MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 3 – Montreal defender’s near perfect performance

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.

Week 3 saw teams find their defensive edge. Although there was still plenty of attacking action to enjoy, there were six clean sheets from the nine games. With Week’s 1 and 2 providing just three clean sheets combined – there has been an increase in standout performances from the defensive positions.

One man who put in a near-perfect performance was Montreal Impact’s MLS debutant Rod Fanni. The signing of the experienced French centre-back has surprised some, given that he is now 36 but he silenced any doubters in Week 3 and that’s why he is the MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week.. It was a memorable occasion for Montreal, who beat their rivals, and current MLS Cup winners, Toronto in the 401 Derby.

As you can see above, the stats really do speak for themselves. Fanni made four interceptions, which was the second highest on the field. Of his five clearances, four of those were headers, which highlights his impressive timing and ability in the air.

While Fanni made just the one tackle, his passing statistics were very strong. With an accuracy of 94%, the debutant completed 31 of his 33 attempted passes.

An in-depth look at Rod Fanni’s performance in Montreal’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC in Week 3 (stats via @StatsZone app)

The image above gives further support to show just how well Fanni played. Four of his five clearances (green circles) came in the box (two clearances in the six-yard box overlap).

Fanni’s four inceptions (green diamonds) came within the final third of the pitch, where he was key in breaking up Toronto attacks, an area they are particularly dangerous in with long-range shots.

The Frenchman also made nine ball recoveries (green +’s) showing he was quick to snuff out Toronto’s usual dominance in attacking positions.

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 3

Fanni has made an impressive start to life in MLS and he will be hoping to put in consistent performances like this on a weekly basis. If he can add that to the Montreal backline they will be in good standing moving forward this season.

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MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 3 – Atlanta United star runs riot in big win

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.

We’re three weeks into the 2018 MLS season and there is already an early frontrunner in the Golden Boot race. Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez tops the scoring charts after netting a hat-trick in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Vancouver and as a result, he is this week’s MLSGB Attacking Player of the Week. The Venezuelan striker is only 23 games into his MLS career but he has already scored four hat-tricks. Incredibly, he is just one hat-trick shy of matching the all-time league record, currently held by Stern John.

Martinez showcased why he is so lethal, in more ways than one, on Saturday evening. His first goal came from the penalty spot, after Kendall Waston was sent off for an apparent elbow following a long VAR decision just 13 minutes into the game. Then in the second-half, the Atlanta striker raced away on a counter-attack at blistering pace and finished cooly to add his second of the night. His hat-trick came in the 88th minute as he rose high to head home Andrew Carleton’s cross, rounding off an excellent display for The Five Stripes.

Martinez scored his hat-trick off the back of five total shots, while also creating one chance for a teammate. He completed 29 of his 34 of his passes on the night and will be hoping to build on his performance when Atlanta return to action away at Minnesota United in two weeks.

Martinez has now scored 23 MLS goals in 23 games, an astonishing record for a player that had never previously scored more than eight league goals in a season before 2017. He is thriving under Tata Martino’s guidance in Atlanta and is a lethal focal point for one of the league’s most dynamic attacking forces.

You can see a full statistical breakdown of his performance against Vancouver below, which highlights just how much of the field he likes to cover. He looks to drag defenders out of position by coming deep to collect the ball at times, which makes him virtually impossible to man-mark. His explosive pace on the break means Atlanta always have an outlet when defending set-pieces, and that was demonstrated again on his second goal of the night.

A detailed look at Josef Martinez’s display in the 4-1 win over Vancouver on Saturday (Stats via @StatsZone)

Don’t miss: MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 3

Martinez and his Atlanta teammates sit third in the Eastern Conference after three weeks, having picked up six points following two big wins. They opened the season with that shock 4-0 defeat in Houston but have bounced back well in front of their own fans against DC United and Vancouver. They will hope to put in a better display on the road at Minnesota next time out.

Premier League Predictions: Week 3 – Liverpool and Arsenal to produce goals, while Spurs can finally end Wembley hoodoo

Premier League Predictions: Week 3 – The third weekend of action is upon us. The 2017/18 Premier League campaign is off to a flyer, with only three sides able to pick up maximum points through the opening two games. Manchester United are the early pace-setters but Huddersfield and West Brom have also won both games, without conceding a single goal.

The season’s first international break will come into effect after this weekend’s matches, so it’s important for teams to try and head into the break off the back of a positive result. There is also the small matter of transfer deadline day looming. Results this weekend could yet decide which clubs are forced to dip into the market before the window slams shut next Thursday.

The standout fixture this weekend takes place at Anfield on Sunday afternoon. Liverpool welcome Arsenal in what should be a great contest. That is one of four games on Sunday, with six taking place on Saturday. Bournemouth and Manchester City get the weekend up and running on Saturday lunchtime.

