Presenting ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer Coach of the Year

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How do you judge a manager of the year? Is it simply giving it to the man who organizes the best group of talent into a successful unit, like Seattle’s Sigi Schmid or Los Angeles’ Bruce Arena? Is it someone who, to the common fan, rules the roost in bringing together a team that had been struggling, like Columbus’ Gregg Berhalter or DC United’s Olsen?

Does it have to be someone who has not had success in that locale before, meaning Vancouver’s Carl Robinson or FC Dallas’ Oscar Pareja, two gentlemen who will kick off the playoffs on Wednesday? And does on-field success trump all the jobs, anyway? For all we know, Wilmer Cabrera may’ve had his hands full getting anything done at Chivas USA, but managed to keep the team organized enough to rebound at season’s end and move away from the basement. In some circles, that’s a wonderful job in itself.

[ MLS: Playoff predictions/preview | Season-ending awards ]

For our purposes, though, the battle comes down to four men: Robinson, Pareja, Berhalter and Olsen. Three of the four walked into brand new jobs and massaged their playoff-less locker rooms into postseason participants in one season’s time.

source: AP
Robinson

Vancouver’s Robinson gets points for doing it as a first-time manager, period, moving from the field to the assistant’s chair to the top job (and not even being first choice). This is not even close to a guaranteed success proposition, as we saw with Ryan Nelsen in Toronto. But Robinson navigated some tricky paths, like the retirement of Jay DeMerit and the icky departure of Camilo Sanvezzo. In fact, Robinson got the ‘Caps to the playoffs despite not having a true striker.

Pareja’s return to Dallas after some great work in Colorado has been successful in most senses of the world. Mauro Diaz and Blas Perez both missed a bunch of time due to injury, but Pareja found his way through that mess. And the wonders he worked in turning the home field into a real advantage is worth a high-five or three as well.

I’m one who owes Berhalter an apology. He didn’t rub some people the best way with his critical preseason comments about how the Crew didn’t need Matias Laba in the trade market, essentially saying the player was overrated, but there’s no doubting what the former Hammarby boss has done in melding Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani and company into a finely-tuned machine.

Still, though, in the end it’s very difficult not to give the award to Ben Olsen. The DC United boss watched over a team that won just three games in MLS last season, accumulating 16 points. And he was forced to build-up his team’s confidence and put up with the CONCACAF Champions League schedule after the Red and Black’s unlikely run to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final last season.

Not only has Olsen done that, but his team was No. 1 in the East while integrating a rookie, Steve Birnbaum into a defense with Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin. They also are one of only two MLS teams remaining in the race for the CONCACAF Champions League title, and looking very strong, organized and fierce on defense.

Our 2014 PST MLS coach of the year… is Ben Olsen.

VIDEO: Breaking down some celebrated Premier League derbies

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The kickoffs aren’t coming back soon, so we’re finding solace in anticipating the biggest matches on the Premier League calendar.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Certain rivalries are circled on the fixture list when it arrives each summer, the sort of games that seem to level the playing field regardless of the gulf in class.

Is Arsenal struggling? No better way to bounce back than Spurs.

Liverpool sliding a bit? It’ll snap back to form when Everton hits Anfield.

PST lead writer and editor Joe Prince-Wright has prepped up for several of these derbies over the years, and here’s a cheat sheet for those new and a tasty summation for those missing their hated foes.

Liverpool-Manchester City

Arsenal-Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool-Everton

Manchester City-Manchester United

Chelsea-Tottenham Hotspur

Bournemouth’s Howe takes voluntary pay cut, first PL manager to do so

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is the first Premier League manager to take a pay cut due to the coronavirus suspension.

Howe joins Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes, and assistant manager Jason Tindall in taking “significant, voluntary” pay cuts.

