The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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

10. Columbus Crew – Make that two nice wins in a row for the Crew, which suddenly has a potent strike duo. Jairo Arrieta looks like a real find, especially after hitting two in a Player of the Week performance against Sporting Kansas City. Now Argentine striker Federico Higuain is en route as a new Crew DP. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum certainly reminded everyone why he should have been an All-Star, doing his part to hold off Sporting Kansas City in Columbus’ big victory at Livestrong Sporting Park.

9. Seattle Sounders – Eddie Johnson’s massive week started with the game-winning goal in All-Star proceedings at PPL Park. And it ended with his team-leading ninth goal in a nice road win at Colorado. This hot patch for Johnson (pictured) comes just as things are about to get awfully busy, with a U.S. Open Cup final just around the corner and CONCACAF Champions League not far behind.

8. Sporting Kansas City – Peter Vermes’ team is moving the wrong way again. Yes, they were dominant most of the night against Columbus, but the bottom line says “loss.” And that came after a scoreless draw against New England in SKC’s previous league match at home. The frustration factor is obviously rising.

7. Chicago Fire – Goalkeeper Sean Johnson was nothing short of sensational as the visiting Fire made the most of Chris Rolfe’s early goal, straining to hold off San Jose along the West Coast. A goal deep, deep, deep into stoppage time meant Chicago had to split the points – but they can still feel good about taking a point from the West’s top club. Austin Berry’s Rookie of the Year campaign still looks strong.

6. D.C. United – Things were awfully busy for a team that was idle in league play last week. Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius hooked up for a big All-Stag Game goal. Then on Saturday, the Black and Red welcomed Europe’s newest power club, Paris St. Germaine in a friendly. A resurgent Columbus Crew visits the nation’s capital this week as D.C. rejoins league play.

5. Houston Dynamo – Geoff Cameron may be missed at some point, but the Orange hasn’t put a foot out of place yet, marching steadily up the Eastern Conference table. Last week’s win over Toronto was the Dynamo’s fourth in a row. Brad Davis is right where Brad Davis usually can be found, at the top of the MLS assist leadership. Meanwhile, Bobby Boswell has assumed tight control along the back line.

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4. Los Angeles Galaxy – The Galaxy kept piling up the points (now 13 of a possible 15 lately) in a 1-0 win at FC Dallas. Robbie Keane didn’t get the game-winner (that was Mike Magee), but the Irish striker conducted the offense with a veteran’s verve. In the back, Omar Gonzalez (pictured with Keane) was back in the starting lineup and looking quite capable; we’ll see how the repaired knee responds this time.

3. New York Red Bulls – Tim Cahill should get his first Red Bulls run-out tonight in a high-profile friendly against Tottenham. The more important match comes three nights later as Hans Backe’s stacked roster travels down to Houston. Wonder how Cahill feels about heat and humidity like he never got close to in all those years in Everton?

(More: has there been a more talented roster in MLS? Ever?)

2. Real Salt Lake – Jason Kreis’ team is first into the CONCACAF Champions League pool, playing tonight in Costa Rica. They move into the regional tourney off a nice win against Vancouver, thanks to a pair of Alvaro Saborio strikes.  Kwame Watson-Siriboe will move back to the bench when Jamison Olave is healthy; perhaps when Chris Schuler is back, too. But the young man has been up for the job at center back so far.

1. San Jose Earthquakes – The calls for Justin Morrow to get a national team call-up just won’t stop rising, and the man’s big week in Round 21 certainly won’t hurt. It started with Morrow drawing praise for his work up and down the left side in the All-Star game and ended with his helpful role in the 1-1 draw at Buck Shaw. A late draw, that is, as Steven Lenhart scored in the 8th minute of added time.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

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.