Major League Soccer’s mid-season Newcomer of the Year: New England’s Jose Goncalves

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World soccer being such the transient place it is, there are always abundant choices for Newcomer of the Year in MLS, where players come and go like it was taco night in the dorm cafeteria.

This year is no different. And so far, we don’t have a choice that’s obvious as two soccer balls on the field, as we did last year in Columbus’ Federico Higuain.

So, here goes our best effort to sort out this one. (Fifteen rounds of play remain … a lot could happen, including introductions of new players from the summer transfer season.)

My pick is: New England’s Jose Goncalves

First up, you say it “gon-SAL-vez.” I mean, if the guy is going to win a major award, we probably should know how to say his name.

Any way you say it, he’s way up in the conversation. New England was hanging on in matches in the season’s early days even though they needed about three games just to score once. A big part of the reason was Goncalves’ steady work in the back. Even now, New England’s 14 goals allowed is best in MLS.

More than just the body of work at center back, Goncalves is helping tudor some of the Revs’ promising young talent in the back, like rookie right back Andrew Farrell and converted midfielder Stephen McCarthy.

Others to monitor over the final 15 rounds (in alphabetical order): 

  • Vancouver Whitecaps Nigel Reo Coker
  • FC Dallas Raul Fernandez
  • FC Dallas’ Michel
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Claudio Bieler
  • Portland Timber’s Diego Valeri
  • New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez

Report: Van Bronckhorst to take NYCFC job as Man City pre-test

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Giovanni van Bronckorst is going to get a sort of Man City dress rehearsal in Major League Soccer.

On the heels of a September report that Van Bronckhorst was being eased into City Football Group with an “all-access pass” to Pep Guardiola, The Daily Mirror has issued a new one.

[ MORE: 1-on-1 with Claudio Reyna ]

Van Bronckhorst has been familiarizing himself with all of City Football Group’s clubs, the report says, and will take hold of New York City FC under old friend Claudio Reyna with a view to a bigger job within the company.

Sources in Holland insist that Van Bronkhorst would be unlikely to accept the New York job if there was no plan for him to eventually move into a more prominent role inside the CFG.

He has Champions League experience and has a number of close friends inside the group, including former Rangers team-mate Claudio Reyna, who is New York’s director of football.

The idea is that Van Bronckhorst is of very similar mind to Pep Guardiola, and that Man City wants to keep the same style of football once the Catalan genius decides to leave Manchester.

Here’s the only odd note of that report, assuming that Van Bronckhorst brings the A-game that saw him win the Eredivisie and two KNVB Cups with Feyenoord: This appointment seemingly presumes that Mikel Arteta is not considered first choice to replace Guardiola when he leaves town (although perhaps Arteta has told the club he’ll be looking for a first chair job before Pep skips town, or has been told he needs first chair experience to be under consideration for the gig).

Guardiola is contracted through 2022, and it’s reasonable to think he could leave early if the side wins its first Champions League or comes back to claim the Premier League’s first league three-peat since Manchester United turned the trick in 2009.

Berhalter trims USMNT roster to 23, awaits Pulisic update

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Here we go!

Gregg Berhalter has taken the axe to his training camp roster and announced the 23 men who will hopefully lead the USMNT into the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s title to lose ]

The Yanks need to beat Canada in Orlando on Friday and then Cuba in the Cayman Islands four days later, having lost to the Canucks 2-0 in Toronto and blasted Cuba in Washington, D.C.

Christian Pulisic remains a question mark with a hip injury and is not currently listed amongst the 23, with the USSF saying in a press release:

After originally being named to the roster last week, the availability of attacker Christian Pulisic remains uncertain after he suffered a hip injury during Chelsea’s match against Crystal Palace on Saturday. He continues to be evaluated and a decision on whether he will join the U.S. camp in Orlando is expected soon.

Doesn’t sound great, to be honest, if only because his name’s not on the list. Why not just name 24? Surely, because there are rules!

The USSF also announced that Michael Bradley suffered an ankle injury playing for Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Final and is unavailable for duty.

Berhalter sent Corey Baird and Chase Gasper home, electing to call-up MLS Cup winners Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan.

Here is the full roster, again without Pulisic

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United, Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Forwards: Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Mancini says he wants Balotelli back with Italy on merits

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Italy coach Roberto Mancini says he prefers to recall Mario Balotelli for his qualities as a player, not as a message against racism.

Balotelli has not been called up by Mancini in more than a year but Italian soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina has said naming him in the squad would send a strong message after the Brescia forward was racially abused recently.

Mancini said Monday that “if Balotelli gets another chance, it will be because he deserves it from a technical point of view.”

Balotelli was included in Mancini’s first two squads but again was omitted from upcoming European qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Armenia.

Balotelli has long said his goal is to rejoin the national team for next year’s European Championship.

The 29-year-old striker has scored two goals in seven matches this season.

Cardiff City parts ways with Neil Warnock

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Cardiff City has fired manager Neil Warnock with the 70-year-old boss in his fourth season with the club.

The Bluebirds sit 14th in the Championship table, on a six-match run that features just a single win.

Warnock’s tenure at Cardiff City featured promotion from the Championship in 2017/18 via a second-place finish in the league table. It wouldn’t last long, as they were relegated the next year, finishing 18th, two points back of Brighton Hove & Albion in safety.

“I am leaving my beloved Bluebirds after over three years of which have been some of the best days in my long football career,” Warnock said, with the club officially stating the decision came via mutual consent. “It is a shared belief that this is the right time for a new voice as we believe this squad of players is more than capable of getting success.”

“On behalf of Cardiff City Football Club, I thank Neil for his invaluable contribution to the future of this great Club,” said Cardiff City FC Chairman Mehmet Dalman in a club statement. “He not only gained promotion in his first season but played a pivotal role in uniting the fans and the club. I am personally upset by his departure and wish him the very best for the future.”

At 70 years old and completing his 17th managerial stint with 15 different clubs, it is possible that Warnock’s managerial career is complete. The Sheffield-born former Barnsley player, who turns 71 in less than a month, has taken charge of 112 Premier League games and overseen a record eight promotion campaigns in his career to date.

At Cardiff, Warnock took charge of 144 matches total, with 59 wins. He was in the position for the death of Emiliano Sala, which he called “by far the most difficult week of my career.”