wait for a pass. His goal was a good example of what he is doing both with and without the ball.

Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake – Continuing to make his case as a serious MVP candidate, Morales added a goal and an assist to his typical, controlling play at the tip of RSL’s midfield. His five assists are second only to Obafemi Martins’ six at the top of MLS’s rankings.

Federico Higuain, Columbus Crew – The MLS Player of the Week played most of his Saturday against 10 men, an advantage that usually disqualifies players from this team. Like Javier Morales in Houston, however, Higuain’s lower level of difficulty couldn’t keep him out of this team. The Crew creator scored twice in his team’s draw in Portland.

Will Johnson, Portland Timbers – The numbers weren’t that impressive, given his goal was helped by a deflection, but Johnson was key to the Timbers’ salvaging a result. The Canadian international isn’t quite back to his 2013 self, but with performances like Saturday’s, he’s left a slow start to 2014 behind him.

We could be wrong about: Daigo Kobayashi (New England Revolution), Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City)

Defense

Chris Tierney, New England Revolution – The left back’s goal and assist on set pieces easily claimed this spot, but they also overshadowed his contributions from open play. Two good defensive plays in the first half along with an additional pair of offerings going forward rounding out Tierney’s performance. His only issue: His part in a late consolation goal.

David Horst, Houston Dynamo – His save on A.J. DeLaGarza’s would be opener made the highlight reels, but a series decisive reads and strong clearances gave Horst an obligatory return to our Best XI.

Steven Caldwell, Toronto FC – Partner Nick Hagglund racked up the numbers, but Caldwell’s contributions came when Toronto needed them most. Though the Red Bulls attack did their part to make TFC’s day as easy as possible, Caldwell’s firm hand (or, head) often provided the rebuke.

Jack Jewsbury, Portland Timbers – Like Johnson, Jewsbury was another veteran who gave an inspired performance for the 10-man Timbers, switching from left to right back early while adding an assist on one of Portland’s two tying goals.

We could be wrong about: Chris Korb (D.C. United), Kofi Opare (LA Galaxy), Nick Hagglund (Toronto FC)

Goalkeeper

Jon Busch, San Jose Earthquakes – Like Horst and Morales, Busch is making a return appearance, albeit in a loss. Big saves on Saturday in Seattle kept the score respectable, while Obafemi Martins’ early goal was unstoppable. In truth, though, three of four other keepers could have just as easily taken this honor.

We could be wrong about: Jeff Attinella (Real Salt Lake)

League Cup roundup: Middlesbrough and Burnley fall to lower league foes

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Adam Forshaw of Middlesbrough is challenged by Tim Ream of Fulham during the EFL Cup second round match between Fulham and Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage on August 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
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Sunderland, Bournemouth, and Burnley all advanced to the League Cup third round, while Middlesbrough dropped out after finding themselves bested in extra-time.

A strong Boro lineup still saw its goal pummeled all evening by Fulham’s young squad, and Lasse Vigen Christensen won it in extra time with an assist from American youngster Luca de la Torre to complete the 2-1 scoreline. Middlesbrough went ahead early on an 8th minute header by David Nugent, but they were on the back foot the rest of the match. Scott Malone forced a Boro own-goal for the equalizer shortly after halftime, and Christensen won it seven minutes before penalties. The win for Fulham means they are unbeaten through five matches this season across Championship and League Cup play.

Burnley also went to extra-time after a scoreless full 90 minutes, and they were stunned by a goal from Accrington Stanley’s Matt Pearson in the 122nd minute, just ticks before penalties to down the Clarets 1-0. It was a dull match up to that point, and the League Two side earned its first-ever victory over a Premier League side in cup play with the late winner.

Bournemouth nudged past League Two side Morecambe 2-1 thanks to goals from Max Gradel and Marc Wilson, although Morecambe had leveled things for a bit between the two Cherries’ goals.

Sunderland also saw themselves through thanks to Adnan Januzaj‘s first goal for the Black Cats, an 83rd minute strike to down League One side Shrewsbury Town 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. The match was a relatively even affair until Januzaj’s late goal, but Sunderland likely deserved to win on number of chances, with Patrick van Anholt having the best prior opportunity just before halftime with a rocket saved by Jason Leutwiler.

