ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in three parts)

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

19. Toronto FC – Every week I strain to say something fresh or somehow newly revealing while lining up TFC along the wall, at No. 19 in the rankings. Well, I’m fresh out. Besides, Toronto midfielder Eric Avila puts it all in brilliant context: “It really does feel like a nightmare. It’s really hard. … After the game you just want to go and cry and hide.”

18. Portland Timbers – Tough stuff when a 0-0 draw at home represents progress, but things are what they are right now around Jeld-Wen Field. Manager John Spencer, what say you: “We played more like ourselves tonight. The tempo was high, matched the energy in the stadium. I think we looked back to ourselves. It’s a positive step. Obviously not the result we hoped for, but it’s a positive step.” By the way, that was the first scoreless draw at Jeld-Wen since Portland joined MLS.

17. Columbus Crew – After closing April with a loss and a draw at home, grabbing a point from a visit to Portland left the Crew feeling OK about things. “Last two games we haven’t liked the results, so to come into a place like this and get a draw, at least shut [Portland] out is something we can build on,” defender Eric Gehrig said. “Hopefully we can use that for momentum going home next weekend and get some results going our way.”

16. Philadelphia Union – New York visits PPL Park on Sunday in one of two Round 10 marquee matches. Let’s hope they can aim a few more shots at goal. In Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Seattle they failed to bother a rookie goalkeeper making his first MLS start. Union midfielder Freddy Adu: “Today was another game where we didn’t test the goalkeeper enough. He’s a new goalkeeper and we got to test him, shoot the ball more.”

15. New England Revolution – Here’s what New England Soccer Today said about star midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who still hasn’t quite found the right balance in 2012: “Continues to try to do too much with the ball at his feet; had a chance to level it late, but was tripped up inside the box. (Brian) … Extremely active, but passing wasn’t always sharp and end product was lacking. Still tries to force things.”

14. Chivas USA – Goats goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, having another fine season, poured it out following the Rojiblancos’ devastating, late loss to Chicago – yet another defeat at home: “I’m a loss for words, it’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking. I guess maybe we were pushing for the goal in the last five minutes there and maybe we should have just sat our numbers in midfield back a little bit further and made sure we got the draw, but we want to win at home.”

13. Los Angeles Galaxy – Dissecting this downfall isn’t easy because, outside of one position, these are the same Galaxy that so elegantly navigated MLS last year. At the very least, the trio of talented DPs remain in place. And yet … “We had the ball at the feet of our best players. We’ve got to make the plays.” – head coach Bruce Arena.

Retailer removes T-shirt from sale over Hillsborough links

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LONDON (AP) A British retailer has withdrawn a T-shirt from sale in its stores and online following complaints that its design could be associated with the Hillsborough soccer disaster.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man City drawn in UCL quarterfinals ]

Topman had on sale a red shirt with a large “96” on the back and the phrase “what goes around comes around” underneath. The word “Karma” is written on one of the sleeves.

Ninety-six people were crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster, which happened in Sheffield in April 1989 at an FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Topman said it “apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused by this T-shirt” and that the “garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”

The retailer said the design was inspired by a Bob Marley track, with the number referring to the year of the re-release.

Cosmos, Miami FC petition USSF for 2018 U.S. Open Cup entry

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NASL’s decision to cancel the 2018 regular season has caused significant ramifications, with the latest forcing several clubs to be excluded from the U.S. Open Cup.

The New York Cosmos and Miami FC — both of whom participated in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup have not been named among the eligible teams for the 2018 edition following NASL’s cancellation of the league season.

Now, the two teams have petitioned to U.S. Soccer and its new president, Carlos Cordeiro, to rethink its decision and allow the clubs to play despite not belonging to a professional league.

Both clubs do boast reserve teams though — New York Cosmos B and Miami 2 — which is the lead argument from each organization as to why U.S. Soccer should grant the teams an exemption and a spot in the tournament.

Cosmos B and Miami FC 2 will both play in the NPSL once again in 2018, with both rosters largely comprised of senior team players.

As it stands, 94 teams have been placed in the 2018 Open Cup field, as announced by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

Both open letters from the respective clubs can be found below.

Brazil’s Luis could miss World Cup after leg fracture

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MADRID (AP) Brazilian left back Filipe Luis has a leg fracture that could stop him going to the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Arsenal draws CSKA Moscow in Europa quarters ]

Atletico Madrid said Friday that Luis sustained the injury to his left leg in the second half of the Spanish team’s 5-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League round-of-16 match on Thursday.

The club did not say how long Luis will be sidelined. Similar injuries have required at least six weeks of recovery time and longer if surgery is required.

The 32-year-old Luis was called up by Brazil coach Tite for friendlies against Russia in Moscow on March 23 and against Germany in Berlin on March 27. Brazil’s first game at the World Cup is against Switzerland on June 17.

Luis was injured while trying to prevent Lokomotiv forward Eder taking a shot from inside the area in the 60th minute. He successfully cleared the ball but his leg was hit from behind.

Luis left the field on a stretcher and tests Friday in Madrid confirmed the fracture in his lower leg.

Atletico advanced 8-1 on aggregate after the victory in Russia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage:

Casemiro: Neymar “would get along very well with Cristiano” at Real

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The speculation (transfer) train keeps chugging along as domestic seasons near their conclusion, and one rumor continues to be fueled linking one of the world’s top players to Real Madrid.

[ MORE: FA Cup preview ]

Neymar’s time at Paris Saint-Germain has been short, less than a season to be precise, but the Brazil international could be moving on from the Parc des Princes sooner rather than later after his side crashed out of the UEFA Champions League recently against Real.

Nothing concrete has been determined about Neymar’s future, but Real Madrid continues to be linked with the South American star, and one current Real player feels Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo would get along “very well.”

“[Neymar] has always been spectacular, since he was 11 years old. He does crazy things,” Real midfielder Casemiro told El Partidazo .l”I don’t think there is any chance that he will come to Real, but you have to ask [Madrid president] Florentino Perez.

“He knows that the door is always open for him in Madrid, but he is happy in Paris. He always says that he is happy there, that he is comfortable in Paris. There are many Brazilians there too, it is very quiet there, but whether it’s possible you have to ask Florentino.

“With the quality that he has, I would sign him for sure. I hope he comes this season.

“He is a great player, one of the top three in the world. He can do whatever he wants off the pitch if he continues to do what he does on it.

“He would get along very well with Cristiano, very well.”

Real is currently in the midst of a historic run in the Champions League, having won the competition three times in the last four seasons.

Casemiro isn’t the only Real player eager to bring in a talent such as Neymar though.

Defender Dani Carvajal also recently told the media that he would be ecstatic to have a teammate like the Brazilian come into the fold at the Santiago Bernabeu.