Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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.

Follow @NicholasMendola

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

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  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.

PL Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

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  • Burnley has 1 win vs. Man United in last 23 meetings
  • Manchester United has not conceded a goal in 2018
  • Paul Pogba is joint-top of the league with 9 assists

A critical top of the table battle comes our way from Turf Moor (!!) on Saturday as Manchester United travels to Burnley live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

Since losing at Chelsea back in early November, Manchester United in unbeaten away from home and has won four of the five road matches. Burnley, meanwhile, has lost three matches in a row to start the new year and has not won in Premier League play since December 12th against Stoke City.

The goalscoring form of each team is also in stark contrast. Manchester United has not allowed a goal in any competition in 2018, and last conceded back on Boxing Day in a 2-2 draw with this Burnley side. The Clarets, meanwhile, have just one goal in their last three Premier League games and just three goals in their last six.

INJURIES: Burnley – OUT: Chris Wood (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Chris Taylor (ribs). Manchester United – OUT: Daley Blind (undisclosed), Eric Bailly (ankle), Michael Carrick (heart), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia.

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on the gap in riches between clubs: “I don’t think any of us are surprised by the gap in the Premier League – I think it’s been there a long time and it’s getting harder year on year since the business model of football has changed.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on focusing despite transfer rumors: “In this moment, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan our player, [Alexis] Sanchez an Arsenal player and with a match tomorrow, I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match.”

Prediction

Burnley may be coming back down to Earth, but they are still a formidable team with great organization, and Manchester United will be once again held to a draw, this time 1-1.

Alexis Sanchez in Arsenal squad, could play vs Crystal Palace

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Ahead of his nearly imminent move away from the Emirates, Alexis Sanchez could make an appearance for Arsenal against Crystal Palace this weekend as he was with the squad at the team hotel on Friday night, according to reports in England.

According to the reports, Arsene Wenger has not decided if he will play Sanchez against Palace or not, as any potential injury could seriously jeopardize any outgoing transfer in the works. However, naming him to the bench and allowing Sanchez to make one last appearance in front of the home fans would be a nice touch before he leaves, likely for Manchester United.

It probably doesn’t help Wenger’s selection that oft-injured Danny Welbeck will miss the match after picking up a muscle problem in training.

Sanchez did not travel with the team to Bournemouth last weekend as Arsenal lost 2-1 in stunning fashion. Sanchez has missed four Premier League games this season, and Arsenal has lost three of them.

The reports state Sanchez trained with the Arsenal first team on Friday, but only because the youth team he trained with the day before had left for a road trip.

Reports: LA Galaxy trades Gyasi Zardes to Columbus for Ola Kamara

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According to a reports by the LA Times and by ESPN, the LA Galaxy have traded US international Gyasi Zardes along with allocation money to the Columbus Crew for striker Ola Kamara.

Both reports state that Columbus will receive $400,000 in guaranteed allocation money in the deal, plus another $100,000 should Kamara score 12 goals next season to trigger the incentive.

Zardes was once a force along the wing for Bruce Arena and the Galaxy, but the 26-year-old has declined heavily in the last two seasons as injuries and poor form have held him to just eight goals over the last two seasons, including just two last campaign. Meanwhile, Kamara has been a star for Columbus in his first two years in Major League Soccer, scoring 16 goals in 2016 before netting another 18 last season, leaving him third in the league in goals scored over those two seasons.

The LA Times report states that Kamara will earn a new contract after the trade, giving him a raise over his current $482,500 yearly salary.

Zardes is an interesting case who shouldn’t be given up on just yet. A homegrown player for the Galaxy, he scored 17 goals in the 2014 season, including on in the MLS Cup Finals as the Galaxy won it all. He earned a seemingly permanent place on the USMNT as a result, and has 37 caps to this date. However, his goalscoring form has since evaporated, leaving him with no more than six goals in an MLS season since, and has just six goals in those 37 caps for the national team.

The Galaxy will need to acquire an additional international roster spot in order to activate Kamara for the season opener on March 4th against Portland, as they have filled up their seven spots as of now.