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.

Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica’s 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.

Jonas equalized in the 72nd minute and gave the defending champion the lead in the 88th.

[ MORE: Man United-Chelsea meet in giant Sunday PL clash ]

Rafa Silva added a third goal after the host was reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Gian dos Santos was shown a direct red card.

Luiz Phellype gave Pacos Ferreira the lead in the ninth.

The double increased Jonas’ league-leading tally to 27 goals.

Benfica moved to within two points of Porto before the pacesetter visits Portimonense on Sunday.

Sporting Lisbon is third at five points behind Porto. It hosts Moreirense on Monday.

Orlando City trades defender Jose Aja to Whitecaps for allocation money

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The Vancouver Whitecaps have struck a deal with an Eastern Conference side to help solidify their back line.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson leads Werder Bremen to win ]

On Saturday, the Cascadia club finalized a deal to acquire Orlando City defender Jose Aja in exchange for $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for 2019.

Additionally, Orlando could receive another $100,000 in TAM if Aja remains on the Whitecaps roster next season and a 2021 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick if Aja is in Canada for the 2020 campaign.

Aja has made 25 appearances for Orlando since coming to MLS in 2016 from his native Uruguay.

The timing of the deal is intriguing, given Tim Parker’s willingness to exit the Whitecaps ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

PST reported on Thursday that Parker is seeking a move back to the East Coast, and the New York-native is being tracked by several Eastern Conference sides, including the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and the Montreal Impact.

Parker is considered one of the top American defenders in MLS, and is actively seeking a massive pay raise ahead of the new season, after making just under $100,000 in 2017.

PL Sunday preview: Red Devils battle Chelsea at Old Trafford

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It will surely be one of the biggest fixtures of the season when Manchester United and Chelsea get together on Sunday, and for both clubs a victory could be vital in projecting their form for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting at Selhurst Park pits teams on opposite ends of the table against one another. Crystal Palace enters the weekend levels on points with 18th-place Swansea, while Tottenham could leap Chelsea for fourth if results go in favor of Spurs.

[ MORE: Liverpool continues to score at lightning pace against West Ham ]

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The injury bug has hit Palace hard as of late, with a total of 12 senior team players being left out of Roy Hodgson‘s squad. The list includes Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho, which won’t make things easy against a talented Spurs side.

Tottenham have had a ton of success in this fixture recently, winning the last five encounters and only allowing one goal in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have hit the ground running in the second half of the season thus far, picking up a league-high 15 points in the Premier League since the start of 2018.

If there is a saving grace for the Eagles though, it is that Palace has been solid at home this season, and gone unbeaten in nine of its last 10 fixtures at Selhurst.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN

After a pair of draws from the PL sides kicked off their Champions League Round of 16 campaigns midweek, United and Chelsea can now focus their attention back to England; at least for the time being.

Jose Mourinho’s team came away from Seville with a crucial scoreless draw after the hosts tested goalkeeper David De Gea on numerous occasions, while Chelsea were close to pulling out a victory against Barcelona had it not been for a big-time mistake from Andreas Christensen late in the match.

Nonetheless, this is a fixture that always garners significant attention, especially from the Blues, who tend to have a better go of it. United has won just once against Chelsea in their last 14 fixtures, with the lone victory coming last season.

That said, Antonio Conte and his side have failed to exemplify consistency this year, and that includes road matches. The Blues have just two road wins in their last nine attempts across all competitions, which bodes well for the Red Devils.

The good news for Chelsea is the recent form of attacking duo Willian and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian was constantly in dangerous positions up the pitch against the Blaugrana in their recent UCL encounter, nabbing the lone goal for the Blues, while Hazard has scored six times in his last six PL matches.

The 2 Robbies: Unstoppable Liverpool, Man United-Chelsea and more

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In today’s episode, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe discuss Liverpool’s emphatic win over West Ham (0:17), breakdown an extremely complicated relegation situation where nearly half of the league is in jeopardy of going down (10:05), before closing the show with a preview of tomorrow’s Man United v. Chelsea match (28:10).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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