ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in three parts)

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Toronto and Montreal keeps its place at the bottom, but here comes Columbus. It won’t take much for the bedraggled Crew to threaten one of the Canadian clubs’ places along the back of the pile. These are Nos. 13-19 in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly rankings countdown.

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

19. Toronto FC – Five games, no wins, just two goals. (If that sentence looks familiar, it is. All I did was change out last week’s “four” to “five.” Such is the sullen state of affairs at BMO.) Manager Aron Winter and his players are keeping the faith, focusing on the chances being created around BMO Field and hoping things can soon bounce their way.

18. Montréal Impact – Jesse Marsch’s men tried to kick and foul their way past FC Dallas, and it nearly worked. Donovan Ricketts seems to have found his feet in Montreal goal, at least; his work was big in helping Montreal take the lead Saturday in Texas. Meanwhile, manager Jesse Marsch had some explaining to do about subs that played a part in the result. He’s a young manager; good on him for offering up a “my bad” on this one.

17. Portland Timbers – Sometimes timing just plain stinks. Normally, a visit by the league’s best club would be a grand ol’ time for most clubs. But things aren’t going well for John Spencer’s men, with Saturday’s loss to the Galaxy extending the Timbers’ winless streak to five matches. So, facing SKC is a tough test at an unfortunate time. Meanwhile, young Colombian forward Sebastián Rincón, who has been training with the club since preseason, has been officially added.

16. Columbus Crew – Robert Warzycha’s team is 2-3-0, which doesn’t seem like an awful record. But it’s not sparking water, either, especially when you consider those wins came over Montreal and Toronto, a bungling pair with one lone win between them. Typically trusty midfielder Eddie Gaven is struggling at the moment, and young center back Eric Gehrig is making killer mistakes each week now. Danny O’Rourke and Rich Balchan will help, but their injury return timetable seems hard to pin down.

15. Philadelphia Union – Things just aren’t going to be easy around PPL Park this year, apparently. Peter Nowak’s Union won for the first time in 2012, wearing down a bedraggled Columbus Crew on Saturday. But even in victory, Nowak is having to answer questions about his management. This time, it’s about removing Freddy Adu after 62 minutes, even though the Philly attacker seemed to be having a productive match. (Adu didn’t look happy about it, but he’s saying all the right things in the aftermath.)

14. New England Revolution – A couple of disappointing results have sideswiped the March momentum, but nobody believed the Revs’ remake would be complete by April. Now Jay Heaps’ team has a week off to get ready for a trip to New York to meet the high-scoring Red Bulls. No one can use the break like rookies Kelyn Rowe and Ryan Guy, who appear to be experiencing growing pains.

13. Chicago Fire – Chris Rolfe’s signing (announced Monday) may provide a little more attacking “umph” to the Toyota Park gang. With just three goals in four games, they sure need it. Last week’s 1-1 draw (shortened by weather concerns) to just 65 minutes provided the latest evidence. Sean Johnson reassumed his spot in goal, his first action since returning from the U.S. under-23’s Olympic bid.

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.