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.

Five-star Spurs thump Red Star Belgrade

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Erik Lamela set up two early goals and later scored as Tottenham Hotspur broke out of its funk to record a 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Heung-Min Son scored twice and Harry Kane also scored as Spurs earned their first win of the group stage. Tanguy Ndombele joined Lamela with two assists.

Red Star is now 1W-12L ahead of the return fixture in Serbia.


Three things

1. Sweet release for Harry Kane: Tottenham’s talisman was ready from the first minute, and delivered a perfect header off a ninth minute corner kick for 1-0. There wasn’t much to worry about the rest of the way as Kane scored twice while taking six shots against a team which won’t be pleased to have to do it again come two weeks time in Serbia.

2. Well, actually, for almost everyone: Considering Spurs were an absolute shambles against Bayern Munich and have not impressed in domestic play, the win could be a welcome and positive kick in the pants for many Tottenham men. Serge Aurier‘s day against Bayern was possibly the worst performance of any Spurs player this year, and the Frenchman had an assist and was better versus Red Star (the right opponent at the right time, we might add). Dele Alli had one of his better games in a while, and Tanguy Ndombele hasn’t been poor but his two-assist night is a welcome sign.

3. Lamela helps pulls the strings: The Argentine was simply sensational early (and pretty good late, as he scored in the second half). Kane will get the love for the corner kick goal. but the second assist was all about Lamela.

Look…

at this…

ball.

 

Man of the Match: Lamela

 


The basics provided Tottenham’s opener, with Kane running off the near post to meet a corner kick and turning a header across goal and inside the far post. Pretty stuff, and good timing. Nerves settled after nine minutes.

Son made it 2-0 seven minutes later, getting on the end of a bouncing Erik Lamela cross to volley home.

Spurs’ third first-half goal was Son again, as the South Korean raced 60 yards to become a back post option after Tanguy Ndombele caused a turnover at midfield.

If anyone deserved Spurs next marker, it was Lamela. The Argentine made it so after Harry Kane’s classy long pass to Serge Aurier was turned onto his path in the 57th.

Sterling runs riot as Man City clobbers Atalanta

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Raheem Sterling scored three goals and set up two others as Manchester City came back from an early deficit to clobber Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Sergio Aguero scored City’s other two goals, but the Premier League champions face an anxious wait after Rodri limped off before halftime.

Phil Foden was sent off in the 82nd minute after picking up his second yellow card.

Ruslan Malinovskiy’s early penalty was all Atalanta could muster, as the Serie A side remains winless in the group stage.


Three things

1. Sterling’s star show: Stymied on an opening dribble, Sterling took over once City went behind on Fernandinho‘s conceded penalty.

He was everywhere.

The English winger set up Aguero’s first goal was a stylish cross from the inside of his boot, then drew a penalty with a quick dribble toward the spot. He then showed clinical finishing in a second-half hat trick which took less than 11 minutes but missed wide with a bid for a fourth goal on a Phil Foden-inspired breakaway in the 75th.

2. Rodri injury breaks up new partnership: Pep Guardiola again deployed Fernandinho and Rodri as his center back pair, the former notably conceding a penalty on the edge of the 18 before the latter left the match after 40 minutes with injury. It looked to be a muscle injury, though there wasn’t a terrible limp from the Spaniard. If he’s out for any long period of time, City’s ambitions will be heavily taxed.

3. One win for an easier December: Man City’s 3-0 start to the group stage means it can be choosy with its lineup for the return fixture in Italy, which comes three days before a massive visit to Liverpool in the Premier League. By the same rationale, City’s visit from Chelsea on Nov. 23 comes four days before Shakhtar Donetsk comes to town. Neither Liverpool nor Chelsea will be in better UCL shape than City in both cases, guaranteed.

Man of the Match: Sterling.


A cutting ball down the left allowed Atalanta a cross to Timothy Castagne, who had an edge on Benjamin Mendy but was bothered enough to head his over the goal.

Ilicic then came from the right to drive a low shot that Ederson collected before it could roll inside the near post.

City found its footing in the second 20 minutes, though Raheem Sterling’s seeing eye pass through the six was a yard behind a stretching Sergio Aguero.

Pierluigi Gollini that made a fantastic save on a longer Aguero drive before the Argentine had another chance and lashed it over the goal. Closer.

Fernandinho conceded a penalty to the Serie A visitors against Ilicic on a dribble into the 18. Ederson went the wrong way as Malinovskiy hammered home from the spot.

Aguero got his breakthrough in the 34th, reaching his right leg out to push a well-chopped Sterling cross past Gollini.

Sterling then won a penalty with a mazy dribble toward the spot, and Aguero beat Gollini to the far post.

Rodri was injured before halftime, and Guardiola brought on John Stones.

The second half started with another injury, as Marten De Roon raked Aguero near his right achilles. The Argentine stayed on.

De Bruyne then tried his luck off another play inspired by Sterling and Aguero, but fired wide from outside the 18.

Sterling wound up with his two goals thanks to sensational team play. The first came when Riyad Mahrez spotted Kevin De Bruyne, who passed to Phil Foden. The youngster took the extra pass and Sterling smashed home.

Then Sterling held up play inside Atalanta’s half before zipping onto an inch-perfect Gundogan through ball and slamming past Gollini.

A missed breakaway, cued by Foden, was the only sour note for Sterling as he missed a bid for four.

UCL AT HALF: Rodri injured; Spurs, Man City lead

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We’ve got goals in the UEFA Champions League!

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

All six 3 p.m. ET kickoffs have seen at least one marker, with five between the two Premier League sides in action.

Juventus 0-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Turin has been hushed for the moment, as Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russian visitors a lead despite Juve’s 12-2 shot advantage.

Man City 2-1 Atalanta

Influential midfielder Rodri has left Manchester City’s match against Atalanta with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Partnered with Fernandinho at center back again, Rodri, 23, has played in every match save one for City, and had gone 90 minutes in the last five prior to Tuesday’s 40-minute performance.

City went behind when Fernandinho conceded a penalty, but Raheem Sterling has sent Sergio Aguero up for two goals as the hosts have a lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Spurs 3-0 Red Star Belgrade

Tottenham didn’t have any problems dispatching its tepid league form for its Serbian visitors, as Erik Lamela set up Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son for early goals before the South Korean completed a brace before halftime.

Look at the industry on his third:

Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid

Some nerves settled for Zinedine Zidane as Toni Kroos’ deflected strike gives Real a halftime lead.

Olympiacos 1-1 Bayern Munich

Youssef El-Arabi gave the hosts a lead, but Robert Lewandowski scored for the 12th-straight game and 17th time this season to level the line.

Club Brugge 0-1 PSG

Mauro Icardi the lone goal scorer in Belgium.

LIVE, UCL: Tottenham, Man City both in action

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Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City are in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday, but both Premier League clubs face very different situations.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Spurs host Red Star Belgrade knowing they have to win to give themselves a decent chance of reaching the last 16, while Man City can make it three wins from three if they take care of Atalanta at home.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid head to Galatasaray, Juventus host Lokomotiv Moscow, PSG face Club Brugge and Bayern Munich take on Olympiacos.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s late games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group A
Club Brugge v. PSG
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid

Group B
Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

Group C
Man City v. Atalanta

Group D
Juventus v. Lokomotiv Moscow