2014 Review: Top Moments in US Soccer, #5-1

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Looking back on 2014, it has been a pretty incredible year for soccer in the USA. With the USMNT’s run to the last 16 in Brazil during the World Cup madness, MLS’s upsurge and Landon Donovan going out a winner with LA, we’ve been spoiled for top moments. Over the next few days at PST, we will be counting down our top 10 from the USMNT and MLS in the last 12 months. Here’s numbers 5-1…

No. 5 — Landon Donovan breaks all-time MLS goalscoring record

144 goals is a lot of goals, especially for a player who rarely played as a “true striker,” but there stands his record goals tally, 10 ahead of former record-holder Jeff Cunningham, whose tally of 134 goals Donovan broke just three days after the No. 2 U.S. Soccer moment of 2014.

At age 32, Donovan’s 14th MLS season hardly showed any signs of aging as it was one of his very best — 10 goals and 19 assists — matching his greatest output of goals scored and created of his entire career (2008, 20 and 9). He threw in the all-time assists record, a mark no one thought he could possibly reach this year, for good measure with a handful of regular-season games still to play.

No. 4 — Thierry Henry retires, ending a brilliant career

I wrote this about Henry last month:

There’s just not much to say when your gameplan works perfectly for 99 percent of the game, and a player whose ability transcends our ability to understand greatness still finds a way to beat you.

That was the 2014 version of Thierry Henry, in a nutshell. Thought he’d lost a step or two of the frightening pace that made him unstoppable in his younger days, Henry still got it done time and time and time again for the New York Red Bulls over the last four and a half years. He was always the best player on the field, even in his final days at age 37.

Beyond his on-field accomplishments during his MLS days, Henry brought a level of respectability to the league, on the worldwide level. His stated intent from day one wasn’t to “relax on a beach.” He wanted to play, he wanted to win. He set the bar extremely high for the next world superstar to come to MLS.

source: APNo. 3 — Donovan retires, as a champion

Not only did Donovan go out on top, but he lifted his record sixth MLS Cup right in his back yard, less than an hour from where he grew up and began his legendary soccer career. It’s more about how Donovan chose to retire — 100 percent on his own terms, arguably well before he needed to — that stands out most, though.

Donovan put his need to live a happy life ahead of a begging and pleading soccer nation that would have had him hang around until his 40th birthday, still expecting the same dominant performances of his 20s. He’ll not only go down as the greatest American soccer player of all-time (thus far), but speaking candidly on issues like mental health guarantees Donovan’s impact and legacy will continue to be felt a number years down the road. We salute you, No. 10 with the receding hairline.

No. 2 — Klinsmann leaves Donovan off World Cup roster

Name a story from 2014 that was more widely discussed, scrutinized and celebrated than Donovan being unceremoniously cut from the World Cup roster on May 22. Don’t worry, I’ll wait, but I fear we’ll be here for quite some time.

This is the year that the greatest USMNT career of all-time came to an abrupt end, and as thrilling as the World Cup itself was, when so many think back on the summer of 2014, it’ll be Donovan’s omission and the controversy it sparked that will come to mind and reignite heated debates between the closest of friends five, 10, even 15 years from now.

Was Klinsmann right or wrong to do it? Based on how the USMNT struggle to create chances in Brazil, it’s tough to look back now and say he couldn’t have used the national team’s all-time leading goalscorer and assist provider, even as a game-changing substitute late in games.

No. 1 — John Brooks scores late winner in World Cup opener vs. Ghana

In 2010, soccer fans from around the world saw what a thrilling moment like stoppage-time winner in the group stage finale could do to capture the imagination and excitement of a quickly growing soccer nation. There’s no telling how many soccer fans were born that Wednesday afternoon (US time) as the USMNT won the “E.A.S.Y.” group and advanced to the knockout rounds.

Fast forward four years and the USMNT had a similar watershed moment when John Brooks, of all people, scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute against Ghana, sending bars and living rooms across America in rapturous delirium. I, myself, was one of the millions tuned in that evening, guilty of celebrating wildly inside a jam-packed bar, pouring an entire 32-ounce beer over the head of a very dear friend. World Cups are rare enough on their own. The fact that we’ve been treated to two indescribable moments like the ones mentioned above, in two straight tournaments, makes American soccer fans very, very lucky.

VIDEO: Martial scores for Man United v. Club Brugge

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Anthony Martial scored once again for Man United and his goal in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg against Club Brugge was a beauty.

The Frenchman is standing tall in the absence of Marcus Rashford through injury as he has now scored in back-to-back games away from home.

Martial, 24, made the most of a slight defensive mistake from Club Brugge as he powered towards goal and kept his cool to slot home, while he also hit the post in the first half after Simon Mignolet got a slight touch on his curling effort.

