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PST selects its 2016 MLS Coach of the Year

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So many variables go into how a coach’s performance is viewed by the media, public, and even his players.

Seattle is a terrific example. The Sounders didn’t know Obafemi Martins would bolt for China, nor did they know Clint Dempsey would miss half the season with a heart ailment.

They also didn’t know they’d scoop up Nicolas Lodeiro, who would show up, oh, right at the time one coach left, another stepped in, and Seattle started winning nearly every game in a surprising run to the MLS Cup final.

[ MORE: Chapecoense — Fairytale to Tragedy ]

So is it Jims and Joes, or Xs and Os?

Obviously it’s a bit of both, and we believe PST’s staff voting for MLS Coach of the Year takes into account the right variables.

Votes came in for several candidates:

COMMERCE CITY, CO - NOVEMBER 27:  Head Coach Brian Schmetzer of the Seattle Sounders smiles as he holds the MLS Western Conference trophy alongside General Manager Garth Lagerwey after a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on November 27, 2016 in Commerce City, Colorado.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Schmetzer with the MLS Western Conference trophy (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images).

— Sounders boss Brian Schmetzer (right) received a write-in despite being left off the MLS ballot. He skippered Seattle back into playoff contention after the Sounders parted ways with longtime coach Sigi Schmid.

— His potential opponent in the final, Greg Vanney, of Toronto FC, also received a write-in third-place vote.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Defender of the Year ]

Two coaches aside from our winner picked up first-place votes:

— New York City boss Patrick Vieira sorted out the mess in the Bronx, working with the egos of several stars, and nurturing several young stars-in-waiting.

— FC Dallas’ Oscar Pareja handled a potential MVP forcing his way out of dodge (Fabian Castillo), while forging the Walker Zimmerman-Matt Hedges partnership and guiding the Texas club to a double.

But the winner simply has to be Pablo Mastroeni.

The club legend entered his third season at the helm under intense scrutiny. Colorado finished his first year 17th in MLS, and its second in 18th.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Goalkeeper of the Year ]

While Shkelzen Gashi certainly delivered in his role as one of the Rapids’ three Designated Players, Mastroeni engineered the second-most points in MLS by virtue of a stifling defense and disciplined formation.

Despite DP forward Kevin Doyle only managing six goals and Jermaine Jones fighting injuries for most of the season, the Rapids were able to put other pieces in position to succeed. Dominique Badji moved from an afterthought to a six-goal, four-assist sophomore, while Axel Sjoberg turned in a Defensive Player of the Year caliber season in his second season.

With three of our five first-place votes and a mention on every ballot, Pablo Mastroeni is our 2016 MLS Coach of the Year.

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Report: Chelsea planning Hazard, Courtois pay raises

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Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.

[ MORE: Lukaku says decision has been made on Everton future ]

According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.

Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.

The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.

The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.

Ballack acknowledges difficult decision ahead for John Terry

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For the better part of 19 years John Terry has been a staple of Chelsea’s backline.

[ WATCH: Zaha nets first international goal for Ivory Coast ]

With his future at Stamford Bridge becoming more and more in doubt though, it appears it’s time for the 36-year-old to move on from his longtime club, and that’s a decision that another former Chelsea player doesn’t envy.

[ MORE: Everton’s Coleman breaks leg on Ireland duty ]

Ex-Blues midfielder Michael Ballack knows that Terry has options, whether it be in Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League or even with another Premier League club, but the German says it’s difficult because of what the centerback has meant to Chelsea.

“He is a player with that history and charisma,” Ballack, who spent four years with Chelsea during his playing days, told Sky Sports. “He’s such a Chelsea boy and they love him there.

“I know what it means if your career comes to an end and you’re getting older. You don’t know whether you extend your contract, play for another club or go abroad to America.

“I’m sure he has some options but if you think long-term, you have to feel comfortable with the decision.

For the first time in years, Terry has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular largely due to Antonio Conte‘s three-back system. The 36-year-old has appeared in just five PL matches this campaign, while making 10 appearances overall for the Blues, who currently sit atop England’s top flight and are in position to go for the double with the FA Cup semifinals lurking.

Terry himself has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end, but knowing the competitive drive that has made the Englishman great throughout his almost 20-year career, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll just give up his playing days without a fight.

Gabriel Jesus confident he’ll return for Man City this season

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Gabriel Jesus bursted onto the Manchester City scene upon arrival, but an injury back in February has left the talented Brazilian sidelined ever since.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty ]

The lively attacker suffered a broken metatarsal last month against Bournemouth, which required surgery, but the 19-year-old remains confident that he’ll be able to feature again this season for the Citizens.

“I don’t know, I have no return prediction,” Jesus told SporTV. “But I hope I can still play some games this season.”

Initial thoughts were that Jesus would miss around three months, all but ending his first Premier League season. Now, Jesus is hoping that he’ll be able to pick up where he left off prior to the devastating injury.

“It’s good,” Jesus said on his road to recovery. “Thank God, the effort, not just mine, but from all the physiotherapists in Manchester, doctors and everyone. It was not easy for me.

“It’s my first injury. Not muscle injury, but it’s the first time something happens that leaves me out of games. So it was not easy.

“But I saw that, of course, no one wants this to happen, but it could be worse. So we operated soon, I decided to operate and give it time.”

In just his first four matches with Pep Guardiola‘s side, the young Brazilian netted three goals and even dethroned Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup.

CONCACAF chief Montagliani seeks World Cup entry for all co-hosts

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A joint-bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is looking more and more possible, and CONCACAF chief Victor Montagliani believes that if that does happen then all co-hosts should be granted a spot in the tournament.

[ MORE: Making sense of USMNT’s emphatic win over Honduras ]

With FIFA president Gianni Infantino looking to finalize World Cup expansion plans from 32 to 48 teams over the coming weeks, it seems as though Montagliani’s hopes could become a reality for CONCACAF and other regions planning on creating multi-nation bids.

“I don’t think we should be dictating how a confederation allocates their slots from a hosting standpoint. That’s up to them,” Montagliani said.

FIFA will conduct its next meeting on Thursday when Infantino and all six confederation presidents meet in Zurich, Switzerland to decide on World Cup expansion, which Infantino has been adamant about since taking the reigns of soccer’s governing body.

2026 could play an important role for the United States, as it is seen as a critical piece in a joint-bid with Mexico and Canada to host the World Cup.

Additionally, Montagliani has hopes of making a combined Copa America with North and South America a permanent fixture after recently holding discussions with South America’s FIFA vice president Alejandro Dominguez.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Friday night’s massive USMNT victory ]

However, one area that would be left uncertain is the future of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is currently held every two years.

“If that is the case and we get that done, then we have to have a serious look — is it really tenable to have a Gold Cup?” said Montagliani, whose FIFA stakeholders panel faces tough talks on adding and subtracting dates when clubs must release players on international dates.

“Do we really need it [the Gold Cup]?” he suggested. “Is it just clogging the calendar for the players?”