ProSoccerTalk’s weekly Panic Quotient

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ProSoccerTalk’s weekly soccer Panic Quotient (®) expands its reach this week, now taking the temperature of stress and distress in the streets of Major League Soccer and along the boulevards of U.S. Soccer.

Los  Angeles Galaxy: Every time you think the champs have banged their head on the gravel at rock bottom, those doggone fellows slip and crack their noggin in a new place. I cannot see that Bruce Arena’s job is really in danger – but that’s what I said about Bob Bradley about this time last year, too. None of this can be good at all for David Beckham’s chances at a Team Great Britain post.

The Galaxy allowed 28 goals all of last year. They’ve already parted the back line seas for 21 this year. At this rate, they’ll round the 28-goal pole by mid-July, with three months of the season still to play.

And how about this for an open palm strike on the bridge of the nose: they went crashing out of the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night. Seriously, how long before the players pass “panic” and get to the point where they just want to push this season’s head under the water and get it over with?

Panic quotient: Ever been water boarded? That’s gotta be some serious panic.

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Major League Soccer: I do not buy the notion that the league suffers in any meaningful way in the soccer marketplace with the latest, notorious setback, be it a bombing out in CONCAFAC Champions League or a whitewash of upsets in U.S. Open Cup play like last night’s. These things never amount to some financial Waterloo or some grand PR moment of truth. MLS fans feel bad for a moment, and then we go back to arguing whether Landon Donovan is best out wide or running the inside channels on the national team.

On the other hand, MLS clubs cannot collectively feel good about seeing losses to lower tier teams in seven of 14 Open Cup matches last night. It does drive home the point that rosters still fall off the cliff, depth wise, once past the top 12-14 names. In reflective moments, the power suits at MLS will get a little indigestion over this one.

Panic quotient: You’re dog tired, hung over, wearing a mustard-stained t-shirt and generally look like you just got dragged a few blocks behind a garbage truck. And that’s about when you see your ex, looking fit and awesome, waving happily and about to come over to say howdy.

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Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan, Benny Feilhaber, Edson Buddle, Teal Bunbury: The U.S train has left the station. The party is raging as the express motors down the tracks – and these five lads are stuck in traffic, still trying to get to the station. Bunbury and Rogers are young enough to climb aboard at some future stop on the tracks. Maybe. It’s a little tougher for Kljestan and Feilhaber, although they are just a hair older. Given the rise of Terrence Boyd and pressure being applied by others strikers who are actually striking, Buddle’s international days may be numbered.

Panic quotient: IRS letter in the mail. One of them thick ones.

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Me: I had to fill out my MLS All-Star ballot yesterday. (An early ballot to help arrange the broader ballot.) Panic much, me? Pretty much, yeah. We were assigned to select six players from all 19 MLS clubs.

So here’s the thing, most teams fell neatly into one of two categories. 1) Find six worthy All-Star nominations from this bunch of mutts? I can’t find two – much less six! 2) What do you mean I can only pick six? I can’t borrow a couple from Toronto, pretty please? I’m sure they won’t mind.

Yeah, not easy.

Panic quotient: Ever have that dream where you’re suddenly back in college, you haven’t been around to study but you’ve got a ginormous exam coming up, with absolutely zero chance of getting things figured out in time? I still do. And I wake  up in a foggy funk of panic every time.

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

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Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.

Arena should give Ream a look in Brooks’ absence

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With John Brooks out three months thanks to a horribly timed thigh injury, the United States yet again has to scramble to fill a void at the back. It’s not the first time an injury to Brooks has left the USMNT scrambling for cover at a thin position.

In the successful Gold Cup this past summer, with a largely domestic squad in place, Omar Gonzalez saw the bulk of the time at central defender, with Matt Besler his partner through the final two matches. However, with European-based players now in contention for spots with the early September international break, those two are unlikely to continue, at least not together.

[ MORE: Liverpool holds all the cards in Coutinho transfer ]

The most obvious choice to start September 1st against Costa Rica and likely shoo-in should he remain healthy for the next two weeks is Geoff Cameron. The 32-year-old has been back and forth between defense and midfield with club and country, and although he has publicly acknowledged his preference for a spot higher up the pitch, he was used in a back-three in Stoke City’s Premier League opener last weekend and is steadiest at the back.

But with a spot next to Cameron up for grabs in Brooks’ absence, a player who should get serious consideration is United States fill-in extraordinaire Tim Ream.

Ream has had to work hard to earn his place with the U.S., and while he’s seen time of late, he’s not been a first-choice pick. The 29-year-old has four caps so far in 2017, with two of those starts, including one in the impressive 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Azteca with the US still clawing its way back up the Hex standings. Even then, Ream would likely not have earned that spot had Arena not chosen to rotate nearly the entire squad between the pair of qualifiers in that window. His other start this year, the 1-1 draw at Panama, only came after Cameron pulled out of the squad the day of the game with a late injury. The last time Ream started back-to-back matches for the U.S. came back in 2015 when he was somewhat of a regular through the second half of the calendar year.

[ MORE: LA Galaxy send Van Damme back to Belgium ]

But now, with Brooks out, Ream looks like the perfect man to fill in again. The 29-year-old defender finished last season in top form as Fulham narrowly missed out on promotion, earning the official website’s Man of the Match award in a May 2nd draw with Brentford, and won it again in the club’s final match of the season.

Without missing a beat, Ream has picked up where he left off last campaign in the first few matches this month. Last weekend against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium, Ream’s center-back partner Tomas Kalas was sent off 36 seconds into the match, forcing Fulham to play a man down for 89 minutes. Ream and company solidified the back, conceding just once in the 61st minute en route to a 1-1 draw.

The club still likely requires reinforcements at the CB position – Ream was forced to partner with right-back Denis Odoi against Reading with Kalas suspended and Michael Madl injured – meaning Ream could see an influx of competition in the coming weeks. However, as it stands, the American is far and away the best (and most improved) central defender on a club favored for promotion.

Gonzalez performed well in the Gold Cup, and Matt Besler was serviceable, but with few other options in the heart of defense to take Brooks’ place, Bruce Arena could yet again look to Ream for an in-form replacement.