Champions League playoff roundup: Man City eases through, Ajax bounced

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Joe Hart of Manchester City looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Play-off Second Leg match between Manchester City and Steaua Bucharest at Etihad Stadium on August 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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The result was never in doubt for Manchester City after a 6-0 demolition of Steaua Bucharest in the first leg, but the Premier League side made it official as they eased into the group stage with a 0-0 second leg result at the Etihad.

Joe Hart started and played what could be his final match in a City shirt, with Pep Guardiola handing him potentially one last showing in front of the home fans. The fan favorite received a thunderous welcome from the home fans who understood the situation.

Guardiola rested Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva but still put forth a strong side, and Fabian Delph‘s 58th minute goal sent Man City home with an easy victory and clean sheet. There was a scary moment when Kelechi Iheanacho appeared to pull up lame with a hamstring injury, and then suddenly passed out on the field, but he came to just before a Bucharest player was about to attempt to resuscitate him. The young striker was brought off in favor of Fernandinho in the 75th minute.

Also through easily is Borussia Monchengladbach, with a 6-1 home win over Young Boys to complete a 9-2 aggregate victory. Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring just nine minutes in with a solid bit of skill, and Raffael continued his solid run of form with a hat-trick to easy the Germans through. Hazard would eventually cap off a hat-trick in the 84th minute as well.

In the surprise of the round, Dutch giants Ajax saw themselves bow out of the Champions League following a 4-1 aggregate defeat to last year’s Russian Premier League runners up FC Rostov. The spot in the group stage was there for the taking after a 1-1 first leg in the Netherlands, but Ajax was hammered on Wednesday 4-1 in Russia. Rostov managed four goals with four different goalscorers, including Ecudorian international Christian Noboa. The visitors, meanwhile, didn’t even manage a shot on target until the 73rd minute.

FC Koln needed a late equalizer to send them through over APOEL Nicosia, as Paraguayan international Federico Santander scored in the 86th minute to level the match at 1-1 and give the visitors a 2-1 aggregate win. Finally, Dinamo Zagreb completed a stunning comeback, scoring twice after the 87th minute to beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 on the day in Austria and 3-2 on aggregate. Junior Fernandes scored in the 87th to level things at 1-1 and requiring extra time. Then Algerian international El Arabi Hilal Soudani bagged the winner in the 97th minute, sending the Croatians through to the group stage.

Coleman explains why he stayed as Wales coach, rejected Hull

ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - OCTOBER 10: Head coach Chris Coleman of Wales celebrates after the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Wales at the Stadium Bilino Polje in Elbasan on October 10, 2015. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
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CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Chris Coleman says he chose to remain as Wales manager despite interest from Premier League side Hull because he’s in a job that is “close to his heart.”

The Football Association of Wales rejected an approach for Coleman from Hull this month, with the Welshman deciding to stay on rather than resigning.

Coleman, who guided Wales to the European Championship semifinals against the odds, said on Wednesday that “if someone comes and it’s the Premier League, anybody, you kind of look at it sideways. Of course.”

But, Coleman added, managing your country “comes around once, if you’re lucky.”

Coleman has made no secret of his desire to manage in club football in the future, but says “what I’ve got here is something very special and close to my heart.”

FOLLOW LIVE: The UEFA Champions League finds its last five group stage teams

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Joe Hart of Manchester City warms up prior to the UEFA Champions League Play-off Second Leg match between Manchester City and Steaua Bucharest at Etihad Stadium on August 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Who’s going to join Porto, Monaco, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad and Celtic as playoff teams to join the UEFA Champions League group stage?

The biggest names of Wednesday’s slate are cruising after their first legs, with Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach putting five and three goals on the board, respectively.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. roundup ]

Could the match be Joe Hart‘s last for City? The longtime backstop gets the call with the transfer window a week away.

In the other three cases, things are wide open. Rostov plays Ajax, Red Bull Salzburg faces Dinamo Zagreb, and APOEL lines up Copenhagen.

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League slateFOLLOW LIVE

Borussia Monchengladbach (3) vs. (1) BSC Young Boys
Rostov (1) vs. (1) Ajax
Red Bull Salzburg (1) vs. (1) Dinamo Zagreb
APOEL (0) vs. (1) Copenhagen
Manchester City (5) vs. Steaua Bucuresti (0)