ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings – Part II of III

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The mid-pack bunch (Nos. 12-7, counting down) in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS quality rearrangement. (Part I, a.k.a. the “Money Shot” is on deck … )

12. New York Red Bulls – All they needed was a home game and an understrength visitor to put the express back on track. Rafa Marquez got so-so reviews in his return, but considering that was his first match this year, “so-so” isn’t the worst possible outcome. (Especially if Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry keep stickin’ ‘em in the back of the net.) Besides, if Spike Lee is still bothering to show up at Red Bull Arena, things are surely moving in the right direction, yes?

11. San Jose Earthquakes – OK, Chris Wondolowski! Enough already. Everyone who wondered aloud if previous high-scoring seasons were a bit of an accident has held up their hand and said, “I got it wrong!” You can score. Darn near at will, it seems. We get it! Now please stop bullying and beating up on poor, hapless little defenses like TFC’s.

10. Portland Timbers – Striker Kris Boyd will rue the missed chances in a 1-0 loss at New England as the ghosts of Timbers road woes 2011 rattle back to life. On the other hand, Franck Songo’o, was a menace in his 30 minutes. Real Salt Lake, surely none too pleased with itself following last week’s stinker, visits Jeld-Wen Field this week.

9. Colorado Rapids – Meeting an agitated and desperate Red Bulls side (not to mention a highly talented one) was always a tall order for a Rapids side without Conor Casey, Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz.  Larentowicz, the most important element among that missing trio, returns this week in a more manageable contest, inside Dicks Sporting Goods Park against Chicago.

8. FC Dallas – Who knows what this team can be once all the parts are finally in place. All the parts will be in place at some point, right? David Ferreira’s ankle remains alarmingly wonky. On the other hand, Brek Shea’s return can surely move matters in the right direction as Dallas visits RFK Stadium in Friday’s featured NBC Sports Network meeting. Prudence may dictate a little rest for Shea, but an appearance off the bench doesn’t seem out of the question.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps – Three games (including two at home) and just three goals, eh? Don’t make us take back everything we said about that high-dollar, high-rev attack at BC Place. (On the other hand, and while we’re looking in that media mirror: did we underestimate Vancouver’s defense? Because three clean sheets in those three matches says a lot for Martin Rennie’s side.)

VIDEO: Celtic’s 1st minute goal breaches PSG

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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Celtic still have hope of advancing to the UEFA Europa League, but have a new feather in its cap regardless of whether they hold their table advantage on Anderlecht.

Moussa Dembele became the first UEFA Champions League player to score against Paris Saint-Germain, when he side-footed a first minute corner kick off PSG backstop Alphonse Aréola.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Neymar would score just eight minutes later to level the score at the Parc des Princes, but Celtic had its moment and PSG is no longer unbreached despite entering the match with 17 goals scored, conceding zero.

2017 CONCACAF Awards shortlist revealed

AP Photo/John Raoux
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The 2017 CONCACAF Awards shortlist is up, and fan voting counts.

Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Christian Pulisic are among the nominees for Men’s Player of the Year. Philadelphia Union’s Jamaican backstop, Andre Blake, is also on the list along with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and others.

[ MORE: Big American Soccer Survey results ]

The Female Player of the Year is predictably American-heavy, with Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Ertz, Megan Rapinoe, Sam Mewis, and Tobin Heath competing with a trio of international players.

Tim Howard is the only American up for Male Goalkeeper of the Year, though Blake is again in the running. The female side has American backstops Adrianna Franch, Alyssa Naeher, Ashlyn Harris, Jane Campbell, and Nicole Barnhart.

The full ballot, including Best XI, coaches, referees, and goals, is up for your votes here.

UCL: Chelsea advances vs. 10-man Qarabag (video)

AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
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  • Chelsea into knockout rounds
  • Willian draws two penalties, scores two more
  • Hazard, Fabregas score

Willian scored two goals from the run of play and drew a pair of penalties in Azerbaijan, as Chelsea beat 10-man Qarabag 4-0 on Wednesday.

His second goal was a fantastic thump from atop the arc, and further iced the result in the 85th minute.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Qarabag hung tough for the first 20 minutes, but saw its odds of getting a point take a hit with a penalty and red card.

Rashad Sadygov made contact with Willian inside the 18, and Portuguese referee Manuel de Sousa awarded a penalty. That was understandable, but surprisingly he produced his red card to send Qarabag down a man.

Eden Hazard converted his low penalty, wrong footing keeper Ibrahim Sehic, and Chelsea took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.

Willian would score a goal of his own in the 36th, part of a terrific team goal with Hazard and Pedro.

The Blues were largely content to let Qarabag have the ball early in the second half, but resumed control around the hour mark and Sehic made an outstanding stop on Hazard before substitute Alvaro Morata dragged a shot wide of the far post.

Willian drew a second penalty in the 71st minute, as Maksim Medvedev tugged on the Brazilian’s jersey on a dribble into the 18. Yellow card for this foul.

Cesc Fabregas scored but two Chelsea players infringed on the 18 thanks to the shooter’s stuttering — and stopping — PK. He finished the second as well as the first. 3-0.

Willian added the fourth with a vicious strike five minutes from the end of scheduled play.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia fires coach Edgardo Bauza

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia has fired coach Edgardo Bauza nine days before the draw.

The Saudi Arabia Football Federation announced the Argentine coach’s exit after only five friendlies in charge. The team lost to Portugal and Bulgaria this month.

[ MORE: Big American Soccer Survey results ]

Bauza has been fired twice this year by teams in the World Cup lineup. He lost the Argentina job in April, after eight months in charge, when the two-time World Cup champions risked missing out on qualification.

In September, Bauza was appointed by Saudi Arabia to replace Bert van Marwijk, who was fired despite leading the team to its first World Cup since 2006.

Saudi Arabia joins Australia without a coach for the World Cup draw in Moscow on Dec. 1.