Oscar

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Greg Vanney named MLS Coach of the Year

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It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to many, but Toronto FC’s historic 2017 season has earned its manager significant accolades within Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Anthony Hudson could be Rapids’ next head coach ]

TFC head coach Greg Vanney was selected as MLS Coach of the Year on Monday after guiding his side to the Supporters’ Shield, as well as the top spot in the Eastern Conference regular season.

The 43-year-old beat out Atlanta’s Gerardo Martino, Fire coach Veljko Paunovic and NYCFC’s Patrick Vieira for the award, while Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson and Columbus’ Gregg Berhalter finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Vanney and his side are currently vying for a place in MLS Cup for the second consecutive year as TFC battles with Columbus Crew SC in the East final.

Under Vanney, Toronto has improved each season thus far, and the former U.S. Men’s National Team defender boasts a 61-41-30 record in three-and-a-half seasons with the Canadian club.

The award is Vanney’s first as a manager, after FC Dallas’ Oscar Pareja took home the honors in 2016.

Three things we learned from Liverpool v. Chelsea

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LIVERPOOL — Liverpool and Chelsea each grabbed a point in an encapsulating clash which did little for their title hopes but proved just how evenly matched the two clubs are.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replay ]

Former Chelsea player Mohamed Salah put Liverpool 1-0 up but substitute Willian rescued Chelsea a point late on as his cross drifted over Simon Mignolet and in.

Here’s what we learned from an intriguing clash between two title hopefuls.


LIVERPOOL’S LOW BLOCK HALTS CHELSEA

Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard had been ripping teams apart with their new partnership up front for Chelsea, so Jurgen Klopp put a roadblock in midfield to stop them linking up.

It worked a treat. Yes, Hazard was sublime (more on that later) but his flashes of individual brilliance didn’t lead to direct chances for himself or Morata.

Klopp sat Jordan Henderson and James Milner in central midfield in a more defensive lineup with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench. Some will call it a lack of ambition from Klopp but after the defensive collapse at Sevilla in midweek they needed to stay solid and not open themselves up to rapid Chelsea counters.

It worked and Klopp should be applauded for changing his tactics and showing he can grind out results against a fellow top four contender. A draw was probably a fair result but if Willian’s cross wouldn’t have looped in late on, not many would have argued with a win for Liverpool.


RED-HOT SALAH PROVES CHELSEA WRONG

Mohamed Salah left Chelsea after two seasons with two goals in 13 Premier League appearances. In his first 13 PL appearances for Liverpool the Egyptian winger has scored 10 goals and is the main man at Anfield.

At $37 million he is the best signing of the summer transfer window and he is proving Chelsea wrong for offloading him in 2014-15. Salah, 25, has developed his game and physicality during three years away at Fiorentina and AS Roma in Italy and now he is the real deal.

When he scored Liverpool’s goal to give them the lead he refused to celebrate. Salah obviously still respects all that Chelsea have done for him in his career, even though he had to leave west London to reach his now lofty heights. He was denied a game-winner by Thibaut Courtois late on as he always looked Liverpool’s most dangerous player with his mix of pace, trickery and directness deadly.

During his Chelsea days he had Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle ahead of him in the pecking order and this week Hazard said his former teammate was unlucky to not get a decent run of games at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho didn’t give him a chance to shine in the Premier League and like Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku offloaded him in 2014-15.

Chelsea don’t wait for players to develop. They want the finished article right away so they won’t lose much sleep over allowing Salah to leave. That said, Roman Abramovich may be wondering “what if” as Salah, De Bruyne and Lukaku are all the main men for Chelsea’s main title rivals this season.


HAZARD ON ANOTHER PLANET

Hazard deserved to be on the winning team on Saturday.

In the first half the Belgian ran ring around Liverpool, flicking through passes, jinxing by defenders and playing in Danny Drinkwater for a glorious chance.

Hazard, 26, is at the peak of his powers and with three goals in his last two games heading into this clash his link up play with Morata was the main concern for Liverpool. They managed to disrupt that pair but Hazard still shone.

In a central role he can set the tempo for the Blues and after recovering from a broken ankle over the summer he is ready to push Chelsea on.

Hazard’s fine form will be the main positive from this draw for Antonio Conte and the main source of hope if they’re going to claw back the growing gap to Manchester City atop the Premier League table.

PST Survey results: Who should be the next USMNT coach?

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Our next BASS post deals with who should coach the USMNT.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

We asked thousands of voters who should helm the U.S. men’s national team after October’s horrifying World Cup qualifying collapse, and there were plenty of write-ins apart from a very even vote.

David Wagner earned the most write-ins, but the variety of names mentioned was varied and wild: Caleb Porter, Thomas Tuchel, Slaven Bilic, Gregg Berhalter, Dominic Kinnear, Eddie Howe, Nick Mendola (not kidding, smart alecks).

Guus Hiddink, Rafa Benitez, Miguel Herrera, Oscar Pareja, Mike Petke, Berti Vogts, Tim Howard, Geno Auriemma (not kidding again).

But here are the four top vote getters:

4) Sam Allardyce — 13 percent — Please, no. No. For everyone who thinks his down-home English structure will get the job done, please remember that there are probably 10-15 guys just like him who are less abrasive and haven’t been fired in disgrace from a national team. Want to hate someone’s perception of your league, MLS fellas? Wait til you get a load of him.

3) Laurent Blanc — 14 percent — Late of PSG, the 51-year-old Blanc has experience in cleaning up a mess; When he took over France, the FFF suspended all 23 of the players who bombed out of the 2010 World Cup.

