ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in three parts)

Leave a comment

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

19. Toronto FC – Aron Winter’s men meet Vancouver on Wednesday in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final. We’re not out of May and yet this looks like TFC’s best chance to take something out of 2012 – a historically pitiful 0-8 start will do that for you. Torsten Fring is injured again, but it looks like DP striker Danny Koevermans will be available, and that’s a major upgrade in the Reds’ destabilizing injury situation.

18. Portland Timbers – The Timbers skipped past Round 10 but get an early start on Round 11 as manager John Spencer takes his club down to Houston for a match tonight at BBVA Compass Stadium. Spencer, of course, was longtime assistant to Dominic Kinnear in South Texas.

17. Philadelphia Union – There will or won’t be an announcement today (or yesterday) of a trade that sends captain Danny Califf to Chivas USA, depending on which report you believe. We’ll see. But as we ponder Juan Pablo Angel’s possible arrival upon Union soil, let’s ask this: Who will partner Carlos Valdes in central defense at PPL Park? Because surely using right back Sheanon Williams is just a stop-gap, right?

16. FC Dallas – Hey, guys: what do ya say you try to finish one of these with 11 men? You know, something different. Shake things up. Dallas players and coaches know they are making things hard on themselves with this inexplicable rush to ejection, just like last Saturday in a 2-1 loss at Columbus. Schellas Hyndman’s team is winless in its last six.

15. Columbus Crew – File this one under: “They’ll take it.” Things weren’t beautiful around Crew Stadium as Robert Warzycha’s men rallied to take all three points from 10-man FC Dallas. But any way you snap a five-game losing streak is the right way. Right? Speaking of “right,” right back Sebastian Miranda continues to be solid, adding a nice header goal Saturday to steady defense.

14. New England Revolution – Other opposition saw flashes of what Lee Nguyen could do along the left side at Gillette – but man, oh, man, did Vancouver feel the full force! Nguyen went ground-and-pound on the team that released him in March, beating on the Whitecaps with two goals and an assist in a 4-1 win. It was a good team performance overall, and the big take-away may be Benny Feilhaber’s embrace of the right midfield role. Or the fact that Saer Sene (pictured) is starting to look like the striking force management hoped he would be.

13. Chivas USA – Robin Fraser’s team was minutes from adding another win to a road record that already looked pretty salty; a late goal at San Jose left Chivas with a 1-1 draw. Hard to say how this week’s Clasico will play out; the Goats have been impotent at the Home Depot Center in 2012. But this week’s opposition, the Galaxy, hasn’t been much to shout about there, either.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

Ian Walton/Getty Images
2 Comments

Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.