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PST selects its MLS Rookie of the Year

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2016 was a very good year for first-year players in Major League Soccer, whether they came from a strong first round of the MLS SuperDraft or were flat-out Homegrown studs.

It was another example of the depth of talent in NCAA Soccer, as even top Homegrown players like Jordan Morris (Seattle/Stanford) and Alex Muyl (New York Red Bulls/Georgetown) had their development aided in the college game.

[ MORE: Aguero staying with City ]

Consider:

— Top SuperDraft pick Jack Harrison took his electric season at Wake Forest and neatly transitioned into a Rookie of the Year finalist at NYCFC after being selected first overall.

— No. 3 pick Keegan Rosenberry is also a finalist after an outstanding year for the Union that could’ve earned him shouts for the top defender overall, and No. 2 pick Joshua Yaro also saw significant time for the Union and Fabian Herbers got into 30 matches as well as part of Philly’s surprising playoff run.

— Chicago’s Jonathan Campbell led the Fire in minutes, while Brandon Vincent was fourth. They went 12th and 4th in the draft.

— It didn’t stop there. It may’ve not been a surprise to see first rounders Tsubasa Endoh (Toronto) and Julian Buscher (DC United) succeed, but what about New England third round pick Femi Hollinger-Jansen?

MLS whittled its awards finalists down to three: Morris, Rosenberry, and Harrison. Aside from a lone write-in for Endoh, our staff didn’t see much wrong with the voters’ selections.

[ USMNT: New home for Boyd? ]

First-place votes were a little more varied amongst our staff. Rosenberry and Harrison each earned a nod, while three of us saw it the same way.

Jordan Morris is PST’s MLS Rookie of the Year.

It’s not just his American rookie record for goals, it’s that the Sounders’ 22-year-old forward improved in every part of his game in his first year as a pro (even including the use of his oft-maligined left foot).

His 12 goals led Seattle, and consider just what he had to deal with after turning down Bundesliga interest to stay in Washington:

  • Pegged to ease into the pro game as the third Sounders attacker, Obafemi Martins skipped town on the ease of the season to heap more pressure on the Stanford grad.
  • American legend Clint Dempsey underwent multiple heart procedures, only making 17 appearances.
  • Oh yeah, the Sounders fired another legend in Sigi Schmid.

Morris also scored six of his 12 goals on the road, never an easy achievement with Major League Soccer’s distinct home field advantage. He added four assists.

Given Rosenberry’s position, it’s difficult to imagine Morris won’t win the official MLS award as well, giving the league a decisive winner for the second year in a row.

U.S. Open Cup: Goals a-plenty as Atlanta, Minnesota advance

Frank de Boer justin Meram Atlanta United
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The first two quarterfinal berths in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were earned Tuesday with 3-2 away wins.

Columbus Crew 2-3 Atlanta United

A pair of goals from Brandon Vazquez helped Atlanta United overcome both the Columbus Crew and a 48-minute weather delay.

Miles Robinson also scored for Atlanta, while David Accam bagged a goal for the hosts.

A 71st minute Brad Guzan own goal set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the Five Stripes, but they navigated the obstacles and emerged into the quarterfinals

Atlanta will play the winner of FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC.

Houston Dynamo 2-3 Minnesota United

The Houston Dynamo thought they were cruising to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and instead just waltzed right out of the tournament.

Up 2-0 at home and at halftime, the Dynamo conceded three times in the final 24 minutes to bow out of the USOC.

The victor, who deserves full marks, is Minnesota United. Darwin Quintero struck twice and Mason Toye scored in the 89th minute as the Loons advanced to play the winner of New Mexico United and FC Dallas. No Texas Derby in the cup this year.

Berhalter names first USMNT Starting XI for Gold Cup

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Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Michael Bradley all start as the United States men’s national team will look a bit more like its best for Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Guyana.

The 10 p.m. ET kickoff in Minnesota will see the Yanks without injured Tyler Adams, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, and Sebastian Lletget, but Jozy Altidore has been relegated to the bench — perhaps not fully fit — behind Gyasi Zardes.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores, stats, lineups ]

The back line will see Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and Tim Ream, while Bradley, McKennie work atop them.

Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd will be out wide, with Christian Pulisic central underneath Zardes.

The substitutes are Sean Johnson, Tyler Miller, Omar Gonzalez, Wil Trapp, Jordan Morris, Reggie Cannon, Cristian Roldan, Daniel Lovitz, Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Lewis, Matt Miazga, Djordje Mihailovic.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Chinese club reportedly offers $15M contract to Newcastle’s Benitez

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It would be peak Newcastle United of recent seasons to lose their coach to a squabble over the sort of players the manager wants to sign.

Rafa Benitez‘s contract expires at the end of this month, and he makes decent money at St. James’ Park, but his $6 million pales in comparison the money being offered by a Chinese Super League club.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Benitez wants to stay at Newcastle, but his concerns aren’t about his wages as much as being allowed to build a contender under stingy owner Mike Ashley. With the team possibly getting a takeover, Benitez is not guaranteed the chance to improve his roster. Not to mention Newcastle operates under club-wide restrictions.

Sky Sports says, “the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia boss wants to be given the green light to sign players over the age of 26, which has been against club policy in previous years.”

Sky Sports reports that Benitez is mulling a $15 million offer from Dalian Yifang, the CSL team currently sitting in 11th place under former South Korea national team manager Kang-hee Choi.

Dalian Yifang currently employs transfer rumor mainstay Yannick Carrasco, as well as Marek Hamsik and young Ghanaian striker Emmanuel Boateng.

If Newcastle allows Benitez to leave and the takeover is not completed, it would be the most embarrassing thing for the club since Joe Kinnear couldn’t pronounce half of his players’ names. That’s saying something.

Gold Cup LIVE – USMNT meets Guyana after Panama, T&T tangle

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Gregg Berhalter’s shaky USMNT welcomes several of its star players into the fold when it kicks off its 2019 Gold Cup campaign against Guyana on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

The match comes 2.5 hours after one between the two sides which conspired to keep the Yanks out of the 2018 World Cup.

While the USMNT played the biggest role in that monumental failure, Trinidad and Tobago is the team that beat the Yanks in Couva on the same night that Panama scored a ghost goal to push the U.S. into fifth in the Hex.

Guyana has lost to Haiti, Bermuda, and French Guiana in the last eight months, and it would be stunning if the U.S. didn’t post a generous amount of goals on the scoreboard even after miserable efforts against Jamaica’s B team and Venezuela.

Panama and T&T, on the other hand, should be a beauty, with Los Canaleros getting a bit older in the tooth and the Soca Warriors maturing a bit as a side.

Panama and T&T kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the USMNT expected to kickoff with Guyana a little after 10 p.m.