2) Tata Martino — 19 percent — Atlanta United’s guru is best known for leading Barcelona between 2013-14, but has wide international experience with Paraguay and Argentina.

1) Tab Ramos — 20 percent — Call it the Gareth Southgate corollary, albeit by a slim margin. The 51-year-old Ramos has 81 caps for the USMNT and plenty of background in leading the U-20s for several years. He also played in both MLS and abroad, with Segunda Division experience for two teams in Spain.

MLS: FCD really missed the playoffs; LA finish dead last

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / Twitter: @HoustonDynamo
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FC Dallas 5-1 LA Galaxy

The standings: FC Dallas finish 7th in the West; LA Galaxy finish bottom of the West, and all of MLS

The game: It was too little, too late for FC Dallas, who on Sunday managed just their second win during the months of August, September and October. That’s a stretch of 15 games which saw last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners tumble out of the West’s playoff places and ultimately finish seventh, behind the San Jose Earthquakes on the wins tiebreaker. Roland Lamah scored twice on the day, to go with single tallies from Mauro Diaz, Matt Hedges and Michael Barrios. Oscar Pareja’s side began the season with treble aspirations for a second straight season (the Hoops also won the U.S. Open Cup in 2016), but will be watching this year’s playoffs from the comfort of their own couches. On the other hand, 2017 could have been worse — say, FCD could have been LA, who finished last in MLS for the first time ever. Sigi Schmid, should he remain in the job next season, has quite the rebuilding task on his hands. Let us not forget: LAFC arrive in March.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 34 — it all comes down to this ]

The goals

2′ — Cian heads home an early opener Things started brightly for LA.

37′ — Lamah gets a lucky bounce, pulls FCD level — Right place, right time for Lamah, who’s endured quite the rough first season in MLS.

41′ — Hedges cleans up the mess, and it’s 2-1 — Clement Diop couldn’t hold on after making the initial save, and Matt Hedges was more than ready for the rebound.

49′ — Lamah makes it 3-1 — The rout has officially begun.

68′ — Barrios adds to LA’s misery with a fourth — LA’s 2017 season was over in May (maybe June, if we’re being kind). Every one of these defenders is on a beach right now.

73′ — Diaz makes it 5-1 from the spot — The season just will not end for LA.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Roland Lamah

Goalscorers: Cian (2′), Lamah (37′, 49′), Hedges (41′), Barrios (68′) Diaz (73′ – PK)


Houston Dynamo 3-0 Chicago Fire

The standings: Dynamo clinch the West’s 4-seed; Fire clinch the East’s 3-seed

The game: No one wanted to win the West, just like no one ever really wanted to claim a home game in the knockout round. In the end, the Houston Dynamo beat Sporting Kansas City to the 4-seed and the right to host the two sides’ opening-round game this week. Leonardo, Romell Quioto and Mauro Manotas bagged the goals for Wilmer Cabrera’s side which finishes the regular season unbeaten in its last six game (three wins). Chicago, recently resurgent, lose for just the second time in eight games, but in doing so fail to take advantage of New York City FC’s Decision Day draw with Columbus Crew SC. A win would have sent Chicago second in the East, allowing them a week’s rest and preparation before the start of the conference semifinals. Instead, they’ll host the New York Red Bulls this week.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 34 — it all comes down to this ]

The goals

2′ — Leonardo heads home from a long throw — They don’t have to be pretty (especially on Decision Day), which is good, because this one was anything but.

68′ — Quioto goes it alone to make it 2-0 — At some point, someone should probably drag Quioto to the ground rather than let him carry the ball 40 yards into the penalty area. It never happened, and Richard Sanchez couldn’t make the save.

75′ — Manotas adds the insurance a few minutes later — Andrew Wenger’s cross found Manotas at the back post, and the finish was easy for the Colombian.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Leonardo

Goalscorers: Leonardo (2′), Quioto (68′), Manotas (75′)

MLS Snapshot: Sounders get much-needed win over reeling FCD

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The game in 100 words (or less): FC Dallas’ epic collapse is so nearly complete, if only Real Salt Lake or the San Jose Earthquakes could capitalize and boot Oscar Pareja’s side from the playoff places. Fortunately for the Hoops, while they were busy taking a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the defending champion Seattle Sounders, RSL and San Jose each dropped points (all three for RSL; two for the Quakes). Heading into the final week of the regular season, FCD’s fate is no longer in their own hands, as they currently sit seventh in the Western Conference, behind San Jose on wins. Seattle, meanwhile, have moved into third, a point ahead of Sporting Kansas City and behind the Portland Timbers on wins. Victor Rodriguez, Will Bruin (twice) and Lamar Neagle did the damage on Sunday, helping Seattle end a poor run of results (just one win in seven games) as their 13-game unbeaten run (from June to September) became a distant memory.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 33 — all about playoff places, positioning ]

Three moments that mattered

31′ — Rodriguez slots past Gonzalez to make it 1-0 — Assist by Clint Dempsey, textbook finish by Rodriguez.

64′ — Bruin pokes home a rebound for 2-0 — Dempsey’s shot was saved by Gonzalez, but he couldn’t hold onto it and Bruin pounced quickly.

67′ — Bruin slots home after a terrible giveaway — Matt Hedges needs it to be the offseason… like, three months ago.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Will Bruin

Goalscorers: Rodriguez (31′), Bruin (64′, 67′), Neagle (90+2′)