Kicking the can on possible Best XI midfielders


Steve rose to my challenge. Now, I rise to his. At least, I plan to kick this can down the road, adding a little more to the conversation about which midfielders should in the picture for MLS’s Best XI.

First, let’s recap. Yesterday, after hearing Patrice Bernier had been named August’s Player of the Month, I tweeted a hope that people would start discussing his Best XI chances. (Good thing we have a blog, right?) Was I endorsing Bernier for a spot? No, but ever since I spending some time in Montreal, I’ve been trying to dissuade myself of the notion that Bernier’s one of the league’s best midfielders. Now, I’ve stopped trying, convinced my conclusion is more Bernier’s play than soe kind of temporary proximity bias.

But as Steve noted, Bernier’s path won’t be easy. There are three major obstacles: Competition, team selection, and Montreal’s finish.

As Charles van Doren would say, I’d like to take the first part last.

Team Selection

This is a major problem not only for Bernier, but for Osvaldo Alonso, Kyle Beckerman, and any other midfielder who doesn’t make their name with numbers. Because of the way the Best XI works (chosen asa  3-5-2), it’s far too easy for somebody who is essentially a forward to be slotted into a midfield role, leaving true midfielders to compete for spots against guys putting up double-digit goals. For a player like Dwayne De Rosario, there’s justification for that, though the problem’s compounded when you have multiple DeRo-esque players and no mandate to choose a true midfielder (let alone a deep-sitting one, which almost everybody employs).

Players like DeRo, Chris Pontius, Graham Zusi, perhaps Landon Donovan (a forward-only this year) – they’re all going to be problematic. Players like Mauro Rosales and Javier Morales deserve some love, but they’re attack-only players. They really don’t play the same position (or, style) as Bernier and the other, more typical midfielders. While Beckerman and Bernier also serve different purposes, they’re in the same conversation.

As last year’s reminds us, numbers still matter. A lot. Every player in last year’s midfield was among the leaders in goals or assists (Beckham, Davis, De Rosario, Donovan, Shea). Whether he deserves a spot or not, Bernier’s going to be a tough task both (a) beating out the other central midfielders, and (b) not be displaced by the numbers guys.

Montreal’s finish

This is where Steve and I part ways. Most voters are going to factor in team finish. I think it’s fundamentally unfair when voting on an individual award. Making a team’s finish a significant part of an individual’s evaluation distort’s a single player’s influence on the game (while minimizing his teammates’ contributions). “Yeah, but where did his team finish” implies that had he wanted to, the player alone could have willed his team to victory most nights of the season.

At the high school level, a player can have that kind of impact. In Major League Soccer, that’s an unfair standard. That’s not how this league works, but unfortunately, it’s logic that will adversely affect any Montreal player. If the Impact don’t make the playoffs, Bernier won’t be Best XI, whether he deserves it or not.

(Another lesson from last year is that numbers can trump team performance. De Rosario played with three teams while winning Most Valuable Player.)


Osvaldo Alonso is an obvious choice. Will he make the team? Given he somehow didn’t make last year’s, it’d be foolish to say yes. But it’s hard to imagine a world where Bernier makes the team and not Alonso. If people are going to look beyond the numbers, Alonso’s guaranteed a spot.

After that, there’s a cluster of three: Kyle Beckerman, Roger Espinoza and Bernier. Even if you throw team-centric factors out the window, it will be hard for Bernier to displace either of those guys – players who have spent most of the year being evaluated by Best XI standards. As a result, people are comfortable with the idea that they might be Best XI-worthy.

Bernier’s late to the conversation. When people cast there votes at season’s end, some will have already made up their minds. Others will not have had enough time to think about the new guy.

There are also some wild cards that will influence the conversation. Dax McCarty will get a lot of love, even if his effort is outpacing the results. David Beckham’s coming on. Oscar Boniek Garcia and Federico Higuain will pull some votes, despite not playing full seasons. Garcia’s teammate, Brad Davis, is also a factor.

And don’t forget the attackers – the players whose numbers will earn them spots on the team (perhaps deservedly so).

Patrice Bernier deserves to be in this conversation, but it’s highly unlikely he’s making Best XI. His performance may not be far from the standards of Alonso, Espinoza, and Beckerman, but most of those guys will be on the outside looking in, too. Given the dynamics of picking MLS’s five-man midfield, it’d be pleasant surprise to see any of those four in the all-league team.

Reports: Tottenham Hotspur to hire Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou as next manager


Multiple reports say that Ange Postecoglou will be leaving Celtic to become the next manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

Celtic had reportedly granted permission for Spurs to speak with their trophy-collecting boss, and things apparently progressed quickly as the 57-year-old looks set to oversee the club’s big rebuild.

[ MORE: Recalling Zlatan’s “unicorn” career ]

Spurs suffered through an inconsistent 2022-23 season with Antonio Conte at the helm, followed by Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason in interim stints.

Tottenham will not have European football this season and is at risk of losing legendary center forward Harry Kane. The club has eight players including Kane going into the final year of their contracts, including Ivan Perisic, Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, and Hugo Lloris.

Spurs finished eighth last season, 15 points off the top four despite spending much of the season inside of it. The club’s finished fourth just once in the past four seasons despite qualifying for the Champions League the previous four seasons.

Ironically, Celtic is being linked with pursuit of Brendan Rodgers and Jesse Marsch if Postecoglou departs this week.

Who is Ange Postecoglou?

Postecoglou, 57, was born in Greece and moved to Australia at a young age, starring for South Melbourne as a player and earning for caps for the Socceroos.

He is coming off a domestic treble with Celtic and won five of six trophies available to him in his two seasons with the Bhoys.

At Celtic, Postecoglou played with a 4-3-3 for much of the first half of his tenure but played a lot of this campaign in a 4-2-3-1.

