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.

Baroni fired by Serie A basement club Benevento

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BENEVENTO, Italy (AP) Benevento fired Marco Baroni and named Roberto De Zerbi its new coach after becoming the first squad in Serie A history to lose its first nine matches of the season.

The southern Italian club is the only team in Europe’s five major leagues without a point.

[ MORE: Ronaldo wins Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Benevento also announced it fired sporting director Salvatore Di Somma.

The moves on Monday came a day after a 3-0 home loss to Fiorentina.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Benevento will have to pay Baroni 800,000 euros (nearly $1 million) as part of an anti-firing clause in his contract.

Baroni guided Benevento up from Serie B last season.

De Zerbi last coached Palermo nearly a year ago before being fired by the Sicilian club.

It’s the second coaching change in Serie A this season, after Diego Lopez replaced Massimo Rastelli at Cagliari last week.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Atlanta hosts Crew, Whitecaps take on Earthquakes

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34 rounds of MLS action are in the books, and now the real fun is set to begin this week.

The MLS Cup Playoffs have arrived, and 12 teams are firmly in the running to hoist a trophy in December.

[ MORE: PST talks to Justin Meram ahead of the Crew’s playoff run ]

While Toronto FC, New York City FC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers will each have the opportunity to watch the first round from their homes, the action all starts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Here’s a look at what to expect when the knockout round begins.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Fire were one of the most intriguing stories for much of the regular season, but Veljko Paunovic’s side enters the postseason limping. Lucky for them, the Red Bulls have been just as inconsistent throughout the course of 2017 — which already saw Jesse Marsch’s club lose in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Paunovic and Co. have lost eight of their last 15 matches, which doesn’t bode well entering the home stretch of the schedule. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have won just two of their last 10 matches. The Harrison side should be well-rested though for Wednesday’s encounter after starting a mostly second-tier squad in Sunday’s season finale against D.C. United.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes — Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Whitecaps looked to be a sure-fire club destined for a bye in the first round, but things didn’t fall their way on Decision Day. Now, Carl Robinson’s side faces an Earthquakes side that is simply unpredictable.

The Quakes have the second-worst road record in the Western Conference when it comes to acquiring points — holding eight in points 17 matches. However, Chris Leitch has instilled a new-found belief amongst the squad that gives the California side a puncher’s chance.

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew — Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

These two sides haven’t met since July 1, so all bets are off about these teams knowing one another. Since that point, Atlanta and Columbus have been two of the hottest sides in MLS and the former moved into a new stadium — which has given opposing sides quite the difficult time.

In their last 10 matches combined, the clubs boast just one loss, which Atlanta suffered at home against Minnesota United. There’s no reason not to expect a great one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting KC — Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Peter Vermes’ Sporting KC side enters the playoffs winless in their last five, while their counterparts are unbeaten in six. The MLS postseason is often about which team is in the best form at the right particular moment, and right now, it doesn’t look like Sporting KC has luck on their side.

It’s also hard to not pay attention to the fact that the Dynamo have lost just once at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2017, which came on September 9 against the Colorado Rapids.

Carabao Cup preview: Man City hosts Wolves, Chelsea meets Everton

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All eyes will remain on the 11 Premier League sides left in this season’s Carabao Cup, but could a potential upset(s) shake the balance of power in the competition?

Norwich City and Leeds United will be among the teams seeking an upset in the tournament as they take on Arsenal and Leicester City, respectively, on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Meanwhile, fresh off of Ronald Koeman‘s sacking, Everton must regroup quickly when they head to Stamford Bridge to take on Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea. The Toffees have taken just eight points in their first nine PL matches, leaving the Merseyside club in the relegation zone.

The Blues are aiming for their sixth League Cup title this season, while Manchester United could also achieve the same feat with the crown.

Here’s the slate of matches for the Carabao Cup Round of 16.

Tuesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Leicester City vs. Leeds United
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wednesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Chelsea vs. Everton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in dual nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

[ MORE: PST names Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.