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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.

Bayern defends Ancelotti for middle-finger gesture to fans

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich has defended coach Carlo Ancelotti for raising his middle finger to Hertha Berlin fans after supposedly being spit at following a dramatic 1-1 draw in the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: Shaw in betting investigation ]

Bayern says “basically we find the human reaction of Carlo Ancelotti with the gesture to be emotionally understandable after the nasty spitting attack.”

Robert Lewandowski’s injury-time equalizer for Bayern on Saturday prompted altercations between Bayern and Hertha players in a heated atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium.

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The German soccer federation ended its investigation into the matter after Ancelotti agreed to pay 5,000 euros ($5,300) to its foundation for social work.

In 2014, Norbert Duewel, then-coach of second-division club Union Berlin, was fined 3,500 euros for raising his middle finger in a 4-1 loss at home against 1860 Munich.

Sacha Kljestan ready to take reigns as Red Bulls captain

HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 6:  Sacha Kljestan #16 of New York Red Bulls dribbles past Steven Beitashour #33 of Toronto FC  during their match at Red Bull Arena on March 6, 2016 in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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When news began to spread of a trade regarding one of Major League Soccer’s most recognizable faces, Sacha Kljestan was with his New York Red Bulls teammate at the U.S. Men’s National Team’s January camp.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The clarity over Dax McCarty’s move to Eastern Conference foe Chicago Fire is very much uncertain — even a month after the fact — but the veteran midfielder’s absence left an opening for the Red Bulls captaincy.

[ MORE: PST talks with Atlanta president Darren Eales ahead of 2017 ]

And that was an opportunity that Kljestan was honored to be named.

“I was just proud. My first feeling was that I’m thankful for Jesse [Marsch] having that trust in me and my teammates having that trust in me as well, which is very important,” Kljestan said. “But I just feel very proud to represent Jesse and the coaching staff and represent every member of the club that works with the New York Red Bulls. Most importantly I want to represent the fans in a way that they are proud of.”

Fortunately for the Red Bulls, what they have had over the past two seasons in Kljestan is a player that not only provides flash and brilliance on the pitch but also stability off the field and in the locker room.

Since making his return to MLS in 2015, Kljestan has notched an astounding 34 assists — the most of any player during that span — to go along with his 14 goals.

Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch has been impressed with Kljestan’s work ethic since bringing in the Designated Player, and he says little thought needed to be put into naming the U.S. international his squad’s next captain.

“It almost wasn’t even a choice at all,” Marsch said in regards to naming Kljestan his primary captain. “He had served as basically a vice-captain for two years and it was an natural fit. There were discussions with the staff but I think it was pretty clear that this is a guy that is a top leader. That being said, we’ve said all along that the captain isn’t a one man job.

“It’s about a community of people and certainly the two guys that will support Sacha the most will be Luis [Robles] and Brad [Wright-Phillips]. I think the three of them will take on big leadership roles and there’s room for young guys to blossom into bigger leadership positions as well.”

The Red Bulls have undoubtedly proven their success in the regular season since rebranding to the aforementioned name in 2006 when the Global giant, Red Bull, acquired the franchise.

The last 11 seasons have provided the club with plenty to cheer about, including two Supporters’ Shield crowns and only missing out on the postseason once, but the Red Bulls have struggled to get past one major hurdle.

Winning an MLS Cup is challenging.

It’s only something that 11 teams have accomplished in the league’s history. Of those 11 teams, only five of them have won two or more titles since MLS’ inception in 1996.

Marsch’s approach since day one has been very clear to both his team and the opponents that the Red Bulls face. The goal has been to play an attacking-minded press, similar to that of Barcelona in the club’s hay day.

While that pressing style likely won’t change, the team is prepared to add another dimension to its attack by switching to a two-forward setup starting in 2017.

“With our little tweak in formation that we’re doing now, we’re trying to be less susceptible to opening ourselves up and creating too much space between our lines,” Kljestan said. “We’re working on ways now to become more connected and become harder to break down and really make teams earn their chances against us. We might go through some growing pains with the formation but I think it’ll make us stronger in the long run.”

The Red Bulls begin their 2017 journey on Wednesday when they face the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The two sides will meet a second time on March 2 in Vancouver.

“Wenger Out” banner appears at anti-Trump protest

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal reacts on the touchline during the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium on December 26, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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At an anti-Donald Trump protest in London, England on Monday, somebody else was having his status questioned.

You may guess who it was given the way things have been heading recently…

[ MORE: Shaw resigns after pie stunt

The anti-Arsene Wenger brigade were out in force (one placard is enough, right?) around Parliament Square in London as thousands gathered to protest against the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, being awarded a state visit to the UK.

All of that aside, let’s focus on the important things here: the future of Arsenal’s manager continues to be called into question.

Among all of the banners, chanting and furor there was a “Wenger Out” placard being held proudly. Does this mean we will now see “Trump Out” banners at the Emirates Stadium?

See below.

Wayne Shaw resigns amid pie-eating scandal

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The legend of Wayne Shaw is no more.

[ MORE: Shaw investigated for stunt

On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after non-league club Sutton United met Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup, Shaw resigned as their goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach.

Shaw, 46, caused headlines around the world when the 280-pound goalkeeper was shown on TV eating a pie during the second half of Sutton’s 2-0 defeat to the Premier League side.

Now, it appears that the incident was something more sinister.

Both the FA and the UK Gambling Commission are investigating the stunt as bookmakers Sun Bets had offered 8-1 odds for Shaw to eat a pie during the game. Shaw had admitted he knew about the bet and thought he would do it for “a bit of banter” adding that “a few of the lads said to me earlier on, ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on.'”

Speaking to Sky Sports on Tuesday a sad and disappointed Sutton manager, Paul Doswell, explained that Shaw offered his resignation and has left the club.

“It’s been very disappointing,” Doswell said. “I woke up this morning to this storm of criticism. It’s something we’ve dealt with quickly at the club. Wayne himself has offered his resignation to the chairman this afternoon and that’s been accepted. It’s a very sad end to what was a good story.”

Doswell and Shaw know each other from their time throughout the non-league scene as they also worked together at Eastleigh in the past and are great friends.

Sutton’s manager continued to explain the situation about Shaw and revealed the man dubbed as “The Roly Poly Goalie” around the world has been inconsolable.

“I’m devastated,” Doswell said. “The chairman is devastated. I’m not going to try and hide the fact that we are all very emotional about it. I’ve spoken to Wayne on the phone this afternoon and the guy is in tears, crying down the phone. It is a very very sad situation. It is hard to talk about the positives today on the back of what has happened because someone has lost their job because of this. The club cannot be seen to accept that situation.

“Ian Baird [team manager] and myself try and run the most professional non-league club we can be, we’ve always said that. To then find out someone has been eating a pie, it may be funny to some people but it shows me in a bad light, Ian in a bad light and the club in bad light. Then to find out it was done with regards to some 8-1 bet, obviously that exacerbated the problem, really. The chairman was very clear with me this morning on how he felt and I back the chairman 100 percent.”

In Sutton’s finest moment which saw the club mentioned around the world as the fifth-tier team knocked out AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United on their way to their last 16, Shaw’s resignation has marked a sad end to their fairytale FA Cup run.