The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

1 Comment

(Nos. 11-19 in the weekly quality rearrangement is here.)

10. Columbus Crew – Tony Tchani is doing some good work lately for the men in yellow. Partnering with Danny O’Rourke, as he did in Saturday’s win over Real Salt Lake, seems especially becoming. Eddie Gaven continues to be one of Major League Soccer’s under-appreciated men.

9. Houston Dynamo – Geoff Cameron was back in the midfield once again as Dominic Kinnear, usually a 4-4-2 man through and through, hit the Philadelphia Union with a 4-3-3 alignment. It’s probably about getting the best from Oscar Boniek Garcia, who debuted to nice effect along the right in Saturday’s win over Philly. Longtime popular Dynamo striker Brian Ching got his first goal at BBVA Compass Stadium in the win.

8. Los Angeles Galaxy – The Galaxy will lament allowing four goals in another performance where the defense simply needed to be better. On the other hand, it was a crackerjack of a contest, one that won’t set L.A. back too far in the big picture. The Galaxy has a chance to put things right Wednesday at the Home Depot Center, where Philadelphia could be on the weary side after Saturday’s match in Texas and travel further west.

7. Chicago Fire – It was Marco Pappa to the rescue again in a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. (Well, goalkeeper Sean Johnson did some rescuing too.) Pappa seems to have been energized by his meaningful strike in a World Cup qualifier against the United States. Or maybe it’s the transfer window and his desire to go abroad. Either way, it’s working for the Fire, which has won three in a row.

6. Vancouver Whitecaps – They’ve had more than a week to think about that whuppin they took last week in Los Angeles. Barry Robson is set to play this Wednesday when the Whitecaps travel into Colorado.

5. Sporting Kansas City – Remember how we all oohed and awed over Sporting Kansas City’s vast offensive resources, especially when deployed in that high-pressure 4-3-3 arrangement? Did we all get it wrong? Because Peter Vermes’ team has 20 goals this year, 12th best among 19 teams. Who can figure that one out?

4. Real Salt Lake – Jason Kreis says he still believes in this group, never mind a strikingly unfamiliar three-game losing streak; the latest was a 2-0 setback in Columbus. Wednesday’s match at Rio Tinto will be fascinating, two desperate teams looking for a way out of the box. Seattle, RSL’s opposition in the July 4 special, is winless in eight MLS contests.

3. New York Red Bulls – Anybody else wondering if Dax McCarty’s outstanding season for the Red Bulls is being noticed by a certain fun-loving German (the one who happens to manage the U.S. national team, that is)? McCarty was up the job once again as Hans Backe’s team took a draw out of a trip into Toronto (which is suddenly not such an easy stop.)

2. D.C. United – Anybody have Chris Pontius to lead MLS in scoring? He’s got a lot of work to do, but after another strike in Saturday’s convincing 3-0 win over Montreal, the fourth-year attacker is tied for third in MLS scoring with nine goals. The gang from RFK is idle for Round 18; next up is a July 15 visit to BBVA Compass Stadium, United’s second trip already to the new Houston Dynamo grounds.

1. San Jose Earthquakes – Well done, guys. You found a way to win – while keeping everyone entertained and enthralled along the way in one of Major League’s Soccer’s most eventful 2012 matches. Before more than 50,000 at Stanford Stadium, the Earthquakes fell being by a pair before rallying for the 4-3 win. The big dust-up afterward, with David Beckham front and center, just a bonus.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli banned for 1 year

Twitter/@NahayatT
Leave a comment

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli was banned for one year by the Italian soccer federation on Monday for his role in selling tickets to hardcore “ultra” fans that encouraged scalping.

[ MORE: Mourinho escapes ban after sending off ]

The court also fined Juventus 300,000 euros ($350,000).

The ban comes less than three weeks after Agnelli was elected to chair the 220-member European Club Association.

“Having taken note of today’s decision by the FIGC’s National Tribunal, Juventus preannounces its appeal to the FIGC Court of Appeal in the full conviction of its own good arguments, which have still not found adequate recognition,” the Serie A club said in a statement.

“The club expresses its own satisfaction because today’s sentence, even though it inflicted heavy bans on the president and other people involved, has “after extensive evaluation of the evidentiary material” (page 11 of the sentence) excluded all alleged links with representatives of organized crime.”

Federation prosecutor Giuseppe Pecoraro also said he would appeal for a harsher sentence. Pecoraro requested a 2 1/2-year suspension, a fine and an order to force Juventus to play two home matches behind closed doors.

