Australian Socceroos Training Session

The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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(Nos. 11-19 in the weekly countdown are here.)

10. Vancouver Whitecaps – Was it really that broken at BC Place? Because they sure are doing a lot of “fixing.” The offensive makeover is complete (We think!) with this week’s arrival of Scottish striker Kenny Miller. In the back, holding a lead late against San Jose was massive for the ‘Caps, who had lost a late lead just days earlier in similar circumstances against the Galaxy.

9. Seattle Sounders – When does a 4-2 loss ring the bell of improvement? When the same game last year (an exhibition against Manchester United) devolved into a humiliating 7-0 loss. That was Seattle’s only action last week; they travel to Colorado this weekend. Six of a possible 15 points recently isn’t horrible, but it’s no recipe for playoff soccer, either.  Oh, and Alvaro Fernandez’s status remains in question. So, a lot going on there.

8. Chicago Fire – A match at league-leading San Jose is not what any team wants when holding tenuously onto the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Last week’s loss in muggy New York didn’t help either. New midfielder Alex needs to get his playmaker feet beneath him, and fast.

7. D.C. United – We expect erratic defense out of D.C. United; the Black and Red still need personnel upgrades throughout the rear guard. But what happened to the offense, which is suddenly looks like it has punched itself out? This week’s friendly vs. newly moneyed PSG does look rather intriguing, punchless offense or not.

6. Sporting Kansas City – Funny thing about this team: They always look as if they should be scoring more. And teams just hate to play Kansas City, because they are going to be kicked and pressured and what-have-you. So why aren’t more results going their way? With just one win in their last five games, they take a substantial fall in the ratings this week.

5. Houston Dynamo – The winning streak stands at three and the unbeaten run at six games. Oscar Boniek Garcia is influencing matches and the switch to a 4-3-3 seems to working splendidly. It’s all taking some of the pain from losing Geoff Cameron, whose long-awaited move to Stoke City seems finally close to fruition. (No, seriously this time – it’s going to happen. Pretty sure, anyway.)

4. Los Angeles Galaxy – They’ve taken 10 of 12 possible points lately, with a draw in Vancouver the only nick in the foursome. Robbie Keane is scoring, and the club’s other DPs are in a good way, too. Keeping them around, on the other hand, is proving problematic. Landon Donovan will miss this week’s trip to Dallas due to yellow card accumulation. And David Beckham is … well, he’s Beckham, which means he’s popped over to London again and probably won’t be up for the match in Dallas, either.

3. New York Red Bulls – Are you kidding me? All this, and Tim Cahill (pictured above), too? News dropped like a ton of Aussie bricks on Monday that the longtime Everton man and Australian international would soon arrive, crazy tats and all, into Red Bull Arena. So New York would seem to have it all now, an EPL-worthy attack, abundant choices of quality in midfield and defense and a goalkeeper who seems wise beyond his years.

2. Real Salt Lake – What a stroke of luck as RSL braces for an important Western Conference match. Vancouver is one spot behind the men from Utah, who sit second in the West. They meet on Friday at Rio Tinto, and now it seems highly unlikely that Jay DeMerit, the rock of Vancouver’s defense, can start. This is truly a chance Jason Kreis’ RSL side simply cannot miss.

1. San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski scores in league games, he scores in All-Star games, he’s chasing a long-standing mark and just might get there – what a success story this man is. Of course, he would probably require a multi-goal game here and there over the season’s back half; next chance for one comes Saturday at Buck Shaw, where the Quakes host Chicago. Meanwhile, lots of praise was falling from All-Star coach Ben Olsen on young wingbacks Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 0-1 Montreal Impact

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 12:  Ignacio Piatti #10 of the Montreal Impact controls the ball during the MLS game against the New York Red Bulls at the Olympic Stadium on March 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Impact defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-0.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): A passionate but sloppy rivalry match saw Toronto stunned by 10-man Montreal at BMO Field. The Impact held strong against a toothless Toronto 2nd-half push, and they pinged a goal against the run of play inside the final 20 minutes to end Toronto’s seven-match unbeaten run. With Montreal’s Callum Mallace seeing red just before halftime, the hosts had little to offer Evan Bush’s goal, and Ignacio Piatti worked a goal out of nothing to earn the Impact three points. At least Toronto had a cool tifo:

Three moments that mattered:

44′ – A spotty first half came boiling over just before the break when Marco Delgado clipped Dominic Osorio on a breakaway. Steven Beitashour came trotting back towards the incident and was decked by Callum Mallace. A brawl developed and after the scuffle, Mallace was sent off. While the extra-curricular activity definitely warranted punishment, it’s controversial to conclude that Mallace’s actions warranted a straight red card.

65′ – Toronto poured pressure forward, and looked to the referee twice, who was unmoved. First Sebastian Giovinco went down under a clip from Laurent Ciman, who appeared to stick his leg out behind him and trip the Italian. Then, Jozy Altidore went to ground on a body check from Hassoun Camara, but again the referee shook his head. The US international looked to have toppled to the floor easily under pressure from . This double moment was pivotal in the match anyways, but became even more significant after Seba came off limping heavily, holding his inner thigh, substituted for Tsubasa Endoh.

