Newcastle United v Columbus Crew - Pre Season Friendly

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 – The worst team in the league, with the worst start in league  history, went down by a goal in under a minute and went on to lose at D.C. United. If you want to read any more about TFC, see the comment in this very spot (at No. 19) one week ago. Or two weeks ago. Or three weeks ago …

18. FC Dallas – Last win from men of North Texas: eight games back (at home against expansion Montreal, no less.) Few teams will benefit from the coming break like Dallas, who might get some starters back and could even see progress in getting David Ferreira back to health.

17. Philadelphia Union – Peter Nowak talked up his club’s 1-1 draw at Dallas, sufficiently pleased with a road draw after the trade-related uproar and upheaval. Considering no Zac MacMath and no Freddy Adu, splitting points probably does represent worthy achievement.

16. Portland Timbers – Troy Perkins needed to be a superhero Avenger in goal, but the bottom line still reads the same: a draw at Houston and a win at home against Chicago, so who cares? John Spencer’s team is undefeated (1-0-2) with just one goal allowed in May.

15. Columbus Crew – Robert Warzycha’s team came tantalizing close to a win at San Jose, a result to build on, for sure. But a 90th-minute equalizer left the men of yellow feeling a little conflicted about their night at Buck Shaw. Andy Gruenebaum’s continued steady work in goal hit a high point in this one.

14. Montréal Impact – From SportsNet in Canada: Few tears will be shed for the cavernous “Big O,” with its poor amenities, acoustics and, from all accounts, the league’s worst turf. Suffice to say, the team’s ready for a fresh start in the renovated Saputo Stadium. Yes, the expansion club has finished its stay in temporary quarters; they surely wanted a better “see ya later” than a 2-1 loss to New York, especially considering the home team had a man advantage for half an hour.

13. Los Angeles Galaxy – You just have to love Bruce Arena’s candid ways. (Well, he’s candid  in spurts, anyway.) Is the Galaxy manager worried over losing Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan for a big stretch over the next month or so? Nah. He said, in effect, that Los Angeles isn’t winning much with them anyway, so what’s the big deal?

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.