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MLS Cup 2017 playoff predictions

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With the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs kicking off on Wednesday, our writers have selected their playoff brackets and how things will play out over the next few months.

[ MORE: PST’s 2017 MLS awards ]

Take a look below as we select our MLS Cup champs (a certain team from north of the border is looking pretty good…) and let us know if you agree with our selections.

[ MORE: PST’s 2017 MLS Best XI ]

Let’s go!


MLS Cup 2017 playoff predictions

Joe Prince-Wright

Knockout round
Atlanta United over Columbus Crew
Chicago Fire over New York Red Bulls
Sporting Kansas City over Houston Dynamo
Vancouver Whitecaps over San Jose Earthquakes

Conference semifinals
Toronto FC over Atlanta United
New York City FC over Chicago Fire
Portland Timbers over Sporting Kansas City
Seattle Sounders over Vancouver Whitecaps

Conference finals
Toronto FC over New York City FC
Seattle Sounders over Portland Timbers

MLS Cup
Toronto FC over Seattle Sounders (2-1)


Nicholas Mendola

Knockout Round
New York Red Bulls over Chicago Fire
Atlanta United over Columbus Crew
Sporting KC over Houston Dynamo
Vancouver Whitecaps over San Jose Earthquakes

Conference semifinals
Sporting KC over Portland Timbers
Seattle Sounders over Vancouver Whitecaps
Toronto FC over New York Red Bulls
New York City FC over Atlanta United

Conference finals
Toronto FC over New York City FC
Seattle Sounders over Sporting KC

MLS Cup
Toronto FC over Seattle Sounders (2-2, TFC to win 7-6 on PKs)


Kyle Bonn

Knockout round
Atlanta United over Columbus Crew
New York Red Bulls over Chicago Fire
Sporting Kansas City over Houston Dynamo
Vancouver Whitecaps over San Jose Earthquakes

Conference semifinals
Toronto over New York Red Bulls
Atlanta United over New York City FC
Portland over Sporting Kansas City
Seattle over Vancouver

Conference finals
Toronto over Atlanta
Seattle over Portland

MLS Cup
Toronto over Seattle


Andy Edwards

Knockout round
Chicago Fire over New York Red Bulls
Vancouver Whitecaps over San Jose Earthquakes
Atlanta United over Columbus Crew SC
Sporting Kansas City over Houston Dynamo

Conference semifinals
Toronto FC over Atlanta United
New York City FC over Chicago Fire
Sporting Kansas City over Portland Timbers
Vancouver Whitecaps over Seattle Sounders

Conference finals
Toronto FC over New York City FC
Vancouver Whitecaps over Sporting Kansas City

MLS Cup
Toronto FC over Vancouver Whitecaps


Matt Reed

Knockout round
Atlanta United over Columbus Crew
New York Red Bulls over Chicago Fire
Houston Dynamo over Sporting KC
Vancouver Whitecaps over San Jose Earthquakes

Conference semifinals
Toronto FC over New York Red Bulls
Atlanta United over New York City FC
Portland Timbers over Houston Dynamo
Seattle Sounders over Vancouver Whitecaps

Conference finals
Atlanta United over Toronto FC
Portland Timbers over Seattle Sounders

MLS Cup
Atlanta United over Portland Timbers (3-1)


Dan Karell

Knockout round
Columbus Crew over Atlanta United
Chicago Fire over New York Red Bulls
Houston Dynamo over Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver Whitecaps over San Jose Earthquakes

Conference semifinals
Toronto FC over Atlanta United
Chicago Fire over NYCFC
Houston Dynamo over Portland Timbers
Seattle Sounders over Vancouver Whitecaps

Conference finals
Toronto FC over Chicago Fire
Houston Dynamo over Seattle Sounders

MLS Cup
Toronto FC over Houston Dynamo (3-1)


Report: Bristol City offers $4m for USMNT GK Steffen

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Championship side Bristol City has lodged a $4 million bid for Columbus Crew and USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen, according to MLS insider Sam Stejskal.

Viewed as a potential long-term American No. 1 for his country, Steffen has thrived at Columbus since returning from a stint at Freiburg in Germany.

[ USMNT: More accolades for Pulisic ]

Stejskal reached Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter, who said multiple teams are interested in Steffen but did not confirm the Bristol City bid. Berhalter said, “We want to be a place where we get players and we develop them and we help them advance in their careers, wherever that may be.”

Steffen, 23, starred at Maryland before making the move abroad. He’s proven a fantastic young pro with a knack for stopping penalty kicks.

