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MLS Draft: Minnesota take Danladi with first overall pick

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After much speculation about trading the #1 pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Minnesota has stuck to its guns.

Prior to its first season in Major League Soccer, Minnesota United kept the first pick and selected Abu Danladi from UCLA. The 21-year-old left his home country of Ghana in 2011 to come to the United States, pursuing soccer and getting an education at the same time. Danladi has been an enigma this draft season. Mock drafts across the nation had him anywhere from first to third to fifth to seventh. He becomes the 5th first overall pick from UCLA.

There were plenty of rumors that Minnesota could trade the pick, with New England most heavily involved, according to numerous reports on social media. Instead, they held strong and took a player with incredible upside.

Syracuse defender Miles Robinson went #2 to Atlanta United, the first Syracuse player ever taken in the top 5 of the draft and only the third ever for the program taken in the first round after Alex Bono and Skyler Thomas two years ago. Robinson is a rising name in the USMNT youth ranks, and is challenging the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers and other big names for a starting spot in the US U-20 team.

Chicago traded the #3 pick to NYCFC in exchange for $250,000 of General Allocation Money to take Akron forward Jonathan Lewis. Houston traded the #4 pick to Portland in exchange for $100,000 of General Allocation Money, an international roster spot, and the #10 pick in order to select Duke’s Jeremy Ebobisse. NYCFC also paid GAM to Seattle for the #16 pick. In the second round, Toronto traded both its early picks to Chicago (26 and 27 overall) for $75,000 of Targeted Allocation Money.

The biggest surprise so far seems to be Houston’s pick of Hofstra midfielder Joseph Holland at #10. Holland is 24 years old and an international, so he seemed to have less value than the position he was taken. The biggest drop seemed to belong to Notre Dame defender Brandon Aubrey, who we had going #6 in our final mock draft, but fell to Toronto near the end of the 1st round.

DRAFT RESULTS

Round 1:

1) Minnesota: Abu Danladi, FWD (UCLA)
2) Atlanta: Miles Robinson, DEF (Syracuse)
3) NYCFC (via Chicago): Jonathan Lewis, FWD (Akron)
4) Portland (via Houston): Jeremy Ebobisse, FWD (Duke)
5) Columbus: Lalas Abubakar, DEF (Dayton)
6) San Jose: Jackson Yueill, MF (UCLA)
7) Vancouver: Jakob Nerwinski, DEF (UConn)
8) Atlanta (via Orlando): Julian Gressel, MF (Providence)
9) Columbus (via New England): Niko Hansen, FWD (New Mexico)
10) Houston (via Portland): Joe Holland, MF (Hofstra)
11) Chicago (via Philadelphia): Daniel Johnson, MF (Louisville)
12) D.C. United: Chris Odoi-Atsem, DEF (Maryland)
13) Real Salt Lake: Reagan Dunk, DEF (Denver)
14) Sporting KC: Colton Storm, DEF (UNC)
15) Colorado (via LA Galaxy): Sam Hamilton, MF (Denver)
16) NYCFC: Kwame Awuah, DEF (UConn)
17) New York Red Bulls: Zeiko Lewis, MF (Boston College)
18) FC Dallas: Jacori Hayes, MF (Wake Forest)
19) Montreal: Nick DePuy, FWD (UC Santa Barbara)
20) New England (via Colorado): Brian Wright, FWD (Vermont)
21) Toronto: Brandon Aubrey, DEF (Notre Dame)
22) Seattle: Brian Nana-Sinkam, DEF (Stanford)

Round 2:

23) Minnesota: Alec Ferrell, GK (Wake Forest)
24) Colorado (via Atlanta): Liam Callahan, DEF (Syracuse)
25) Philadelphia (via Minnesota and Chicago): Marcus Epps, MF (USF)
26) Chicago (via Toronto and Houston): Stefan Cleveland, GK (Louisville)
27) Chicago (via Toronto, Montreal and Columbus): Guillermo Delgado, FWD (Delaware)
28) San Jose: Lindo Mfeka, MF (USF)
29) Vancouver: Francis DeVries, DEF (St. Francis)
30) Houston (via Orlando): Jake McGuire, GK (Tulsa)
31) New England: Napo Matsoso, MF (Kentucky)
32) Portland: Michael Amick, DEF (UCLA)
33) Philadelphia: Aaron Jones, DEF (Clemson)
34) D.C. United: Eric Klenofsky, GK (Monmouth)
35) Real Salt Lake: Justin Schmidt, DEF (Washington)
36) Houston (via Sporting KC): Danilo Radjen, DEF (Akron)
37) FC Dallas (via LA Galaxy): Walker Hume, DEF (UNC)
38) NYCFC: Jalen Brown, FWD (Xavier)
39) NY Red Bulls: Ethan Kutler, FWD (Colgate)
40) FC Dallas: Adonijah Reid, FWD (Canada Soccer)
41) Montreal: Shamit Shome, MF (FC Edmonton)
42) Minnesota (via Colorado and Philadelphia): Thomas de Villardi, MF (Delaware)
43) D.C. United (via Portland and Toronto): Jo Vetle Rimstad, DEF (Radford)
44) Seattle: Dominic Oduro, DEF (FC Nordsaelland)

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.