Columbus Crew v Toronto FC

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in three parts)


(Parts II and III are on deck …so check back)

19. Montréal Impact – What in the name of Gordon Banks has happened to Donovan Ricketts, the former L.A. goalkeeper whose positioning has been so unreliable and his shot-stopping even worse this year? If the Impact’s long-limbed ‘keeper can’t be better than he was in last weeks’ 5-2 loss to New York, a long expansion season in Quebec promises to be even longer.

18. Toronto FC – Two consecutive losses at home are bad enough; two consecutive matches with zero goals at home is bumping up against “unacceptable.” Now they have all this to deal with tonight down in Torreon, Mexico. And if all that isn’t enough, a match against rival Montreal awaits this weekend. That’s in Montreal. Hard times, man. Hard times.

17. Chivas USA – All the magic from last week’s huge road win at Real Salt Lake disappeared like a puff of smoke when Sporting Kansas City came in and rattled the Home Depot Center’s second tenant. Goats coach Robin Fraser calls the team’s dearth of offense a “mindset” issue; he wants to see a little more attacking chutzpah. With just one goal in four matches, it’s darn sure something.

16. Philadelphia Union – You ever locate that old CD you thought was lost forever? And you’re feeling the joy about about it – until you discover that it’s scratched beyond playable repair? That’s probably about how Philly felt about last week’s scoreless draw with Vancouver. For the first time four matches, Peter Nowak’s Union left the field without a loss. But it can’t be a completely groovy feeling, either. Three matches at PPL Park without a win can’t feel great, at all.

15. Portland Timbers – What might Timbers fans have paid to be in the locker room as fiery Scotsman John Spencer lashed into his side for turning an 88th minute lead into a shattering loss at Jeld-Wen Field? Wait … turn that around. What would they pay not to be in the room as Spencer’s head went spinning, horror movie style, over that one? Needless to say, that can’t happen very often.

14. New England Revolution – The Revs followed last week’s white-knuckle win at home over Portland with a landmark victory, a 3-1 thumping over the reeling Los Angeles Galaxy in Southern California. The story out of L.A. is all about headline-generating substitutions and pointing fingers and such, but credit the Revs for a night full of smart, professional industry. With a visit up this week to an FC Dallas side still dented by injury, Jay Heaps’ club has an opportunity to build some real momentum.

13. Columbus Crew – Spend five minutes here on this clever game scroll from Massive Report and you will: A) know pretty much everything you need about a Columbus season off to a reasonable start, and; B) enjoy a few giggles along the way. Well done, guys. (Pictured above are center back Eric Gehrig and goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum celebrating the weekend’s 1-0 win at BMO Field in Toronto.)

WATCH: FC Dallas rocket goal sends Guatemalan rainwater flying off net

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Carlos Lizarazo #22 of FC Dallas looks on during the second half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Carlos Lizarazo’s ridiculous rocket shook rain off the net in an aesthetically pleasing CONCACAF Champions League goal on Thursday.

The Cruz Azul loanee struck a vicious shot for FC Dallas’ fifth goal, which boosted out of the No. 8 seed for the quarterfinals after a 5-2 win at Suchitepéquez in Guatemala.

[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]

Lizarazo, 25, had two goals in 10 appearances for FCD heading into the game, with both coming in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

FC Dallas advances, giving MLS three teams in CONCACAF Champions League quarters

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Jesse Gonzalez #1 of FC Dallas throws the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Major League Soccer will have three teams in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League thanks to FC Dallas’ thrilling comeback win on Thursday.

FCD beat Guatemalan side Suchitepéquez 5-2 at the Estadio Mateo Flores after going down by a pair of first half goals.

[ WATCH: Pogba’s classy UEL goal ]

Carlos Gruezo and Matt Hedges helped Dallas to level terms by halftime, and Atiba Harris scored just after the break to put FCD ahead. An own goal and a must-watch Carlos Lizarazo 90th minute wonderstrike gave us the final scoreline. Gruezo also added an assist.

A tie would’ve been enough to send Dallas through atop Group H, but the big win moves it ahead of New York Red Bulls. FCD will finish seventh at worst.

FCD joins Vancouver and New York Red Bulls as the MLS representatives in the tournament, and the league will have at-worst the joint-most clubs in the quarters.

[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]

Mexican sides UANL Tigres and Pachuca are quarterfinalists, while Panamanian side Arabe Unido and Costa Rican stalwarts Saprissa advanced as well.

The field’s eighth team will be set after the 10 p.m. ET matchup between Honduras Progreso and Mexico’s UNAM.

The Whitecaps are the No. 1 seed, and could well match-up with the Red Bulls if there is a winner between UNAM and Honduras Progreso. If Honduras Progreso advances via draw, the Hondurans will be the No. 8 seed.

Florida businessman pleads guilty in FIFA corruption case

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Aaron Davidson, a sports marketing executive from Florida, leaves a Brooklyn court house with his lawyer after pleading not guilty on Friday to conspiracy and other charges resulting from the FIFA corruption scandal on May 29, 2015 in New York City. Since the case was announced earlier this week, Davidson is the first defendant to be arraigned in a U.S. court.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) A Florida businessman pleaded guilty in New York to conspiracy charges Thursday in a scheme to pay bribes to high-ranking soccer officials in exchange for media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches.

Aaron Davidson, 45, entered the plea in Brooklyn federal court. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen was set for April 24, when Davidson could face decades in prison. As part of his plea, he agreed to forfeit more than a half-million dollars.

[ WATCH: Pogba’s classy goal ]

Davidson was arrested last year in the FIFA probe after prosecutors said soccer officials accepted $150 million in bribes over a 24-year period in exchange for rigging bids for lucrative marketing rights. Davidson ran a Miami-based marketing firm. He was arrested along with more than a dozen other people in a case prosecuted in the United States on the grounds that illegal payments used U.S. banks and those involved conducted meetings in the United States.

Prosecutors said Davidson negotiated and agreed to make bribe payments totaling more than $14 million, executing multiple criminal schemes including the agreement to pay bribes to a high-ranking official of FIFA, CONCACAF, the Caribbean Football Union and one of FIFA’s national member associations.

[ MORE: Why Pogba took PK over Rooney ]

The government said the bribes were paid to secure lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches for his company, Traffic USA, and its business partners.

Prosecutors said those sports events included FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League, among others.

The government said its investigation continues.

UEFA president talks up Champions League final in U.S.

ROME, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 22:  UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin poses for a picture during UEFA Euro Roma 2020 Official Logo Unveiling on September 22, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is open to the idea of the UEFA Champions League final being played outside Europe.

Specifically, Ceferin thinks about New York.

[ VIDEO: Previewing all 10 PL matches ]

Ceferin said Thursday that staging the first ever UCL final away from Europe would be discussed at some point.

From FOX:

“To go from Portugal to Azerbaijan for example is almost the same or the same as if you go to New York. For the fans it’s no problem but we should see. It’s a European competition so let’s think about it.”

Given the preseason matches played in the United States, China, and Australia, it makes sense to stage an important UEFA match outside Europe. Those first two countries especially aim to become power players in the game, and certainly it would benefit UEFA to showcase its absolute finest (if only as a reminder).

We don’t get to see entire first teams playing the game in earnest when friendlies hit U.S. soil, and the successful Copa America showed UEFA that CONMEBOL and CONCACAF trust the States with critical matches.

Selfishly, of course we want this. And selfishly, of course Europe wants to keep it. Their fans wouldn’t necessarily want to take an incredibly expensive trip to see a UCL final.