Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 23

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  • Montreal’s Troy Perkins

Rationale, motive and intent: He was upset about the trade and subsequent derisive statements coming out of Portland. He said he was show ‘em. Well, a shutout on the road (five saves) is a mighty fine start.

Back line:

  • Chicago’s Arne Friedrich
  • San Jose’s Jason Hernandez (pictured)
  • New York’s Roy Miller

Rationale, motive and intent: Friedrich continues to be unflappable. Go ahead … try to flap him. I bet you can’t do it. It’s that uncanny anticipation that keeps him from ever looking hurried. Miller was a factor on offense and defense in New York’s win over Houston as two of the East’s top teams did batter in New Jersey.


  • Los Angeles’ Marcelo Sarvas
  • Montreal’s Sanna Nyassi
  • Chicago’s Chris Rolfe
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi

Rationale, motive and intent: Sarvas had a monster game, even if it did get upstaged by Donovan’s super-monster game. Rolfe scored two out of Chicago’s attacking midfield position.

Did you see the goal Nyassi hit against New England? Thing is, the 60-yard run wasn’t even the best part; it was the flash-bang finish!

Anybody think Zusi got tired of me and others talking about Roger Espinoza and all of his influence on SKC’s midfield this year, and got himself into a motivational hot lather? Probably not, eh? Anyway, Zusi was involved in big ways all night in the club’s win over D.C. United.


  • FC Dallas’ Fabian Castillo
  • San Jose’s Steven Lenhart
  • Los Angeles’ Landon Donovan

Rationale, motive and intent: Castillo is long on raw talent but tends to be painfully short on veteran decision-making. Well, he put things together in a big way against Colorado, with a goal and an assist, along with a primary role on the team’s other strike in the win.  Lenhart set up one late goal and scored the late, late, late stoppage time winner as San Jose’s cardiac Quakes did it again.

We’ve already gone over Donovan’s big  week.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

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We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

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In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Click play on the video above to watch the fourth episode in full.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.