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ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

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(Nos. 1-10 are on deck …so check back)

19. FC Dallas – Dallas desperately needed to take four of six points, at the very least, from two home matches last year. But just one goal scored meant two draws, and the Western Conference’s last-place team will surely rue the missed opportunity. At least David Ferreira is back on the field.

18. Portland Timbers – The John Spencer era is over. One question about all this: if the Timbers aren’t going to make a hire until after the season, as it appears, why make a move now? What, exactly, is the purpose of having an interim manager for half the season, especially when playoffs are still in sight?

17. Toronto FC – Things were going so well under Paul Mariner, but a solid thumping at Philadelphia brought things down. Danny Koevermans failed to score for the first time in five games.

16. Montréal Impact – Things are suddenly looking bright and sunny at Stade Saputo after a recent run of yukky performances.  Alessandro Nesta (pictured) is in training and headed toward his MLS debut. Meanwhile, the team rallied from a goal down with two late goals in a win over Columbus.

15. Philadelphia Union – A week of massive accomplishment for John Hackworth, who has the Union playing with a lot of confidence. The result is a win at Los Angele and a solid 3-0 clobbering of Toronto FC back in Philadelphia. Players performing at top rev at the moment: Michael Farfan and Freddy Adu.

14. Chivas USA – The Goats applied pressure aplenty on Vancouver, which needed heroic goalkeeping from Joe Cannon to hold the game to a scoreless draw. Still, if Robin Fraser’s men are to make some progress in the standings, they simply must do better at home. Amazingly, Chivas USA has just five goals in 10 homes matches.

13. Colorado Rapids – Lots of talkers around camp Rapids: they came close to equalizing at the end of a loss to Seattle; Brian Mullan and Steve Zakuani created some closure on their shared, regrettable episode; trusty fullback Kosuke Kimura went to the Timbers for allocation money and an international player slot, and; international reinforcement appears to be on the way. Martin Rivero was strong in the Seattle loss, but he blew a golden opportunity late.

source: Getty Images

12. Columbus Crew – Things looked good after 75 minutes for the Crew to scoop up a big three points on the road. It wasn’t pretty, but three points is three point. Alas, Robert Warzycha’s men threw it away, allowing two late goals for Montreal. Andy Gruenebaum (pictured right) wasn’t among the MLS All-Stars picked by fans (and announced Sunday), but he’ll surely be one of Ben Olsen’s picks this weekend.

11. New England Revolution – Constant pressure finally paid off as New England undressed New York, once again, at Gillette Stadium.  Lee Nguyen keeps finding ways to influence matches, while newly signed DP striker Jerry Bengtson debuted with a scrappy little goal. Meanwhile, Matt Reis’ benching seems to have flown slightly below radar; it was a bold call from manager Jay Heaps.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

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.