The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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(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.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.

Roma-Chelsea reports could see Dzeko, Batshuayi… and Sturridge on the move

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Here’s a wild rumor out of Italy, as Gianluca Di Marzio has UEFA Champions League Round of 16 sides Chelsea and Roma working out a big transfer.

[ MORE: PST chats with Dzeko in July ]

Again, before we lay it out, we know that both clubs would not be able to use Cup-tied players in the UCL and that gives the rumor its unrealistic bent.

Chelsea reportedly is willing to send $62 million and striker Michy Batshuayi on loan to Roma in exchange for Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmeiri. Reports say Roma is holding out for another $20 million, potentially add-ons.

Dzeko isn’t producing at his otherworldly rate of last season, but is far and away i Lupi’s leading scorer and bagged a brace against Chelsea in the UCL. And Batshuayi scored in Chelsea’s first two matches of the tournament.

There is something to the rumor, at least in terms of Emerson. The London Evening Standard quotes the player’s agent as saying talks are ongoing and the move is a “dream” one for Emerson, who is behind Aleksandar Kolarov on the left back depth chart since returning from injury.

Roma would need a UCL-eligible center forward, as Czech youngster Patrik Schick has been unable to find his scoring boots since a summer move from Sampdoria. Football Italia says, sensationally, that Roma would use some of the money to pry Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool.

Maybe the Emerson move goes through, but the striker swap feels like a headscratcher for Dzeko and Chelsea.

Pardew the latest to scratch head at transfer fees

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West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew is the latest to find himself baffled at the prices on the transfer market.

To be fair to the Englishman, 56, it doesn’t sound like he’s raving in ‘old man yelling at the sky’ fashion. Rather he thinks the numbers are hard for fans to gauge and perhaps it’s causing a disconnect.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

And for him, at least, it’s a challenge to sort out whether the prices he’s being quoted are reasonable relative to the market. That makes sense, considering that as Newcastle boss in 2012 he sold Fraser Forster to Celtic for about $3 million and PSG bought Yohan Cabaye — then 28 — from him for $26 million.

Both fees would be a little different right now, we think (from the BBC).

“It’s difficult with the prices now to gauge what’s good value,” Pardew said. “We live in a hyper-inflated world because of the TV money received by the football clubs. Therefore, transfers and wages are going way out of kilter with real life. I think we’re all losing the plot with the figures. It’s just becoming, ‘Oh okay,’ and not even reacting to things any more.”

Now, to play devil’s advocate, if Pardew is actually just old man yelling at the sky, he’d better get out of the manager’s box. The fees aren’t changing for top clubs, which is why Jonny Evans is at risk from a Man City bid but not Newcastle United or Crystal Palace. And the TV money he talks about is going to allow clubs like WBA to hold onto players by offering better wages if they choose that route.

But it’s a fair sentiment regarding how to gauge these numbers. While it’s usually a bit laughable when fans and writers estimate whether clubs have paid too much or sold for too little, managers and administrators risk looking foolish if they agree too low or too high a fee relative to other teams.