Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 30

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Goalkeeper:

  • Houston’s Tally Hall

Rationale, motive and intent: Four saves helped keep his team in the game (and perhaps in the playoff race) until the Dynamo finally got the late breakthrough goal in the driving rain at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Back line:

  • Vanvouver’s Jay DeMerit
  • Portland’s David Horst
  • Colorado’s Hunter Freeman

Rationale, motive and intent: Sometimes I actually feel for Jay DeMerit. Becaues no matter how much Martin Rennie tries to tidy up the defensive organization around BC Place, the Whitecaps’ veteran center back always seems to have so very much to do. He certainly did Saturday in the 0-0 draw with Seattle.

Horst? Yeah, I know about the penalty kick. But it was pretty weak salsa in my book. I’m looking at all the great and gritty that went on defensively around Jeld-Wen in his team’s 1-1 draw with D.C. United.

Freeman was up and down the right side in his team’s 1-1 draw with the Galaxy.

Midfield:

  • Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi
  • Houston’s Ricardo Clark (pictured)
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Julio Cesar

Rationale, motive and intent: Zusi scored twice in the big win, during the weekend’s most significant matchup. His defensive-minded teammate Cesar was always in the right place to keep Chris Rolfe contained and to tamp down those Fire counter-attack opportunities. Clark was full of hustle and bustle in midfield, as usual, but and then led the late offensive charge that ultimately sealed up the night.

Forward:

  • New York’s Thierry Henry
  • Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio
  • Real Salt Lake’s Fabian Espindola
  • Columbus’ Jairo Arrieta

Rationale, motive and intent: Yep, it’s the old 3-3-4 formation. What can I say? I’m a journalist, not the second coming of Rinus Michels.

Henry? We’ve stomped the grapes on that French ground.

It’s simply impossible to pick between Saborio and Espindoloa when one is scoring most of the goals (three for “Sabo”) and the other is setting them up (three assists for “Espy”). So, we picked ‘em both.

Arrieta scored a couple of quality goals before the break for a club that absolutely, positively had to have all three points to keep pace in the playoff chase.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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