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)

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

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Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.


Preview: Everton v. Newcastle

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  • Everton have won seven of their last eight games v Newcastle
  • Newcastle have won four PL games in a row
  • Wayne Rooney has more goals (15) against Newcastle than any other PL team

Everton host Newcastle United on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Toffees and Magpies both setting pretty in midtable.

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The Toffees sit in ninth, with Newcastle in 10th and just one point behind Everton with a game in hand. Rafael Benitez has been lauded for taking his newly-promoted side into the top 10 with defensive solidity, while Sam Allardyce has been lambasted for a defensive style of play despite getting Everton out of a relegation fight following his appointment back in November.

In team news Everton have Mason Holgate and Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured, while Newcastle will be without Christian Atsu but Islam Slimani could make his first start.


What they’re saying 

Sam Allardyce on the job Rafael Benitez has done at Newcastle: “From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it around. They have put together a run of games and we’ll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there [when Everton won 1-0 in December]. Rafa has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds – we can all say we don’t have enough funds. What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent.”

Rafael Benitez on his Newcastle future: “I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time. I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.”

Prediction
Two teams who are very similar in terms of their style of play should see a bit of a stalemate take place at Goodison. 1-1 draw, which is a much better result for Newcastle and will pile more pressure on Big Sam.

Paul Pogba: “Transfers are not in my head”

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Paul Pogba has been discussing his future at Manchester United beyond this season.

The Frenchman delivered a stunning assist in United’s 2-1 win against Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday, with the midfielder now named Man of the Match in each of his last two games after plenty of speculation about his future at United in recent months.

Jose Mourinho left Pogba out of his starting lineup on multiple occasions, while Pep Guardiola claims he was offered to buy Pogba in January and speculation about him joining Paris Saint-Germain, going back to Juventus or heading to Real Madrid continue.

Speaking to French outlet Canal Football Club, Pogba had the following to say about his own future.

“Right now, I am at Manchester United and I am honestly only thinking about the present. Transfers are not in my head. We are in the [FA] Cup final and the World Cup is around the corner,” Pogba said.

Pogba also addressed the rumors regarding his relationship with Mourinho with reports stating that the duo do not get along and United’s manager is fed up with the Frenchman’s attitude off the pitch.

“I don’t have a problem with him, and I don’t think he has a problem with me,” Pogba said. “He’s the coach and he has to make choices. I am a player and I accept them. I have to answer on the pitch.”