Montreal Impact's Jack McInerney, second right, celebrates with teammates, from left, Justin Mapp, Patrice Bernier and Marco Di Vaio after scoring against the Houston Dynamo during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Montreal, Sunday, June 29, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)

PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Montréal’s Jack McInerney

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Not all Players of the Week are created equal. Some rounds you get a Clint Dempsey hat trick delivered on a platter. Other weeks you’re left holding slides to the sun trying to see the difference between stars.

The return of Major League Soccer presented that challenge. Coming back after two weeks off, MLS gave us a couple of multi-goal performances (Montréal’s Jack McInerney; Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux), while Dillon Powers gave another glimpse of his bright present and future. Gyasi Zardes was on the end of multiple chances in Palo Alto, Seattle’s midfield duo (Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda) were both strong, and Erick Torres … what more can se say about Cubo Torres?

Ultimately, there wasn’t a clear front-runner for this week’s honor, which is when the little things matter more. For example, say you not only scored twice, helped your team to a win, and set up a couple of chances (or, near-chances), but one of the goals you scored had no business going in. With one inspired moment, you took a pedestrian play and changed the scoreboard, giving your time vital breathing room.

Consider that Jack McInerney’s tiebreaker. His first goal? That’s what forwards are supported to do, especially when opposing defenses don’t both picking them up. Running onto Eric Miller’s first half cross, the Impact forward headed Montréal in front against visiting Houston.

In the second half, though? McInerney had no right scoring, but finding a moment’s inspiration, the former Union striker turned his back on goal to get his foot to the ball, his touch sending an unlikely shot looping inside Tally Hall’s right post, doubling the Impact’s lead:


Did he mean to do it? Of course. That doesn’t mean he’ll ever be able to do it again, or it was the right choice to begin with. But sometimes distinguishing yourself from the competition means being foolish enough to see the absurd as possible. And every time you watch that Jack McInerney goal, you can’t help but think it’s a little absurd.

What’s the phrase: Crazy like a fox? To paraphrase Napoleon, sometimes the fox is a lion, and on Sunday, Jack McInerney was the king of Stade Saputo. With two goals against the Dynamo, the 21-year-old not only helped his team to a 3-0 victory, he won our Player of the Week honor.

Chelsea: Conte expects warm reception for Mourinho; Terry is fit

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  A fan wears a Chelsea scarf with the image of the club's former manager, Jose Mourinho before the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on December 26, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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The managers are meeting the media ahead of this week’s Premier League matches, and many eyes are trained on one specific match-up.

Chelsea and Manchester United meet on Sunday, the first time Jose Mourinho will manage against his old side since his unceremonious exit last winger.

[ USWNT: Holiday has tumor removed ]

Mourinho, of course, led Chelsea to the 2014-15 title only to see a miserable start to the following campaign. He was hired at Manchester United this summer, but Conte thinks Mourinho’s Chelsea laurels have earned him some love from Stamford Bridge.

“I have great respect for Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club’s story.”

Conte also touched on Paul Pogba‘s decision to head back to Old Trafford. The manager guided the French midfielder during their time at Juventus.

“It was Paul Pogba’s dream was to return to Manchester United. I wish him well, but only after this game.”

Conte said John Terry is available to return for Chelsea, and that could be invaluable against a big, strong forward like United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With the Red Devils having played Thursday, Conte will like his chances a bit more than usual.

Canada vs. U.S. among top-notch CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JUNE 20:  Gershon Koffie #28 of the Vancouver Whitecaps brings the ball up field against Dax McCarty #11 of the New York Red Bulls at B.C. Place on June 20, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jessica Haydahl/Getty Images)
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The bracket is set for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and ensures that at least one MLS vs. Liga MX semifinal will happen next Spring.

No. 1 seed New York Red Bulls will cross the continent to meet No. 8 Vancouver Whitecaps, with the winner moving on to face the victor of Mexico’s Tigres UANL vs. Pumas UNAM.

[ VIDEO: Previewing all 10 PL matches ]

The possibility of an all-Liga MX or all-MLS final still exists, with Pachuca and FC Dallas on opposite sides of the bracket. Arabe Unido gives Panama hope for its first CCL semifinalist, while Saprissa can be Costa Rica’s first semifinalist since 2011.

Of the remaining teams, only Pachuca has won a title in the CCL era (2008-present). Tigres lost in the 2016 final, the only other team to make it that far.

Full schedule
New York Red Bulls (1) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (8)
Tigres UANL (4) vs. Pumas UNAM (5)
Arabe Unido (2) vs. FC Dallas (7)
Pachuca (3) vs. Saprissa (4)

The first legs will be played in late February, and the bright side to the intra-league quarters will be one MLS side waiting a round before facing a more in-form club playing a traditional season schedule (though that’s an overblown excuse at this point).

Some fans don’t care much for the tournament, while others — myself included — are extremely keen to see an MLS team win the CCL and represent North America in the Club World Cup, where it can get a high profile litmus test in a serious competition (Real Madrid beat Cruz Azul 4-0 in a 2014 semifinal).

Report: USWNT star Holiday has brain tumor removed

Costa Rica v United Staes: Final - 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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World Cup champion Lauren Holiday has had a brain tumor removed, one month after giving birth.

Holiday’s husband, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, announced that his pregnant wife was diagnosed with an operable tumor in September, and Lauren Holiday has publicly thanked fans for support while requesting prayers.

[ MORE: UCL Final in United States? ]

The Holidays welcomed their first child earlier this month, and Jrue left the Pelicans preseason to help his wife.

The BBC added this tidbit:

Unbelievably as a three-year-old, she had open-heart surgery to repair a defect and went on to become one of the world’s most respected football players.

Get well soon, Lauren.

WATCH: FC Dallas rocket goal sends Guatemalan rainwater flying off net

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Carlos Lizarazo #22 of FC Dallas looks on during the second half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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Carlos Lizarazo’s ridiculous rocket shook rain off the net in an aesthetically pleasing CONCACAF Champions League goal on Thursday.

The Cruz Azul loanee struck a vicious shot for FC Dallas’ fifth goal, which boosted out of the No. 8 seed for the quarterfinals after a 5-2 win at Suchitepéquez in Guatemala.

[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]

Lizarazo, 25, had two goals in 10 appearances for FCD heading into the game, with both coming in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.