Bristol City finished 11th in the Championship last season with 30-year-old goalkeeper Frank Fielding, who had played 153 league matches for the club since 2013 and led the club to promotion from League One in 2015.

Some have openly questioned whether the Championship is a clear upgrade from MLS — don’t count this typer in that group — but this does seem like win-win for Columbus and Steffen if the player wants the move. The Championship has been good for the development of several American players including Tim Ream, DeAndre Yedlin (on loan from a Premier League club), and Lynden Gooch.

USMNT’s $72m Pulisic amongst Top 8 U-21 values in world

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USMNT and Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic is among the most valuable U21 players in the world, according to a new study.

Pulisic’s value of $71.7m is eighth-highest in the world, and he is the first American to be named to the list.

[ MORE: Adam takes shot at Shaqiri ]

The group SoccerEx uses data driven by Prime Time Sport’s Football Value Index, and it has issued U21 value reports for about a half decade. Previous winners are Dele Alli, Anthony Martial, Leroy Sane, and Raheem Sterling.

The report deals with players born after Jan. 1, 1997, and claims to account for “personal attributes and pitch performances, using player’s current personal information and the performance of both current season and the previous one.”

That does answer the question of whether being American and carrying interest from a massive country might bump up the value a bit, though there’s little doubt Pulisic is a star (though media value is just a small part of their formula).

It comes as little surprise that PSG’s Kylian Mbappe is No. 1, coming off an amazing season for club and country which could see him win the Ballon d’Or.

Pulisic is ahead of Top 20 players Cenzig Under (Roma), Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan), Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid), and Premier Leaguers Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham).

The seven ahead of Pulisic: Gianluigi Donnarumma (7, AC Milan), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Malcom (Bordeaux), Gabriel Jesus (Man City), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), and Mbappe.

This is not meant to be the latest in an eternal list of shouts at the USMNT, but imagine how high Pulisic could’ve ranked had he been able to take the stage at the World Cup in Russia.

Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke suspended, fined

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NEW YORK (AP) Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke has been suspended an additional game and fined $10,000 by Major League Soccer for on-field misconduct during a game against Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Alisson on the brink of joining PL giants Liverpool ]

The suspension announced Wednesday follows an automatic one-game game ban for being ejected from the Utah club’s 3-1 road loss Saturday night.

Petke was fined for abusive and profane language directed at officials, uncontrollable behavior when he was ejected and public criticism of officials during a postgame press conference. Real Salt Lake also was fined $10,000 fine for social media posts.

Petke will miss games Saturday night against Colorado and July 28 against San Jose.

Adam takes shot at Shaqiri as example of Stoke rot

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Xherdan Shaqiri has left relegated Stoke City for the greener Premier League pastures of Liverpool, labeling it a move in search of silverware.

Former teammate Charlie Adam thinks that’s pretty rich.

[ MORE: Alisson on the brink of joining PL giants Liverpool ]

The 32-year-old Adam, a former Red himself, says Shaqiri was among the group of players he criticized for shrinking in big moments and not caring enough about the relegation fight.

Here’s what Adam said in May:

“I’ll be honest for the supporters, I think some players have been getting away with murder for a long time and it’s difficult for supporters. It’s not just one or two, I think there are four or five that could be counted.”

Offensively, Shaqiri had the best season of his career. The 26-year-old Swiss international scored eight goals in the Premier League, but was absent from the score sheet from March 3-April 28. Stoke collected just four points during that eight-match span, all draws.

But Shaqiri did score Stoke’s lone goal in the match which saw them officially relegated, a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace in which there’s no question the stakes were incredibly high.

Asked about Shaqiri on Thursday, Adam did not hold back.

“Was he one of them? Oh, definitely. When the chips are down you look at your big players, you want your big players to bring magic in one moment in the season, and at times we felt like the so-called big players in the squad never turned up for us and never performed.

“Yeah, everybody else could help, but for all the plaudits to so-called bigger players we getting from certain members of the management staff last season – they weren’t producing.”

Shaqiri scored in three-straight February matches, of which Stoke won exactly zero, and pitched in seven assists this season. Huh.

While we don’t know what his attitude was like around the Potteries, it’s very difficult to consider labeling his season a big reason for Stoke’s downfall.

He’s an easy man to scapegoat now, being out the door, but Shaqiri had a decent season for sure. Adam is a strong servant of Stoke, but played in less than a dozen games. This truly seems like the wrong messenger picking the wrong target, though it could help build a bit of momentum for a new season.