MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1 – LAFC stalwart leads by example

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that our defensive pick of the week comes from Los Angeles FC‘s stunning away win over Seattle Sounders. They become just the second expansion side to win their first away game in Major League Soccer history.

LAFC’s 1-0 saw an impressive collective performance. They were clean and simple on the ball and defended well when they didn’t have possession, as well as welcoming a little bit of good fortune at times.

A standout performance at the heart of the LAFC defence came from Lauren Ciman. The 2015 Defender of the Year has plenty of MLS experience under his belt and he remained calm at all times of the game. He made crucial blocks and chose to bring the backline up to press at the right time, while marshalling them to drop back and clear their lines when it was necessary.

How did Laurent Ciman perform in numbers? 

Ciman played the full 90 minutes as you’d expect from a centre half. In that time he made four interceptions to stop attacks, blocked two shots including a close-range effort, made six clearances and held a positive 75% pass accuracy.

His crucial block from a goal-bound Harry Shipp kept the score at 1-0 in the first half, which was a game-changing phase of play. Had Seattle scored at that point to level things it could have swung the momentum out of LAFC’s favour.

https://twitter.com/JogaBonito_USA/status/970434433940643840

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1

Ciman’s performance was exactly what was needed from him as a captain and the LAFC faithful will be hoping to see that continue on a weekly basis. A thoroughly good, history making weekend for the MLS new comers and one for the fans to remember.

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Bournemouth looking to beat Arsenal and Liverpool to in-demand right-back

Newly promoted Bournemouth are planning an offer for Burnley right-back Kieran Tripper in order to beat Arsenal and Liverpool to his signature, according to Sky Sports’ Amy Lewis.

The 24-year-old has been linked with a whole range of Premier League clubs following the Clarets’ relegation from the top flight, including Southampton.

Trippier began his career at the Manchester City youth academy and had loan spells with Barnsley before joining Burnley on a permanent basis in 2012 after a successful season long loan.

The Englishman has played in every single one of Burnley’s Premier League games this season and although he couldn’t help Sean Dyche’s side avoid the drop, his performances have still been impressive enough to draw the attention of other clubs.

Arsenal are inundated with right-backs, so are unlikely to pursue a move for Trippier, while Southampton and Liverpool could both be in desperate need to fill the position.

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The Saints could be looking for a replacement for Nathaniel Clyne who has been linked with a summer move to Manchester United and Glen Johnson is expected to leave Liverpool when his contract expires.

However, Bournemouth have now emerged as favourites to land the defender and Trippier could be tempted with a move to the south coast having previously worked under Cherries manager  Eddie Howe when he was at Burnley in the 2011/12 season.

Would Kieran Trippier be a good signing for Bournemouth?

Southampton star drops major hint over move to Manchester United

Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne has dropped a major hint that he could be heading for the St Mary’s exit door this summer, especially if the Saints don’t qualify for Champions League football.

“I’m an ambitious person and want to try and win the title and play in the Champions League. It’s nice to hear teams are interested in you.” Clyne said according to the Express.

The news that Clyne is desperate to play in a team that can challenge for the title and offer him a chance to play in Europe’s elite competition will put Manchester United on red alert as they seek top quality strength in depth.

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The 24-year-old right-back has been a mainstay in the Premier League‘s most formidable defence this season as Southampton have conceded fewer goals than any other team, with Clyne’s consistency one of the key reasons behind their success.

Clyne has made 29 league appearances for the Saints and a recent call-up to the England sqaud has made him highly sought after considering he still has his best years ahead of him.

Southampton would undoubtedly demand a hefty transfer fee for the Englishman who joined from Crystal Palace in 2012 and we could expect an offer that they would consider reasonable to be in a similar region to the £27 million fee that United paid the Saints for Luke Shaw.

Ronald Koeman has insisted that Southampton will do everything they can to retain the services of their best players and will be keen to avoid another summer exodus.

“We know it’s not easy as maybe there is some interest. At the moment, there is not a serious bid for whichever player in the team, but we’ll do everything to keep them.”

Would Nathaniel Clyne be a good signing for Manchester United?

Is Ronald Zubar the man to fix the New York Red Bulls defensive problems?

New York Red Bulls are a club in transition following the departure of a number of key players since the end of the 2014 season.

They’ve lost numerous defenders in the shape of Ibrahim Sekagya, Ambroise Oyongo, Richard Eckersley and most crucially, their mainstay at centre back, Jamison Olave.

After two years in New York, the Colombian has returned to former club Real Salt Lake where he spent four years between 2008 and 2012, and has certainly left a gaping hole to fill at the heart of the Red Bulls defence.

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They have brought in young defender, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and have also re-signed Damien Perrinelle, but Ronald Zubar has to be seen as the key replacement for Olave.

The 29-year-old Frenchman brings bags of experience into the dressing room having played at Marseille, Wolves and more recently Ajaccio.

It’s crucial that he settles in quickly and adapts to life in MLS because he can almost guarantee that he’s going to be called into action immediately.

Zubar v Olave

Ronald Zubar should prove to be an ideal replacement as his defensive statistics are slightly ahead of Jamison Olave with less goals conceded-per-game when he’s on the pitch.

He also helps provide the team with more regular clean sheets, which is something that the Red Bulls need to desperately improve on, having kept just six in 34 games over the course of the last regular season.

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The New York Red Bulls line-up is going to have a slightly new look about it in 2015, and new head coach Jesse Marsch will be hoping he can get the players to click in order to have a successful campaign.

Marsch seems in confident mood that he’ll be able to do so and told the club website, “once we add Zubar, we’ll have rounded out our team really well. The only other potential piece is figuring out how to complement Bradley Wright-Phillips up top, or at times if he’s not available, that we’re confident and always can supplement that role as well.”

Is Ronald Zubar the man to steady the ship at New York Red Bulls?

5 tackles, 11 clearances – John Brooks puts in solid display against Dortmund

USA international defender John Brooks put in a blockbuster performance for Hertha Berlin this afternoon as they beat Borussia Dortmund 1-0 at the Olympiastadion in the Bundesliga.

He was voted man of the match for his solid performance at the heart of the defence, making more clearances and interceptions than any other player on the pitch.

Centre-back performances in Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund (December 13 2014):

John Brooks stats

[Stats according to whoscored.com]

Hertha Berlin midfielder Peter Niemeyer was the only player on the pitch who made more tackles (7) than John Brooks, while fellow centre-back Jens Hegeler was the only man to block more shots (3).

A faultless performance from the 21-year-old helped lift his side into twelfth position in the table.

The 6′ 4” giant came through the youth system at Hertha Berlin and has become an established member of the first team over the last two years.

It’s a positive sign for the future of the USMNT as John Brooks continues to develop well at the German club and he’s certainly not doing himself any harm if he continues to put in performances of this level.

How good is John Brooks?