Three Toronto FC players split 10 percent of the vote (Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez). The Top Eight was rounded out by Atlanta United pair Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez, and Chicago striker Nemanja Nikolic.
Tottenham Hotspur have lost their last three Premier League games away from home and won just one of their last five games in the league, thus Mauricio Pochettino has come under a bit of (justifiable) scrutiny.
Pochettino, who guided Tottenham to third- and second-place finishes in the last two PL season, respectively, has seen his side slip from third to seventh in the league table in four weeks’ time. Spurs are currently one point behind Burnley.
Naturally, the inquest has begun, and one of the more interesting theories used to explain Spurs’ recent struggles is as follows: relationships between Pochettino and his players have been strained ahead of the release of “Brave New World,” a book written by Guillem Balague, who shadowed Pochettino for the entirety of the 2016-17 season. The first excerpts were released in mid-October. Pochettino insists the book has no bearing on his squad — quotes from the AP:
“I think my relationship with them is so strong and to find excuses about the book is wrong. It’s a great opportunity to get a better idea that it’s not only about playing football.
“When you are clear with everyone, the problem doesn’t exist. The problem is when you lie, no?”
As for the real reason his side slipped into a mid-season coma, Pochettino says it’s more to do with fatigue than a perceived sense of broken trust:
“A player like Christian Eriksen maybe can be a little bit tired, but mental more than physical, because in the last international duty he played two amazing games to try to qualify for the World Cup, and he cannot rest, he cannot stop.
“Maybe him and Eric Dier, that is playing a lot. Maybe Davinson Sanchez. It’s the same group, the players that travel a lot and were involved in nearly all the games. Maybe they can feel a little bit tired about competing.”
That’s all extremely well and reasonable — not to mention, a far more logical explanation than the book theory. That said, let’s take a moment to consider why players like Eriksen, Dier and Sanchez — as well as others, like Harry Kane and Dele Alli — might be “a little tired,” whether it be mental or physical exhaustion, with only a little more than one-third of the season complete.
By mid-July and early August, it had become crystal clear that the likes of Manchester City ($293 million), Chelsea ($273 million) and Manchester United ($228 million) were going to spend until they had elevated their respective squads to title-contending quality. Spurs, on the other hand, waited until Aug. 23 — 12 days after the start of the PL season — to announce their first signing, Sanchez. No additional transfer business (of real consequence) was done until Aug. 31, deadline day, when Serge Aurier and 32-year-old Fernando Llorente arrived.
If Pochettino, Daniel Levy and Co. think Spurs can continue punching above the squad’s monetary weight and contend year after year for the PL title without a serious financial push to acquire players on par with those being signed by fellow top-six sides, they are sorely mistaken. Clearly the new stadium will be a financial burden for an unknown period of time, as was the case for Arsenal until recently, so Spurs fans might just have to make themselves comfortable with once again being the fifth- or sixth-best team in England with a chance to crack the top-four in especially strange seasons.
That’s without considering the futures of Kane, Alli, Eriksen and Dier — all of whom will attract serious interest from other clubs this summer, should Spurs not get into the Champions League, and every ensuing summer — as well as Toby Aldeweireld (28 years old), Jan Vertonghen (30), Mousa Dembele (30) and Danny Rose (27) — all of whom will soon be on the wrong side of the primes of their respective careers.
Early-season injuries to Rose, Dembele and Victor Wanyama, and now Aldeweireld, have left Spurs without a great deal of room for rotation. Pochettino might appear to have worked miracles in recent seasons, but he’s finding life a bit more difficult now that two years of good injury fortune has quickly turned against him.
Now, Pep Guardiola‘s side are said to have offered $77 million and it has also been reported that Man City have sent a delegation of officials to Santiago, Chile for Sanchez to undergo a medical and sign paperwork if a fee is agreed for the man who scored 24 goals and added 10 assists last season in the Premier League.
Despite having less than 12 months left on his Arsenal deal, Arsene Wenger has insisted all summer long that Sanchez would not be sold.
However it seems as though plans are being put in place for the Gunners to replace Sanchez…
Spanish soccer expert Guillen Ballague has stated that Arsenal have are confident of pushing through a move for Lemar as a direct replacement for Sanchez.
Lemar, 21, is currently on international duty with France and although AS Monaco insist the winger is not for sale, an offer of over $60 million could turn their heads.
The winger could play for France against Holland tonight at the Stade de France, but could he have a new club by the time that game is over?
Liverpool and Barcelona have also said to be keen on Lemar after Arsenal had two bids turned down for him earlier this summer.
With four rounds of qualifying remaining, Brazil has already advanced to Russia and leads the group with 33 points. The five-time World Cup winners are followed by Colombia (24), Uruguay (23), Chile (23), Argentina (22) and Ecuador (20). Peru and Paraguay have 18 points, and little chance to advance. Bolivia and Venezuela have been eliminated.
In addition to Brazil, three more teams will claim the remaining automatic berths, and one more South American team could also reach Russia in a playoff.
A look at the key games:
Messi is back from a one-game ban for insulting a match official. It was originally four matches, but the Argentine soccer association appealed successfully.
That’s good news for coach Jorge Sampaoli, who will be on the bench for his first official game in charge. Without Messi, Argentina lost to Bolivia 2-0 in its last qualifier in March.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also needs Suarez. He has a right-knee injury, which Tabarez said will be evaluated in the run-up to the match.
With or without Suarez, Tabarez knows “it will be a very, very difficult match.”
Sampaoli replaced Edgardo Bauza in early June and has coached friendly wins over Brazil and Singapore. Sampaoli has left Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain out of the side, going instead with Paulo Dybala, who is seen as Messi’s heir on the national team.
Tabarez is remaking the Uruguay side, which has been about the same since finishing fourth in the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 Copa America. New faces include Federico Valverde, Mauricio Lemos and Gaston Pereiro.
“It’s not just another game coming up,” Uruguay defender Diego Godin said. “It’s a classic, and we know who we’re playing.”
Colombia attacking midfielder James Rodriguez is out with a right thigh injury. His new club, Bayern Munich, has allowed him to travel, under the condition that he doesn’t play. He could be available for the Sept. 5 qualifier against Brazil.
The match takes place in San Cristobal, Venezuela, in the midst of the South American country’s deepening social and economic crisis.
Argentina-born coach Jose Pekerman should be able to get by without Rodriguez. Venezuela has only six points from 14 matches.
“Venezuela playing Colombia is always played as if your life depends on it,” Colombia winger Juan Guillermo Cuadrado said.
Colombia will rely on Radamel Falcao, who has scored seven goals for French club Monaco in only four games.
Brazil has advanced, winning eight straight qualifiers under coach Tite.
Tite will have Neymar, fresh off his record-breaking transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. The player most watched will be winger Philippe Coutinho, who has yet to play a minute with Liverpool. The English club says Coutinho has been out with a back injury. Meanwhile, Coutinho has been linked in a move to Barcelona to replace Neymar.
Ecuador needs a victory in the match in the southern city of Porto Alegre to stay in the race.
“It’s a tough challenge,” Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros said. “But Ecuador has shown when it plays well, it can beat anybody.”
Chile’s hopes in Santiago against Paraguay probably ride with Alexis Sanchez, who played his first minutes of the season in Arsenal’s 4-0 loss to Liverpool. Sanchez missed the first two matches with an injury.
Peru and Bolivia play the other match with neither team going anywhere. Peru will be without captain and top scorer Paolo Guerrero, who is suspended. He is eligible for the next match against Ecuador.