Presenting ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer Player of the Year

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This is not an easy year to select the best player in Major League Soccer’s regular season, and it’s not for lack of nominees.

Almost every top tier team can claim a player who’s put forth an elite season. Some teams have had several players playing at an alarmingly-high level, and the question is whether that should affect their chances to be named Player of the Year.

For example, Seattle has had a player at each end of the pitch that has out-performed the majority of players in the league. Chad Marshall is having one of the best years of any back in MLS history, while Obafemi Martins has been both playmaker and finisher.

[ MLS AWARDS: Top 10 goals | Rookie of the Year ]

And given enough time and research, some could make compelling cases for Clint Dempsey or Osvaldo Alonso. Los Angeles has the same problem, so-to-speak, as does New York.

Any way, let’s take a spin through our nominees…

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York – His 27 goals tied an MLS single-season record, and he really never came back down to Earth. A fantastic season that begs what his worth would be on the open market.

Obafemi Martins, Seattle – With apologies to Marshall and Dempsey, Martins made this team go. His chemistry with Dempsey was crucial, but it was his vision that made him go. Folks around Newcastle wondered what it would be like if he was “on”, all the time. Now they know (And yes, I know this is MLS and not the Premier League).

Diego Valeri, Portland – It’s difficult to say a player from a team that misses the playoffs should be the MVP of the league, but Valeri unleashed thunderbolts all over the field this year. If you wanted to, you could make a list of the season’s Top 10 goals that don’t include him, set it head-to-head against the ones that do, and see who won. It might be Diego.

Landon Donovan, Los Angeles – It’d be tempting to give the #LegenD a career achievement MVP, but you wouldn’t even need the emotion to make the case. He was simply very, very good without the knowledge that he’s retiring after the season. Donovan netted 10 times on just 66 shots and set up a league best 19 goals.

source: AP

Lee Nguyen, New England – The MVLee campaign is convincing; Nguyen’s 18 goals on 83 shots are a great combination and he was both the straw the stirred the Revolution’s drink, while also being a great deal of the drink as well. He was fantastic this season and, for our money, is the clear runner-up for the award. And we’d understand your arguments for him being No. 1, but…

Deserving shouts but not getting a paragraph’s write-up: Luis Silva (DCU), Thierry Henry (NYRB), David Ousted (VAN), Dwyer, Matt Hedges (DAL), Kyle Beckerman (RSL), Javier Morales (RSL), Marshall, Pedro Morales (VAN), Bobby Boswell (DCU), Federico Higuain (CREW), Benny Feilhaber (SKC)

Without furthier adieu…

PST’s 2014 MLS Player of the Year is Robbie Keane.

Yes, the Galaxy’s attack is the MLS version of Manchester United, but where would L.A. be without their Irish talisman? Gyasi Zardes and Landon Donovan were fantastic, but Keane was there all year long.

He scored 19 times and added 14 assists in 29 games, and was one of only two players (Martins 17G/13A/31gms) to appear in the league’s Top Five in goals and assists. And he managed to miss 3 of 4 penalty kick attempts (which we could hold against him, but won’t).

The advanced stats are on his side, too:

source:
squawka.com

Keane did it early, with goals in four of his first five and 7 of his first 10 matches. He only went two games without a point once, his mid-season “swoon”, and finished his campaign with five goals in his last four contests.

And then there’s the most valuable argument. Anyone who watched the Galaxy’s finale against Seattle and penultimate road loss to Dallas knows how his finishing was missed when not in the lineup. In fact, L.A. was 2-2-1 without Keane and 15-5-9 with him.

Dortmund hammer Freiburg but gain no ground on Bayern

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Borussia Dortmund moved back within one point of Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich with a 4-0 win against Freiburg on Sunday.

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd ]

Dortmund went ahead in the 11th minute when 19-year-old Jadon Sancho scored from the six-yard box after a run by Marco Reus. It was Sancho’s 11th Bundesliga goal this season.

Dortmund added three after the interval with goals from Reus, Mario Gotze and Paco Alcacer with a penalty.

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

In the day’s other game, Hertha Berlin was held 0-0 at home by bottom side Hannover, which ended an eight-game losing streak.

On Saturday, Bayern beat Werder Bremen 1-0.

With four rounds left, Bayern leads with 70 points, Dortmund has 69 and Leipzig is third with 61.

La Liga: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema bagged a hat trick (WATCH HERE) — his 19th, 20th and 21st goals of the league season (second-most, 12 behind Lionel Messi) — to send Real Madrid to a comfortable victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu. The result also keeps Los Blancos within four points of capital rivals Atletico Madrid in something of a battle for second place behind runaway leaders Barcelona.

Benzema has scored 10 goals in his last seven La Liga appearances, a run in which Madrid have complied a 5W-1D-1L record. Benzema failed to score in Zinedine Zidane’s re-debut as Madrid manager, but has scored eight goals in five games since.

Sunday’s game marked the 300th league appearance for midfielder and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric in a Real Madrid shirt.

Getafe 3-0 SevillaWATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Sevilla’s hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League following a one-year hiatus took a serious hit on Sunday, as Pablo Machin’s side was hammered by Getafe, the side which now occupies fourth place, two points ahead of them. Getafe continue to enjoy their meteoric rise through the Spanish ranks, as they were competing in the second division this time two years ago.

Two of the three goals the scored on Sunday came from the penalty spot, as Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina converted in the 35th and 45th+4′, respectively. Molina completed the scoring eight minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
Levante 2-2 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

PSG wins French league after 2nd-place Lille fails to win

AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

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

Klopp hails Liverpool mettle in face of “proper banana skin”

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Jurgen Klopp knows that more than a few clubs would’ve slipped up Sunday at Cardiff City, given the hosts’ desperation and the visitors’ midweek triumph, but his Reds stood up to the test.

[ RECAP: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool ]

Liverpool beat Cardiff City 2-0, scoring a pair of second half goals to go back atop the Premier League before Manchester City plays its final match-in-hand of the season in a midweek Manchester Derby.

“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable,” Klopp said after his team kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

He insists that he’s not feeling pressure as Liverpool may need to win every one of its matches and get help to capture its first Premier League crown.

“I only know about me and I didn’t feel it (the pressure) we have to do it like we do it. We cannot change it. The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do. Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Liverpool has two banana skins left, a visit from Huddersfield and trip to Newcastle, closing out the league slate with Wolves at Anfield.