Major League Soccer announces finalists for 2013 awards

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The three men who dominated Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player debate through the season’s last week have been named finalists for this year’s award, MLS announced today, also revealing the finalists the league’s other 11 postseason awards. One of Montréal’s Marco Di Vaio, LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, or Chicago’s Mike Magee will win their first MVP honor when the honor is announced on Dec. 5, with awards season set to begin on Nov. 25.

MLS will announce one major honor per day until the Thursday before MLS Cup (which takes place on Dec. 7). Among those awards, 2012 Defender of the Year Matt Besler is in the running to retain that honor, Colorado Rapids Dillon Power and Deshorn Brown are among Rookie of the Year’s final three, while Real Salt Lake veteran Nick Rimando (pictured) is the favorite to win his first Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Here’s the full slate of nominees:

Most Valuable Player
Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact)
Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)

Defender of the Year
Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
Jose Goncalves (New England Revolution)
Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)

Goalkeeper of the Year
Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)
Donovan Ricketts (Portland Timbers)
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Coach of the Year
Jason Kreis (Real Salt Lake)
Mike Petke (New York Red Bulls)
Caleb Porter (Portland Timbers)

Rookie of the Year
Deshorn Brown (Colorado Rapids)
Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids)
DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

Newcomer of the Year: Jose Goncalves (New England Revolution), Nigel Reo-Coker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
Comeback Player of the Year: Kevin Alston (New England Revolution), Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union), Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders FC)
Fair Play: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire), Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
Team Fair Play: Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Humanitarian of the Year: Jeb Brovsky (Montreal Impact), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Matt Reis (New England Revolution)
Referee of the Year: Ismail Elfath, Hilario Grajeda, Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referee of the Year: Frank Anderson, Bill Dittmar, Kermit Quisenberry

Awards Announcements Schedule:
November 25: Rookie of the Year, Fair Play Individual & Team of the Year
November 26: MLS Defender of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and Referee/Assistant Referee of the Year
December 2: Coach of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year
December 3: 2013 MLS Best XI
December 4: Goalkeeper of the Year and Newcomer of the Year
December 5: Goal of the Year, MLS Save of the Year and MLS MVP

New Zealand women footballers rebel against national coach

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) Only weeks after New Zealand Football made headlines by signing a revolutionary equal pay deal with its female players, the organization is facing a mutiny by members of its women’s team against the national coach.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

New Zealand Football confirmed on Tuesday it had received a letter signed by a number of New Zealand players complaining about the methods and tactics employed by Austria-born coach Andreas Heraf.

The complaints follow the New Zealand team’s recent 3-1 loss at home to Japan. Heraf angered his players, and fans of the Football Ferns national team, by taking an entirely defensive game plan into the rare home international.

Heraf then further angered his players with comments defending his approach.

He said there was “a big difference in quality” between the New Zealand and Japanese players and that New Zealand “will never have that quality” to compete with top teams like Japan. He said the scoreline might have been 8-0 if New Zealand had not adopted a defensive approach.

One of New Zealand’s leading players, United States-based Abby Erceg, retired after playing 132 matches for New Zealand, citing Heraf’s approach in previous international matches.

She later told New Zealand media: “I couldn’t stand to wear that (national symbol) on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much.”

New Zealand Football defended Heraf against the media and public criticism but admitted his comments were “strange” and “wrong” and did not accurately reflect his views. Heraf later apologized and said he had not expressed himself clearly.

But efforts to dampen the controversy have failed. New Zealand Football said in a statement it had “received a letter from the NZ Professional Footballers Association (NZPFA) last night with a number of complaints from the players of the Football Ferns.”

The mutiny comes only weeks after New Zealand gained international headlines for a deal which gives female pay parity with their male counterparts.

New Zealand Football signed the deal which provided female players with equal match payments, travel arrangements and prize money.

At the time, New Zealand women’s captain Ali Riley said the deal meant New Zealand would “be able to compete against the top teams, to be able to do well at a World Cup and the Olympics – this is what we needed.”

VIDEO: Colombia sees red, Japan takes early lead

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The first red card of the World Cup came just moments after fans took their seats in Saransk.

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After David Ospina blocked a breakaway opportunity from Yuya Osako in the third minute of the match, Japan star and former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa fired the rebound on goal. But his shot was blocked by the arm of Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez, which earned him a straight red card from referee Damir Skomina and an early trip to the locker room.

Kagawa then stepped up to the spot and calmly sent Ospina the wrong way to give Japan the shock early lead.

Colombia will play the rest of the match with ten men and no James Rodriguez, who was named to the bench for this match as he recovers from a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez out of Colombia starting XI

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Taking a page out of Egypt’s book, Colombia will be without its talismanic playmaker for its first match, Tuesday morning against Japan.

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Juan Fernando Quintero replaced James Rodriguez in Colombia’s starting Xi to take on Japan in Saransk as Colombia coach Jose Pekerman clearly hopes a few extra days of recovery for the injured Rodriguez will help him return to 100 percent fitness. Rodriguez is battling a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez scored six goals and had two assists in five games at the last World Cup in Brazil, helping guide Los Cafeteros to their first World Cup quarterfinals appearance.

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.