These deserving nominees are the biggest snubs of MLS Award season

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The finalists for Major League Soccer’s 2014 awards are very worthy, without a single name on the list that elicits eye rolls. Who can argue with Robbie Keane as a potential MVP, or Steve Clark as one of the season’s best goalkeepers?

But in such a tremendous season for the league, there are bound to be absences perceived as snubs. And to the nominators: we’re not trying to call you ignorant. Rather, we’re taking up the duty of bestowing honor on those who should’ve or could’ve been given that award finalist high-five after the season.

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So to the MLS players, coaches and “media members who regularly covered the league”, sit back and enjoy your biggest screw-ups.

Rookie of the Year
Nominees: Tesho Akindele, Steve Birnbaum, Harry Shipp
Snub of the Year: Nick Hagglund

This one’s easy for us, considering our considerations for the award. While we tabbed the three finalists as contenders, Toronto FC defender Hagglund took a shot to the throat by not getting the voters’ nod. Hagglund was good year-round and is effective at both ends of the pitch. With the relative struggles of Michael Bradley and injuries to Steven Caldwell and Jermain Defoe, there’s an argument to be made that Hagglund was TFC’s best performer.

Defender of the Year
Nominees: Bobby Boswell, Omar Gonzalez, Chad Marshall
Snub of the Year: Matt Hedges

Great names abound on this list as well, but we’d like to see edges get a look. The FC Dallas defender was dominant in the back for Oscar Pareja’s unit, and should get a look at the USMNT’s January camp. His club had playoff credentials as well, though not as high profile as any of the three names above. Perhaps it’s like the Norris Trophy in hockey: once you’ve been recognized, you’re likely to be back.

[ MORE: Lille takes a look at Jozy Altidore ]

Goalkeeper of the Year
Nominees: Steve Clark, Bill Hamid, Nick Rimando
Snub of the Year: David Ousted

Vancouver’s goalkeeper was fundamentally-sound and capable of the sublime as well, and was probably the ‘Caps best player. Rimando deserves a career achievement award at this point, especially considering how he’s been criminally unrewarded in years past, but given his time away from the club for World Cup it would not have been criminal to give a nod to someone else. And speaking of fantastic saves, Bobby Shuttleworth was a human highlight reel in New England.

Newcomer of the Year
Nominees: Stefan Ishizaki, Jermaine Jones, Pedro Morales
Snub of the Year: Kendall Waston

Jones changed the trajectory of New England’s season, but Waston might’ve saved Vancouver’s playoff campaign. Long before his debatable handball gave FC Dallas a trip to the Conference semis, Waston was scoring the goal that put Vancouver into the postseason for the first time. The goal put a cap on his incredible arrival to Vancouver’s back line, where “starring” may not even be a strong enough adjective for his work.

Coach of the Year
Nominees: Gregg Berhalter, Ben Olsen, Sigi Schmid
Snub of the Year: Oscar Pareja

Our winner was Olsen, but Pareja’s turnaround of FC Dallas was a great bit of work and his second straight great reclamation project. He lost out on the award to Caleb Porter last season, and didn’t even make the top three this year despite the fact that he could have the rookie of the year in Tesho Akindele amongst other stars.

Most Valuable Player
Nominees: Robbie Keane, Obafemi Martins, Lee Nguyen
Snub of the Year: Bradley Wright-Phillips

Many are going to say Wright-Phillips for his record-tying goal campaign, and that’s pretty fair. We’ll abide, but there were a ton of other players who deserved a look versus our winner: Keane.

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.