73′ – Out of nothing, Montreal had a stunning lead. Evan Bush booted a goal kick to midfield, and the ball falls to Oduro who works hard to divert play to Piatti on the left edge of the box. The 31-year-old collected with a few expert touches, then suddenly one-on-one with Steven Bieteshour, Piatti deposited his 14th goal of the season inside the far post, leaving Alex Bono no chance.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Piatti 73′

MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 2-0 Sporting KC

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Fabinho #33 of the Philadelphia Union controls the ball against the Columbus Crew SC on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words or lessPhiladelphia wasted an energetic start to the match, but the hosts found themselves with a man advantage shortly into the second half, and they’d take advantage, winning 1-0 at Talen Energy Stadium behind a goal from Roland Alberg, who had entered the field just two minutes before scoring. The Union were overall the better side, but the hosts weren’t without chances of their own, most notably watching Dom Dwyer miss moments before Alberg’s goal. It was all over for KC when Roger Espinoza was also sent off for a second yellow late in the match, seeing Philly bag a second with ticks on the clock.

Three moments that mattered

17′ – A whopping four missed chances plagued the otherwise positive start for the home side. First, Tranquillo Barnetta curled in a gorgeous effort that was acrobatically parried away by a leaping Alec Kann. Then, in the 11th and 14th minutes, a pair of low crosses from Fabinho along the face of goal fell just out of reach of a sliding C.J. Sapong. Finally, the 17th minute saw Chris Pontius fire just wide with a header on a free-kick.

59′ – Philadelphia was given an advantage the rest of the way when Jimmy Medranda was given his second yellow card for hauling down Keegan Rosenberry on the edge of the box. Mandranda had been cautioned earlier for dissent when he laid into the referee following a first-half foul call.

67′ – Just moments after Dwyer missed wide right on a breakaway, Philadelphia capitalized on their man advantage. Fabinho connected with substitute Roland Alberg, and the 26-year-old Dutchman let loose a curler into the top right for a 1-0 lead. There was no looking back.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Fabinho

Goalscorers: Alberg 67′, Barnetta 90+2′

Manuel Pellegrini hired to manage Chinese club Hebei China Fortune

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 15:  Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Manchester City looks on after the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium on May 15, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has been hired by Chinese club Hebei China Fortune as the Chinese top flight adds another big name manager. He joins just three months after stepping down as manager of Manchester City in favor of Pep Guardiola.

The Chilean will match up with former Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who currently heads current league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande, in his first game in charge on September 10. Evergrande sits 15 points adrift of Hebei in the table. Sven-Göran Eriksson also manages in the league, in charge of Guangzhou R&F.

Pellegrini inherits a squad that includes Ezequiel Lavezzi plus former Premier Leaguers Stephane M’bia, Gervinho, and Gael Kakuta. The club currently sits in fifth in the league table out of 16 teams, with seven matches remaining in the season.

Following Pellegrini’s departure from City, the 62-year-old said he wished to remain in the Premier League, but also that he would retire if he did not receive an offer that interested him.

Pellegrini replaces former Everton midfielder Li Tie, who worked previously under Marcelo Lippi at Evergrande before being hired as Hebei manager a year ago. Tie was in hot water after criticizing the Chinese national team selection process and travel planning in early July.

La Liga roundup: Kroos lifts Real Madrid as Atletico Madrid is held yet again

MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 27:  Toni Kroos of Real Madrid celebrates with  Lucas Vazquez after scoring Real's 2nd goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on August 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Toni Kroos hit just his second goal for Real Madrid in the last calendar year, but it was a big one as it lifted Los Blancos over Celta Vigo in a 2-1 win at the Bernabeau.

Goals from Alvaro Morata and Fabian Orellana had cancelled out before Kroos struck a powerful, low effort in off the post in the 81st minute for the win. The move began with a stellar challenge from Casemiro to dispossess Pape Diop, sending Real Madrid moving the other way.

While Real Madrid earned its second win of the season in two matches, cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid struggled again, failing to score in a 0-0 draw with Leganes, the club’s second draw of the year as they sit on just two points. Atletico held 63% of the possession, worked eight corners, and managed 10 shots, but only three of them were on target.

Leganes goalkeeper Serantes was stellar, while Fernando Torres missed a huge chance towards the end of the match as his header off a cross from Filipe Luis went straight into the keeper’s arms. Manager Diego Simeone chose to be upbeat after the game, saying, “I’m happy with the work done. We generate chances and others don’t against us. We need to finish.”

Around the rest of La Liga, Real Sociedad went on the road and beat Osasuna 2-0 behind a goal from Juanmi and a late own goal. Valencia still has not picked up a point this season after its second loss, a 1-0 result at Eibar where Pedro Leon missed a penalty but struck home on the rebound.