Columbus Crew v Toronto FC

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in three parts)

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(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.)

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Pardew saves his job, says Palace owners “don’t know a lot about football”

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Alan Pardew, Manager of Crystal Palace thumbs up prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton at Selhurst Park on December 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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While some may advise that keeping a low profile would best suit Alan Pardew right now, Crystal Palace’s embattled manager is of a totally different mindset.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Southampton, in which Pardew’s side saved his job (for the time being), the 55-year-old Eagles boss and former player chose the first bright moment, Palace’s first Premier League win since Sept. 24, to hit out at the club’s new American owners with a scathing assessment of the footballing prowess, or perhaps lack thereof — quotes from the Guardian:

“The chairman got a bit edgy this week, as you’d expect. We have a lot of serious investors at the club who perhaps don’t know a lot about football so the chairman has been defending me.

“I always think as a manager at any level, particularly in the modern era, expect the sack. Just expect it; it’s coming at some stage, so just do your job as best you can. Every week, that’s what I try to do.

“Sometimes it’s hard to dress up six defeats when you’re the owner of the club and you have investors. Obviously there are things he’s got no control over but he’s tried to offer me all the assistance that he could. He’s been brilliant for me and I just want to say thank you to him really.”

With various reports linking Sam Allardyce and Roberto Mancini to a job which he still holds, it’s understandable that Pardew would be slightly on edge, quick to thump his chest and restake his claim as the right man for the job, but perhaps alienating and borderline embarrassing the new investors, who are now responsible for signing your paychecks, wouldn’t have been my go-to move.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

On the other hand, as Pardew rightly stated in the above quotes, his day of reckoning will eventually arrive, so what’s he really got to lose?