Read on for predicted scores in all ten of Week 3’s Premier League fixtures below…

Bournemouth 0-3 Manchester City

Many expected Manchester City to come out firing this season. Their 2-0 win at Brighton was comfortable. But their home opener against Everton was anything but. Pep Guardiola’s team looking stronger on paper, but must ensure they put games to bed, considering the number of chances they create. Bournemouth have started the campaign with back-to-back defeats. They have yet to score a Premier League goal and you’d expect Jermain Defoe to come into the starting lineup on Saturday. Regardless of if he does, City should bounce back with a win here.

Crystal Palace 1-1 Swansea

Crystal Palace haven’t started the season well. They have lost both of their opening games and are sitting 19th. They did however put in a strong performance last weekend, narrowly losing to Liverpool. Swansea are another side looking for their first win of the new season. They have one point on the board, but come into this one having suffered a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United. Low-scoring draw looks likely.

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Huddersfield 2-1 Southampton

Huddersfield have surprised everyone with the way they’ve started life in the Premier League. They’ve won both games without conceding a goal and look comfortable in the top flight. Southampton will arguably give them their toughest test yet, but there’s no reason why the Terriers can’t stay unbeaten heading into the international break. Southampton have looked far from convincing under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino. A 0-0 draw at Swansea was followed by a nervous 3-2 win over 10-man West Ham last week. A 2-0 home loss to Wolves in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night proved their vulnerabilities. Huddersfield could well make it three wins from three…

Newcastle 2-2 West Ham

The Toon Army have returned to the Premier League in unfavourable form. They have lost their first two and the problems for Rafa Benitez’s side are there for all to see. West Ham prop up the table having conceded a league-high seven goals. We expect both sides to pick up their first points of the season here and given that neither look capable of defending at this stage, expect goals.

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Watford 2-1 Brighton

Brighton have struggled in their opening two games, losing both matches 2-0 to Manchester City and Leicester. The trip to Watford offers them their best chance of picking up their first points of the campaign. However, the Hornets look good under new manager Marco Silva. They played Bournemouth off the park last Saturday. If they can play like that here, Brighton are unlikely to get up and running.

Manchester United 4-0 Leicester

It may look a bold prediction on paper, but why not? Manchester United have been in free goal-scoring form in their opening two. Jose Mourinho’s side look incredibly ruthless and morale is high in the camp. Leicester City have started brightly, but Old Trafford is going to be a fortress this season and United may well steamroll for their third 4-0 win in a row.

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Chelsea 1-1 Everton

Chelsea bounced back from their opening weekend loss to Burnley in impressive fashion. They defended well against Spurs and took their two chances well. It’s hard to know which Chelsea will turn up on Sunday, but Everton will be no pushovers. They impressed in their 1-1 draw at Man City on Monday. Ronald Koeman’s men look like a strong unit and will be desperate to break into the top six this season. A strong showing at the reigning champions would reaffirm those hopes.

West Brom 2-0 Stoke

West Brom are early season high-flyers. They have won both their games 1-0 and are one of only three who have not conceded. Stoke picked up a classy win over Arsenal last weekend but know this is going to be a tough game against a side brimming with confidence. We expect West Brom to continue their good run of form and remain difficult to breakdown at the back.

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Tottenham 2-0 Burnley

Tottenham’s Wembley woes continued with that 2-1 loss to Chelsea last weekend. Although Mauricio Pochettino was quick to dismiss claims the stadium is the problem. Spurs played well but must take their chances to prove that they can handle playing at their temporary home. Burnley have already enjoyed a trip to London this season. They stunned Chelsea on opening weekend but proved their vulnerable as they fell 1-0 to West Brom last week. This could be closer than many expect but ultimately Spurs should prevail.

Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

The standout fixture of the weekend. Liverpool come into it having overcome Crystal Palace. They remain unbeaten but have conceded three in two. Arsenal have looked troubled in defence. While they have picked up three points they have shown similar weaknesses that Arsene Wenger desperately needs to address before the window closes. Expect goals in an entertaining game from two sides who need to improve.

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MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to sell the NYCFC defenders ahead of Week 3?

By Jamie Dawe & Sam Martin

The second week of the 2016 MLS season didn’t quite provide the insane quantity of goals, red cards and all round excitement as Week 1, but it was the first week that we could see which teams were settled – and which teams were far from decided on a strongest lineup. Highlights of the week included the 5-0 drubbing of FC Dallas by Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby and the magic of Sebastian Giovinco once again saving Toronto FC in their 2-2 draw with New York City FC.

Week 2 Review:

The Good:

Ignacio Piatti ($10.4) was at it again this week with a goal and an assist in the Impact’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. Throw in a shot bonus and some defending bonuses – as well as clean sheet points – and this left him with a grand total of 14 points for the week. However, unlike last week, two players managed to outscore Piatti in the shape of David Villa ($11.1) and Andrew Wenger ($7.3). Villa scored two early goals, including one from the penalty spot against Toronto FC before Sebastian Giovinco ($11.8) hauled Toronto back to a 2-2 draw. Wenger created two and finished one off himself to score a terrific 16 points in the Dynamo’s 5-0 win over Dallas, throwing down his credentials for the 2016 season in the process.

