Which 11 players make the cut for PST’s MLS Team of the Year?

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Perhaps there hasn’t been an easier time putting together a buzz-worthy XI in MLS history. While defenders rarely get their due, this season brought some names to the forefront in ways that garnered MVP talk, like Chad Marshall in Seattle. And the World Cup and qualifying provided some other defenders a cannon from which to launch their stars into the sky.

Yet it’s still pretty tricky to cull 11 players from the hundreds who dot rosters around Major League Soccer. So we’ve brought in two XIs for you (and I may sneak in a third). Myself and Joe Prince-Wright will now put our Teams of the Year out for your perusal, hatred and laurels.

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

Joe Prince-Wright is up first, being the lead writer/editor and all, and starts with USMNT backstop Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake as his netminder. Marshall makes his cut as one of four Seattle Sounders stars. Matt Besler slides in at back after his tremendous World Cup.

source: AP

JPW’s MLS best XI (3-4-3)

Nick Rimando (RSL)

Jose Goncalves (NE) – Chad Marshall (SEA) – Matt Besler (SKC)

Lee Nguyen (NE) – Clint Dempsey (SEA) – Osvaldo Alonso (SEA) – Diego Valeri (POR)

Robbie Keane (LA) – Bradley Wright-Phillips (NYRB) – Obafemi Martins (SEA)

As for me, you’ll see a lot of the same faces, but seeing as I’m the guy compiling the post, I’ll submit a second XI as well. Take that, JPW.

For me, to watch the ‘Caps is to watch the best goalkeeper in the league, as David Ousted has been simply phenomenal. Just his play in the final 20 minutes against Colorado was a reason for cheers, high-fives, fist-bumps and other modes of congratulatory sentiment. Landon Donovan gets a nod from me for his record-setting season in L.A., while Matt Hedges may’ve quietly been the best defender in the league.

source: AP

Nick Mendola’s MLS best XI (3-4-3)

David Ousted (VAN)

Matt Hedges (DAL) — Chad Marshall (SEA) — Jose Goncalves (NE)

Diego Valeri (POR) — Lee Nguyen (NE) — Landon Donovan (LA) — Clint Dempsey (SEA)

Robbie Keane (LA) — Obafemi Martins (SEA) — Bradley Wright-Phillips (NYRB)

As for a second XI, it pains me as a Buffalonian to slot a player in over New England’s shot-stopper Bobby Shuttleworth, but what Steve Clark did in Columbus this year was fantastic. His two PK stops put him just past Bill Hamid in my book. I had a very difficult time not slotting in Kendall Waston, who only played 10 games for Vancouver but was simply wonderful. Twenty-two games, however, was enough to get Omar Gonzalez a look in my second side.

source: Getty Images

Nick Mendola’s MLS second XI (3-4-3)

Steve Clark (CBS)

Bobby Boswell (DC) — Chris Schuler (RSL) — Omar Gonzalez (LA)

Tony Tchani (CBS) — Javier Morales (RSL) — Osvaldo Alonso (SEA) — Pedro Morales (VAN)

Thierry Henry (NYRB) — Dom Dwyer (SKC) — Erick Torres (CHV)

What do you think? Harsh to leave out Gyasi Zardes, Chris Wondolowski, Seb Le Toux, Federico Higuain and Ethan Finlay? My goodness, I could’ve put together more XIs and still felt like I was uppercutting the league!

Man City’s attempt to block UEFA investigation denied in court

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MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) Manchester City lost its attempt Friday to block an investigation into allegations it deceived UEFA while violating rules that monitor soccer club finances.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that City’s appeal against UEFA’s handling of the investigation was inadmissible. The two-time defending Premier League champions tried to stop UEFA’s club finance panel from handling a referral by investigators to impose a punishment.

“At CAS we can only hear appeals against final decisions,” said Matthieu Reeb, the court’s secretary general.

UEFA investigators had called for a severe penalty — that City be excluded from the Champions League for one season.

The file will now proceed to UEFA’s club finance judges. Any sanction they impose can also be challenged at CAS.

The latest UEFA investigation started after leaks of City’s internal correspondence and documents to German news outlet Der Spiegel last year.