Postecoglou won trophies as a manager with South Melbourne, Brisbane Roar, and Yokohama F. Marinos, claiming the Asian Cup during his stint as Australia national team coach.

He said he expects tricky early times wherever he goes.

“Wherever I’ve been, the initial part is always rocky, because my ideas are… well they’re not extreme to me but I can see how they can be seen as extreme from the outside. It takes a while. Usually it can take me six months, it can take me a year to really bed them in, depending on how many opportunities I have to change the playing squad and the staff and all those kinds of things.”

Five players to watch in the Premier League’s summer transfer window


There’s going to be turnover in the Premier League this offseason, and it seems likely the big boys will again be looking to the top young talents in other leagues to get in when the getting is good.

There will be big price tags attached to some players this summer, but in the case of the players below we may be talking about players just a window away from having unattainably high price tags for most clubs.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Arsenal | Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United ] 

Most of these names have danced through ProSoccerTalk‘s transfer rumor mill at least once during the past season or two, and in one case have been on the radar for a half-decade or so.

Here’s a look at five players who may well find their way to the Premier League in the very near future, and could move somewhere this summer.

Xavi Simons, PSV Eindhoven

At times the teen hype around Xavi Simons coming out of Barcelona’s academy was akin to the recruitment of Martin Odegaard out of Norway so many years ago. But Simons couldn’t break through at Barca and his move to Paris Saint-Germain didn’t take off as expected. So Simons, who just turned 20 in April, landed at PSV Eindhoven. All he did was lead the Eredivisie in goals. PSG has a buyback clause but Simons would have to want to go there… and there are plenty of rumored suitors for the playmaker. Simons chipped in eight assists and was Fotmob’s highest-rated Eredivisie player.

Possible fits: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool

Jurrien Timber, Ajax

Still 21 for a couple more weeks, Timber got Mancunian tongues wagging when he attended the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Manchester City. The star center back played under United boss Erik ten Hag at Ajax and now has 15 caps for the Netherlands senior team. He has a ridiculous passing and ball progression profile for his position, and has showed enough attacking acumen to get any team excited about him.

Possible fits: Manchester United, Manchester City

Randal Kolo Muani, Eintracht Frankfurt

The 24-year-old has acknowledged dreams of playing in the Premier League following a blockbuster first season at Eintracht, where he scored 23 goals with 17 assists amongst all competitions. Moving to a new country did not slow him at all after his time at Nantes, and he was linked with a number of PL sides even before he admitted his interest in the league.

Possible fits: Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United

Sepe Elye Wahi, Montpellier

The 20-year-old nearly scored as many goals as his age in his third season with Montpellier’s first team, and has attracted interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, and Chelsea amongst others. Wahi is still very raw when it comes to passing the ball but part of his statistical deficiencies could have to do with his club’s relative struggles. A eager presser, his best traits are finishing and that’s the stat that drives the bus for him.

Possible fits: Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal

Gabriel Veiga, Celta Vigo

Here’s another playmaker linked with Arsenal, but you can see why he could fit in Mikel Arteta’s system. His 11 goals were 13th in La Liga this season and his four assists means he had a goal contribution on 15 of Celta’s 43 league goals. An eager dribbler, he delivered 80 shot creating actions this season and ranked in the 99th percentile for midfielders when it came to non-penalty goals.

Possible fits: Newcastle, Arsenal, Man CIty

How many times has a team won the treble? Man City goes for history


There’s been a lot of treble talk these days, talk that’s found a new level of buzz since Manchester City moved within one win of joining the club.

It’s an elite club, by the way, of teams that have won their domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Nine times in history has a team won the treble, and only once has it been done by a Premier League club.

[ MORE: Recalling Zlatan’s “unicorn” career ]

That’s why Man City’s defeat of Manchester United earlier this month in the FA Cup Final rings so true for the Citizens; The blue side of Manchester would join the red side as treble supporters, as United won the treble in 1998-99.

Man City goes for the third jewel of its treble crown on Saturday versus Inter Milan in Istanbul when it kicks off the UEFA Champions League Final.

For more treble trivia, head below the jump.

How many times has the treble been won?

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.


Manchester City vs Inter Milan: How to watch Champions League Final, odds, predictions


Manchester City is on the chase for a historic treble and standing in the way is Inter Milan, one of Europe’s precious few clubs to claim such an honor.

[ LIVE: Manchester City vs Inter Milan ]

The Premier League winners three times running have an FA Cup under their belt after beating Manchester United on June 3 and the final jewel in their treble crown awaits with a win in Istanbul on June 10.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Pep Guardiola could lead a second club to a treble after he did it with Barcelona in 2008-09, and they would give heated rivals United domestic company on the treble stage right down the road.

Guardiola says it’s now okay to talk about the treble. We agree, and we’ve laid out why the achievement is so special after the jump.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester City vs Inter Milan.

How to watch Manchester City vs Inter Milan live, stream link and start time

Dates: 3pm ET June 10, 2023
Online: Live updates via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

What Premier League clubs have won the treble?

Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in 1998-99.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils are the lone Premier League club to win it.

That’s it. For now.

How many times has the treble been won?

Nine times in history has a team won its domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.


Champions League Final odds (Betting odds provided by our partner, BetMGM )

BetMGM is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on BetMGM for the first time after clicking our links. 

Man City (-250) vs Inter Milan (+625) | Draw over 120 mins (+380)

Over 2.5 goals (-160). Under 2.5 goals (+110)

Champions League Final predictions

Joe Prince-Wright: Man City 2-1 Inter Milan
Andy Edwards: Man City 3-1 Inter Milan
Nick Mendola: Man City 2-0 Inter Milan

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options


Inter Milan team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joaquin Correa. OUT: Dalbert.