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The Bad:

Last season’s finalists FC Dallas had a nightmare start in their first away game, being battered 5-0 at Houston Dynamo. Matt Hedges ($8.9) didn’t look at all worthy of his high price tag, scoring an own goal and putting in an all-round poor performance as the 2015 Western Conference champions were humiliated by a side who hadn’t beaten Dallas in seven games before Sunday. Chicago Fire’s Michael Harrington ($5.2) picked up a red card during his side’s tough 1-1 draw at Orlando as both sides continued their winless starts to the season. The only other red card of the week was given to Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jordan Smith ($6.1). The defender was sent off in his side’s 2-1 defeat at Sporting Kansas City, meaning a score of -3 and of course the customary suspension will follow.

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Week 3 Preview:

Must Buy:

We start at the back. With Houston and LA Galaxy’s first choice ‘keepers both injured, the chance has arrived for backup ‘keepers Brian Rowe ($4.7) and Joe Willis ($4.6) to deliver. They are both cheap options who are now both in the top three point-scoring goalkeepers in MLS Fantasy. They are certainly both making a statement as to why they should hold on to their place in future weeks and deserve consideration. At the opposite end of the pitch, Dominic Oduro ($7.7) of Montreal Impact has made an impressive start to the season, netting two goals and an assist in his opening two games, showing that Montreal at not missing Drogba’s absence. Up next for Montreal is a clash against a leaky FC Dallas side, who conceded five goals at Houston Dynamo. Oduro will see this as an opportunity to continue his solid start, as will Montreal who will be looking to make it three wins from three. Drogba is in line to start but Oduro should continue to be a high point-scorer for the next three weeks. In the centre of the park, Philadelphia’s Chris Pontius ($7.1) is a cheap midfielder who has certainly been worth his value so far. Two goals at the weekend away to Columbus show he is capable of getting on the scoresheet and with the New England Revolution game fast approaching, Pontius may be one of the best bets in fantasy for a budget attacking midfield option.

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Must Sell:

With the first set of international fixtures coming in Week 4, it’s time to be preparing which international call-ups to maybe sell. One definite call-up is Fanendo Adi ($10.0), who is heading to Africa to represent Nigeria in African Nations Cup qualifying. However, a home game against Real Salt Lake may mean managers will want to hang on to him for just one more week. MLS may be incredibly unpredictable but we seem to know one thing for certain at this stage – the NYCFC defence is far from settled and is very leaky. Especially with Vieira deciding to line up with three at the back against Toronto. As a result, it’s difficult to predict any starters in the NYCFC defence or whether they will ever actually gain a clean sheet this season. So, if you’ve got Frederic Brilliant ($8.0) or Jason Hernandez ($6.4), I’d recommend selling sooner rather than later.

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Freddie Shires’ side Jozy and the Pussycats banked an incredible 102 points this week, shooting him up to second in the MLSGB Fantasy League leaderboard. This tally’s primary creators were double-digit scorers Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa and Ignacio Piatti. However, at the top of the leaderboard is still Mack’s team Mack Legend with a grand total of 182 points after two weekends.

Who will you be bringing in for Week 3 in MLS Fantasy Soccer?

MLS Player of the Week: Week 3 – Bradley Wright-Phillips

The third week of the new MLS season is wrapped up and in the books so it’s time to pick our Player of the Week. This week’s award goes to New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips who put in an unstoppable display in the Red Bulls’ home opener to see of DC United 2-0.

Wright-Phillips got his first goal of the season in the first-half and then teed up Lloyd Sam for the second goal of the game to seal a first league win of the season against last season’s Eastern Conference toppers.

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BWP tied the single-season goalscoring record in MLS last season with 27 goals but much of the talk through the offseason was about how he would cope with the loss of Thierry Henry, who provided the Englishman with so many chances last year.

Well, early signs suggest it’s the same old Bradley Wright-Phillips and he will hope to replicate the display he put in against DC United for much of the season.

Bradley Wright-Phillips' statistics from the 2-0 win against DC United (Stats via Squawka)

Bradley Wright-Phillips’ statistics from the 2-0 win against DC United (Stats via Squawka)

The 30-year-old striker created four chances for his teammates and managed to get all four of his shots on target in an impressive all-round performance.

He completed 93% of his passes and had over 50 touches on the ball. Displays like that for the rest of the season will keep the Red Bulls in fine shape.

Wright-Phillips took his goal excellently too as he plucked the ball out of the air before setting himself up for a fine volley. He’ll take confidence from that goal and will hope to build on it when he faces the Columbus Crew next weekend.

How good was Bradley Wright-Phillips this weekend? Was he your Player of the Week too?

MLS Goal of the Week: Week 3 – Vote Now!

The third week of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is behind us and that means it’s time to vote for your Goal of the Week once again.

There were just 10 goals scored in the eight games this weekend and we’ve picked out five of what we think are the best for you to choose from.

Vote for your favourite goal from Week 3 below before Thursday at midnight. The winning goal will be announced on Friday.

Goal A: Bradley Wright-Phillips – New York Red Bulls

Goal B: Harry Shipp – Chicago Fire

Goal C: Ryan Hollingshead – FC Dallas

Goal D: Octavio Rivero – Vancouver Whitecaps

Goal E: Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy