Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas

PST Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Fabián Castillo

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Fabián Castillo gave one of the more dominant performances we’ve seen in weeks, leading FC Dallas to a 5-0 win Saturday in Santa Clara, Calif. With a hand in each of his team’s first four goals, the 22-year-old Colombian left a San Jose team short on speed with no answers against one of the league’s fastest players. The result was two goals, one assist, and a highlight reel performance for FCD’s emerging star.

Somehow, that wasn’t enough for win the league’s Player of the Week honor. In fact, in one of the clearest indications that the award has become about box scores more than actual performance, Castillo teammate Tesho Akindele took the honor. Though Castillo was clearly the game’s best player — the focal point of a Dallas team that gave one of its best performances of the season — Akindele had three goals, none of which would have happened if Jon Busch had a better day. The San Jose keeper was slow to react to Akindele’s first, while rebounds spilled in front of goal paved the way for the rookie’s second and third.

Akindele deserves kudos from being in the right place at the right time, but as Saturday’s game at Buck Shaw unfolded, there was little doubt who was the game’s dominant player. In the 30th minute, Castillo burst from his place in attacking midfield to terrorize Jason Hernandez on a ball deflected behind the San Jose defense. The Earthquakes defender, beaten, tried to pull Castillo down, but the attacker’s strength allowed him to maintain his feet before going in alone on goal.

In the 74th minute, Castillo again did most of the work himself, victimizing Hernandez for a second time after being sprung on a counter. In the middle of the penalty area, Castillo used a quick cut onto his right foot to send Hernandez to ground and give himself an opening inside the right post.

Between an assist on the second and playing the shot that set up the third, the late tally was the fourth straight goal to which Castillo had contributed, capping one of the most impressive individual performances of the season.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to claim the league’s Player of the Week honor. Despite the league’s beat reporter naming Castillo as man of the match (and MLSSoccer.com feeling the need to follow up on Castillo’s remarkable night), Akindele got that magic third goal. If you didn’t actually watch the match, you could convince yourself Tesho outplayed Fabián.

Did the 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff leave people voting based on box scores? Or was the league’s vote the result of an honest assessment, that Akindele’s three goals, two of which came on short-range rebounds, outweighs Castillo’s two goals in a performance that defined Saturday’s match? Given the track record of this honor, it seems like the former. Much like last week, when two goals from Chris Schuler got him the nod of Matt Hedges (who took our award), goals the main consideration. While that makes sense, we’re at the point where no other criteria matter.

Regardless, for the second time this season, Fabián Castillo wins PST’s honor. For those that did vote off the box score: You missed a hell of a performance.

West Ham loses ex-Hammer of the Year Cresswell for four months

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Aaron Cresswell was one of the stalwarts of the last two Premier League campaigns, a good crosser capable of lung-busting runs and the occasional brilliant shot.

So it’s a significant blow for West Ham United to be without him for the next four months.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

Cresswell has played in 75 of the Hammers’ 76 PL matches since arriving from Ipswich Town in 2014, and was injured in a 50/50 play against Karlsruher SC this weekend.

He may not need surgery to repair the knee ligaments, but is out nonetheless.

From WHUFC.com:

Head of Medical and Sports Science Stijn Vandenbroucke explained that Cresswell had undergone a scan and will consult a specialist in central London early next week. The medical team will then take a decision whether or not the defender requires surgery.

“Whatever course of action we decide to take, Aaron faces a period of rest, followed by treatment and rehabilitation and he will be out for a period of between three and four months,” said Vandenbroucke.

Left back isn’t a position of strength for most teams, and West Ham doesn’t look to be an exception.
Vandenbroucke also issued an update on Manuel Lanzini, saying the club won’t know his status until the attacker returns from Argentina duty. Lanzini was injured with Argentina’s Olympic team while preparing for the Games in Rio.

 

Borchers ruptures achilles tendon, leaving Timbers without best back

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 10:  Nat Borchers #7 of Portland Timbers passes the ball against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the first half of their MLS match at StubHub Center on April 10, 2016 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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FOX analyst Stu Holden said it right after it happened, and it’s true: Nat Borchers has torn his achilles tendon and is out for the season.

The Portland Timbers back with the big burly beard was injured late in the first half, and had to be stretchered off the pitch. Amobi Okugo took his place for the rest of the match, which finished 2-1 to the Galaxy.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

It’s a big blow for the Timbers, whose regular season struggles are an annual occurrence. The 2015 MLS Champions are currently in the West’s seventh position, and Borchers has been one of their best players in each of the last two seasons.

Borchers is 35, and in his second season with the Oregon set after 211 appearances for Real Salt Lake.

The achilles is a brutal injury to return from at any age. Whenever, he’s done Borchers will exit MLS in the select company of winning an MLS Cup for at least two different teams in separate decades (2009-RSL, 2015-PDX).

Aubameyang admits there’s one club that could move him: Real Madrid

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26:  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund is tackled by Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium on November 26, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is among the best strikers in the world, and somehow doesn’t get as much praise as his peers.

If he ever gets his dream transfer, that would certainly change.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

Aubameyang, 27, is contracted to Borussia Dortmund until 2020, but admitted there’s a club that could make him antsy.

The reigning African Player of the Year — he of the 39 goals in 46 matches last season — is loving his time at Borussia Dortmund. That said, Real Madrid.

From EUROSport:

“The only club to leave Borussia Dortmund for is Real Madrid. But not now.

“Sometime I want to play for Real Madrid, which is one of my big goals in my career. But at the moment everything is great.”

Aubameyang could approach otherworldly numbers next season — we’re thinking 50-plus goals — with the additions of Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle to BVB’s already strong squad (which did lose Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mats Hummels this offseason).

And with Ousmane Dembele in the fold and looking very good, perhaps BVB is prepared to reap the rewards of an Aubameyang sale after this season?

Big day in Stoke: Potters capture Joe Allen and Egyptian prodigy

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Stoke City got one for now and another for the future on Monday, announcing the purchase of Joe Allen from Liverpool and Ramadan Sobhi from Al Alhy.

Allen, 26, had been with the Reds since 2012 after more than a decade in the ranks of Swansea City. The midfielder helped Wales into the semifinals of EURO 2016.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

Swansea was linked with matching Stoke’s bid, but Allen moves onto a new home at the Britannia Stadium.

From Stoke City’s site:

Chief Executive Tony Scholes said: “Joe is a player that Mark has admired for a considerable amount of time. Therefore when we became aware of the possibility of bringing him to the Club it was something that we were determined to do.

Sobhi, 19, is a lesser known entity full of promise. At 19, he already had six caps and a goal for Egypt, and has made 71 appearances with 17 goals for Al Alhy in the Egyptian Premier League.

The fee could reach $7 million with incentives.

From Stoke City’s site:

“We are absolutely delighted to have signed a player of Ramadan’s undoubted quality and potential. He’s a special young talent who is excited about the prospect of making an impact in the Premier League and we’re looking forward to giving him that platform.”

Stoke has quietly been amassing assets for some time, and made a strong push last season before finishing ninth. If Allen can combine well with Giannelli Imbula, perhaps Stoke can continue its rise up the PL pecking order.