“I am partially satisfied because we managed to prove everyone’s guilt but the facts are so serious that I think they should be punished more,” Pecoraro told Italian news agency Ansa. “The judgment of another court would be useful, taking into account that the resources coming from the ticket scalping went to a criminal organization, and that is very serious.”

The ban means Agnelli remains Juventus president but cannot represent the club in any official matter governed by the FIGC. He cannot, for example, go into the dressing room during matches or have transfer dealings with players’ agents.

However, the ban has not been extended to UEFA and FIFA – and there is no chance of that happening until all the appeals have been heard. Agnelli’s position as head of the ECA is not at risk for now.

Agnelli allegedly authorized the sale of season passes and other tickets. He has acknowledged meeting with Rocco Dominello, an “ultra” fan linked to the Calabrian `ndrangheta crime mob who has since been sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for scalping.

But Agnelli said the meetings came only with large numbers of other fans at celebratory occasions and that the club never intended to engage in illegal activity.

Juventus security director Alessandro D’Angelo has been banned for 15 months while ticketing director Stefano Merulla and former marketing director Francesco Calvo have also been handed one-year suspensions.

Each of the four has also been fined 20,000 euros ($24,000) for violating sporting integrity and illicit relations with fans.

The 41-year-old Agnelli has led Juventus, the club his family has owned for nearly a century, since 2010. Agnelli has also been a non-voting member of the UEFA executive committee since 2015. He received full voting rights last week at a UEFA meeting in Geneva.

[ MORE: Villareal sacks manager Escriba after one year in charge ]

Dominello’s father, Saverio Dominello, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a court in Turin in June for his role in the scalping case.

Anti-mafia prosecutors said the `ndrangheta was involved in scalping among Juventus ultra fans for at least 15 years, guaranteeing order in the stadium in exchange for open ticket access.

Juventus has denied any wrongdoing.

Report: NYCFC seeks stadium project near Belmont Park

Twitter/@NYCFC
1 Comment

New York City FC has found its feet pretty well in MLS, and the club could finally be closing in on a location for its own stadium moving forward.

Newsday Sports is reporting that NYCFC is prepared to bid on land at Belmont Park as the club continues its search to find a permanent stadium for its future.

[ MORE: Which players should be up for MLS MVP honors? ]

The report also states that Belmont isn’t NYCFC’s preferred destination to play matches, with the stadium in Elmont — roughly an 18-mile distance from the club’s current venue, Yankee Stadium.

In the past, Flushing Meadows has been one of many sites discussed as a location for NYCFC to build its own venue, which would make sense given the fact that the land currently houses the New York Mets as well as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

NYCFC has shared Yankee Stadium with MLB franchise, New York Yankees, since the MLS side entered the league in 2015.

A move to Belmont could hinge on what the New York Islanders of the NHL do moving forward as well because the hockey team is reportedly looking at options outside of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where they currently play.

UCL Tuesday preview: Dortmund hosts Real; 3 PL sides in action

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Round two of the UEFA Champions League is back on Tuesday, and while clubs cannot book their place in the Round of 16 just yet it’s just as easy for them to put themselves out of contention.

Three Premier League sides will be action on the afternoon, including Tottenham — who has the chance to start Group H play with six points.

Meanwhile, Liverpool and Manchester City will also take the pitch in Group E and F, respectively.

The day’s biggest clash of the day though comes in Germany as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid meet in the other Group H fixture. Dortmund will be looking for a positive result after falling to Spurs in their opening day loss in the competition.

[ MORE: Who is the most complete striker in the Premier League? ]

Here’s the full rundown of matches on Tuesday’s UCL docket.

All games kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET

Group E

Spartak Moscow vs. Liverpool
Sevilla vs. Maribor

Group F

Manchester City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Napoli vs. Feyenoord

Group G

Besiktas vs. Red Bull Leipzig
Monaco vs. Porto

Group H

Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid
APOEL vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints take in Arsenal match

Twitter/@Saints
Leave a comment

The New Orleans Saints will be playing a different sort of football on Sunday at historic Wembley Stadium, but the NFL franchise took in Arsenal’s match today during their trip to London.

[ MORE: PL playback — Who is the most complete striker in the PL? ]

Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees posted a picture on Instagram with several of his Saints teammates taking in the Arsenal-West Brom fixture at the Emirates Stadium six days before the NFL team plays the Miami Dolphins.

The Saints-Dolphins matchup is the second NFL game to take place in England thus far in 2017, after the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 44-7, on Sunday at Wembley.

Headed to the Arsenal game in London. Our first Premier League game! Pumped

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on