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)

Brussels could potentially lose Euro 2020 slot over stadium doubts

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Belgian FIFA Council member Michel D’Hooghe expressed his sincere doubts about a new stadium at the crux of the winning Brussels bid for Euro 2020.

According to D’Hooghe, there are serious political hangups with the construction, even if Anderlecht decides to fill the stadium after the tournament. Anderlecht currently plays at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, which also hosted the 1972 Euro semifinal between Hungary and Soviet Union. The club pulled out of its initial agreement to fill the new stadium back in February due to the political disputes.

“If they want to build it they have to start building very soon, and there I have severe doubts,” D’Hooghe said to the Associated Press during an anti-doping summit in Switzerland. “Even if Anderlecht would say `We go there,’ there remains the political problem.”

“The organizers (in Brussels) still hope that there will be a solution. It is not impossible. The problem is you cannot start building today.”

Euro 2020 is set to be a one-time cross-contential tournament. UEFA selected Brussels back in 2014 as one of 13 host cities. Cardiff is one city that was not chosen, but could fill in, the AP points out, as they host the Champions League final this coming summer at Millennium Stadium, built in 1999 for the Rugby World Cup. A number of French cities were also rejected due to the country hosting in 2016.

The proposed Brussels stadium would hold 60,000 fans and be built in Grimbergen, just north of Brussels. The current stadium at that site, King Baudouin Stadium, can hold 50,000, but lacks the modern facilities for hosting a tournament, including broadcast facilities and suites.

MLS Snapshot: Jozy double downs Dynamo, Toronto wins 2-0

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The game in 100 words (or less): Toronto FC had too much firepower for defensively challenged Houston, and the hosts carved up the Dynamo for a 2-0 win north of the border. Giovinco was creative and flashy if not sharp, and Jozy Altidore was the benefactor as the American bagged both goals. After an early spell of Houston possession off the opening whistle, Toronto dominated from start to finish, with the midfield bossing the game.

Three moments that mattered

16′ – Raheem Edwards on the ball out wide, he burst into the box and – seeing Giovinco draw 2 defenders in an offside position – he cut back for Altidore who finished cooly from the spot. Too easy for the opener.

32′– Jozy doubled his lead as he played an absolutely brilliant one-two with Giovinco. The Italian popped it over the top as Altidore slipped through the line, and the USMNT star had the simplest of finishes.

85′ – Houston looked to get back into things by pouring men forward, but to no avail. The closest they came was off a corner as Alex ripped off a shot that sailed over the bar.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Victor Vazquez/Marco Delgado

Goalscorers: Jozy Altidore (16′, 32′)

Juventus bumped by Atalanta at the death

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Juventus is still in firm control of the Serie A title race, but they were dealt a slight setback as Atalanta secured a 2-2 draw with a dramatic 89th minute equalizer in Bergamo.

Dani Alves had given Juventus the lead in the 83rd minute on a header after a brilliant far-post cross by Miralem Pjanic, but Remo Freuler answered late as he grabbed a point.

The goal came on a fortunate bounce as Pjanic and substitute Stephen Lichtensteiner got tangled up on the ball and failed to clear, and the ball squirted to Freuler who suddenly found himself free in front of Gianluigi Buffon. The Juventus keeper came off his line to smother the chance, but he failed to completely collect, and the ball again popped free. Freuler followed up the loose ball, and with a trio of Juventus defenders flying in, the 25-year-old Swiss attacker knocked it in.

The draw was deserving for Atalanta, who had controlled the game for much of the first half, and went ahead just seconds before the break on a goal by Andrea Conti. Atalanta outshot Juventus 7-4 in the first half, 3-1 on shots on target. Juventus took over control in the second half, and got back on level terms just five minutes after the break as Juventus loanee Leonardo Spinazzola put one in his own net.

Alves’ goal put Juventus in front, but that lead only lasted six minutes. Juventus goes nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table with the draw, but Roma has the chance to cut that to six if they can beat Lazio at home on Sunday.

MLS Week 8: Litmus tests across the board

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Week 8 in MLS action could teach fans a lot about clubs with plenty to prove.

With questions still abound regarding teams like NYCFC, New England, Seattle, Portland, and New York Red Bulls, all those teams have a chance to make statements regarding their potential strength this season.

[ MORE: Week 8 MLS Power Rankings ]

In addition, struggling teams such as Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Montreal all have opportunities for much-needed points against arguably weaker opposition.

Let’s take a look at the weekend slate chronologically:

Toronto FC vs. Houston Dynamo
7:30 p.m. ET Friday

Toronto got a pair from Giovinco last time out, and sitting near the bottom of the crowded East mid-tier, they need points fast to avoid finding themselves in a hole behind the top of the table. There’s goals in this one, with Houston defensively challenged and Cubo Torres on fire to start the year.

Montreal Impact vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
3:00 p.m. ET Saturday

An all-Canadian clash actually serves as a vitally important match for both clubs. With each side near the bottom of their conference standings, they both need a result badly to jump-start the campaign. A draw does nobody any good here moving forward.

Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
4:00 p.m. ET Saturday

The Lions are one of 2017’s surprises, and Cyle Larin is on an absolute tear. Unfortunately, so far, anyone who shuts down Larin shuts down Orlando City. That said, good luck to Colorado shutting down an early MLS Golden Boot challenger.

Cyle Larin has 6 goals in 6 games this season (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images).

NY Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire
7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

New York has seen bumps on the early-season road, but overall remains a strong Supporter’s Shield contender. They face a big test against another strong Eastern Conference side, and a win here would make it three straight, all over good competition. Chicago is reeling after its defeat to Toronto, out-shot 9-1, but has another chance to pick up a road win before heading back home.

Columbus Crew vs. NYCFC
7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Columbus has been poor on the road, but they return home to Mapfre Stadium to take on a strong NYCFC side. This game could potentially teach us a lot about whoever comes out on top, as both look to build separation from the rest of the pack in the East. Both have lost two of three, but both still appear strong up front, and three points in this game could prove to be a marquee win to point to later in the season.

Minnesota United vs. San Jose Earthquakes
8:00 p.m. ET Saturday

Minnesota United, owners of one of the worst starts to the season, has shown signs of life. Can they keep it going against another team struggling for points?

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers
8:00 p.m. ET Saturday

This is a marquee matchup, and with FC Dallas unbeaten so far, represents a huge test but also a huge opportunity for Portland to announce itself as a true top contender in the West. They’re top of the table, but have played at least one more game than most teams just below them. Can the Timbers find a way through the strong Dallas D?

Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake
8:30 p.m. ET Saturday

A big rivalry game with big table implications, Sporting KC has the unfortunate luck of catching RSL after hiring Mike Petke and not before. This should be a fun one.

Seattle Sounders vs. New England Revolution
10:00 p.m. ET Saturday

We still don’t know exactly what New England is. For every step forward they’ve taken one back, and for every setback they’ve had they’ve found a way through. This is a fantastic test. There are plenty of excuses for a potential loss with the team going cross-country to face one of the league’s best attacks, but a result could be a true statement.

LA Galaxy vs. Philadelphia Union
10:30 p.m. ET Saturday

With Philadelphia struggling and now traveling a long way, this should be a chance for the Galaxy to turn things around. Should be.

Atlanta United vs. D.C. United
3:00 p.m. ET Sunday

Atlanta is back home for the first time in over a month. They have slipped a bit since the torrid start, but still appear a dangerous club. D.C. will have its work cut out.