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.)

Groin injury costs Arsenal’s Welbeck at least three weeks

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When Danny Welbeck landed awkwardly against Chelsea, many Arsenal fans feared another long absence from the English striker.

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be too bad.

[ MORE: Pulisic up for major award ]

The 26-year-old forward is set for at least three weeks out with a groin injury. Arsene Wenger says his status will be reassessed after the international break ends in mid-October, which doesn’t bode well for his England availability either.

Welbeck had started all five Premier League matches for the Gunners, scoring on Opening Day against Leicester City and posting a two-goal, one-assist day versus Bournemouth.

The Gunners sit 12th with seven points after five match days.

American teen McKennie gets first Bundesliga start vs. Bayern

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A Tuesday quartet of Bundesliga matches features one of extreme interest to American soccer supporters.

Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with Christian Pulisic, nor Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, and Alfredo Morales.

[ MORE: PST talks with McKennie ]

Nope, that’s because Bayern Munich’s visit to Schalke will stand as the first Bundesliga start for 19-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie.

The youngster turned 19 a couple weeks behind his buddy Pulisic, and has four senior appearances for Schalke. He will certainly receive a USMNT call-up soon.

A central midfielder, McKennie is paired with prized asset Leon Goretzka. An even match through 20 minutes, Bayern has just got ahead through a Robert Lewandowski penalty kick given through VAR.

LIVE – Premier League big boys enter League Cup

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Buckle up. 11 League Cup games are coming your way on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Latest League Cup scores ] 

The third round of the League Cup (known as the Carabao Cup for sponsorship purposes) sees the seven Premier League teams in European competitions enter the tournament.

Three all-Premier League ties have been set up with Leicester hosting Liverpool, Crystal Palace clashing with Huddersfield and Bournemouth having another South Coast derby against Brighton just a few days after their first-ever top-flight meeting.

Four Premier League teams face teams from the Championship as West Ham host second-tier strugglers Bolton, Burnley welcome Championship leaders Leeds United, Swansea head to Reading and Stoke City head to second-tier Bristol City in some potential banana skin ties for PL clubs.

Five more League Cup games take place on Wednesday with Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton all hosting lower-league opponents.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s League Cup games with all games kicking off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday’s League Cup schedule

Bournemouth vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough
Brentford vs. Norwich City
Bristol City vs. Stoke City
Burnley vs. Leeds United
Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield Town
Leicester City vs. Liverpool
West Ham United vs. Bolton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Bristol Rovers

Reading vs. Swansea City – 3 p.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Barnsley – 3 p.m. ET

Ramos extends US deal as youth director, U20 coach

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Tab Ramos is one of the most influential people for U.S. Soccer.

It will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

[ MORE: Pulisic the Golden Boy? ]

Ramos, 50, has been in charge of the U.S. U-20 national team since Oct. 2011 and has held his role as the youth technical director since Nov. 2013.

In that time the U.S. has seen plenty of promising youngsters (Christian Pulisic, DeAndre Yedlin, Kellyn Acosta and Jordan Morris to name a few) graduate to the USMNT and Ramos’ leadership has been integral to that pathway.

Speaking to U.S. Soccer about his decision to sign a new deal as both the youth technical director and the U-20 coach, Ramos believes he can now help to accelerate the development of youth players.

“I am very excited to continue my work at U.S. Soccer as Youth Technical Director and U-20 Men’s National Team head coach,” Ramos said. “I am pleased with the historic results we have achieved on the field over the last few years as we continue pushing to set higher standards. We have provided great experiences to players who are now beginning to make room for themselves on the Senior National Team. My Youth Technical Director role gives me the opportunity to continue the integration of all our Youth National Teams as well as helping with the implementation of our Player Development Initiatives nationwide which will help our youth players develop at a much faster rate for years to come.”

With the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown, Brooks Lennon, Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent all impressing for the U-20 side in both the CONCACAF Championship (which the U.S. won) and the U-20 World Cup (the U.S. reached the quarters) earlier this summer, it seems like Ramos is ready to push on the next crop of youngsters who can push for spot in Bruce Arena’s full national team.

Ramos’ resume as a player and coach is not only impressive but garners respect from every single person connected with U.S. Soccer. He played at three World Cups in a 13-year stint for the USMNT and was part of the coaching staff at the 2014 World Cup as well as leading numerous youth teams to their respective World Cups.

Very smart move from Sunil Gulati and Co.