Howe is the longest-serving manager in the PL. He started with Bournemouth’s academy in 1994 and spent just a few short seasons away from home (Portsmouth and Swindon Town) during his playing career.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The club has also furloughed employees throughout the organization. From a Bournemouth statement:

There is no script for moments like this. No tactics and no set plays to find a winning formula. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees is protected when the season returns.

We have also advised a number of staff across all areas of the club that they will be temporarily furloughed, as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

These measures have been taken to safeguard the financial stability of the club during what is such an uncertain period, not only in football but for businesses in all industries across the world.

Surely Howe won’t be the last during this uncertain time for clubs and businesses all over the world.

Ex-Marseille president first coronavirus-related death in Senegal

Pape Diouf
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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) Pape Diouf, a former president of French soccer club Marseille, died Tuesday in Senegal after contracting the coronavirus. It was the West African country’s first COVID-19-related death, according to the health ministry. He was 68.

Diouf, who was president of Marseille from 2005-09, had been treated since Saturday in intensive care in Dakar, health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said.

Senegal President Macky Sall wrote on his official Twitter account that he had followed Diouf’s health closely after he was admitted for treatment.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

“I pay tribute to this great figure in sport,” Sall wrote. “I pay tribute to the medical staff at Fann Hospital who spared no effort to save him.”

Relatives said Diouf was meant to be moved to France. He had recently traveled to several countries in the West Africa region.

In its most recent count, Senegal has reported 190 cases of the coronavirus, with 45 of those having recovered.

Diouf was a charismatic and popular leader who was close to the fans and players at Marseille, the only French team to win the European club title.

“Pape will forever remain in the hearts of Marseille people and (is) one of the great architects of the club,” Marseille wrote under a photo of Diouf.

Shortly before his time at the club ended, Diouf signed Didier Deschamps as the new coach and Deschamps won the French league title and League Cup in his first season in charge. It was Marseille’s first league title in 18 years.

Deschamps, who coached France to World Cup success two years ago, described Diouf as “a man of convictions, a spirited man, passionate about football” adding that his “sudden and brutal death deeply saddens me.”

“I could measure his popularity, which was immense with the Marseille people whose hearts he had won,” Deschamps said on L’Equipe’s website.

The French soccer league called Diouf’s death “a moment of immense sadness for French soccer.”

Diouf was born in Chad to Senegalese parents. After arriving in Marseille at the age of 18, he became a sports journalist and then a players’ agent.

Diouf was not afraid to take risks in signing unheralded players, such as the diminutive Mathieu Valbuena from third-tier side Libourne in 2006 when he was 21.

The 1.67-meter (5 feet, 5 inches) Valbuena went on to prove Diouf right, and all the doubters wrong, playing 52 times for France.

“A great man with a great heart,” Valbuena said. “We were hypnotized by his speeches, he had a lot of charisma.”

Diouf was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in 2012, one of the country’s highest honors.

Pugmire reported from Paris. AP reporter Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Griezmann plus cash could finally get Neymar back to Barcelona

Neymar
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Neymar’s long-rumored return to Barcelona hasn’t quite reached the point of exhaustion, but it’s close.

A new report has said Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain may be coming to terms with what’s been a fairly obvious swap deal for some time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to Sky Sports, PSG would send Neymar to Barcelona in return for French hero Antoine Griezmann and money.

The $167 million price tag attached to Neymar is significantly more than the $110 million on Griezmann, and there’s no doubt the former is more of a gamechanger at this point on their careers.

While Neymar gets both the #whenhealthy and #whenavailable tags to his rep, he’s scored 18 times with 10 assists in 22 matches across all competitions this year.

Before the full phrase ‘Ligue 1’ exits your lips, he’s scored against Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Galatasaray, Liverpool, Anderlecht, and Red Star Belgrade in his three seasons with PSG.

Griezmann is a full year older than Neymar and, while one of the world’s elite attackers, he’s a step below the Brazilian’s tier. He’s also said to want to keep finding his way at Barca, with Gerard Pique and others ready to lend support.