The leaks implied City deceived UEFA for several years, including by hiding information that revenue from potentially overvalued commercial deals came from the club’s owners in Abu Dhabi to curb losses.

[ MORE: Report: LA Galaxy want Cavani to replace Zlatan ]

City has never disputed the authenticity of the documents.

“There was absolutely no examination of the merits,” Reeb said of the three-judge panel’s ruling. “We cannot say whether the decision of the alleged breach of financial fair play rules are real or not.”

Friday’s ruling extends a long-standing conflict between City and UEFA in the era of “Financial Fair Play” rules which began in 2009 after consultation with clubs. The project was intended to protect clubs from reckless overspending.

UEFA rules limit cash injections from wealthy owners, which critics say penalize emerging clubs with big ambitions. Commercial deals such as shirt sponsorships that are suspected of being inflated are also assessed for the fair market rate.

City was deducted $22 million of Champions League prize money by UEFA in 2014 in the first round of FFP judgments.

Report: Bruce hopes to bring Xhaka to Newcastle in January

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Steve Bruce has prioritized a loan move to bring Granit Xhaka to Newcastle United in January, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

Xhaka, now the former captain of Arsenal after his recent confrontation with the club’s fans, is expected to leave Arsenal in January and Bruce hopes that Fabian Schar, a longtime teammate of Xhaka with the Swiss international team, will be able to persuade the 27-year-old midfielder to choose the Magpies over what will surely be a long list of clubs desperate to acquire his services.

According to the report, a number of clubs in Italy have already expressed an interest in signing Xhaka — whether or loan or permanently — therefore Bruce and Co., are likely to face plenty of competition. However, the chance to remain in the Premier League and prove his detractors — many of them Arsenal fans — wrong could be appealing to Xhaka.

[ MORE: Report: LA Galaxy want Cavani to replace Zlatan ]

Xhaka, who is not currently injured, hasn’t made an appearance for Arsenal since the incident occurred late last month. Schar recently said that he “can’t wait to give [Xhaka] a hug” next time the two players see each other.

VIDEO: Each PL team’s best and worst player of October

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PST’s Joe Prince-Wright looks at the best (and worst) player of October for each Premier League team as the league enters its final international break of 2019.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

With Liverpool and Leicester City flying high, picking the Reds’ or Foxes’ best player presented plenty of worthy candidates. As for terribly underperforming sides like Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Southampton, it was a challenge for the opposite reason, though JPW wasn’t short on options when it came to worst performers.

Hit Play on the above video to see who graded out well — and not so well — for your club, and feel free to agree or disagree all you want in the comments below.

Unhappy in Madrid, Bale ‘more excited’ to play for Wales

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Thanks to the ongoing FIFA-mandated international break, life is currently pretty good for Gareth Bale, who says he “definitely have a bit more excitement playing for Wales” compared to when he’s playing — or not playing — for his club, Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Sterling backs Gomez after boos were heard at Wembley ]

Bale confirmed on Friday what the entire world has known for a couple of years now: that he’s thoroughly unhappy at not being allowed to leave Madrid this summer; that he never truly adapted to his home since the summer of 2013; and that his on-field performance has suffered for those reasons, as well as his extensive injury history — quotes from the BBC:

“With Wales, I’m speaking my own language and feeling more comfortable. I definitely have a bit more excitement playing for Wales.

“I’ve been with most of the players, especially the older ones, since we were in the Under-17s. It’s like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday.

“But it still doesn’t change what I give on the pitch. I always give 100 percent wherever I am, and that’s what I always strive to do.”

As for how Bale has been painted by the Spanish media, he says he only pays attention to the negative coverage when his friends since him “funny pictures or whatever they write,” but it’s clear he feels like an outsider and that’s a key reason he was so keen to leave the club and country when a(n even more) mega-money offer came from China this summer.

“I’ve heard some stories but I don’t really take notice. My friends tend to send me some funny pictures or whatever they write.

“I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me. On one, it said ‘triple bogey’ and I’ve never had a triple bogey. At least give me an albatross! It’s funny.”

Unfortunately for Bale, he’ll have to continue playing nice with manager Zinedine Zidane, until January at least.