When he’s on form he’s a joy to watch and after his towering header against Chelsea on Monday, Martial has done it again a few days later in Belgium. It is the third time this season he has scored in back-to-back games and he has now scored 14 goals in 30 appearances for the Red Devils, his best return since he scored 17 in his opening season at United in 2015-16.

Here is Martial’s goal at Club Brugge, as United need him to kick on and take this tally for the season to at least 20 goals if they are going to be successful.

LIVE, Europa League: Arsenal, Man United, Wolves in action

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The knockout rounds of the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League campaign is here and three Premier League teams are in action on Thursday.

Everything is set up for an epic day of first legs in the Round of 32.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Arsenal travel to Olympiakos who dropped down from the Champions League, while Wolves host La Liga strugglers Espanyol and Man United travel to Club Brugge who exited the UCL at the group stage after some impressive displays.

With a Champions League spot for next season up for grabs for the Europa League winners, there is always a little extra spice in this tournament from here on out, especially as plenty of giants have dropped out of the Champions League and joined the Europa League for the Round of 32.

Glasgow Celtic and Rangers both face tricky tests as Steven Gerrard‘s side face Braga and Neil Lennon’s Celtic head to Copenhagen.

Elsewhere there are plenty of mouthwatering ties at Jesse Marsch’s RB Salzburg drop into the Europa League and travel to Eintracht Frankfurt. Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan head to Ludogorets, while Ajax travel to Getafe after narrowly missing out on reaching the Champions League last 16.

Below is the schedule in full for Thursday’s games, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action as it happens.

Full Europa League schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Manchester United
Ludogorets v. Inter Milan
Copenhagen v. Celtic
Eintracht Frankfurt v. RB Salzburg
CFR Cluj v. Sevilla
Sporting Lisbon v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Benfica
Getafe v. Ajax

3 p.m. ET
Rangers v. Braga
Wolves v. Espanyol
Olympiacos v. Arsenal
Bayer Leverkusen v. FC Porto
AZ Alkmaar v. LASK
Roma v. Gent
APOEL Nicosia v. FC Basel
Wolfsburg v. Malmo

VIDEO: Henry’s Montreal debut ends with dramatic collapse

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Thierry Henry’s first game in charge of the Montreal Impact started well but ended in a dramatic collapse. The legendary Frenchman probably has CCL fever right about now.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

Montreal drew 2-2 at Deportivo Saprissa in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League last 16 game on Wednesday as Orji Okwonkwo and Romell Quioto put them 2-0 up inside the first 22 minutes but Saprissa struck twice in the final 10 minutes to draw level. Both of Montreal’s goalscorers went off injured and after a tough preseason a late collapse

Johan Venegas pulled one back for the Costa Rican side in the 80th minute and Ariel Rodriguez equalized in the 90th minute to set up an intriguing second leg at the Olympic Stadium next Wednesday as the winner will face the Seattle Sounders or C.D. Olimpia in the quarterfinals.

Henry’s first official game in charge of the Major League Soccer franchise will have taught him a lot about his team and in truth they were pretty lucky to grab a draw as Saprissa outshot them 22-7 and had 72 percent of the possession.

Via MLSsoccer.com, the Arsenal and France legend was happy with the spirit his young side showed after a tough offseason which saw them lose four of their five preseason games amid plenty of turnover in the squad.

“We tried to compete, it was always going to be a difficult second half, but overall, I cannot say anything to my team,” Henry said. “Obviously there are some things that we need to work on, on how we conceded the goals, but you could see how it was difficult at times to cover each other. But at the end of the day, as a coach, when you see your team fighting like that up until the end you can only be proud. Obviously there’s some stuff that we can work on, don’t get it twisted, but I have to be proud about how they played. Especially how we arrived there in the situation that we are in.”

Going away to Costa Rica to play an experience team like Saprissa was never going to be easy and Henry’s side are at least level for the return game but Montreal’s squad is looking pretty young and replacing the creativity and goals of Ignacio Piatti is going to be tough.

Check out the highlights of the dramatic Saprissa comeback in the video above.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here and there are some familiar faces sticking around the upper echelons.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Stars from Premier League giants Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham dominate our power rankings after some impressive performances and there are plenty of new entries and plenty of players from the same teams as these rankings are based on the seven games played over the last seven days due to the second half of the Premier League’s winter break kicking in.

[ MORE: Club Power Rankings

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.

1. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Up 2
2. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Up 2
3. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) – Up 2
4. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – New entry
5. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – New entry
6. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – New entry
7. Richarlison (Everton) – Up 8
8. Harry Maguire (Man United) – New entry
9. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – New entry
10. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – New entry
11. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – New entry
12. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) –  Down 11
13. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – New entry
14. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Down 3
15. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) – Down 7
16. Bruno Fernandes (Man United) – New entry
17. Nick Pope (Burnley) – Even
18. Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham) – Down 5
19. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – New entry
20. Pepe Reina (Aston Villa) – New entry